Dawn of War 2 Beta Early Access (And Impressions)

How can they cut the power? They're animals, man.

To tie in with the early access to the Dawn of War beta kicking off, I wrote up some impressions over at Eurogamer. I had to resist just making Tyranid impressions for my entire word-count, because I’m weak like that. The beta turns open on January 28th, but until then anyone with a Dawn of War: Soulstorm key can play. It’s now available at 75% off on steam – so about four quid – which sounds a highly acceptable price for a game we weren’t totally enamoured with. (Actually, if you’ve never played DoW at all, I think for four quid, Soulstorm is where I’d suggest you start, even without the early access stuff). Alternatively, Eurogamer are giving away 3000 (count ’em!) keys at the weekend.

Press release beneath the cut? Sounds about right.


Dawn of War – Soulstorm Now Available on Steam for 75% off
January 20, 2009 — In celebration of THQ and Relic Entertainment’s highly anticipated Warhammer® 40,000T: Dawn of War® II multiplayer beta, Steam is now offering Warhammer® 40,000T: Dawn of War® – SoulstormT for 75% off the suggested price. Anyone with an electronic or retail copy of Dawn of War – Soulstorm and a valid CD key may register their game with Steam and join the early access to the Dawn of War II beta today.

Also beginning today, the full version of Dawn of War II may be pre-purchased via Steam. And on January 28, the beta is scheduled to open to gamers around the world (free of charge via Steam).

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, developed by THQ’s internal studio, Relic Entertainment, is a Real-time Strategy (RTS) game set in the grim, war-ravaged world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 science fiction universe. Featuring vicious front-line combat, destructible environments, a fully cooperative multiplayer mode, four unique playable races, and a non-linear single player campaign with branching storylines, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II delivers the ultimate sci-fi fantasy RTS experience. The game is scheduled for release on February 19, 2009 for Windows PC, and will be available through worldwide retail and online outlets. For more information on Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, please visit www.dawnofwar2.com.


  1. Sunjammer says:

    Well, after an hour or so of trying to get the beta to run at anything higher than 0.3 frames per second, i am now officially heartbroken. My XP pro spec sits nicely between the minimum and the recommended, i’ve got the latest nvidia graphics drivers, and this just isn’t working at all for me. Teardrops running down my face. Boy choir solist. Camera pulling back slowly from the window out to a snowy cityscape to emphasise the loneliness of it all.

  2. Chris Evans says:

    Currently downloading on Steam…damn my slow connection! I want to play this now =[

  3. Paxeh says:

    You are not allowed to play, Chris. I have called our friends in Bellevue to make sure you will not.

  4. jalf says:

    It is fun :D

  5. Seniath says:

    Itching to get home and give this a go. I fear my swimming tonight may be nixed, but we shall see.

  6. Jante says:

    I keep telling myself that I will wait for the release before I play it, but we shall see if I manage to resist the temptation..

  7. woppin says:

    Liking the demigod beta a lot more, but it does seem pretty cool.

  8. SwiftRanger says:

    Quite confusing in the beginning but it gets better and better if you’re willing to invest some time in discovering what’s so different from other RTT’s really.

  9. Tei says:

    @woppin: What demigod beta, theres a demigod beta? *freaks*, *collapse*.

  10. SuperNashwan says:

    Calling demos ‘beta’ has got to stop. It’s gone gold already FFS!

  11. Pags says:

    My thoughts exactly SuperNashwan! Give us another letter in the Greek alphabet developers, because we all know that we’re not beta-testers and what you’ve given us is the final product. Call it an omega release and call us omega-players, that sounds way more badass.

  12. Andrew says:

    It is a beta, though. There’s going to be a zero-day patch with multiplayer tweaks and balances and presumably stability improvements, and this beta period lets them do that much better than they would have otherwise.

    The idea of games being ‘finished’ when they go gold really doesn’t belong in this age of broadband and digital download and so on.

  13. GriddleOctopus says:

    That’s weird, actually. Was talking to a publisher the other day and they were talking about how two of their games were gold and in production, but were going to need release-day patches. Ah, those poor few who don’t have broadband…

  14. JonFitt says:

    The modern marketing of games is quite remarkable for someone who first got his demos selotaped to a zine, and remembers shareware being an out-there idea.

    The DoW2 marketeers have managed to stoke people’s game boners (copyright Shawn Elliott) so hard that they’ll buy their old poorly rated stock (somewhat figuratively) in order to play the demo slightly before other people, and also at the same time stress test the game and balance.
    Hats off to the marketeers!

