It’s still early days for me in Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 3 [official site] , and, truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. It’s tricksy beast, a little higher-maintenance than I’m used to from this series, with less attachment to any individual squad/unit, but the pay-off for that is far vaster armies and a more spectular sense of Only War than ever before.
The stand-out element for me so far, though, is the Ork Waaagh! Dem boyz really go to town when they hear the call to war.
The Waaagh!, lest you’ve not heard of it, can mean several different things in 40K fiction, but the closest to a catch-all is that it’s what happens when a group of Orks get really, really excited about war. In 40K lore, it can involve millions of Orks racing to invade/stomp a mutual target, but for the purposes of videogames it tends to be a short-term, army-wide buff.
And so is the case in Dawn of War III, though at least we get army sizes in the hundreds rather than dozens. A Waaagh! is as two-fold concept in DOW3 – there’s your Waaagh! level, dictated by how many Waaagh! towers you’ve built, and which affects which units are unlocked to build. Then there’s a Waaagh! itself, which is manually triggered by the player by clicking on the big button hovering over one of said towers.
Truth be told, I’m not much enamoured of the Waaagh! towers concept – it’s rather an artificial method of invoking something that is essentially a collective hard-on for killing, and it’s a bit clunky for the towers to share this responsibility with opening up the tech tree. But never mind, because it’s what happens in a Waaagh! that matters. Basically, the Orks go Full War Boy. Heavy guitars and jets of flame and thunderous drums and then a crescendo and fireworks and axes waved aloft and Waaagh! Glorious. Glorious.
It’s at it best when triggered in the middle of a fight, because your Orks become temporarily overpowered and can turn the tide of most battles, which means that the Waaagh! seeps through the screen and affects me too, but I captured what a few Waaaghs! triggered in quick succession outside of battle looks like, as it’s easier to tell what’s going on:
(Unfortunately something weird happened to the sound there – the crescendos should be harder and louder, and yes they do shout WAAAGH!, but you get the gist of it).
I love it, every time. It also made me belatedly realise just how close Mad Max: Fury Road’s War Boys are to 40K Orks – feral nutters thirsty for carnage, charging about in massively bespiked vehicles. What is Chrome but a call to Waaagh!?
I suspect the circle of inspiration has been completed, for the musical element of DOW3’s Waaagh! very much puts me in the mind of the Doof Warrior:
Alternate comparison: given that, hilariously, Dawn of War III is set on a planet named Cyprus, the Waaagh! is a pretty good evocation of a Friday night in Ayia Napa.
Anyway. Top Waaagh!ing. I was convinced I’d be playing Eldar when I picked up DOW3, but the greenskins are handily out-charismaing everyone else in the game.