Another Look At 'Dawn Of War III,' Hands-On

In June, Relic Entertainment showed off some early gameplay footage of Dawn of War III, the latest installment in the real time strategy (RTS) series. At the time, we weren’t able to play it because it was still in the preliminary stages of development. However, Sega gave us some hands-on time with the game at its booth at PAX West. As an RTS title, Dawn of War III seems to be par for the course, but its battle sequences are what could make it stand out from other games in the genre.

Opening Moves

The demo I played at the booth was the same mission that the studio showed three months ago. Once again, I controlled the mighty Space Marines in their quest to eradicate the Eldar troops in the area. To start, I had a handful of troops at my disposal, including Gabriel Angelos, one of the game's “super units.” After the demo’s introductory stages, it was time to build up my Space Marine army.

In order to take down the Eldar, I had to search the map for three giant portals, which were used as a way to reinforce the Eldar troops. My current army just beat a slightly larger Eldar force, but it wasn’t massive enough to run around the map and take out everything in sight. The best option was to stay put in the base and recruit more soldiers. However, I needed to construct multiple buildings to create my new army. In a few minutes, I had production lines making variants of ground troops and tanks.

In order to continue making these troops, I had to find resource points all over the map. By building a Listening Post in these areas, I could gather the necessary materials in order to build my army. Some of the resource points were in enemy territory, so I would take out a small party and claim the area for myself.

The fact that I had to search for more resource points was actually enjoyable. While I waited for my buildings to spew out more troops, I could send some of them into battle instead of waiting at home base. There were a few times when the Eldar would send its own attacking force into my territory, but I managed to quell everything the enemy sent.

For The Emperor

When all of my additional soldiers were ready, I marched them onward into Eldar territory. Each encounter was more intense than the last, but directing my horde of Space Marines was easy; all I had to do was click on a specific spot, and they would attack anything in that area. This allowed me to focus most of my attention on the game’s most powerful soldiers: Angelos and the Imperial Knight Solaria, the two most powerful super units of the Space Marines.

Angelos is a melee-based character, which meant that I could send him into a small pocket of Eldar troops, and he could easily pummeled them into dust. On the opposite end, Solaria was more of a ranged-based character due to her gigantic arsenal of guns and rockets. In the right locations, I could use her machine gun to tear down enemies in a specific radius. She was my favorite unit to control.

As powerful as Angelos and Solaria were, they weren’t invincible. After a few skirmishes, they would “disappear” if they received too much enemy fire. After a long cooldown period (Solaria reappeared after five minutes), I could summon them onto the field again. While I waited for them to return, I used the time to build up even more reinforcements for my army. Some of the Eldar camps I destroyed had some resource points as well, so I increased the amount of materials at my disposal. I also used the Space Marines' three drop pods to instantly tip the balance of the battle in my favor at any time. I even sent the pods down on enemies in order to kill them. Just like the super units, however, the drop pods had a long cooldown timer so I couldn’t abuse them in every situation.

The Final Push

Eventually, my army made its way to the final Eldar portal, where a gigantic enemy unit towered over my army (including Solaria). Even with my large amount of forces, it was a difficult battle, but I had one more weapon to use: the Space Marine’s “Orbital Bombardment” ability. I called down a giant laser, and every time it consumed an enemy unit, its radius and overall damage grew. It easily disintegrated the Eldar behemoth while my troops made their way to final portal and destroyed it.

Even though I’m not proficient in RTS titles (I prefer turn-based strategy games because it gives me time to think), the short demo for Dawn of War III was an exciting experience for me. The sound of gunfire combined with explosive visuals made for some chaotic and intense battle sequences that really showed the power of each Space Marine unit. The short campaign was challenging, to be sure, but it wasn’t too harsh in its punishing moments. I could lose 90% of my forces and still come back after a few minutes of gathering reinforcements.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned RTS fan or a newcomer to the genre, Dawn of War III caters to both sides while also delivering some of the most intense battle sequences I’ve seen in any strategy title. The full game doesn’t come out until next year, but the demo was enough to make me want to play more.

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NameDawn of War III
TypeReal time strategy
DeveloperRelic Entertainment
Release Date2017
  • mortsmi7
    I think I'll wait for the Dawn of War remaster.
  • rantoc
    Seems to include base building unlike the previous... sign me up!
  • Thudo
    Better have full moddability and not so dumbed-down action RTS (with pretty gfx) than 2.
  • RomeoReject
    "Better have full moddability and not so dumbed-down action RTS (with pretty gfx) than 2."
    I really, really hope that's true, but I'm not holding my breathe. They said they're trying not to alienate the fans of DoW2 either, which means the more MOBA-like aspects of that will likely still rear their ugly head...
  • Math Geek
    they know they alienated DOW 1 players with that sad DOW 2 that could not decide if it was MOBA, FPS or some other random play type.

    this should go back to the true RTS roots i hope. i don't normally buy day 1 but i love the original DOW enough that i just might. this assumes they don't try to have 150 dlc packs like DOW 2 had. won't even touch the game if that's the case.
  • I love most Warhammer 40k games. With they made another like "SpaceMarine". The atmosphere in that game was awesome.