    Let’s hope they can push back the almost inevitable backswing (or “morning after” if you will) until after the actual release.

  15. Heliocentric says:

    puling the demo as beta does kinda work on steam, as everyone one steam can clearly get a patch.

    From retail its an tragedy best avoided.

  16. qrter says:

    I’m tempted to get Soulstorm for some idiotic sense of completion (own the rest already, on Steam) – should I, fellow RPSers? Or should I just not bother, even at those low, low prices?

    I don’t really care about the DoW2 beta key – I certainly do care about DoW2, but I’m happy to wait til the 28th.

  17. Dolphan says:

    Woo, my soulstorm key is still in my registry despite my uninstalling it and leaving the manual with the key on it at home when I went to uni.

  18. frymaster says:

    what I find slightly remarkable is that they’ve let people register their old soulstorm keys on steam… it’s only a very small proportion of non-source-non-valve games that do that. I wonder what the deal is with that (ie do valve want a cut from the sale of all games (even retail) to cover expenses or similar)

  19. icebarakiel says:

    There all ready a beta multi for demigod and dawn of war 2 yes for person that doesn’t have a job and going back to school this vary nice

  20. Rook says:

    I liked Soulstorm, it’s just more of the same really, and I’d only bought the original Dawn of War so I really wasn’t suffering franchise fatigue unlike some people.

    Also, beta…. playing the tyranids feels really awkward. It’s like, why the fuck is this mechanical chick telling me shit. I wan’t to hear something really alien and unknowable and cold instead. And I don’t want to capture buildings.

  21. Ging says:

    I’ve had a single MP game so far (I dove straight in… and lost as I took ‘nids against space marines) but I’ve since gone back and worked through skirmishes with all 4 races to see how they work and what does what.

    My only issue so far has been that when I’m playing as nids (so twice) at the end of the game, when I go to view the game stats – the entire game just balks out and I ctd.

  22. Hmm.Hmm says:

    I’m getting so wacky that I get to dislike Steam with every good game demo/beta/digital download/discount they get exclusively.

    I’m feeling positively silly. Yet I will not give in to Steam, oh no.

  23. SteveHatesYou says:

    Does anybody remember when betas were for testing, instead of publicity stunts that get you to buy the game before reviews come out?

  24. Turin Turambar says:

    @Sunjammer :

    I read there is some kind of bug with the vsync in the beta for some people, that causes massive slowdowns even in the intro and the menu. Perhaps it’s your case.

  25. ordteapot says:

    or, in this case, buy an older game only if you’re too impatient to wait one week.

  26. Fumarole says:

    Last night I played versus a THQ employee and was thoroughly beaten. It helps a lot to play DoW2 more like CoH than the original DoW. Your troops will thank you for it.

  27. JonFitt says:

    @Rook ‘Nids are well known for their desire to camp structures. Do you not remember the sit down protests of 40,056? How about that time an entire brood refused to leave Safeway because Luton highstreet was too scary?
    Such a short memory.

  28. Dolphan says:

    Bah, looks like I need GFW Live. I held out so long.

  29. Sunjammer says:

    Yeah the stuff i’m getting is that the framerate basically goes apocalyptic as soon as i start the executable. Videos, menus, even keyboard input, everything runs at something like 3 seconds per update. Trying to put in my gfw account info was a case of typing out all the stuff, then making a cup of tea while the game accepted the input letter by letter at a 3 second interval.

    Incredibly frustrating stuff. I’ve got this beta sitting here on a computer that should run it fine and i can’t find a way to get it working properly! ARgha rhgharhhg :( arhgh!. arhg.

  30. Sunjammer says:

    Oh my freaking god! What the hell man! link to community.dawnofwar2.com solved it for me. How does that make real sense?!

  31. Rich_P says:

    @sunjammer: that’s pretty ridiculous. It really annoys me when games requires a combination of Steam/GFWL/Social Club X/bloatware.exe just to run.

    I absolutely hate how CoH: OF makes you sign in for single-player (multiplayer over my dead body!). The entire menu system in that game just sucks ass.

