PURGE THE XENOS
The campaign tries to prepare you for these major gameplay changes - it’s just a shame it happens at such a glacial pace. Each new level might have one or two cool, unique set-piece moments, and drip-feed you Elite units to learn and master, but the actual story drags its feet.
Most missions are split into two parts; the first sees a handful of squads and an Elite unit or two trekking across the entire map, while the second half adds some base-building into the mix and settles into a familiar RTS rhythm.
Unlockable ‘doctrines' that add a few handy extra abilities to your chosen race are a nice touch that’ll keep you playing until you’ve unlocked them all, but for the most part it doesn’t feel as flexible or non-linear as Dawn of War II’s customisable gear system. Most battles descend into the same familiar units and Elites, so you’ll be itching for something different by the time you see the credits roll.
To the multiplayer mode, then. If you’ve played a MOBA before, you’ll feel right at home: in either 1v1, 2v2 or 3v3 skirmishes, you’ll get a Power Core to defend and a Shield Generator that keeps it safe. Lose the generator and your Power Core is defenceless. Some of the maps even have MOBA-inspired lanes to funnel you towards the enemy base. You’ve got the same base-building and infantry units you had in the campaign, only it all essentially becomes cannon fodder once Elite units hit the battlefield.
It’s fun, no question, but I’m not sure you can call it “strategy”.
That doesn’t mean matches are over in a flash, though. Some take much longer than 30 minutes, which feels a little slow compared to the fast-paced games of StarCraft II. Spend some time actually planning your attack, though, adding the right selection of infantry to march alongside your Elites, and you’ll begin to appreciate the game’s hidden depths.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III Verdict
Dawn of War III feels like Relic has tried to toe the line between old-school real time strategy and the new wave of MOBAs currently taking over PC gamers’ lives.
It mostly succeeds, too, adding just enough base-building, resource management and a mixture of units to keep RTS fans engaged, while keeping the beefy hero characters that can basically take care of business themselves if you’re quick with your hotkeys.
The expansive series lore helps create an engaging story, even if the missions themselves aren’t necessarily as exciting as fans of previous games would expect, and the solitary multiplayer mode is great fun - even when you’re on the receiving end of yet another Elite unit beating.
Solely stick to the single player campaign and you won’t be entirely satisfied, but move online and get your head around the balance of regular units and Elites, and there’s a great mix of gameplay styles that’ll keep you coming back for one more round.