I've mentioned before when I've talked about Warhammer games, how much I love the franchise. I got back into it around middle school and I've stuck with it ever sense, and the very first Warhammer 40k game I ever played was Dawn of War 2, in fact one of the first Warhammer books I'd ever read was the novelization of it. I love it, and I've been a longtime fan and supporter of it, with some 100 odd hours put into the game.
That being said, I don't think I'll be picking up the successor. It had a kick-ass announcment trailer, don't get me wrong it was sick but after I've seen a bit of the game and I've watched some interviews and gameplay demonstrations, I've become increadbily wary of the whole thing. I've touched on the topic earlier in a previous article but I'd really like to get into the details for this one. You're free to agree or disagree and I'm sure much of what I'm going to say has already been said, but maybe you'll find some fresh insight in this most recent list of complaints and concerns.
#1: Static Combat
The biggest problem with big armies is that it essentially devolves into one big blob. To borrow a phrase from a short-lived general in the Imperial Guard, 'Whatever your enemy throws at you, hit him back with that plus more. Dont come babbling to me about fancy-named gambits. Bunch of sad old tinsel covering up the fact that you don't know what you're doing or don't have the salt to get it done. The plus more is all you need.' I think this is a good lesson for us all to take note of.
The problem with Dawn of War 3 isn't the big armies, it's that in every gameplay video I've seen it has essentially come down to a game of who can hit harder in a straight up slug fest. There's no strategy to it, and in a game that calls itself Real Time Strategy, this is an important element. Where's the feeling of reward that comes with outfoxing your opponent if you're just going to bulldoze him with wave after wave of soldiers? I know Dawn of War 2 got quite a lot of hate in the begining for its more squad-focused combat style but it actually forced you to take a moment to think about what you were doing rather than adopting the oh there's plenty more where that came from mentality with your units.
#2: The visual style
A much more common complaint and one that I can understand both angles from. From the developers perspecive they're trying to make a game based on Dawn of War 1 and 2, taking things from both so it makes sense that the visual style is going to be a tad diffrent, maybe even new and unique. I understand that game developers like to be a little creative you know, add their own spin onto it but one has to consider the setting of the game. It's called the 'Grim Darkness of the far future', not the 'bright lights and brigh, clean colors of the far future.'
If I were a more cynical man I'd say there was some breakdown in communication between the cutscene art and gameplay art because on one hand, the cutscenes clearly capture the dark monotone of Warhammer 40k while the gameplay has clean lines, bright uniforms and brighter color pallets, and an overall shiny-ness to it. I feel like it lacks the grit of the earliest Dawn of War games that Relic now claims it is trying to return to with this latest game. Now I'll state here that I do not think that we're looking at a finished product and of course these things are going to be changing as the game develops but right now based on gameplay videos and campaign walkthroughs I am not at all impressed.
#3 Limited Factions
Dawn of War will always center around the Blood Ravens, and I'm fine with that, that's their whole thing, the Chapter has become sort of iconic solely because of the game. But we're starting with the Orks, and the Eldar. Yet again, we've gone and ignored the vast majority of a rather large and detailed setting, taking a risk with bringing in some of the less-represented factions (looking at you, Tau/Necrons) and playing it safe with the most well-known three. I was hoping that when there was talk of a return to the formula for the first few Dawn of War games we'd also be getting the six or seven factions that came with them, not three.
Granted Dawn of War 2 wasn't the most inclusive game faction wise, but at least the Tyrannids had their day, it was actually refreshing to play a game where the main focus wasn't 'stop Chaos' and we got to see another aspect of the Imperium's fight for survival. I will admit I am concerned that we might be looking at a Total War: Warhammer style release for certain factions, like Chaos where once we get within sight of the release system we're going to see it pop up as a pre-order incentive.
#4 I don't need any more RTS games like this.
Let's look at what's being promised for this new game, alright? Big basebuilding, large-scale battles, and special hero units. It all sounds remarkably....standard. Almost like there's another Warhammer game out there that does exactly that, has more factions, has an established trackreckord and an established fanbase. At the end of the day the game still needs to be able to justify the $40 or $50 dollars I am going to be spending on it. I don't think that Dawn of War 3 is going to be worth the investment, frankly and like any other series I think we're going to start to see the limit of how far the nostalgia and devoted followers can carry a game before it falls apart, though to their credit, maybe the changes to gameplay and visual are going to be enough to inject enough new blood into the support base to keep it going for another title or two. But I still think I'd rather keep my money than put it towards this latest Dawn of War.
Anyone who has been following me for awhile knows that I'm no fan of Sega. I think they have the unique ability to take a game, and then burn it to the ground. Quite literally. Creative Assembly, the mind behind the Total War franchise, has been in a tough position with its fans for quite some time due to its practices. Now, I don't mind DLC. DLC can be good and often times DLC is a wonderful extension of the game. Look at Mass Effect 2 for example, Lair of the Shadowbroker is hailed as one of the best peices of DLC in the series, arguably one of the best bits of DLC ever made. A pre-order incentive can be valuable to a company and sometimes is a calculated risk. Will putting a DLC out hurt the companys reputation with its fans?
Creative Assembly has lost a lot of its fan support over the years. Let's look at it through the years. Rome 2 launches with the Greek City States. It launches with the worst launch in Total War history, but it launches nontheless and its reached the point where I've now met more than a few fans who look back on Rome 2 nostalgically. Attila launches, with the Viking Forefathers as DLC. Twice now we've got two fan favorite factions or groups of factions that have been included not as main-game but pre-order DLC factions, despite mild objections. And this doesn't include the Blood and Gore DLC, which inevitably comes up sometime when the game is launched.
Now Total War: Warhammer comes up and does the same thing with the Chaos faction, an undeinable fan favorite and essential to the lore. To their credit, Creative Assembly does realize its mistake eventually. Rob Bartholowmew, Creative Assembly's brand director is on record saying he 'completely understands' that the studio needs to build back its fans trust.
"We think that eventually we're going to get onto that kind of even keel, where people see new Total War content as an unequivocally good thing."
But good news, good news. Recently, Creative Assembly has turned a new leaf. They're still releasing DLC, but they've decided to call it 'Free-LC'. I don't know if its in jest or not, but the concept is solid. The DLC comprises of two individual characters and eleven maps, some of them specific to only one faction for certain campaign missions. It's a small gesture but a definite step in the right direction to fixing years of malpractice and dissapointment.