Dawn of War II: First Impressions


I should prefix this with “I did not have a lot of time to play. This first impression post is literally, a first impression from a short amount of time playing. I think I played it for all of 30 minutes!”. If you’re looking for something precise and in depth, go elsewhere. I will have a more in depth follow up at another time but this should suffice for people that didn’t know this game was coming and I do note some pretty obvious differences.

PART 1 – I Just Want to Play Dammit!

After it installed, I wasn’t prompt for a Windows Live Gamer ID so I didn’t bother making one. I launched it from Steam. Then launched it again. Seems the first time you launch from Steam it checks that it’s legit or something (up to date?) and once that is done you have to click play. You then get another pop up telling you your CD key which you will (apparently) need to enter into the game once it starts.

It starts up, pretty cinematic which was already released. I get to the starting screen and a Steam overlay pops up at the bottom. Okay, so I can access some of the Steam features like finding friends or something like that, I didn’t look too closely other than to find out that SHIFT+TAB closes it. SHIFT+TAB. Another overlay for Steam shows up saying a bunch of stuff… I thought I closed this? SHIFT+TAB and it went away.

Down from the top pops the Windows Live overlay.

It has my accont name and icon, some buttons for settings, inbox, chat and friends list. I see I’m online – go surprise there – and close the overlay. I get another pop up saying if I want to bring it up again I just have to press HOME. I close that too and think to myself, I’m just going to play single player, why do I care about that stupid overlay?

I click on Campaign and it says, “Please log into Windows Live”. I press HOME and log in. Grrr…

I click Campaign again and it lists me as Player One and Player Two as empty – oh right, there is a co-op mode to this game. Neat. I click Start again, it starts up and tells me I’m to be the savior of the planet Calderis, home world and breeding ground for the Blood Ravens. Orks are attacking, you are the only one sent in because you’re so awesome – I’m not sure if everyone will get this because I get the impression it was aimed specifically at me… being awesome and all that.

The loading was a bit slow bit the loading screen was sort of neat. The starting mission finish loading and I discover it is a non-intrusive tutorial. Thank you!

You’re given some simple tasks like move your guys up using cover, fight off some orks and help save the encampment. The tips on how to move pop up as icons on the left of the screen with little titles so you can pick and choose which ones you want to (or need to) see. I clicked on one for the sake of it and the tip popped open with a voice reading it out for me. Good stuff, I could listen and focus on what was happening in the game.

It doesn’t take too long to bail the encampment out, I didn’t start all that far away from it. The guy in charge says we need to go recover a supply area those bloody Greenskins took. So I go do that, but on the way I face my first vehicle. Pretty neat, you don’t get to blow it up, it will retreat.

You then take back the supply area and blow up the mine entrance from which the Orks have been spewing out of.

At that point, you get a congratulations and the guy talks to you a bit more. You’re presented with a results screen along with some of the Wargear you collected and which squads leveled.

I eagerly clicked Continue and was shown a loading screen with no progress bar. After waiting for a minute, I noticed there was a window in the background and the game had crashed. Some issue assigning something.

Disappointed, I OKed the crash dialogs and had to log off to help my son with the PS2 game he bought (Star Wars: Bounty Hunter).

I did manage to make it to bed at a reasonable time though. 🙂

PART 2 – Did DoW Get a Haircut?

Campaign Mode

Campaign Mode starts off with only Space Marines as the only option and I’m not sure if that will change during the campaign. I thought this game was due out much later than this so I haven’t done the research on it and I also didn’t read the manual.

I’ll revisit this later when I get a chance to go further in.

Squads

They appear to have moved away from the squad building and resource management type of game that the original DoW was. I’ll admit, this almost made me not want to buy the game but I figured I’d give it a try.

Your squads have a set number and specific abilities which limited use. Squads have health, and I get the impression as the health gets lower, the number of people in the squad drops which appears to impact damage they do.

They also have some sort of focus or action points or mana. I’m not sure it was morale because I believe it fuels some of the specials for the guys. I could be wrong and this may simply be the morale bar.

The squad you start with is (I believe) a Space Marine squad. It has four guys and is level one. The squad also had two abilities. The first seemed to allow the squad to shrug off a ‘pinned down’ state and allow them to move at reduce speed to better cover – this is the one that appears to use the other bar but I could be wrong, I never actually had to use it. The second ability was tossing a frag grenade which works wonders; big boom, destroys destructible items including guard towers.

The squad had expected movement actions available to it like move, attack and attack move. I didn’t pay too much attention to this, I will next time. 🙂

Heroes

You also get hero-like units. This isn’t that far off of what DoW had originally, except you cannot add them to a squad. They act independantly.

