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The second article of our Gameplay Week series, detailing some of the gameplay changes being made for Dawn of Victory that will distinguish it from Sins of a Solar Empire. Today's feature is on the most titanic vessels in Dawn of Victory: capital ships.
Posted by hydrocarbon000 on Mar 31st, 2009
Capital ships are easily the most visually impressive thing in Dawn of Victory. While capitals in the base game were large and imposing already, they were quite common and easy to field. In Dawn of Victory, capital ships are behemoths, with dozens of weapon points, insanely high hull and armor ratings, and accordingly large resource costs. Players will not be able to field them at the start of a game, like in base Sins, and small games may not ever get access to them. However, seeing as how cruisers largely take the role, size, and impressiveness of vanilla's capital ships, it shouldn't be too much of a loss.
Capital ships in Dawn of Victory tend to fall into a specific class, however: their usage is not solely direct fleet engagement. This isn't to say they aren't versatile: most of them can adapt to any role as needed, but their effectiveness often varies substantially depending on their nomenclature. Not every faction in Dawn of Victory has every type of ship: several are only available to certain factions.
Battlecruisers: Like historical battlecruisers, these ships are higher-speed, lesser armed capital ships, in between a medium or heavy cruiser and a true capital ship such as a battleship or dreadnought, and with considerably less armor. In Dawn of Victory, ships of this class tend to be medium-range fleet interdiction and hit and run attacks, with abilities that increase effectiveness of flanking maneuvers. These ships should be positioned, fire salvoes behind enemy lines, then taken out of combat. These ships can pack a punch but are most effective against cruisers: while their pure firepower is quite staggering, their guns tend not to be as large as their historical counterparts and therefore less effective against other capital ships.
Assault Cruisers: Assault cruisers are a special class of capital ship. Not to be confused with the Entrenchment “Assault Ship”. these ships focus on close-range utility. Unlike a dreadnought, they do poorly in fleet engagements on the basis of pure strength, but their armor is relatively high and they can use abilities such as remote mines to harass the enemy and halt or slow their advances.
Battleships: A battleship in Dawn of Victory is a versatile medium-range fire support platform, good at fleet combat, able to take a beating, and armed with a variety of weapons. They can engage at closer ranges but gain no advantage by doing so. Like battlecruisers, their best usage is to destroy cruisers, but they can also take on other capital ships admirably.
Dreadnoughts: The dreadnought is the one-size-fits-all solution to any capital ship problems. Dreadnoughts are armed with the heaviest guns as well as normally long range weapons such as torpedoes, but the latter is fitted more for firepower purposes than the ability for these ships to fire from far away and therefore warheads are much larger and range much shorter than torpedo frigates and cruisers. Dreadnoughts are the fiercest non-supercapitals in the game, with heavy armor, heavy guns, and abilities that boost both itself and the fleet's attack power.
Carriers: Carriers have one role: transporting strike craft. As in World War II, pure naval firepower doesn't mean a thing unless you have the planes to back it up, and carriers are much more important in Dawn of Victory than base Sins. Carriers tend to field extremely large masses of strike craft: the Soviet carrier holds more than half a dozen squadrons, each comprised of several fighters. They have decent speed and armor, and can fight off attacks from smaller ships relatively well.
Command Ships: Command ships perform like their equivalents in Sins, with medium-long range abilities that bolster the fleet's effectiveness in combat as well as out. Because of their remote positioning, these ships are designed to ward off any attacks from long range: in other words, their anti-fighter defenses are second to none. They carry a slight assortment of fighters but a multitude of flak guns. They are not a replacement for flak, as their defenses are designed to defend themselves, not friendly ships, but can hold their own against enemy fighter squadrons.
There are also two types of supercapitals. These ships are mobile superweapons, but they have drastically varying roles. It is also rumored that the Democratic Federation is working on a design of their own, but this is yet to be confirmed...
Soviet Rodina Superdreadnought: An enormous behemoth of a vessel; easily the largest ship in the game, dwarfing even traditional dreadnoughts in size. The Rodina is designed for total fleet domination from any range. However, its main inspiration is the Slavny Light Cruiser line of ships, a line that emphasizes varied weapons loadouts and modularity: it is simultaneously destructive and versatile. To unlock this titan, players must research three separate prerequisites, with each research item coming out of a particular trait of a ship line. A game in which the Rodina is fielded is pretty close to over (both in the sense of time and of unit strength): it can be destroyed, but it will take several fleets, a menagerie of unit types, and a good strategy to take it down. Players are best advised to bring lots of torpedo cruisers and a lot of patience.
Greater German Reich Einseite Heavy Assault Cruiser: The Einseite is just as powerful as the Rodina. However, it's much more specialized. The Einseite is a unusually speedy, maneuverable capital ship, designed for sniping at fleets from long range. It is a potent blend of all the capital ship types: a battlecruiser in mobility, a dreadnought in firepower, an assault cruiser in interdiction capabilities, a carrier in anti-strike craft capability and a modest strike craft capacity, and a command ship in support abilities. The Einseite is a frustrating enemy and takes a good strategy to destroy: it can take out slower ships from range, then run away if cornered. Trapping the ship or slowing it down with abilities can help.
The thing we've heard the most out of people when they hear the concept is “make capital ships awesome”. And as you know, we listen to our fans. Tune in tomorrow for another announcement, this one just as inspired by you guys.