Step into a brutal battle between three warring factions. In Dawn of War III you will have no choice but to face your foes when a catastrophic weapon is found on the mysterious world of Acheron. With war raging and the planet under siege by the armies of greedy Ork warlord Gorgutz, ambitious Eldar seer Macha, and mighty Space Marine commander Gabriel Angelos, supremacy must ultimately be suspended for survival.

Post feature Report RSS Dawn of War III Multiplayer Closed Beta Impressions

Hands-on with the closed beta for Relic’s Warhammer 40,000 RTS.

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Somewhat surprisingly, Dawn of War II is actually my most-played game on Steam, by in-game hours. I played it, and its predecessor, half to death, both in their campaign and multiplayer modes. I took to the Dawn of War series in a way that I never have to an RTS before because the games aren’t afraid to rethink core RTS concepts, and blur the line between macro strategy and micro tactics.

Given Relic’s design flexibility, I knew it was inevitable that Dawn of War III would go after the MOBA market. You’d have to be dense not to, considering the success of League of Legends and DOTA II. While I admire Relic’s openness to new ideas for Dawn of War, I’ve personally never taken to MOBAs as the complexity brought out through item combinations and intense micro hero control just goes over my head.

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You can imagine my hesitation, then, when I load into my first Dawn of War III closed beta match, and it’s all about pushing to destroy towers and turrets. Yet, while Dawn of War III presents itself as a MOBA at first glance, there are still elements of the series’ tactical gameplay underpinning each match. But much has been rethought and redefined – which is not unusual for Dawn of War, but it might not necessarily be what I’m personally looking for.

"While Dawn of War III presents itself as a MOBA at first glance, there are still elements of the series’ tactical gameplay underpinning each match"

While Dawn of War II limited you to a single spawn building for units, but allowed you to build small field structures like turrets, Dawn of War III brings back more traditional base building. While this does allow you to augment your strategy in some way – for example, the Eldar can relocate their buildings by teleporting them to the frontlines, so they can reinforce from there – base building feels like a vestigial RTS element that just isn’t the main focus of this iteration of the series.

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That main focus now is unit-vs-unit tactics, though this time it all takes place on maps that feel far more like artificial MOBA constructs (sans clear lanes), and not the dynamically changing battlegrounds that were a hallmark of Dawn of War II and Relic’s WWII RTS series, Company of Heroes. The smart, directional cover system from Dawn of War II and Company of Heroes, where you could protect units by positioning them according to the terrain (or even your own blast craters), has been replaced by “cover bubbles” which resemble shield domes at fixed points on the map. There are also concealment areas at fixed points on the map, where smoke rises from fissures in the ground to hide your units from line of sight – a mechanic similar to what you’ve likely seen in StarCraft II.

This move to fixed map features feels at odds with what were traditionally highly-varied tactical combat encounters, where positioning according to the changing landscape of the battlefield was of utmost importance. What results are maps with some of the widest movement areas in the Dawn of War series, but with the least tactical significance when it comes to positioning.

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So it’s clear that positioning is no longer the focus of Dawn of War III’s tactics. Instead, that focus has moved to the interaction of Elite units with powerful abilities set to cooldown timers. These are essentially the equivalent of typical MOBA units, backed up by an army of traditional Dawn of War-series squads. Even in Dawn of War II, you could see this kind of hero-based gameplay seeping in, with customisable Commander units levelling up and having items purchased for them mid-match that would grant them new abilities. The difference in Dawn of War II, compared to this sequel, was that your Commander always began at a base level for each match, and upon levelling up, you had the freedom to choose your items and abilities to respond to your opponent’s playstyle.

"You commit to a build beforehand, rather than alter your build as the tactics demand it"

In Dawn of War III, those equivalent items and abilities have become Doctrines, which are selected and set before the start of each match – with more unlocked as you globally level up each Elite unit over many matches, not just in a single match. And that’s where Dawn of War III feels the most different to its predecessors – you commit to a build beforehand, rather than alter your build as the tactics demand it.

