Explained: Dawn of War III’s always-online requirements

There’s been slow-burning confusion about whether Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 3 [official site] (due out mere hours from now) is going to be one of those bothersome always-online sorts of games, even in singleplayer mode.

It’s reasonably apparent that multiplayer is the main focus of their RTS-meets-MOBA dakka dakka, but there are plenty of boring old bottom-burps like me who are only really interested in solo slaughter. I dropped Relic/Sega a line to establish whether or not you need to be online for singleplayer, exactly what happens if you go offline while playing, and why they’ve gone for the system they have.

Here’s Relic’s explanation to my queries about whether I could play the singleplayer campaign offline or not:

– a stable internet connection for Dawn of War III’s single-player campaign is recommended but not required.

– online play facilitates the in-game progression system, allowing a player to earn elite experience and skulls (in-game currency) based on their actions. Playing the campaign offline is an option but players will miss out on these earnings.

– this was designed to make sure players with connectivity issues don’t lose their progress in a mission. An online player whose connection drops midway through a campaign mission will be able to continue, losing only the elite experience and skulls that would be earned in the time it takes to reconnect.

– When you do disconnect in mission, you are presented with an option to save. Reloading this save once your connection is back will allow you to complete the mission and get all your progression.

– Brief disconnections (up to about 90 seconds) are handled under the hood without affecting the user.

If you can’t get back online within 90 seconds (which doesn’t sound quite long enough to me – a router reboot cycle tends to take a few minutes, for instance), then your game freezes and you see this pop-up:

Which is a reasonable enough set of options, if more confusing than the singleplayer norm. Note both the option to switch to offline mode (i.e. without the bonus points) and the option to save your game if you know that you’re going to be offline for some time but don’t want to miss out on all those elite points and Skulls.

Here, additionally, is an exact description from Relic about what those four options do:

1. You can attempt to reconnect to the servers. Selecting this will attempt an immediate reconnection to the Relic servers. If then user attempts to reconnect whilst there is still no connection they will see the same message with Error Code 4. Once the connection is back Reconnect can be selected and the game can be continued without issue. The amount of time the user waits should have no bearing so long and a valid connection is re-established. Selecting this option will NOT result in any mission being exited.

2. The game can be saved and the same message will be displayed. It should be noted that if the game disconnects during a cut scene/NIS or whilst dialogue is playing this option will not be present.

3. The user can continue offline and is informed that they will not earn any XP/Experience or Rewards playing in the offline mode. If this option is selected and the connection returns the user will have to save their game, exit to the main menu and select the Relic button in the bottom right of the menu to reconnect to the server, as there is no option when actually playing a mission to reconnect once Continue Offline is selected.

4. The user can exit out of the game completely.

I had been a bit worried about the reconnect button, as in my review code that immediately dumped me back to the main menu (thus potentially losing a ton of mission progress) then reconnected to Relic’s servers, but it seems that now does what it says. Phew!

In general always-online stuff worked very differently in the pre-release code I had (there were no offline options at all) so it’s a big relief to hear that things are looking saner for the release version. I’ll fire that up as soon as it’s out to confirm whether all this is working as it’s supposed to.

Fr your reference, here are the various unlock times for DOW3 later today too:

15:00 BST
07:00 Pacific
10:00 Eastern
11:00 BRT
16:00 CEST
17:00 EEST
22:00 CST
23:00 JST
00:00 AEST Apr 28


  1. Kreeth says:

    Oh gods what is this bullshit now? I must have missed this always-online thing. Is this currency you use in the multiplayer as well/instead of single player?

    I was planning on getting this tomorrow, but now, I don’t know. I don’t give the slightest toss about multiplayer, so if the single player is going to have such a significant flaw it’ll have to wait until it’s bargain-bucketed. Dagnabbit.

    • lglethal says:

      Calm down Kreeth. From everything Ive read, the currency/skulls Alec talks about are only used in the multiplayer. If you’re not interested in multiplayer, you dont have to worry about them. They’re just a way to, I guess, reward People for playing the Single Player campaign before going to the multiplayer.

