Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
When I first laid eyes on “Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II”, I was skeptical. Not because it looked like a bad game (which it isn’t), but because I’m generally not a fan of squad management games. I was a bit more close-minded and picky in the games I played back then, but I’m glad I broke through that barrier so that I could experience this “little” gem.
The main menu contains your typical array of options: single player, multiplayer, and the ability to adjust game settings. The single player option will take the player through a scripted campaign, though the player will have limited freedom in what missions to partake. If you own the expansion, “Chaos Rising”, you’ll be able to embark on that campaign from here, though I recommend playing the original campaign first to get your feet wet. Multiplayer lets you play both online or offline with bots, though the game is played a bit differently in this mode. Whereas the campaign allows for no base or unit building, multiplayer allows them to a limited degree.
The campaign’s first few missions are comprised of tutorials to help you get acclimated to the game. You’ll learn about the cover system, which is similar to that of “Company of Heroes”. Yellow and green dots are displayed near objects that provide cover, giving the player an idea of how well units will be protected there. Like in “Company of Heroes”, cover is an extremely important aspect of the game. Players will also learn how to use a squad’s special abilities, some of which are limited. Luckily, you can destroy supply caches to reveal supplies that can replenish your stock. Capturing beacons allow squads to replenish, should any men in a squad fall in battle (which they will).
In between missions, you’ll be able to level up your squads and assign points among four different trees: stamina, ranged attack, melee attack, and will. Each squad has a preset bar in each category. Put enough bars into a particular category and you’ll unlock the abilities specified there. You can’t customize the skills a particular squad has, but you can specialize them by focusing on one or two categories. Cyrus, for example, can be a deadly sniper in which case you’ll want to focus on the ranged attack category. Loot will drop during missions, which you can assign to your squads from here as well. Players will need to pay attention to the modifiers on these pieces and can sell ones they don’t want for an XP boost.
I’ve put over forty hours into the game and haven’t grown tired of playing it. Some of the missions do get repetitious…though most are optional. Being the completionist I am, I play all of them in the hopes of getting some really good drops. There’s also the matter of keeping up with the enemy on the map screen. After so long in the campaign, you’ll have the ability to choose among a few different missions, each with an advertised end date as to when they’ll no longer be available. Doing a mission takes a full day, so you’ll need to be cautious and do the missions in the right order lest you let one expire.
Each mission takes about ten to fifteen minutes, give or take, so you’ll be putting a lot of time into this game in order to complete the campaign. There will also be numerous boss fights of varying difficulties to contend with. There are two points of interest / buildings on each map that you can capture to increase your squads’ abilities, though you’ll only be able to capture one of them in a sitting. Don’t worry, you’ll often come back to these maps (optional or not) in which case you can capture the other one you missed. Capturing them goes a long way into making your team that much more formidable.
There’s a lot more that I didn’t cover…squad types, gear slots, factions, special items, and etc. I will say however that the game is seriously worth the money, especially now that it’s come down in price since launch. My only complaint is the lack of variety in gear, though “Chaos Rising” offers a bit more in that department. This is one squad management / strategy game that you won’t want to miss.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can find the game on Steam here:
You can check out gameplay video here: