Dawn of War 3 (opens in new tab) is host to one of the most satisfying moments I’ve had in an RTS even though I had almost no idea what I was doing. I gathered a few dozen infantry, some siege tanks, my smaller elite units, and my massive mechanoid space marine elite unit, and threw them at an enemy base. I popped as many elite unit abilities as I could, including my ace card: the orbital laser. A violent light from the sky melted half of the enemy units and a building. The Big Red Button (more of a burnt sienna, really), rains destruction down from an unseen source above for a good while. It’s a valuable tactical tool in a complex RTS game, but to me, it’s how you win even if you don’t.
It took me a while to wind up and remember how to play Dawn of War, especially with no tutorial, but I got into the swing of things after 10 or so minutes in. Resource allocation is tied to zone defense, meaning you’re not building armies of drones to mine mineral deposits. Instead, you’re essentially holding a capture point that generates more resources the longer you hold it, which makes Dawn of War 3 about holding as much of the map as possible to ramp up your production. The downside to that is spreading yourself thin. It’s a pretty fun give and take.
Coupled with elite units that can’t permanently die–they respawn on a long timer–Dawn of War 3 feels like a natural return to RTS design where Warcraft 3 left off in favor of the MOBA route. Switching between hero management and base-building management is a lively way to think and play, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it culminates next year.