      Sounds an extremely reasonable system to me…

      • Kreeth says:

        Oh right. Not so bad, but – if this currency isn’t any use in the single player then that message is going to be properly annoying. Just give me an option to start a campaign that doesn’t even let you gather Candy Crush currency, and I won’t ever have to see this message. Also, they’ll waste less money on servers/data etc for totally unnecessary comms for people who will never even load up the multiplayer.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I recommend reading an article on the subject. (LOOK UP)

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Well, the article could have stated it clearly…

        • Nauallis says:

          By clearly, you mean exactly the way that it does, if you bother to read it?

          • BlueTemplar says:

            First the title :
            “Explained: Dawn of War III’s always-online requirements”
            (which makes it sound like you cannot play the game offline)
            Then you have the long list of explanations about how the game will behave when disconnected – followed by the journalist describing what will happen if you’re disconnected for more than 90 seconds.
            A simple comment by the journalist here reassuring that you can indeed play the game offline (past the first connection I suppose?) would have helped to clarify things, and reassure people, especially those that might have quickly skimmed the article.

          • Sian says:

            @BlueTemplar: The very first item on Relic’s list in the article is:
            “– a stable internet connection for Dawn of War III’s single-player campaign is recommended but not required.”
            Is that not clear enough?

            Also, I think anyone who just skims an article should refrain from getting angry in the comments until they’ve actually read it.

          • Kreeth says:

            The article doesn’t say anything about what the currency is used for, which is what I was annoyed about. It’s nothing to do with “skimming the article” – the information simply isn’t there. I still don’t think it’s great that a play session might, however infrequently, be disturbed by the message, but at least now I know that it’s basically irrelevant to me as it’s multiplayer only.

            Which does lead me to ask: Why not just give people who are never even going to start the multiplayer client the option to start a campaign without earning pokégold? They never need to see the message, the devs never need to use server resources to record their status, everyone wins.

          • Asurmen says:

            Because it’s extra coding and testing time for something that isn’t too relevant?

            Just because you don’t think it’s a problem for them, doesn’t actually make it so.

          • skorpeyon says:

            I think the main question here is which is more costly, extra dev time or extra server cycles processing gameplay that is clearly CAPABLE of offline play already? They had to make it able to do it, yet didn’t enable a simple check at the beginning of the level to opt-in to the offline mode. I don’t think that would be unreasonable, it would lower their overall server load, and likely save them money all considered.

          • Someoldguy says:

            I suspect the point is more about extending the game popularity / longevity by drawing a fraction of the people who are only interested in single player into the multiplayer experience to see what all this currency can do for them. Where they can be fresh meat for the elitists… I mean find out if they actually enjoy multiplayer after all.

            I’m the same though. I don’t give a monkeys about multiplayer and would much rather play iany game offline than be relying on exchanging data unnecessarily with any remote server.

      • Kreeth says:

        I recommend reading my comment properly, iglethal seems to have managed it.

        • Asurmen says:

          The article did explain everything. I understood it was online currency. Why couldn’t you?

          • Kreeth says:

            The article says “in-game currency”. There’s no mention of whether it’s multiplayer only or not. They talk about the currency/ experience in conjunction with “online play” then immediately follow with “playing the campaign offline”. So does “online play” include playing the campaign while connected or not? The use of the currency/experience is just referred to as “in-game progress” – there’s no mention of whether this progress is single or multiplayer.

            If you understood “online only” (as in multiplayer only) then I’d say you’re making an inference that isn’t justified by the actual text.

            Making single-player resources and experience gain tied to having to connect to a server would be insane, but games companies have come up with plenty of far more insane ideas over the past few years. I’m pleased that doesn’t appear to be what they’re doing.

