Dawn of War III Beta Impressions
After a gruelling 24-hour download and the reliably awesome intro, I was in. The first stop was the requisite tutorials. They served their purpose but that is one phoned-in tutorial voiceover – who emphasises the ‘TUT’ in tutorial? I henceforth demand that Games Workshop related titles are performed only by people who’ve not been corrupted by The Lord of Change.
The only playable game type was the 3v3 multiplayer battle, the object of which was to take out specific structures in order, leading to the destruction of the enemy’s power core. Selecting Space Marines with a haphazardly chosen elite/ability loadout, I waited, as I’ve done for countless hours across the series, in the lobby. I was matched up with five other players and then, at the last second, it didn’t happen and I was booted into nothingness. To be honest I would’ve been disappointed if this hadn’t happened at least once – it’s part of the dammed experience.
Immediately apparent, besides its inferior graphics, is that DOW3 moves at a faster pace than its prequels – buildings are thrown up quickly by your servitor builder unit and squads are churned out rapidly and are among the fray in an instant. I don’t know if it is my age or lack of amphetamines but there was barely time to think.
When strategic points are captured they must be upgraded to produce in-game resources comprising either requisition, power, or elite points. Elite points are earned during the course of the battle and are used to bring your three elite units into the conflict, who vary from skilled squadrons, champions to titanic war machines. Elites are appropriately powerful and come with a variety of nifty unique abilities and, especially when used in tandem, can easily sway the fight in your favour.
Once elites are purchased they’ll be available for the match’s duration and can be healed at HQ, but if they’re taken out they must endure a time-out before re-entering the fray. The elite points can also be used to invoke an orbital bombardment strike which is utterly devastating, so much so that I won’t be surprised if it’s nerfed in the final release.
Strategic heavy cover points can be captured and then provide a large defence bonus to your troops – and this can only be broken by opposing troops with a ‘break cover’ ability, meaning if the position is fired upon barely any damage will be taken.
One aspect of only allowing the 3v3 at this point is that it throws you in at the deep end in terms of being overwhelmed by micro and macro management. Factoring in unit builds, buffs, base expansion and upgrades requires constant attention and I found the macro often diverted from the micro management – it would’ve been beneficial to allow for 1v1 to be able to learn the new systems at a steadier pace rather than through a full-scale huge-map battle.
Resources were always plentiful which meant I could splurge on squad after squad and, much like my opponents, spam the hell out of the battle. The matches were immense – as any 40k battle should be – but I missed the subtleties of DOW2. Losing a levelled up and upgraded squad in DOW2 is a crippling blow, one where you’ll chastise yourself for a tactical error – here it’s of little consequence.