Dawn of War 2: Retribution Gamescom impressions

Dawn of War II

Like orks? Like orks in pirate hats? Like orcs with pirate hats, hammers and grappling hooks? You almost certainly want to read our first impressions of Dawn of War II: Retribution, then. Because it contains all of the above. And more.

The Dawn of War II: Retribution demo begins with an introduction to our heroes. There are four, as per the previous campaigns. Captain Bluddflagg is our leader. He carries a hammer on one hand, a gun in the other. And he wears a jaunty pirate hat. Mister Nailbrain is his first-matev and the team's gadget specialist, and rocks a rocket launcher. And also: a jaunty hat. Spookums is the stealth ork, if such a thing exists. He carries a grappling hook and wears an eyebatch. Brikkfist is the heavy melee shock trooper. He's got a giant rocket pack on his back, and wields a mighty, mighty hammer.

The mission, explains Relic, is simple. “The Orks are going to kill some Eldar and take their stuff. This explains most of their missions.” The map is a black-rock world, with blood red lava flowing across the surface.

Predictably, the Eldar are not keen on this plan. “You! You dare violate this tomb! I shall shred your mind with the wail of a banshee,” wails their lady leader.

But the orks really want the shinies. At one point, one of them clearly says “Dubloons.” Ork pirates are clearly the best.

There are a couple of new mechanics introduced in Retribution. The first are new abilities for units. Spookums can sneak up close to a unit, or use his grappling hook to fling himself across the map. We then bring in a suppression squad, Slugga Boys who pin the Eldar down, before finishing the job with Brikkfist - who pummels the remaining troops with a rocket launcher. With the tower down, the Ork team are free to capture a control point.

That's where the second mechanic comes in. Retribution is rolling back towards old-style RTS games. If you've captured a point, you can then build squads, and customise your heroes. Different capture points open up different resources. Some drop money, while some increase the population cap. It's a similar mechanic to how capture points work in Company of Heroes multiplayer.

The focus of the demo then switches to our warboss, Captain Bluddflagg. He tanks an Eldar Wraithwalker while sluggers, now massed into a vast army, take on smaller troops. That's a encouraged strategy: the Warboss gets combat bonuses when surrounded by the little sluggers.

Relic have improved how the mission rewards are distributed, too. When you finish a mission, you no longer get a single reward. You now get a choice from three. And as you play missions, you'll find enemy headquarters which let you build more units, or buy new equipment.

There are further questions left to answer. There will definitely be a new race included with Dawn of War II: Retribution, but Relic are remaining tight-lipped as to who that'll be. Our money is on the Imperial Guard. There's also at least one more campaign to come: but again, who it stars, and if it's just a pair of missions is up for grabs. And Relic are still batting ideas back and forth as to what they'll deliver for multiplayer.

But it looks great. It'll be out in March next year.