          • Nauallis says:

            Wouldn’t you be buying the game for the gameplay and the story, if you’re only intending to play single-player anyway? This seems like a bizarre and pointless thing to get worked up about and threaten the other commenters that you won’t buy it.

          • Styles says:

            Nauallis, what are you, a fanboy or 12 years old? Really, you think he’s “threatening the other commenters”? He’s stating his opinion and expressing disappointment. Grow up.

            He’s well within his rights to be concerned that he might miss out on some element of the gameplay available to people playing it online. Nobody likes having the carrot dangled in front of their face only to be yanked away and told “you can’t have that unless you’re willing to put up with this always online crap”. People want to get the full experience and will often resent with held content.

            Now, it’s a good thing it doesn’t matter, but as he explained very well in his previous posts, the article does not properly clarify what the purpose of this earned XP and currency is for and whether it is also used in single player mode, so it was entirely reasonable of him to be concerned that content may be being with held. Isn’t that right Asurmen? Oh wait, you’re another fanboy so you only want to attack Kreeth. Christ, you people need to grow up and take a breath and a step back before criticizing people who have quite rational concerns.

          • Asurmen says:

            Wow. The only person on the attack is you Styles. I haven’t bought the game btw.

            Not going to apologise for pointing out that I thought the article made it clear what it was talking about. For someone defending the right for person to have an opinion, you sure seem to be pissy about mine, and to top it off the good accusation of fanboyism when you don’t have a point to make.

          • sege says:

            Sooo..after all that bickering do we have a definitive confirmation that this “XP/Experience or Rewards” is used only in multiplayer, or do we only have the fact that everything lglethal has read indicates that that is the case?
            “XP/Experience or Rewards” sounds like something that would normally be used in a solo campaign to me.
            Also if it isn’t used in the solo campaign, then as Kreeth says an option to not be online and avoid disconnection error messages would be highly preferable.
            In fact I probably won’t buy this because of it. I hate this kind of thing.

          • Asurmen says:

            It is online stuff only.

            And is it really that much bother to press a button once?

  2. peterako1989 says:

    Good thing I was not into the series. My disapointment would measure at enough megatons to rival the UY Scuti star.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I like how “needs to be online to gather multiplayer skulls for hats, but can be played offline just fine” translates to “OMG DRM ALWAYS-ONLINE THE GAME IS GARBAGE 0/10!” to so many people.

    What crawled up everyone’s asses about this? Is it just cool to the kids these days to hate on everything that comes out before it even comes out? Remember when people did this with the new DOOM too?

    • Sakkura says:

      The suggestion of always-online singleplayer probably put people in a negative frame of mind before reading the article, and some may have skipped over the explanations of why it’s not really a big deal.

      Personally I mostly play RTS games in singleplayer, but this still seems like a very good solution to me (as long as they fix that reconnect button). But I was sceptical before reading the details.

      • Unclepauly says:

        That’s exactly what’s happening. Many posts of people who didn’t even read the article lol. I love it, it’s like a little game of “spot the idiot” to me.

        • Pinga says:

          I read the article. You are required to be online to get rewards while single playing. This is not ok. It’s a way to publicize that you get “more value” for the game. Players have nothing to gain from such practices.
          Gaming companies are trading more and more quality content for “hats” and players are loving it.

    • thelastpointer says:

      IIRC it started with Diablo3. People were very upset about that, and Blizzard didn’t communicate very well, up to a point where it turned into a conspiracy for a lot of people. I think the confusion never went away, and it’s still a big red flag for some.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Well, Diablo III just kicks you out should you lose internet connection, as it’s not running locally, which also means the game can lag if your connection gets spotty.
        It’s still this way I’m fairly sure, only the console versions have any sort of offline mode.

    • Premium User Badge

      Alpha1Dash1 says:

      I guess bad past experiences can colour people’s outlook. I’m sure things are better in general now, but we’ve all read articles detailing the “can’t play at release because servers overwhelmed” frustration (or nightmare depending on how long it takes the company to fix it!).

