Unlikely Comrades: Dawn of War II – The Last Stand

By Alec Meer on August 29th, 2009 at 12:50 am.

Friday nights are for playing Champions Online for far too long with Messrs Gillen and Cameron while waiting in vain for grumbly John Walker to join us, instead of getting my posts for RPS done and packing for a camping trip in the wilds of Sussex. Sigh. At least I am cheered by news of an impending update for Dawn of War II, which adds a promising-sounding new mode to the game. It even gets its own chest-pounding WAR IS NOBLE AND MANLY CGI video…

Here’s that trailer. Between that and the title, you can probably take a pretty educated guess as to what’s involved:

HD version here, if you like.

Yep, it’s about Orks, Space Marines and Eldar finally becoming bezzie chums and having a big old inter-species orgy amongst the chitin and ichor of a thousand Tyranid corpses.

Ah, dreams. And also fan-baiting lore-stretching.

In fact, The Last Stand is about two things. Number 1, a new co-operative multiplayer mode, in which you and your allies each play a single Hero character to hold out for as long as possible against rampaging swarms of enemies, and rack up combo points in the process. Number 2, it’s about making DOW2 multiplayer accessible to folk who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool online RTS veterans. This is simply about killing everything that moves, as enthusiastically as possible. At least if this Gamespy preview of the Last Stand to be believed, anyway.

Interestingly, a chap in that piece’s comments thread observes it sounds rather similar to a DoW 2 mod named Hero Defense. Reading up about it, it does sound like he’s got a point, but without having yet played both I’m really in no place to make a judgement. Devs taking ideas from the gaming community can be a wonderful thing, but this could perhaps be a little too close to the bone.

Nonethless, extra DOW2, different DOW2. Free embiggening can only be a good thing for an RTS that arguably wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been.

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52 Comments »

  1. Shalrath says:

    Good God that looks like a lot of fun. I’ve always loved, err, ‘last stand’ game types.

  2. Vinraith says:

    OK, this is honestly the first DoW 2 related thing to come down the pipe that actually looks like a lot of fun to me. Now I just need a nice, steep price drop.

  3. Psychopomp says:

    I love DoW2′s multiplayer

    Now if only it was possible to not have to deal with three man teams, going around with their vent ,and organization, absolutely demolishing us lowly pubbies.

  4. Starky says:

    I got it for £9.99 off Play that’s about as cheap as a new-ish game can get.

  5. Starky says:

    Just checked It’s only £11.99, so a lot cheaper than steam (and you add it to steam anyway).

    Which is at £34.99 – would only cost you a fiver more for the complete THQ pack atm.

  6. Über Nerd says:

    £10 is still too much for it…

  7. Vinraith says:

    I can’t seem to locate it for anything close to that in the US.

  8. blerg says:

    As someone who doesn’t really like competitive multiplayer in RTS games (I’m a pussy) this looks great.

  9. An Innocuous Coin says:

    Hopefully this doesn’t fill to the brim with unpleasant elitists, this looks rather fun.

  10. RyePunk says:

    Indeed. Certainly reason enough to bring me back to the game, at least for a week or so.

  11. Sprint says:

    This kind of survival mode has been done numerous times in WarCraft 3 so neither oneproduct or Relic are being completely original. Both versions look fun. It’s a shame the mod team’s thunder has been stolen somewhat but Relic have just as much right to the idea.

  12. Lanster27 says:

    It is a good implementation, since dow2 is all about management to an rpg level. This will feel more like the dow2 campaign, which is great btw.

  13. Eplekongen says:

    When saying “Devs taking ideas from the gaming community can be a wonderful thing” one might want to consider Heroes of Newerth as exactly that.

  14. JonFitt says:

    Relic have been doing well by DoW2. They could have chosen the route of saving this and the new maps/rebalance for release in the inevitable expansion pack. Instead they’ve given out some nice updates while undoubtedly working on the expansion in parallel.

  15. ids says:

    This looks great is it patched into the retail game. If it is that great because i like games with over whelming odds placed against me. Pretty much know i got to play as eldar warp-spider hero know

  16. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Still eagerly await the arrival of the Imperial Guard.

    Won’t pick up a copy until an expansion lets me roll out a Baneblade.

  17. Dave L. says:

    Much as I love Relic (a lot, btw), stealing the mod community’s thunder has kind of been an ongoing thing with the DoW franchise. The first major mod project for DoW was IG, which was almost finished, then Winter Assault was announced, adding the Guard. Next big ones: Necrons and Tau -> Dark Crusade gets announced. There was a Sisters of Battle mod that was quite far along. Soulstorm. The Tyranid mod guys actually got so scared that they started closing any threads on their forums about the possibility of DoWII being made, and did a big news post about how DoWII was never, EVER, going to happen, and, dammit, their mod would be finished and be great! A few months later: DoWII announcement trailer.