  32. Dolphan says:

    Steam crashes when I try to run it. It had been doing that with FM2009, but I got round it by just running it without Steam on, which you can’t do for this. Time to reinstall steam …

  33. Sunjammer says:

    Alright super early first impressions; This is not a 1v1 kind of game anymore. It’s a game of fairly intricate micro. Which is.. good? i guess? I suppose finding good teammates is the way to go here

  34. qrter says:

    I bought it. Soulstorm, I mean. I’m such a cad!

  35. Erlam says:

    When will I get a strategy game about Macro instead of Micro, WHEN!?

  36. Shiznit says:


    In march, when Empire:TW comes out.

  37. Sunjammer says:

    Soulstorm gets a bad rep for no reason. The dark eldar are a total ball to play, and it effectively expands the multiplayer. The one thing it really got wrong was the campaign. Which wasn’t very good at all.

  38. Shiznit says:

    I will buy this if the promise me Homeworld 3 :)

  39. StalinsGhost says:

    Thus far I’ve been bent over and shafted by the glorious decision to go with GFWL. Refuses to connect to it in game.

  40. Rich_P says:

    Evidently the pricks at GameStop have stopped selling DoW II because of the game’s association with Steam. Brilliant idea, olde-fashioned brick-and-mortar retailer: force more people into digital distribution.

    link to kotaku.com

  41. ordteapot says:

    Man, this is the worst beta ever. It’s made my copy of Dark Crusade start crashing all the time, and I’m not going to even be downloading and installing the beta until next week. Grr.

  42. Rosti says:

    A quick pootle with the beta confirms that this is an odd beast. Essentially, I’m already hankering after a ‘nid campaign to try and understand them.

    That and I’m happy that Steam is letting me associate venerable ol’ Soulstorm with my account. Which is nice.

  43. jalf says:

    Essentially, I’m already hankering after a ‘nid campaign to try and understand them.

    hehe yeah, I’ve spent something like 5 matches so far trying to figure them out. I think I’m starting to get a grip on them finally, but damn, it was a struggle. (And relied on having some patient friends who didn’t mind a sucky teammate for the first handful of games ;)) They play very differently from other races.

    In short, my best advice is to blob like hell. Mix almost all unit types, not just one or two. You *need* rippers to soak up damage, you *need* warriors for synapse effect, and then fill up with the two types of *gaunts and you’ve got a pretty well-rounded and effective force. Also note that HQ upgrades give the gaunts more hp, which also seems to help a lot. But keep an eye on their numbers, because if just one unit type dies, everything starts falling apart pretty quickly.

    But the instinct is to pick a few units to concentrate on, and with nids, that just doesn’t work. Rippers alone do hardly any damage, warriors don’t have sufficient numbers, and without these two, gaunts get mowed down before they can do any damage.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    Not in the beta. Would get soulstorm for it but i’m not near a pc that could handle dow2 this week.

    Glad the nids seem complicated. I was pretty unenchanted by the paint by numbers “strategy” displayed by the space marine videos.

    I played ground control, it had friendly fire, what happened to that? Why can squad 1 fight up close with the enemy and squad 2 shoot at the enemy with no risks.

    Still, it’ll probably be a good play. Did they ever patch the last dow1 expansion properly?

    On the gamestop news, awesome! You realise thq is going to give gamestop a big fuck you and withdraw its other stock.

    Thq take the hint, when your back catalogue finally gets on impulse don’t look back. Your on steam already. Now take a dip and abandon the retailers. You’ll make more money and if you are not total butt monkeys you’ll pass some discounts to the customers. Win win.

  45. Sunjammer says:

    Playing Eldar in this game is even more rewarding than playing them in DoW. Which was already pretty damn rewarding.

    I’m so sold.

  46. Dr. Quincy says:

    Argh. I can’t get this to work. I’m on a beast of a quad core machine, but the developer movies and the intro run at one frame every 5 seconds and the front end is so slow I can’t navigate it. Has anybody experienced similar?

  47. Dr. Quincy says:

    And now, after a DivX and nVidia driver update, I’ve restarted to be presented with “Failed to connect to key server” error dialog when trying to run the game from within Steam.

    I give up. Its not worth this kind of hassle.

  48. ExitJudas says:

    Dr Q. make sure you are logged into steam. also check the beta forum for tips. this is a known issue..

  49. Dr. Quincy says:

    I shall head there at once, ExitJudas. Thanks!

  50. Gorgeras says:

    Games for Windows LIVE was designed on the back of a fag packet. I haven’t yet managed to summon the patience to play this because Microsoft don’t seem to give a shit about buttons that refuse to be clicked and account information clarity.