Warhammer 40k: Dawn Of War 3 Shows Full E3 Demo

In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only Warhammer posts on RPS. Jim is interred within the Golden Throne, his withered remains a beacon guiding humanity through the darkness of the web. As for Kieron, well… traitors get what they deserve.

Adam has already told you what he chatted about and saw of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III [official site] during E3 in June. But what if Adam’s a heretic? What if he’s under a dark influence? You’ll have to watch the RTS’s E3 demo for yourself, now that Relic have released it in handy YouTube format:

This isn’t the first-first time Relic have shown this demo but it’s here in relatively high quality and without picture-in-picture guff.

I like it, bearing in mind it’s an E3 work-in-progress demo. E3 demos are designed to be flashy, trying to ease in and win over spectators who might never have heard of the game, and Relic do mention that it is fancied up for effect. And yeah, this mission is a bit of an attack-move blob but it does seem nicely paced to allow a narrator to explain what’s happening on-screen as new units and systems are introduced. E3 demos, y’all. Maybe I’m blinded by how fancy Imperial Knight Solaria is.

I realise that saying “No, don’t trust what Inquisitor Adam says, take a peek with your own eyes and you’ll see things as they truly are” is exactly the sort of thing an insidious heretic might say. Heck.


  1. ramirezfm says:

    So it’s basically better looking DoW1? I can live with that. Even though I preferred the second one’s semi-rpg ways.

  2. NoImFartacus says:

    Basebuilding. Meh.

  3. Yontevnknow says:

    I like that some of the older DoW game mechanics are back in. Only issue I have is that nothing in that video was either Grim, or Dark.
    My takeaway was it plays less like a moba, but looks more like one.

    • Asurmen says:

      Never understood the obsession with grimdark. 40K doesn’t look grimdark.

    • McGibs says:

      Warhammer 40k is “GRIMDARK” (as screamed from atop a giant pile of flaming skulls, while shooting lasers out of a bone-guitar), not ‘grimdark’ (as mumbled by gravel-voiced batman, standing knee deep in rainy mud)

      • subedii says:

        The setting’s definitely got room for both, but yeah, the very existence of things like the Orkz kind of puts paid to the idea that the latter is the ‘true’ 40K style.

        Basically play this in the background:

        link to youtube.com

        Whilst rolling this:

        link to youtube.com

        40K’s always been ridiculously OTT, even at times it’s been trying to be serious.

        On a side note, I just wanted to note that Relic have always done one spectacularly good job with the crazy amount of quality dialogue for all the races in the DoW games.

  4. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the look of that. Lots of nice gun sound effects and explosions and gunfire tracer lines and all that good stuff, felt like the big battles of DOW 1 (which I preferred, for what it’s worth).

  5. aircool says:

    Is this one of those APS games? I can’t do APS games…

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      What does APS stand for in this context?

      Antiphospholipid syndrome?
      Aardvarks Please Sailors?
      Association for Project Safety?
      American Physical Society?
      Anti-Pigeon Spikes?
      Advanced Photon Source?
      Asparagus Prevents Scurvy?
      Average propensity to save?
      Arnold’s Pretty Sister?

      • aircool says:

        I don’t know, it’s a Starcraft thing and it generally means I’ll be rubbish at the game because I’m really slow…

  6. G_Man_007 says:

    I’m not feeling it, and I’m a W40K nut…

  7. Radiant says:


  8. Shadow says:

    Not really liking the new “cover” system, with it being random forcefields you have to “capture” to activate an unflankeable defensive bubble. Gamey, nonsensical and not really encouraging maneuvering or putting any thought into unit movement.

    • Michus says:

      I agree with the sentiment that the new cover system looks trash compared to the procedural system from DoW 1 and CoH 1. How could they screw this up? The cover system in DoW 1 was amazing. Objects in the environment produced a kinda of sticky aura of cover, with walls and big stuff acting as ‘green’ (good) cover and general roughness acting like ‘yellow’ (soft) cover. You could have a game where a city area starts with lots of good green cover in buildings and ruins and walls and stuff, but then bomb the F@#% out of it with an Imperial artillery barrage and for each crater that you slammed into that terrain it would create procedural… well, craters, each with soft cover and that would slow down your units while they travel through it. Of course all that good green cover would get totally smoked by all that ordnance too.