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You can see which Elite units and Doctrines your opponents are bringing into a match – if the lobby has chosen to show loadouts – but this isn’t a case of “Doctrine versus Doctrine” in the way a MOBA sees a direct “Hero versus Hero” counter and balance. That’s because, to Dawn of War III’s credit, its Elite units, and your supporting RTS squads, still offer a kind of flexibility that allows you a chance to respond to your opponents tactics. But the importance of the Elite units, and the manner in which they can make or break an engagement, combined with the static nature of cover and concealment points on the map, makes it feel as though your regular units simply cancel each other out, and the tactical core comes down to how you manage your Elite hero’s cooldowns. The flow quickly becomes familiar: blob your units up (because there’s no point positioning them smartly), wait for your Ultimate ability to recharge (a massive, directed area-of-effect strike like Orbital Bombardment or Eldritch Storm), then attack-move to your enemy’s next structure.

Personally, I’m less enamoured with this kind of tactical gameplay than I am of Dawn of War’s previous instalments. Dawn of War II’s Commanders felt far more like a flavour or augmentation of your army; they would never carry an engagement by themselves, and had to be used in tandem with your regular squads. Those squads ultimately carried the brunt of the push and pull across maps which offered more variation from match to match because of the positional cover system.

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There’s also the fact that I have just never taken MOBAs. Pushing to destroy turrets, then generators, then a power core, is far less interesting to me than the series’ traditional Command Points game mode, where taking and holding territory put pressure on your opponent to respond. I cannot speak hypothetically about those who have caught the MOBA bug, and how much they might enjoy Dawn of War III, because that person simply isn’t me. There’s also a chance that, with more matches under my belt, something in Dawn of War III might click for me in a way it did with Dawn of War II – and that’s a game that I didn’t feel I was “good” at until fifty hours of multiplayer matches were behind me.

With more matches under my belt, something in Dawn of War III might click for me in a way it did with Dawn of War II

Everything that surrounds Dawn of War III’s multiplayer gameplay is fantastic. The units are beautifully rendered; the Army Painter is the most complex and detailed the series has seen yet; there’s a whole lot to level up and unlock. But I’m not yet sold on the part-MOBA, part-RTS, part-Dawn of War multiplayer cocktail that Dawn of War III is offering.

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Comments
SickoX
SickoX

Such a shame.

I was so excited to go back to a more DoW 1 gameplay. I am sick to the death of all these MOBAS. I will not by this game.

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The_Preacher
The_Preacher

Oh , look , yet another franchise killed by multiplayer ... wow , really "shocked" ...

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Firelord475
Firelord475

Dawn of war and coh were built for multiplayer in the first place?

confusing statement

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The_Preacher
The_Preacher

Dawn of War I was never built for multiplayer as main and only option - it had amazing campaign . Further expansions only brought new things on the table . I havent mentioned CoH at all .

The majority of MP only oriented games are a failure from the start - because the game life depends fully on the number of players . As soon as number of players is rising , everything is ok - but as it falls , game becomes more dead than a brick . With singleplayer option , this cannot happen . There are MANY more SP only games that are absolute success and are enjoying almost a legendary status , than it is with MP only games .

This is a death of a franchise , if nothing changes . Maybe until DoW IV - IF there will be DoW IV after this . Devs and publishers go with the greedy path of $$$$$$ ...

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Firelord475
Firelord475

Thats, not true, the campaigns were getting less and less polish as the dow 1 games went on.

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mighty_moose416
mighty_moose416

It's a MOBA?? FFS. I'll go back to playing Ultimate Apocalypse then I guess.

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Lord_Mordja
Lord_Mordja

I'm definitely with you on this, though I think I'm more negative on the game. The moment to moment combat just feel so stiff and unexciting; outside of some of the unit abilities nothing feels like it's got the impact that it should have.

Definitely not a fan, and it really seems like a step back for Relic.

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kppv
kppv

Welcome to modern gaming, where everything takes forever to kill, because people have the reaction time of a snail.

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filthychinchin
filthychinchin

What the hell is this? Give us a real RTS game.

A real disappointment.

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TheLoneGunner
TheLoneGunner

A real dissapointment.

