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Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising

Further to the excellent support Dawn of War II has received by Relic thus far, in March 2010, it will be given a full expansion in the form of Chaos Rising. As the original game received three impressive expansions, it was foreseeable the sequel would be bolstered in a similar way, especially as it only featured four playable races as opposed to the expanded original’s nine.

As the title makes clear, Chaos Rising will introduce the insidious Chaos race to the game, where they will feature in a new campaign. Players who reached level 20 of the superb DLC The Last Stand, will have seen, fought and probably been slain by some of the new Chaos units already – they were a bit nasty. This was a clever move by Relic, serving as both a means to generate fevered interest in The Last Stand and as an in-game preview of some of the new Chaos units.

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For those unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40,000 universe or the original game, the Chaos are the absolute nemesis of the game’s heroes, the Space Marines. The Chaos race includes horrifying demons, mutated abominations and corrupted Space Marines, who’ve had their minds twisted psychically by the over-powering malicious force. Players can expect to see Chaos Plague Marines, Bloodletters riding Juggernauts, Chaos Predator tanks and power-claw wielding Chaos Dreadnoughts. Thankfully, each existing race will be supplied with additional units too.

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The new 15 mission campaign is set mere months after the events of Dawn of War II, whereby the ice-planet of Aurelia has now reappeared after millennia lost in the Warp (Chaos dimension), and is now in the dominion of darkness. All the original game’s races will feature in varying degrees at some point. As the Dawn of War II campaign was justifiably criticised for its repetitive nature, Relic has focused on making each new mission different by providing it with its own unique hook. The trailer footage certainly appears to confirm this with a variety of distinctive maps being shown, with one in particular looking like a homage to the great TT and video-game Space Hulk. Don’t worry about the ice-world setting becoming tedious either, as Chaos Rising producer Jeff Lydell recently stated ‘Aurelia, transforms over the course of the campaign from a barren, ice-encased city into a shattered range of fissures and floating plateaus.’

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As for in-game dynamics, the inclusion of ‘Corruption’, a morality gauge which monitors players’ actions and deems them either pure or corrupt, will determine what type of abilities and wargear they will be able to access. We imagine that mortality will be thoroughly defenestrated and the corrupt abilities will be absolutely hammered as soon as possible. The experience level cap will be raised from 20 to 30, so players will be able to either use their original levelled-up characters from where they left off, or redistribute their experience points entirely. New players will be given automatically levelled characters and the relevant wargear options. There will be more unlockable traits and more wargear including the aforementioned lightning claws and the utterly bitchin’ Melta-guns. Players will also be given a new hero – the mighty librarian Jonah (although that sounds like a ridiculous oxymoron of some kind – they are seriously badass, in a psychic power/extremely well-read kind of way).

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It is certainly disappointing that the Chaos won’t get their own campaign, but they will be usable in the game’s lauded multiplayer mode. This will potentially throw a spanner into the works for Relic, as balance changes are still being made and disputed regularly. If Chaos are overused and seen as over-powered by the vocal DOW community (likely), they will possibly have their stats lowered in the game’s next patch, which is what happened to the Tyranid race after only a few months. However, it’s probable this has already been considered by Relic, so players shouldn’t worry – as worry could lead to doubt… bitterness…hate…and then, like a disgraced Space Marine, you’ll have been enslaved by the dark power of the Warp.

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2009. Get in touch on Twitter @p_etew.

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