Bringing the Dark Fantasy Epic Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War III to Life on PC
Now available exclusively on PC, Dawn of War III is the latest instalment in the enormously popular real-time strategy franchise set in the expansive Warhammer 40,000 sci-fi universe. Introducing numerous new factions and heroes, Dawn of War III allows players to suit up as Space Marines, Eldar and Orks in a gripping new chapter that unfolds after a devastating doomsday weapon known as the Spear of Khaine is discovered on the lost planet of Acheron.
The game’s launch on PC is the result of hard work by a development team dedicated not only to creating something new each time around, but striving to remain faithful to those elements that caused players to love the Warhammer 40K universe and its intricacies in the first place.
Philippe Boulle, Dawn of War III's Director, notes that Relic has been fortunate enough to develop pieces of the 40K cannon, and that close relationship with Games Workshop definitely influences development of future titles.
"That gives us our starting position," Boulle explains. "We have a cast of characters that we either want to revisit or add to (or both). After that, it becomes about gameplay. When we know what gameplay we want to deliver, we then work to find the narrative/setting elements that will best express that."
Previous Dawn of War titles pushed the genre forward in interesting ways, or iterated on classic mechanics with great success. Critics and players loved the results, and there is constant pressure to continue improving the franchise and even the RTS formula in general with each new installment. The development team was careful this time around to make sure that the traditional spectacle remains a part of the experience, but this time with an emphasis on clarity (to provide players with a greater sense of control and agency).
"We made a concentrated effort to align the presentation with the gameplay import of an event," says Boulle. "So, whereas we may have put all the love into a grenade's explosion in the past, we now put as much flash into the tell (the bright trace of the arcing grenade) since that's when the opposing player can react."
This smart approach to design shows up in other areas, too. A great deal of thought went into the numbers that are running under the hood and quietly determining the outcome of close matches.
"We eliminated the random number generation that was happening at a low level in the combat model," notes Boulle, "making damage output and ability results much more predictable and probable. Statistically, it may seem like a shot that hits 80% of the time and does 100 damage is the same as a shot that hits 100% of the time and does 80 damage, but our game moves so quickly that when that 1/5 chance to miss happens, neither player can really understand why."
Though players will likely appreciate the results of that devotion to the small things that can wind up impacting the gameplay in a big way, Dawn of War has always been known for its impressive visual design. That continues with the third installment.
"We added volumetric, froxel-based fog to give the maps a much more dimensional feel," says Matt Kuzminski, the game's Art Director, before listing other enhancements that include improved shadow fidelity and anti-aliasing techniques, multi-threaded rendering usage and greater energy conservation thanks to materials matching Substance Designer materials. "We also added Flow maps for natural river movement. As well, we introduced selection silhouettes around units to better identify them on the battlefield."
The game offers a cinematic approach to its rich world, which players saw first in an announcement trailer produced with Axis Animation, a Glasgow studio also responsible for a number of story animatics you'll see throughout the campaign.
"We produced other imagery and in-engine sequences in house," notes Boulle. "Each of these required different amounts of effort, but they were all lovingly crafted to bring the story to life."
That story includes an obvious focus on the heroes that drive it, but the development team realized heroes need to do more than just look cool. They also have to impact the gameplay in ways that justify their inclusion.
"The intent for heroes can vary a great deal," says Boulle. "Often it will come from gameplay ('We need a line breaker hero for the Eldar'), but it can also come from our narrative goals or even visual designs we want to try. Of course the IP provides an endless font for cool heroes, but in the end we need to feel confident that they both have a clear gameplay role and that they fulfill the fantasy of that hero."
With Dawn of War III finally reaching players around the world, the obvious next question is where the game might go next. Boulle is well aware of tradition, and it sounds like you can look forward to the world continuing to expand around this newest release.
"Nothing is set in stone at this writing," Boulle notes, "but Dawn of War has a long history of meaty expansions that add factions, campaign content and more to the game. It's a fair assumption to think that's what we'll be doing this time out as well."
If you haven't already, check your favorite retailer for Dawn of War III, and get ready to dive into a beautiful corner of the Warhammer 40K universe, complete with the heroes and battles, the depth and the splendor you have come to expect from the beloved franchise.
Dawn of War III is now available on PC. Get the best Dawn of War III experience by ensuring your PC is Game Ready with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-Series GPU. Go here to learn about the GeForce GTX 10-Series, which includes the newly released GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.