E3 2016: Dawn of War III Brings the Warhammer 40,000 Franchise Back to Gaming

2009 was the last time Warhammer 40000 fans got a Dawn of War game. Dawn of War II launched on PC to great fanfare and many expected a Dawn of War III to surface at some point. It didn’t. Instead, publisher THQ went up in smoke, Sega acquired Relic Entertainment and hopes for a sequel seemed dashed. Thankfully, Sega has been working hard to resurrect fallen THQ franchises. Earlier this year we got Total War: Warhammer, Creative Assembly’s take on the fantasy side of the Warhammer franchise, and finally in 2017, fans will get Dawn of War III.

Hardcore Gamer was invited to check out Dawn of War III at E3 2016 and was shown a level on a brand new world with familiar faces. Taking place on the icy planet Acheron, the demo began with hero Chapter Master Gabriel Angelos of the Blood Ravens isolated from his army. The Eldar have taken the planet, and it’s up to Gabriel to reconnect with his team and drive the Eldar off the planet.

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Relic Entertainment took a lot of time to stress the importance of hero units. Not only will the tower over basic units, but also some with their own unique abilities. Gabriel’s mighty warhammer is the catalyst for his different abilities. With Godsplitter, Gabriel takes a big leap and slams his hammer down, sending out shockwaves. Retribution has Gabriel swinging his hammer in a circle extremely fast, damaging all enemies around. Lady Solaria, a second hero who helms an Imperial Knight, can unleash her Gatling Barrage that arcs out and just wastes enemies. Her Iron Storm Missile Barrage is especially effective on enemy vehicles.

The two heroes quickly met up with the Blood Raven army, the space marine faction. It was here that Relic confirmed a fan-favorite feature from the original Dawn of War is returning; base-building. Blood Ravens, being the good space marines they are, summon all their buildings and units via drop pods. A primary faction mechanic, drop pods containing units and buildings can be used as potential weapons. Dropping one on a batch of enemies units deals catastrophic damage.

Relic has refined the Dawn of War cover system for Dawn of War III. Heavily shielded, new cover areas will completely protect units inside from all ranged damage. While inside, ranged units will still be able to rain fire upon enemies stranded outside. It sounds overpowered, but there are a few systems in place to counter cover. For one, the enemies inside are not immune melee damage. Seeing as each faction comes with melee units, getting inside and messing up the ranged units shouldn’t be too difficult. Second, it is possible to damage and destroy cover. So, while cover may give units a respite from incoming fire, it doesn’t mean they’re invincible.

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The demo ended in a spectacular assault upon an Eldar portal; Gabriel and his very large Blood Raven army vs. an equally large Eldar army. Utilizing all of the mechanics (hero abilities, drop pods, and cover), the Blood Ravens began laying waste to the enemy. Despite the large amount of units, explosions, and general chaos, keeping track of what was going on was never an issue. This is a testament to the UI, which Relic designed specifically to help players keep track amidst the chaos.

With the Eldar army pushed back to the portal, the Blood Ravens pulled out their ultimate weapon; the orbital bombardment. A powerful laser that rains down from the sky, the orbital bombardment deals massive damage and can be controlled by the player. It was a sight to behold, but it appeared to be quite over-powered. Hopefully, this will be a late-game power and won’t pack the same punch in multiplayer.

One area that Relic Entertainment didn’t want to get into was multiplayer. Dawn of War III looks like it will deliver one awesome campaign, but it’s multiplayer the players will stay for. Though we couldn’t get too much info out of the team, they did confirm that the Blood Ravens, Orcs, and Eldar will all be playable in both single player and multiplayer when the game launches.

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may no longer be a THQ game, but publisher Sega appears determined to continue that legacy. Relic Entertainment clearly has a lot of love and respect for the franchise and it shines through in this E3 demo. But this is just the tip of the iceberg; with two more factions to see and a multiplayer suite still under wraps, there’s going to be a lot more Dawn of War III news down coming in the next few months.

Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War III is out sometime in 2017 on PC.