    What DoWII really needs for multiplayer is to scrap the current structure altogether. They simplified the wrong parts of the traditional RTS structure and ended up making a multiplayer mode that was even harder for a casual player to get into, which was completely opposite from their intent. A tabletop-esque mode where each player has a set number of points to select units for their army, and that’s the army they get for the match would maybe be perfect. Add persistent unit levelling and functional ranking based matchmaking and you’re golden. Who knows, the persistent hero set-up for Last Stand may be the first step towards that.

  18. TotalBiscuit says:

    @Über Nerd – Dear lord you are everything that’s wrong with PC gamers today.

  19. Vinraith says:

    @TotalBiscuit

    A given game’s monetary value will vary considerably from person to person, so I’m not sure exactly what you’re on about. Personally I plan to pick up DoW 2 when it’s in the $5-$10 range because, honestly, the demo did nothing for me and I’m deeply skeptical that I’ll enjoy the game.

    It’s not about being cheap, it’s about establishing priorities. Things I know I’ll enjoy get bought at full price, things I want to try but doubt I’ll like get bought for cheap.

  20. pignoli says:

    I feel th need to weigh in on this exchange as I pre-ordered this game for £22 and feel that I absolutely got my moneys worth from the very gratifying SP alone. I just can’t do the MP, I really don’t have time to get good at it. That was a road I started down with Sup Comm and it’s just a time sink. Anyway, my point is that anything under £15 is well worth it for this game and I’m just glad they’re adding a MP mode that I can enjoy without actually being that good:) And you should all buy it, becasue I want a proper expansion with a new campaign!

  21. Vinraith says:

    @pignoli

    Like I said, different values for different people. :)

  22. Ecko says:

    I’m gonna join in with TotalBiscuit and say I agree. £10 for this game is a goddamn bargain.

  23. subedii says:

    @Dave L: units of the Imperial Guard were in Dawn of War on release, they were naturally going to be in an expansion pack later. After that, the only three major races not included in the original game? Tau, Necron, Tyranid. The first two got an expansion pack, the second made the sequel because it wasn’t really feasible to do them properly in the DoW1.

    I can’t really say Relic have been “stealing the modding community’s thunder”, they’ve been making the logical choices with the franchise and expanding it as much as possible. What sub-factions that weren’t added to the game as whole races (Dark Eldar, Sister’s of Battle) sometimes made it in as units (Harlequins). The mod teams were working to include the most popular and the most demanded factions, it’s not Relics fault that they were as well.

    It’s not like Relic set out want to do the same thing the mod community is or anything. I mean last I checked, there weren’t any Daemonhunters in the official game either.

  24. Centy says:

    I bought this on Play a few weeks ago for 9.99 and very much feel I got a bargin. I was skeptical of the game because I didn’t really like the beta and I dont play the single-player stuff in RTS games at all. Luckily the campaign is excellent and as with all things made better with coop oh so much better.

    Very excited about this because like most people I don’t play the online matches because I would be decimated within a few minutes.

  25. Garg says:

    Whilst it may sound like Relic have just copied a mod scene here, I seem to remember a mode in their last CoH expansion which was similar to this.

    Think it’s a good idea; hoping for something like the L4D survival mode with things becoming hugely hectic toward the end.

  26. SwiftRanger says:

    If you guys cared to read the developer’s forum posts then you’d know Relic have been working on this for a very long time, almost right after release even. So it’s not a stolen DoW II mod idea, as if that concept itself didn’t appear in other games as well like others have said…

    Sounds good but I did expect news from an addon much earlier. Even Empire got an expansion announcement already…

  27. Arturo says:

    This will be tons of fun, can’t wait.

    I play multiplayer almost daily, but I do have to admit that the matchmaking system is mostly broken. Rather frequently it will be two decently ranked players and a third low ranked player versus three high ranks. It might just be a numbers thing, with a smaller pool of people to draw from.

    That being said it’s still a blast, and this mode will be lots of fun. The only thing really lacking in this game is some innovative maps. As someone had mentioned in a previous thread, they took a great RTS concept and stuck it on some very static and boring 2d maps, which is a shame.

  28. boatorious says:

    There was also a horde-like mode in the (non-Relic) developed, latest CoH expansion. I forget the name — Tales of Valor, maybe?

    Anyway, even if Relic hadn’t come up with this idea, I encourage them to steal away. Games are not art. The goal of making games is not to be original, the goal is to make great games.

  29. Heliocentric says:

    If relic didn’t make the last expansion who did?

  30. bill says:

    Rather than this being a case of Relic copying a mod, isn’t this a case of EVERYONE copying Gears of War 2?

  31. Heliocentric says:

    Yes, gears of war 2 did escalating enemies until you die first. Silly me.

  32. LQB says:

    This should be pretty good, and the Eldar and Ork wargear may very well pave the way for their respective campaigns.

    As for an expansion it should be noted the game isn’t even a year old but with that said I’m sure they have concepts, possibly even working assets but they want to round out the base of their original game before diving head long into an expansion.

    Personally I don’t think it would hurt if they overhauled their online game by adding CoH style observation posts and very limited base building to make the Sim City RTS gamers happy.

