Dawn of War III
Reviewed on PC
Eamon Ward / Thu 4th May 2017
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OVERVIEW Continuing in their tradition of creating wildly different games within a franchise, Relic has released the much anticipated Dawn of War III. It aims to combine the large armies of the original game and the heroes of the second into something that is at times excellent and at others, less so.
The Wandering World of Acheron, a planet lost to the warp, is about to reemerge after 5000 years. On it is the legendary Spear of Khaine, an ancient Eldar relic said to slay any enemy in a single blow. The armies of the Swordwind, led by Autarch Khyre, seek to claim in fulfilment of a prophecy. Farseer Macha believes the prophecy to be wrong and begins a schism in an attempt to prevent the Eldar's undoing. Gabriel Angelos, now Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens, is determined to destroy the spear, decreeing that none should have it. The Orks, lead by Gorgutz, simply want a fight, and it's going to be a big ones.
The plot isn't anything new and, for all intents and purposes, is nearly identical to the first game. The campaign begins as not much more than an extensive tutorial but gets more interesting the longer it progresses. Each mission alternates between the three mission and while it does give the player the chance to experience everything the game has to offer, it's also incredibly jarring as it's not until the final missions that you truly feel comfortable with whoever your playing.
Overall, it's pretty fun. There's a couple of hero focused missions that bring back memories of Warcraft 3 which is by no means a bad thing and the returning characters are done well and much appreciated. It's also a decent length, taking around 15 hours to complete so there's no problems there.
The gameplay remains largely unchanged from the beta which, as everyone should know, wasn't a beta but more of a server test. The biggest difference is all the elites and doctrines are no longer available from the moment you begin. They need to be purchased with skulls, the games currency. This system is awful. The doctrines lock off series staples like move and shoot behind an incredibly slow progression system. The game would be far more enjoyable if these doctrines were integrated instead of being unlocked and the elites were all available from the get go.
The one gamemode, Power Core, is fun enough but doesn't have much longevity. There still isn't a whole lot of units, defensive options and it's riddled with bugs that range from infuriating to game breaking.
It's still pretty fun and the AI in solo/coop is challenging enough. The ability to play with friends against a non-competitive opponents is something the beta was sorely missing but it really is enjoyable. Overall, gameplay is solid, if lacking in content.
GRAPHICS The game looks great and, for the most part, runs great - no problems here. Visual effects are the best the series has seen and while the units aren't as detailed as DoW2's, they still look excellent. Plasma blasts and eldritch storms have never looked this good.
AUDIO The audio, when it works, is solid. Unfortunately the voice work, music and even the sound effects cut out on a far to regular basis. When you get to hear it, it is indeed glorious but you don't get to hear it enough. The music is a standout with differing tracks for each race as well as song inspiring battle music. Voice acting is, as expected, excellent and while the recasting of Gabriel Angelos is painful, the new guy does a decent enough job. The chaplain, inquisitor and Gorgutz, as well as every other Ork, deserve special mention for being the best characters the franchise has to date.
VERDICT Dawn of War 3 feels somewhat unfinished. It's enjoyable when it works, and mostly fun even when it doesn't. There's a lengthy campaign and a solid multiplayer mode. If you need that Warhammer fix now, you'll probably get your moneys worth. But if you wait you'll probably get an even better deal as additional content is inevitably released.