The hero units are more durable and have more of a leadership type of ability. The hero unit you start with, who gets named after the name you specify when starting up, is a Force Commander. He starts at level one and has two abilities. The first ability appears to be an attack that sends him charging towards the designated location, smiting everything on the way there – this is on a cool down timer. Pretty cool. The second ability lets you heal nearby allies. This, like the frag grenade, has a limited number of charges.

Specials

I get the impression there will be a few more specials added as you go because there was plenty of room for it in the GUI. I suspect this is tied to levels and wargear you might pick up.

Supply Packs

Enemy squads, structures or destructible containers will drop these. If you pick these up, you refresh your squads’ limited specials (frag grenades and the medical kits). I didn’t notice if these refresh squad health but I did notice that you didn’t actually need to run a squad over to collect it – you, the user, simply clicks on it and you collect it. That seems a little odd.

Cover

This is pretty important and not as simple as it used to be in DoW because most cover appears to be destructible. That means your cover can go away so you need to micromanage your squads more. While cover is in place, you’ve got a good advantage and your units are protected.

I believe this also makes their morale stay higher up.

Note that you cannot simply click “Reinforce Squad” and replace fallen members of the squad so cover is even more important than it was in DoW.

Pinned Down

I haven’t experienced this, but I saw it in a gameplay trailer a couple of months ago. It seems when your squad’s morale is broken or they’re taking a lot of fire without (enough) cover, they will drop to their bellies and become ‘pinned down’. Their effectiveness becomes reduced quite significantly. It seems like it is a replacement for the good old “squad broken!” warning in DoW. While pinned down, they don’t move much so you’ll need to bail them out.

Like in DoW, there appears to be abilities that let you deal with this. I noted the Space Marine squad seems to have one that lets them stand up and move slowly away from where they were.

Wargear

Much like in the later expansions to DoW, you get wargear which can be used to upgrade units. I had two pieces of wargear when I finished the starter level. One was a gun and the other was a sword. I think both were specific to the Force Commander but I remember hearing you can get some to augment your regular squads with.

These appear to come with advancing the story (I think I got that sword one from that) or are dropped from enemy squads, containers or structures.

Levels

They added a level mechanic that is a little more obvious than the one in DoW.

I didn’t notice enough of a change in the squad or unit while playing but I will pay more attention to this next time. I do remember from the demo video, that levels will eventually give you some sort of talent spec tree you can tweak the units with.

Death

Sorry, I didn’t die at all so I’m not sure what they’re doing for this. If I remember right, your squad or unit becomes disabled, completely. You need to use another unit to revive it, I believe.

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6 thoughts on “Dawn of War II: First Impressions

  1. I’m a bit disappointed in what Windows LIVE turned out to be. I guess I was expecting a Steam or Xfire type deal where the client itself had the overlays, etc. but the client only has the marketplace. I don’t have (nor do I currently plan to) own any GFWL games so it’s useless. I was hoping to be able to plugin non-GFWL titles (like I do with Steam) so it can still show what I’m playing to my friend list. No such luck.

    Tried searching for SmakenDahead as a Gamertag but no such luck… lol

    DoW2 sounds cool though, I prefer the Action RTS or Real Time Tactical (whichever term you prefer) over the old base-building and micro-managing RTS. But considering I bought WiC and only played… once? I don’t see myself getting into DoW2 either.

  2. Try “SmakenDahed” without the “a” in “head”. 😉

    WiC is which game?

    I was disappointed to see it’s so tied into the Xbox Gamertag system. I guess it makes some sense for the cross platform games, but bleh.

    I tried adding my gamertag info to this blog but it seems Microsoft wants you to wrap it in an iframe which I don’t think WordPress likes.

  3. Very welcome, sir!

    Oh, WiC = World in Conflict… sweet game, I just never got a chance to get into it (darned MMOGs…) and I only have one friend (that I know of) who owns it and he lives in Norway and the time difference always made it difficult to get together for any gaming at all.

  4. DoW II was awesome… finished the whole game quite quickly though ( a night and a day) but then I didn’t do all the missions… i’m currently on my second way through… the units don’t die as stated by Smakendahed, but they get wounded and unusable unless revived by another unit… if all units go down they are emergency extracted and you loose the mission. There is also a point system by which if you scour the map and kill all enemies you get up to 5 points, this is offset by speed which can get you up to 5 points. The number of units that didn’t get injured (if you had to revive them… you don’t get points) up to 5 point. If you get enough points you get an extra deployment for that day… and daily time… is a factor… so the more deployments you get in a day is a good thing… All the factors mesh really well, nothing is wasted… all in all it is a really good gaming experience

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