      The hell they think this ‘shiny new’ cover capture junk is a step up? Nah, I think they’re just trying to avoid the work of doing it right. Come on, do it right, you don’t have any excuse because DoW 1 did it a decade ago, and did it better. If you want to play a game of eternal war nothing did it better than DoW 1 with units literally meat-grindering into each other in a blasted out hellscape, turning nice peaceful areas into flame and rubble soaked murderholes brimming with bodies and exhausted assault marines chainsawing and getting clobbered by a never ending supply of orkz.

      I don’t care how shiny the game looks if it doesn’t *feel* like “There is only war”-levels of carnage.

  9. King_Rocket says:

    Looks great, I think I prefer old cover system vs this new magic cover system though but it’s not a dealbreaker.

  10. Chemix says:

    I’m sad to see the cover mechanic from CoH dismissed for this… thing, these… cover… bubbles. I suppose it makes some kinda sense for these wide open spaces, but… cover… bubbles… what the hell? Come on, Relic. Granted, setting up cover positions for prefab objects with a variety of animations might be more time consuming, but hell if it wasn’t cool while we had it.

    • subedii says:

      It’s not about time or animation or laziness, it’s about practicality and gameplay.

      DoW3 is aiming to be far larger than a squad level RTS*, and in such circumstances, positional cover REALLY breaks down. As it stands, getting positional cover to work properly fails frequently in CoH and DoW2, and those are games that are specifically smaller scale squad level with the gameplay designed around positional cover. You’d frequently see individual models out of cover, and worse, moving towards / away from cover positions (often the wrong side of them) whilst you were trying to position them somewhere else. Which can be REALLY when things are happening. In a larger scale and (apparently?) faster paced game, this would be a non-starter, the DoW2 style cover system doesn’t really scale well with big army sizes.

      This system appears to be harking back more to DoW1’s cover system with some variances. The thing to bear in mind I feel is that the DoW series has typically been the more “gamey” of Relic’s franchises, where they’ve always been able to experiment more with the mechanics to find what fits.

      How a system of cover positions dotted around the map is going to affect gameplay in multiplayer is going to depend a LOT on the nuances involved.
      – How long does it take to capture / deactivate?
      – Will squads be vulnerable during this time?
      – Are they designed / tweaked / placed more for giving early tactical advantages, or more for siege situations when the map’s already been divided up?
      – Is it straight invulnerability or damage mitigation like armour?
      – How long does the health last / take to recharge? Is it affected differently by different damage types?
      – Is the overall gameplay designed in such a way that it will be impractical for melee squads to straight rush the cover point? Or is that something they want to happen?
      – How does it fit into capture point mechanic? Could it mean things like ceding an entire capping squad purely to cover a position?
      – How does it fit in alongside disruption / stun / knockback attacks? How much of these can affect squads inside?
      – Is the melee / ranged dynamic still in play, where melee units tie up ranged units such that they can’t fire?
      – At what point in gameplay do counter-play squads like ASM come onto the field?

      I mean there are a load more questions I could ask about just this one idea and the various factors involved. Imean I’m even asking a couple of questions I feel like we may already know the answer to. Because the likelihood is that some of those points may even be fixed one way on launched, and then be tweaked to work another way as the gameplay evolves over the months. Crikey, just look at how drastically things evolved in DoW2.

      *You know, after angry fanboys complained that DoW2 was crap and a “MOBA” and should have been more “strategic” like the larger scale DoW1? Whilst at the same time others coming from the CoH side were simply calling it a “dumbed down” version of Relics “BEST RTS EVAR Relic why you no make that but in 40K?”?

      I don’t mean to suggest this is you. I’m just venting a little here. I’m seeing a lot of completely vacuous complaints with a lack of self awareness going on with DoW3, far moreso than DoW2 had at the time.

