'Dawn of War III's' space marines make Master Chief look like a rookie recruit

'Dawn of War III's' space marines make Master Chief look like a rookie recruit

Before demoing Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, Game Director Phillippe Boulle described it as “a fast, big, real-time strategy game.” Perhaps doubtful we won’t embrace his claims at face value, the 10-year Relic Entertainment veteran then treated Digital Trends to a sneak peek that became more badass with each passing second.

A sequel to 2009’s Dawn of War II, and its subsequent expansions, DoW3 will feature three factions — Eldar, Orks, and Space Marines — at launch, but our hands-off preview focused on the screen-clearing capabilities of the latter group. Lead by elite hero Gabriel Angelos, the Space Marines are tasked with staining the snow-covered map with Eldar blood. Building on the popular hero units from DoW2, Angelos and his ilk are, according to Boulle, “Heroes with really crisp abilities that do a lot of damage and do lots of fun things.”

“You have to move out of the way…move your troops so they don’t get caught up in this giant death ray.”

If our demo is any indication, one of those “fun things” includes crushing foes with a hammer that makes Thor’s mighty Mjolnir look like a glorified mallet. Aptly dubbed the “God-Splitter,” we witnessed the massive weapon crush Eldar infantry like ants beneath a boot, before morphing into a spinning shield that not only knocked back approaching enemies, but also deflected bullets.

While the genetically engineered space knight has little trouble holding his own, he’s nevertheless joined by Solaria. Wielding a pair of enormous Gatling guns, the Imperial Knight is classified as a super elite or, as Boulle giddily described her: “the biggest, baddest unit we have ever produced for Dawn of War.” Solaria’s technically a late-game unit, but our developer-directed demo afforded us the opportunity see her in action early. Unleashing her Gatling Barrage ability, she sweeps the twin guns back and forth until the battlefield is brimming with Eldar corpses.

With the enemy forces temporarily silenced, Boulle took a moment to show off the game’s base-building mechanics. A popular feature from the first Dawn of War — but notably absent in the sequel — the ability to build barracks and other military structures makes a welcome return in DoW3. Of course, in keeping with the enemy-obliterating tone of our demo, Boulle used the feature to construct Dreadnaughts, powerful line units that essentially transform foes into craters with their mech-like melee claws.


Unfolding on the icy volcano planet of Acheron, the demo’s map sports plenty of cozy terrain suitable for cover. The few Eldar squads not yet turned into paste manage to find some temporary solace behind these shield-protected bunkers. Unfortunately for them, Boulle used their cover to demonstrate the power of Assault Terminators — close-combat elites capable of teleporting to their targets. The units took out the cover before opening their enemies from belly button to brain stem.

Despite deploying tanks in retaliation for the hell wrought by the Space Marines, the Eldar’s last ditch effort is summarily swatted by Solaria’s second ability, Ironstorm Missiles. A barrage of six projectiles, the devastating attack targeted its enemies, then cooked them, extra crispy. Speaking of barbecuing bad guys, the Space Marines saved their best foe-frying technique for the final set piece. With the Eldar nearly defeated, the super-soldiers pried open the heavens and rained down death with an Orbital Bombardment.

E3 2016: The Technomancer E3 trailer shows off brutal combat and a Mad Max-style Mars

While this planet-scorching attack might sound familiar to seasoned DoW fans, Boulle assured it’s been tweaked to take advantage of the latest tech. For starters, it can now be controlled by the player; rather than being triggered and left to do what it does best, the beam can be steered into targets for optimal enemy-vaporizing effect. If that’s not enough, the Super Ability also gains power with every target it turns to dust.

As Boulle cautioned, though, finding yourself on the business end of this Death Star-like laser is also more challenging thanks to its new-found maneuverability. “In a multiplayer context, if it’s being used against you, you really have to pay attention. You have to move out of the way … move your troops so they don’t get caught up in this giant death ray.”

In addition to being controlled by the developer, our demo was tailored and polished to showcase the map-clearing abilities of the Space Marines. If the game’s more strategic, brainy side can match the epic display of brawn we witnessed, though, DoW3 might be the ultimate culmination of its predecessor’s best features, with an added cinematic flair that could draw more casual fans into the cerebral genre.

We look forward to getting behind the Space Marines’ unmatched power when SEGA and Relic decide to put us in front of the mouse and keyboard ahead of the game’s 2017 release.


More days gone: Sony moves zombie exclusive ‘Days Gone’ to April

Sony has delayed the PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone to April. It was previously bumped from a 2018 release window into February, 2019, but Sony Bend apparently needs more time to add polish.

The best video games to gift this holiday season, from ‘Spider-Man’ to ‘Hitman 2’

The holidays are quickly approaching and you might be looking for ideas on what to get your favorite gamer. Here are the best games you can buy for your gaming loved ones this holiday season.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Annual game releases are boring. Try a quirky indie game for the PS4 instead

While big budget games rely on practical innovation, indie games dive head first into new, unexplored territories. If the quirky and unusual appeal to you, take a look at our list of the best indie games on PS4.
Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ adds Black Market system to dress up your soldier

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 added the Black Market system to PS4 today, giving players new ways to unlock and acquire additional customization items, such as outfits for Specialists.

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Product Review

Kill a Nazi while skiing in ’Battlefield V: War Stories’

World War II is hardly a unique setting for a shooter, but Battlefield V’s War Stories has managed to liven it up. Our preview left us eager to see more of the new Battlefield’s single-player story.

Have problems with your Xbox One? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.

Choose your weapon wisely -- these are the best keyboards for gaming on your PC

Your PC isn't complete without one of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. We have a list spanning full-sized models to compact versions from Razer, Cooler Master, Corsair, Logitech G, and more.