Impressions: Dawn of War II: Retribution

Real-time strategy games to me are like crack. I get addicted to them, in a bad way, and I haven’t really touched one since the original StarCraft. So seeing Relic Entertainment’s latest in the Dawn of War series was difficult as it looks really, really good.

I had one of the developers on the game run me through some of the new things fans can expect, such as the six playable races, the new multiplayer features and more.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Retribution (PC)
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Publisher: THQ
To be released: March 1, 2011 (NA) / March 4, 2011 (Everywhere else)

Retribution is the second stand-alone expansion for Dawn of War and this will be the first time that all six races will be playable. So you’ve got the Space Marines, Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, Tyranids and the new Imperial Guard race. There’s a unique campaign centered around every race too, each averaging about 10 hours. That’s a good 60 hours of single-player right there alone. Each campaign is made up of 16 missions and for the most part, they’re similar except for the different stories and bosses.

On the mulitplayer front, there are three new heroes. The Inquisitor hero is an offensive unit that has all kinds of unique abilities. The Commissar Lord is a support hero who … supports his troops by murdering them. Nothing like motivating your team by making an example! Finally, you have the Lord General, a defensive support hero who has a posse of guys that go around with him.

Of course you can expect new units for all the races too. Chaos Space Marines are getting a Noise Marine that shoots noise, Space Marines are getting a Land Raider, Orks get a new Battle Wagon and Tyrnaids are getting a Swarm Lord, which is a large Tyranid with swords.

In terms of new online features, Retribution will have a new chat lobby where players can create their own unique chat channel or join general chat channels. The company has also switched over to Steamworks — versus the previous Games for Windows Live functionality — so there are new leaderboards and a new matchmaking system based on the ELO system used in games like StarCraft II.

My demo was with the Imperial Guard, who like to use a lot of vehicles, such as the Manticore. This artillery vehicle has a huge attack radius and makes use of a new multi-targeting feature in Dawn of War. You can target four different areas, and the Manticore will launch four separate missile strikes.

What I really liked in Retribution is its resource system. You just need to secure specific points that give you the funds needed for building your troops. This is what separates the series from other RTS games as it’s more about getting into the fight.

I didn’t actually get hands-on time with Retribution since I didn’t have the time needed to really learn the controls. So I can’t say anything about how the controls are, but visually Retribution looks very pretty and detailed. Granted, this is a Warhammer 40,000 game and fans of this series are obsessive die-hards. You’d like this game if there were just a race made of cute little puppies. 

A race made of puppies would be awesome, actually.

Hamza Aziz