Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III (Windows)

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  • 12576 
    Playable factions: Space Marines, Eldar, Orks.


  • 12524 

    After 30 years of playing RTS games, I have realized something about myself: I don't like story-based RTS campaigns.

    To be clear, I love many elements of the RTS genre:

    • I like building, commanding, and upgrading tiny units.
    • I like building bases, and the pressure of withstanding hordes of attacking enemies.
    • I like developing strategies for which unit combinations work best against other unit combinations.
    • I like the type of RTS meta-game where you conquer zones in a world map, pioneered by Dune II and later reimagined by Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.

    However, what I don't like are campaign missions where a story is told through scripted events on an RTS map, where you move a small group of units around, learning to use their abilities, defending bases, rescuing units.

    I don't like that many of the missions will have sequences where the gameplay boils down to moving a single unit or small group of units around and activate their abilities once in a while. When I realized that this is the part I don't like, a question came to mind: Moving a unit using a mouse cursor and activating timed abilities is exactly the gameplay of action RPGs like Diablo. I like Diablo. So why is this type of gameplay fun in Diablo-likes and not in RTSes?

    Firstly, the production time spent by a developer on a single hero unit is obviously going to be limited by the number of other units in an RTS. Thus, we wouldn't expect the controls, abilities, and animation to be as sofisticated as those of a Diablo character. Usually the RTS unit will have less refined controls, less abilities, and less detailed animation. So, from the facts of game development, the part of an RTS that plays like Diablo is going to be less refined than Diablo, where this part is the entire game. The Diablo-part of an RTS is going to seem like a 'cheaper' version of Diablo.

    Secondly, I think games like Diablo keep your attention by leveling up your character and making them more powerful as you play, making earlier enemies easier to defeat, and enabling using new loot. These elements are rarely present in RTSes, and even if they are, they will be pretty shallow. The progression in these sequences are then mostly based on getting through a mission, rather than empowering your character.

    Most story-based RTS campaigns don't reinvent the wheel, but fall back on these types of missions pioneered by games like StarCraft. Many players seemed to enjoy this type of campaign in 1998, and RTS developers retained these tropes since.

    I don't enjoy playing this type of campaign anymore, and I might resign to just focusing on skirmish modes, where you just play matches against AI enemies.

    I wish that RTS developers would focus on making a simple but effective metagame such as conquering world maps or leveling up your units. The missions themselves should be based on the core gameplay that make RTSes unique: building bases and commanding groups of units.

Log entries

  • 12519 
    I own this, and completely forgot about it. I need to play it soon.
  • 12523 
    I just finished the first story mission of this game. It works well enough, even though I think I prefer earlier Dawn of War games.
  • 2022-01-02
  • 12535 
    I won my first skirmish on casual difficulty, Space Marines vs. Orks. My pulse is pounding, this game is as stressful as the original Dawn of War. I like moving down Orks with Dreadnoughts and Predators, but I think I prefer the simplicity of the original game.

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