      So now of course these days, internet people are even angrier still than they were 10 years ago, and are complaining that DoW3 looks crap because… it’s become a “MOBA” (again), is too colourful (again) and is nowhere near as strategic, all in comparison to the awesome previous game that they all loved, Dawn of War 2, which they certainly didn’t level some very similar sounding complaints at in comparison to DoW1.

      Ultimately the gameplay is scaled and implemented differently, and so is going to need work differently to DoW2 (and even DoW1). A lot of how different mechanics are going to work to be “fun” or “interesting (or not) are going to be things that cannot be linearly compared with DoW 1 or 2, primarily it’s going to be about how well the mechanics work within the context created by the rest of the gameplay.

      • aircool says:

        Direction cover and LoS works perfectly well for the Wargame: Series, and those 10 v 10 maps are huge with hundreds of units running around shooting each other.

        • subedii says:

          I’m afraid you’re going to have to expand on that.

          From my memory, the cover in Wargame works very differently to CoH/DoW2. Even that out of the way, the context of the style of RTS is very different as well.

          I do not believe the style of cover as implemented in Relic’s is really aptly comparable between the two franchises.

          • aircool says:

            Er… that there’s trees and buildings and hills and not random bubbles that pop after shooting them?

          • subedii says:

            Again, that’s really not the same as how the directional cover in CoH / DoW2 works. You literally order your squads to effectively “stack up” on one side of cover points in those games, with individual models taking specific positions on them.

            And as stated before, it would frequently fail to work correctly, even with low model numbers and a slower paced game. Meanwhile in Wargame, using things like woods and LoS blocking terrain features were primarily about concealment. Which is a separate topic in itself, and I don’t believe there’s been a statement either way on whether DoW3 is going to be making use of true LoS system as in CoH 2.

            The closest equivalent in Wargame I can think of is garrisoning your infantry in buildings, which works similarly to garrisoning in DoW / CoH (as a damage mitigator), and mechanically appears to be related to the forcefield domes being shown off here (so I don’t see an issue with such things mechanically?). If Wargame used an equivalent cover system to CoH’s, individual infantry squads use cover in a forest by having individual models stacking up behind trees, and a flanking maneuver would negate its defensive effect.

            If your issue is that it appears to be a literal forcefield dome in the video, well, see my earlier comment on the DoW series being deliberately “gamey” in its mechanics.

  11. Hanban says:

    Huge fan of the animation presented. Even though Gabriel is jumping up and down in his huge armour, everything seems very heavy and bulky. Can’t wait to see the orks!

  12. Hunchback says:

    This actually looks quite better than the last video, at least in terms of visuals.

    However, as people have expressed before me here, i am quite worried about the new cover system. I really hope there’s more to it than what we see here, because it’s a MAJOR factor in CoH2 and one of the main things that differentiate it from any “WC/SC Clone” RTS – Dynamic, multi-level and directional cover. Flanking! Destroying but also CREATING cover by wrecks, holes in the ground, etc… It makes the game much more tactical than simply throwing units in a fight and microing them to perfection.
    Maybe they don’t want that with WH though, maybe they want it to be more “Action” but if so, i’d be sad. Also, CoH games tend to last 30-40 mins on average, sometimes if both players are top-end can even last for 1h… If the cover is “one-shot” and destroyed, the game will be quite dull quite fast.

    Base building is not a problem, as long as it stays minimal. Hope the accent will still be on unit/commander upgrades rather than extensive bases with many buildings and stuff.

    They didn’t show any Suppression, i hope they haven’t removed that system out as well.

    All in all this MIGHT be good but i am afraid it’ll end up way too “generic” to be real fun for people used to the CoH/WH formula.

  13. SomeDuder says:

    Looks good! Kinda weird how Gabriel’s still alive after all the shit he went through, but hey, w/e

    I wonder if there’s plans for a game focusing on the titan legions tho. Could be a bit more arcade-y Mechwarrior game. And why not? We’ve already got games on the various subsets of Warhammer 40k.