So, after much speculation, it turns out that Dawn of War will see a new lease on life. Fans have been hoping to hear news of this since the domain name dawnofwar3.com was registered by SEGA back in late March of last year. Much like Space Marine, this was one we had high hopes but little real news, at least until now.
Released in a storm of promotional material, the third game of the expansion heavy saga is set to continue the story of the Blood Ravens. As expected by this point, the trailer itself is more flash than substance, building up the grimdark and bleak atmosphere the setting is renowned for, depicting scenes of constant death, annihilation and mass destruction. Besides some rather Giger-esque Craftworld Eldar designs, and the presence of some very nice super heavy walkers, it sadly reveals little of the game itself:
Far more substantial news stemmed from an early release by PCGamer and a number of screenshots released alongside this announcement. For starters, it revealed that many assets from the prior games are being re-used again here, with the eldar and astartes forces sticking largely to past designs. Besides a few minor alterations and new units such as the aforementioned nights, the likes of Assault Marines, Guardians and whatnot seem to have remained unchanged from their prior 2011 incarnation. While this could, of course, simply be a first step to be built upon at a later date, it's surprising to see little serious development in terms of texture quality or fine detailing.
Compiling this problem is the fact that the game is oddly bereft of one of its key factions: Chaos. Rather than the usual four major forces all prior releases have featured, this will instead involve only three core armies, specifically the Blood Ravens, Craftworld Eldar and an Ork Waaagh! While it's entirely possible that a fourth is being developed or held back for a surprise release a-la Dawn of War II's Tyranid Hive Fleet, opening up with an apparent step backwards rarely works out well for major companies. Add in the fact that the screenshots themselves look remarkably like the finale stages of Cyrene, and it's an odd way to approach revitalizing this brand.
However, the screenshots themselves did reveal one very exciting detail: The return of Gabriel Angelos. Captured in the middle of loosing godsplitter upon a group of Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors, the venerable hero of the original games seems to have undergone a few upgrades. Chief among them is the fact he's traded in his older power armour for full blown Tactical Dreadnought Armour, which may allude to this game following on from Dawn of War: Retribution's Blood Ravens ending, where Angelos emerged as the new Chapter Master. At the moment most fans can only speculate, but SEGA has confirmed that he will be the hero of the Blood Ravens campaign.
All other sources of information stem largely from the aforementioned PCGamer article, so they're sadly only second hand bits of information, even if they are from a typically reliable source. While the article is well worth reading, the gist of it comes down to an apparent attempt by Relic to combine elements of both Dawn of War series. While we will be seeing the return of base building, large battles, mass drop pod assaults and orbital bombardments, many key aspects from Dawn of War II remain present. Collecting and leveling up elite units is a key part of the game, and range from heroes to specific elite variants of your more generic mooks. The cover based system detailed is more akin to what was seen in the second game, with the expected use of melee units as line-breakers and focus upon capturing certain key strong points.
The article also repeatedly reinforced the idea of Relic simplifying or slimming down certain elements. This could certainly be good or bad. "Simplification" usually rings all kinds of alarm bells in the minds of fans and recent revivals which have followed this trend have not exactly met expectations, case and point - Star Wars: Battlefront. However, in its defence, unlike that abomination we have the original development team returning once more, and Relic has a very solid track record. Both games were high grade products despite following a very different direction, and if there is a chance of making them accessible without ruining things, these are the guys with the best shot to pull it off. Also, almost any time accessibility is mentioned, it generally focuses on the most infamous RTS issues more than anything else. Fun as they are, the sheer scale of the forces involved and management aspects can be quite daunting. With the sadly middling sales of modern RTS classics (Grey Goo in particular) it is an understandable approach to take.
This is just what has been gleaned from a few brief teasers of course. Expect more promising updates in the months to come.