I was hoping Relic would make a Dawn of War game in Ultimate Apocalypse mod style with epic massive battles, with infantry, tanks, aircraft and titan's like the Reaver or even Warlord class titans. Also a game with more than just basic base building and with defensive structures to build, a tactical cover system (not the shield bubbles!), the same races (not just 3).

Unfortunatly it appears that Relic does not listen to the majority of the gaming community anymore, but apparently rather go on the same path as EA Games once did.

Relic, you could learn a thing or two by looking at popular DoW1 and DoW2 mods.

For myself this game feels like a real dissapointment. Relic...... What the hell???

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moddlord1
moddlord1

NO... NO MOBA TRASH PLEASE! Lucky we got some great modders here!

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INtense! Staff
INtense!

I've got no doubt the modders will again do amazing things for this game.

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Corwin_Kori
Corwin_Kori

Modders can do only so much... Although Wikinger mod team made me play CoH 2 actually. Without making me cringe from vanilla gameplay.

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Havocbreaker
Havocbreaker

Well yeah but in my opinion, thats not a solution. It still must be intresting and fun game so people will hook up on it. If there will be no one to play, no one who liked it and no one who would think: "That was fun, but it would be beter\fun with..." there will be no one who will mod this.

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Nobelissimos
Nobelissimos

SEGA hates modders if you haven't noticed, because most of their time is focused on selling DLC, and they view mods as a threat to DLC sales.

Their games are just DLC platforms, COH 2 was one, this will be no different.

DoW 2 was barely even touched by "mods", this might, at most, will have the abbility to change textures, that's it.

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INtense! Staff
INtense!

Not sure I agree with this, they are running a business and will always prioritize generating revenue. But their games have very healthy modding communities even if they could do more and make it better.

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kppv
kppv

I don't know where you get that view from. If you want a good example of a healthy modding community, look at arma or mount and blade.

Sega and co are vehemently anti modder, barring games like the new warhammer total war.

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GhostHound
GhostHound

MOBA? Really? Great way to **** on your franchise.

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Alundaio
Alundaio

Yes, from DoW II to being the most played game to DoW III being the largest disappointment in gaming history. Here's a tip, if you don't want to **** off a loyal fanbase then don't use a franchise name when you completely change the gameplay and mechanics.

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xdxsadd
xdxsadd

il get it cus it looks fun but u can be 100% sure that im not gonna spend more than 20 bucks on this game. il wait long af idc

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Darryl123
Darryl123

Welp. Looks like we're in for another near-decade of waiting for the sequel everybody wants and keeps asking for...

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Kedge
Kedge

Doesn't even look worth a pirate.
Whatever. Just another game I won't buy or play.

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Nobelissimos
Nobelissimos

Garbage MOBA mess of a game made for loads of DLC so they can squeeze you of every penny.

SEGA is a disgrace, they just love to ruin every game they touch. Lost interest in this game when I heard it was being heavily inspired by moba games, and now im even less interested.

Ill be playing Dawn of War 1.

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LordofChange
LordofChange

Relic's another mistake? LOL
If they could see the UA mod and its fans, then they shouldn't make the game like this.

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EpsilonEmpire
EpsilonEmpire

such a shame though it will be a good game in its own right

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KidCanis
KidCanis

I played a few matches over the course of this past weekend, some 3v3, some 1v1, and it never really gelled for me either. I think I'd uninstalled it by mid-Saturday afternoon.

There was so much visual "noise" when two large opposing armies of non-hero units collided that it became difficult to draw on much of the character that Dawn of War's first two iterations were known for. It was certainly bombastic, impressive even, but it was hard to engage with. I think I've enjoyed watching video of DOWIII more than I enjoyed playing it.

I can see how orienting yourself by your hero unit's location and available abilities when things really get churning is the general idea here, but I too miss being able to discern the interactions occurring between specific unit types (and the environment).

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rattler20200
rattler20200

With this only being a closed BETA... its possible that this is only one potential multiplayer game mode. We could see more traditional game modes with the full release on top of this one.

We also have to consider that there will be a single player campaign, that I believe will bounce between Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks, enabling players to get a feel for those three factions rather than only exposing them to the playstyle of one faction alone. I don't see how a MOBA style campaign will work out, so I anticipate more traditional gameplay there too.