      The other question that springs to mind is “will the servers still be running in 5 years time?”

    • Pinga says:

      If there’s one single feature on a single player game that forces online play for no good reason, the game IS garbage. This is a bad practice covered in bad excuses.

  4. Sian says:

    The headline of this article was the first I’d heard about this, and I was afraid that I’d have to skip this title on principle. Now I think things are fine. This isn’t handled badly, really.

    [necessary mini rant]
    Not like Blizzard who still haven’t managed to make Diablo 3 playable offline. Bugger those people and their stubborn insistence. Yes, I’m aware I’m being stubborn too.
    [/necessary mini rant]

    Edit: Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.

  5. DuncUK says:

    Hitman – a game I otherwise love – has turned me from ambivalent to online only to actively wary of it. A big part of Hitman is the online progression stuff that unlocks you new starting locations and gadgets to use in hits, Elusive Targets in particualr. However, my internet connection is pretty damn good and I barely ever have any outages – if I do it’s usually during the week when I’m at work.

    However, when the outages are at their end is when I have to complain. The Hitman servers have frequent hiccups especially around patch time which often occurjust as new ETs are added. Not being able to play the game you paid for because of a problem at their end rankles even more than because of one local to me. If you’re going to have always online games, you owe it to the players to keep those servers running 24/7 with no exceptions.

    • poliovaccine says:

      To be fair, being an IT guy I can say that pretty much all servers are meant to function that way, ideally. That’s also a tall enough order even when they’re not high volume servers for a popular, resource-intensive game. Of course it rankles, you paid for the damn thing and you expect it to work properly, and that’s a big reason why I and many folks are still wary of online requirements, no matter how decent our own connections are at home. But keeping servers online and functional 24/7/365, while absolutely the goal, is also simply not always possible. It’s like saying if Ford is going to sell automobiles they should damn well make sure they never break down. Do they anyway? Yeah. Is it the driver’s fault? Very often no. Is it annoying when it happens? Yeah. Is it completely avoidable? Never.

      Servers go down for a lot more important stuff than Hitman. I’m sure the likelihood of them crashing would be reduced if they focused purely on maintenance, and didnt do any patching, but what kind of tradeoff is that?

  6. haldolium says:

    Can the game be *started* when offline?

    Honestly my internet connection doesn’t fuck up and is reliable, so I usually don’t end up in weird break-up scenarios in the middle of any game (unless the issue is on their side of course) but always-on has prevented starting a few games in the rare times I haven’t had actual internet due to moving or changing ISP.

  7. Orillion says:

    Also worth mentioning the game itself has Denuvo, so if that’s a dealbreaker for you keep that in mind.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Now, please dont take this the wrong way, because this question is in earnest – but I’ve seen so many people complain about Denuvo that I actually looked into it, just cus the problem wasnt immediately apparent to me. Some looking-into-it later, I still dont get it..?

      Is it that it affects/drags down performance? Because that would be a pretty legitimate gripe, except it doesnt seem to be true. It seems more like people blamed it for the overall performance problems with games like Arkham Knight, which were issues reaching way beyond the DRM.

      Is it more of a principle thing? Because then I dont get it either. Not if you use Steam at all, or any kind of online unlocks. It may be, though, there’s some deeper aspect I’m just missing.

      Is it that it’s perceived to have some sort of online-only component or requirement? Because if that’s the case, again, I may very well be missing something out of my cursory look-into here, but that doesnt seem to be true..? Am I wrong about that?

      I can see it being somewhat of a pain to people who pirate games, but I kind of doubt that’s the primary reason it’s so broadly hated. Anyway, it seems like, if it was once an effective deterrent, it’s less and less so now anyway. That being said, everything I heard about MGSV made it sound like Denuvo absolutely protected that title from piracy, at least for the crucial early release period where much of the full-price purchasing occurs.

      Is there some other reason I havent even come across yet? Does it interact badly with Steam or something, does it come bundled with adware for some crazy reason, does it do any of the other things which usually generate peoples’ complaints?