  33. unclelou says:

    I thought it was fantastic in single-player, only there wasn’t enough of it. Not really interested in mp, which is why I wish they’d add some singleplayer content instead of multiplayer after mutliplayer after multiplayer update.

  34. subedii says:

    I wouldn’t want base-building added into the mutliplayer (or singleplayer for that matter) to be honest. Dawn of War 2 just isn’t that kind of game. There’s technology upgrading over the course of a match, so you always need to be concerned about the metagame, but it’s a streamlined process. You don’t have to concern yourself with putting down buildings, there are 3 tech levels, and upgrades apply to individual squads instead of globally.

    I can understand the desire for base building, but that’s already done in other games anyway. When I feel like something bigger scale I usually go for Supreme Commander. I wouldn’t want DoW 2 to dilute itself in trying to be something it’s not.

  35. subedii says:

    @ UncleLou: This is really more co-op content than competitive multiplayer. If you haven’t already, you really ought to try doing the campaign co-op with someone, preferably on a high difficulty. The game really comes into its own there.

    Now take that and make it a more immediate, direct gameplay mode. You each get a commander, and you’re working with each other to fight off hordes of Xeno’s.

  36. Okami says:

    Left for Tyranids?

  37. malkav11 says:

    More cooperative content, for free? Yay!

  38. Fumarole says:

    More cooperative content, for free? Yay!

    What he said.

  39. Sunjammer says:

    I really wish they had added more competitive modes instead. Survival mode of any sort can rot in the chinese hell of repeated lazy game designs.

  40. Heliocentric says:

    Dow’s whoosh bam boomtasticness hardly seems to suit harsh survivalism. Hmm…

  41. Warskull says:

    If you don’t already own the game, I strongly recommend waiting until after this update comes out to consider purchasing it. Relic has a long history of horrible game-breaking bugs and when they introduce one it takes them months to fix it. Make sure the mode works and isn’t crippled by bugs before you lay your money down.

    It nice to see them try and make-up for the train wreck of a release though.

  42. LQB says:

    @Warskull
    That’s a bit of an exaggeration, yes it had bugs like the popcap bug but you make it seem like the game bombed a day care. Since then DoW2 has improved by leaps and bounds, 1.5 to be frank was a massive step in the right direction and as of now the only real concern are debatable balance issues.

  43. Archonsod says:

    Meh, it still doesn’t feel like 40K, and plays far too much like CoH with all the good bits taken out.

  44. Crispy says:

    £10 is a bargain.

    The reasons people don’t like DoW2 (all valid, but they don’t stop me really enjoying it) are:

    - 3v3 Team ganking (basically a group of 3 friends using mics can team up and be forced on a pick-’n'-mix team of randoms)
    - Visual upgrades only unlockable by ranking up in Ranked matches (via the broken matchmaking system that doesn’t accurately pair up skillsets; it’s worth noting there is a mod out that allows you all the visual upgrades)
    - The game is too different to conventional RTSes (not enough base-building, less sense of macro)
    - The game balance is (was) broken (right now the balance is the best it’s ever been, there’s only a few minor things people aren’t happy with which can be fixed with very small changes)

    What I don’t agree with is that the game is too hard. You can get your arse spanked in any RTS as a newbie if you join the party late. The main problem is the matchmaking. If it worked it’d be a lot better, but for now it’s just better for newbies to go on the Custom>Public games where they can pick their fights.

    As for the CoH comparison, what’s good about knowing you’ve lost 15 mins into the game and having to wait out the next 30 mins for the loss? Comebacks were rare in CoH, but in DoW2 they’re very doable as long as you don’t lose your entire army.

  45. Inanimotioon says:

    This game type was one of my favorite in Warcraft 3.
    I was never very good at the whole RTS online fight thing with the ranked games…but I became a master of hero arenas…those are the shit.

  46. Archonsod says:

    Funnily enough, I never had a game of CoH where you could spot the winner 15 minutes in. With DoW II you could probably replace the other players with scripts and not notice. At least the new mode might actually give a reason to play in multiplayer again. Until they do an actual shakeup of the skirmish mode though it’s more fun playing against the AI. At least you get to see a different unit now and again.

  47. amishmonster says:

    Looks a bit like DoWtA.

  48. Argh says:

    They shoulda did something like Call of Duty did and branch of if they wanted to experiment and casual users can have fun with that. Then make a true sequel to dawn of war that people expected.

  49. Xocrates says:

    @Argh: The problem with your argument is that you forget DoW is a license and therefore is limited with it.

    The fact that DoW 2 is both more similar to tabletop and significantly different from DoW1 is the strongest argument you can make for it, not the reverse.

    If by a “true sequel to dawn of war that people expected” you mean DoW with better graphics and possibly a slightly different build order (since they can’t even go around creating new units that are not on TT), I think they would just be missing a big opportunity. I rather have DoW2 than the DoW 1.5 you seem to want.

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