Doubt my computer would be able to handle it though. Does alright with Battlefleet Gothic, but I don't anticipate being able to even touch DoWIII

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kppv
kppv

i am surprised relic has not gone under, they haven't made a good game in over a decade. The terrible DoW2 (bar the single player), the even worse Company of Bullet Sponges 2 and now this travesty. Imho their worst game yet.

I knew nothing good could come from them merging with sega, and this poor excuse of a strategy game with a beloved game franchise name slapped onto it, proves it. It's the worst looking game yet, with the poorest animations i have seen from relic and i hope they get burned for good this time for attempting to rip of dota 2/Starcraft 2.

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Nobelissimos
Nobelissimos

And yet tons of people will buy it and complain about the massive amounts of dlc, little content in the game, and so on. People don't learn.

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kppv
kppv

It's a very special kind of cancer we will never get rid of in gaming.

Remember dow 2 back then ? Realized modders could make higher quality content then some of their ****** dlcs.

For those who think modders will save the game, dont get your hopes up. relic is one of the companies who is hell bent on making their game as unmoddable as possible so they can sell you haphazardly made, overpriced, low effort dlcs.

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magachs
magachs

Yet another stupid MOBA. As if that market wasn't saturated enough.

And here I'd hoped they'd wise up and make a proper RTS (with you know, base building and the like). Yes I know it's a multiplayer demo but if that's how DoWIII's multiplayer will be then I don't want any of it. Still, maybe (just maybe) the single player might be worth it but personally I wouldn't hold my breath.

gg lelic i'm not bothering with you anymore.

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AugustusNocturnis
AugustusNocturnis

The only reason StarCraft II/DOTA 2 were popular in the market ever was because when they were released, they were fresh ideas to an extent and the cartoonish graphical style fitted with fantasy/sci-fi universes those both represented. Now that there's been dozens of cheesy MOBA games, all costing tons of money to simply have the game and enjoy it and have the ability to run it on your PC, the gaming market is tired of it. Whatever Relic thought they could get out of this must have been an antiquated idea thought of and unrevised from 5 years or so ago.

Probably the second worst thing about this game is the graphical style, like some others have said, they've just overdone it and it looks terrible. It's like adding a bunch of sugar to a moldy loaf of bread to make it taste better. DoW I's graphical style really fit in well with the 40k universe, while DoW III looks to water it down. What a shame, it looks like DoW I will continue to be the real DoW III, not that I mind. At least you can buy DoW I and know that you have the whole game that you paid for.

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The_Preacher
The_Preacher

Yep - I always thought the DoW III should have a bit darker and "more serious" atmosphere and graphics . The graphics will be too colorful
, "Torchlight-like" . But absolutely the biggest insult to any DoW player was putting this as MOBA , basically Relic and SEGA showing a big middle finger to true fanbase of DoW , completely focusing themselves only on $$$$$$ and nothing else . DoW has already at DoW II distanced itself from good old DoW classic RTS , but now , the game franchise will probably die . RIP DoW .

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Roderic2014
Roderic2014

The contrast between the trailer at the beginning and the game-play is blatant

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KoDan1
KoDan1

Novadays devlopers just forget to do the texture work and then call the graphics "cartoony" and anyways what the **** is with all the shinny-*** effects?
Where is Gabriel Angelos and his badass voice?
Where are the orcs??? The guys in this game are more generic than my complains.

I never thought I would bitch about presentation so much but for ***** sake... This looks like Warhammer for 10 years olds.

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Roderic2014
Roderic2014

"The units are beautifully rendered; the Army Painter is the most complex and detailed the series has seen yet"

The units are rendered as if they were shining brand new plastic toys. For the tabletop is fine because there's no chance -or metal ones if they are old- but for a videogame I think there are much better rendering options

I see that the army painter has only 4 colours and a badge. DOW 1 has five plus badge and banner; the latter also was a decorative detail for some units and buildings, not only captured points). DOW 2 has different pattern schemes, has DOW 3 got them?

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