      Like I say, this isnt some kind of challenge, rather I’m asking in complete earnest – because the more I look into it, the less reason I actually see to care one way or another about Denuvo, never mind making it an actual “dealbreaker.” And yet I’ve seen precisely that word used in reference to Denuvo DRM, again and again and again. And that really makes me feel like I’m missing something here. But then I look into it some more and.. yeah. If it’s there, I’m definitely missing it.

      Maybe this will get it answered once and for all: what exactly is the big problem with Denuvo DRM??

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        It doesn’t really uninstall itself, I guess. Also I think maybe in the past there was a particular version that was too root-kit-ish or something, but I might be confusing Denuvo with something else.

        Really it’s just that people like to complain and raise hell every time there’s any DRM or anything. Then, they buy the game anyway. So I dunno.

      • ScubaMonster says:

        I’ve never encountered Denuvo problems and couldn’t even tell you what games I own that contain it. But if Denuvo is required to play your game I could see the complaint being that if in the future Denuvo is taken offline you’d be stuck with a dead game unless you downloaded a crack for it.

      • Orillion says:

        I live by a policy when it comes to electronics and games that boils down to, “minimize the points of failure.” Denovo uses some kind of online activation at least once in its life cycle for a game. If at any point the Denuvo server is down the first time I run a game with it, I can’t play that game. When Denuvo buckles, if it hasn’t been stripped out of something that uses it, that game is dead to anyone who doesn’t pirate it.

        I buy games on GoG, when I can. GoG’s only point of failure is the human one; I don’t tend to back up my installers, so if I ever do lose access to a game I have on there permanently I only have myself to blame. When I can’t get something on GoG, I go to Steam. Steam is one point of failure. If Steam goes away, ever, potentially my entire library on there does too.

        But one point of failure is, in my eyes, acceptable risk. Denuvo adds a second point of failure. Now if EITHER company goes under, the game is dead forever (except for the pirated version).

        Really, I would consider two points of failure to be acceptable too, but then I have principles on top of that. Steam is perfectly adequate “protection,” in the sense that anything can be cracked and even Denuvo games are blown wide open within a couple weeks now. I suspect that’ll become a few days at most in the future. But for those that actually buy the game, that goblin’s always going to be there, waiting, unless they specifically patch the DRM out afterwards.

        Doom did that. I would buy it, it sounds fun, but I also hate Zenimax, so there we go.

        (side-note: for the same reason, I fucking hate mice and keyboards with lights. Both of them are soundly under my desk 90% of the time and there’s no goddamn reason to have them, but if they’re poorly-made enough, the lights breaking could take the whole piece of equipment with them.)

      • BlueTemplar says:

        This thread might be of interest to you :
        link to gog.com

        Denuvo has a lot of people against it because it’s made by the same company as the infamous SecuROM.
        And to add insult to injury, this company refuses the categorization of “DRM” and insists on calling Denuvo “anti-tamper”, despite the fact that, unlike for other Steam titles, online activation is required (via Denuvo servers? Steam servers?)

        • pepperfez says:

          It makes me uncomfortable when a company (1)can deny me access to things I’ve bought and (2)insists on telling preposterous lies.

  8. gabrielonuris says:

    I think we’re missing the real problem here:

    It’s reasonably apparent that multiplayer is the main focus of their RTS/MOBA


    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      I hear the internet multiplayer requires an always-online connection, too! Those mega-hitlers!

    • unacom says:

      Yes. I think that should be the main issue. That and the skulls (I´m not against skulls. I love skulls. I just don´t like to put that many in my wallet. Makes my train commute pretty uncomfortable and significantly increases the instances of police questioning).

    • Gothnak says:

      Agree. I played the first two a lot, but never dreamed of playing MP and still never will.

