I’ve spent the better part of this past weekend running Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II through its paces, and so far I’m liking what I’ve seen. For the most part, I’ve been focusing on the single-player aspect of the game, which is much more RPG-like than I was expecting. It’s a pleasant surprise, and Relic seems to be doing things right, since I’m having a blast working my way through it. I’m much more of a single-player kind of guy when it comes to RTS games, so it’s refreshing when developers put more than just an afterthought toward this half of their games.
In the campaign, players control a small group of Space Marine hero units, supported by their accompanying squads. There are no bases to build or defend, no techs to research, and no resources to gather. It’s pretty much just an RPG with RTS trappings. Heroes gain experience and undergo a basic level-up stat and ability boost, allowing players to tailor their squads in various ways. Equipment drops, both random and scripted, allow for further hero development and some replayability in the campaign. A semi-branching storyline also makes for some interesting choices.
Gameplay is smooth and solid. Controlling the small number of units was quite simple, even later in the campaign when each hero sports several different powers and abilities. Pathfinding seems solid thus far, although without a base to worry about I hardly ever stopped babysitting my units. The game looks great, and captures Warhammer 40,000’s gritty feel extremely well. Overall I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen. I’ll finish the campaign soon and give the skirmishes a whirl, and hopefully have a full review shortly.