      Looks like a wait to see how it rates SP and then grab it cheap :p…

    • FriendlyFire says:

      It’s an RTS, but it does have things like defensive towers and a core to destroy, which are minor design elements taken from MOBAs, ergo it’s a RTS/MOBA hybrid. Yeah? Yeah.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Unlike in DoW2 multiplayer, where the turrets and cores were called turrets and a stronghold.

        It’s less MOBA than the previous game, but people stills scream and cry. I really do feel like people just want to be contrarian lately.

        • poliovaccine says:

          I dont think it’s necessarily “lately.” I think, on some level, people have always been that way. From birth, “yes” has always meant capitulation, while “no” has always been an assertion of one’s individual self against a proposed standard. You could look at life itself as being one long series of “no’s” until the final, discorporeal capitulation into the vast cosmic “YES.” “No’s” and “Yeah-buts” are the primary system of irrigating oneself into a personal sense of self-identity currently available to us, we refine ourselves according to essentially binary determinations of what we do or dont accept. Little Alex says at one point in A Clockwork Orange that, only when you’re truly acting against everyone do you know that you’re alone with “Bog” (meaning “God”, but in the book he calls “God” by Brit slang for a toilet, haha).

          Point is, nah, I think people have always been this way. Or at least I try to see it in the long-range cosmic sense I described, anyway, cus it makes me feel better about the more disagreeable bits of any internet comments section..!

          • Premium User Badge

            Drib says:

            I think you may be slightly overthinking my offhand comment about being whining over something silly.

    • Fiatil says:

      Calling DoW 3 a RTS/MOBA is ridiculous. Yes, you get a tower at the start of the game like in MOBAs. You also got a tower at the start of the game in Company of Heroes, and towers are a very RTS thing. RTSs outside of Starcraft have erred towards discouraging super fast rushes in the last decade, so this isn’t some super weird thing.

      The basebuilding is at the forefront of this. The game heavily encourages you to build forward outposts for defense, reinforcement and healing. After playing the open beta, I am incredibly confused by the RPS Wot I Think that said the game completely de-emphasizes defensive play, as it definitely doesn’t. You can’t turtle in your starting base because resources come from map control, but you damn sure should be building some defensive structures and recruitment structures near your front line. The entire Ork tech tree revolves around building WAAAAGH towers, which are turrets you would be silly not to put on your front line.

  9. Danarchist says:

    I am far more irritated about them taking away the “joy of turtleing” from me than this =P I won’t play multiplayer likely at all so this will be a minor annoyance at best.

    Love DOW games, they scratch a couple different itches for me.

    Also: Black Company TV series in the works. I am having a good day!

    • Unclepauly says:

      I always thought turtles were evil. There’s videos on youtube of turtles eating innocent ducks and pigeons. God I probably sound completely whacked.

      • Michael Anson says:

        Most herbivores are opportunistic carnivores, and some turtles are carnivores anyway. No reason to blame critters for acting like they should, really.

      • Someoldguy says:

        This is a total lie. There’s a whole series of programmes about turtles and all they ever eat is pizza.

      • pepperfez says:

        If a bird allows itself to get eaten by a turtle then it’s obviously too negligent to remain in the gene pool.

    • lglethal says:

      “they scratch a couple different itches for me”

      You should probably see a doctor about that. I hear you can get creams for that itch now and they would probably do something for the redness as well.

      Just saying… ;)

    • Fiatil says:

      You can play defensively in this, but you can’t just sit back in your home base and win. If you want to play defensively you need to grab more points than your enemy in the early game, and hunker down with buildings. Yes, it entails some early game aggression, but sitting in your base and building walls with no risk really shouldn’t be rewarded in a multiplayer RTS. It leads to stalemates and really boring games.

  10. amcathlan says:

    Well, nice to know I can save some money there.

  11. gandalfthesmall says:

    As someone who installs Internet and fixes modems, the 90 seconds is more than enough for most laggy connections.

    A full router recycle is indicative of bigger problems and does take longer.

    But your average connection loss should only last between 30 and 90 seconds (due to interference or router overload)