Dawn of War 3 removes Skulls, unlocks doctrines & elites

Because weird unlock systems are near-mandatory these days, Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 3 [official site] initially required players to unlock special units and perks by spending a ‘Skulls’ currency earned by playing. It introduced a load of faff and grind that stopped people playing with the full spectrum of options, in return for the minor fleeting joy of unlocking shiny new bits. A poor trade-off. Well, that’s gone. Last week, Relic removed Skulls and unlocked their unlocks for everyone.

“After listening to how fans felt about the Skull system, and watching how players interacted with it in-game, we’ve decided to unlock all Elites and doctrines for everyone,” Relic said.

Skulls were among the faff Fraser Brown criticised in our Dawn of War 3 review, which broadly liked the multiplayer but not the campaign.

Relic explained their thinking in Tuesday’s patch notes:

“We had intended for the Skull system to introduce pacing to the multiplayer experience, but we didn’t want this to come at the cost of barring advanced play styles to those ready to tackle them. You’ll still need to unlock Elite level rewards as well as those gained from campaign progress, but this will be a lot easier with an expanded arsenal of Elites at your command!”

That’s another step back (and forward), not the first to revert to earlier ways. Earlier this year, Relic added new multiplayer modes more like earlier games.

Speaking of Elites, the new Ironclad Dreadnought will arrive in October’s patch.

Ta for flagging this up, PCGamesN.


  1. prudislav says:

    Sounds good , the system was really weird … BTW: Is skrimisg playable offline now?

    • Xocrates says:

      I can’t check right now, but I am almost certain I played AI skirmishes offline on launch. I think you just didn’t get skulls.

  2. Lurid says:

    Well, considering the playerbase is roughly the same size as Soulstorm’s, I guess they had to do something to get people back.

    • 2lab says:

      I don’t think that this will suddenly make it a good game.

      • Seth_Keta says:

        Removing the shite that makes it feel like a MOBA game will make it a good game. Sadly that shite is central to the game, so no matter what Relic does here, Dawn of War 3 was a massive failure.

        I’m not sure if Relic should be blamed, or SEGA, or their previous publisher. But someone got a massive erection watching League of Legends, DOTA 2, or something similar and said “We’ve gotta put that in!” And that someone is an idiot with absolutely no understanding of the genre.

        • Titler says:

          Pretty much this. Instead, everyone involved, including the media and the hardcore Warhammer fans seemed to have decided to make a MOBA, but try to shout down anyone pointing out it was a MOBA…

          In the end, I think it was actually the free trial that harmed the player numbers most, because people got to see exactly what it was and how it played, and run into the issue that there were virtually no maps, little tactical gameplay, Pre-order skins and an obvious set up for add on nickle and diming… and a Skulls grind on top of this for skills.

          And this killed their sales because very few actually wanted what was really there. I remember reading all the press coverage at the time and thinking “Wait, are you playing a version of the game we’ve not seen? Because the multiplayer is bobbins compared to either of it’s predecessors”

          Removing the Skulls now is just a long line in desperate attempts to keep the franchise alive; but most of their fans have spent years trying to explain what they really wanted, but since the time of DoW2 Relic just kept running faster and faster towards the eSports dream.

          • Ferno says:

            Pray tell, what exactly made it a MOBA? I played DoW to death and a fair amount of DoW2, really quite enjoyed 3 and found it much closer to the first game in pacing. Is it simply that it has a base and towers? Because I wouldn’t really call that much of a MOBA. You can build anywhere on the map (with Orks actively encouraged to forward base).

            I found the whole MOBA complaints a bit overblown and tiresome to be honest, people complained before the game was even out to try. I’ve played a great amount of DOTA2 and it isn’t in the least bit similar. The Skull system was slow and frustrating so I’m glad they’ve ditched it, pregame perks have never been a thing I enjoyed since they started messing with it in CoH but I’m glad they’ve made it all available to everyone.

  3. Mezmorki says:

    Well, that has substantially raised my interest in the game. I dug soulstorm out of the bin a month ago have been playing it. Such an awesome game (still). But if all the dumbness is removed from DoW3 maybe it will be worth trying it out.

    • fuggles says:

      Obligatory soulstorm mod post… Look at all the armies you can play!

      link to moddb.com

      • Morat Gurgeh says:

        Thanks for that link mate. I had no idea all that stuff was available! Shall be dusting off my copy soon.

        • fuggles says:

          Yeah, we are working on unification mod so they all combine. I’m just finalising my reworking of renegades and am substantially improving space wolves.

          Also there’s ultimate apocalypse but every one knows of that.

      • Imperialist says:

        To my knowledge, this is the ONLY reason people play Soulstorm.
        IMO, it was the weakest DOW entry.

  4. CheeseFarts says:

    Haha, one less reason to play the campaign-

  5. TotallyUseless says:

    How about those awe inspiring sync kills? How about units that don’t die in a flash? Unit experience and veterancy? Hero equipment?

    • Asurmen says:

      Sync kills were terrible. Several sounds of invulnerability as a random chance just for visuals is bad game design.

      DoW never had unit experience or veterancy.

      Hero equipment made DoW2 more like a MOBA than 3 is.

  6. int says:

    Skulls (and blood) should only be mandatory for Khorne players.

  7. Ariakkan says:

    Sad to see how they are rolling back…too bad they cant change the idiotic cover system.

  8. Vandelay says:

    Isn’t this pretty much what they had to do with Company of Heroes 2? You would have thought that they wouldn’t repeat the same mistake of including an unlock system in a competitive multiplayer RTS.

    I was really looking forward to DoW3 as a decent rival to StarCraft in the traditional RTS genre, but it has made so many fundamental errors that I’m still yet to pick it up. I did try about 3 games of it in the beta and my enthusiasm didn’t go above a meh.

  9. Railway Rifle says:

    “Our money is SKULLS” is the most Warhammer thing.

  10. Bobtree says:

    This is a step in the right direction, but it only bumped my wanted price up to $20. DOW3 is just missing too many mechanics I loved in the series, like cover, morale, and the retreat command.

  11. Aetylus says:

    Awww… I feel so sorry for you 40K guys and gals. Us Warhammerer’s have just opened up our nice shiny Total War, and been enjoying probably the deepest and glossiest Warhammer video game ever, and a series that only seems to be getting better. Meanwhile you seem to have landed some sort of arcadey version of a previously good series… every time I look at DoW3, I can’t help but think it has been designed by a committee of execs somewhere: “Okay, so we take DoW2, now lets add what popular… what do they do in MOBA’s? Add that in. Oh, and strip out the boring strategy bits, no-one likes them”. Presumably if it came out earlier it would be full of zombies and crafting mechanics, and a bit later might have been the deathmatch version.

    • pipja says:

      Total War: NoobHammmer 2 :3

      • Seth_Keta says:

        You’ve just earned yourself an entry in the Dammaz Kron, ya wazzock!

    • Harmless Sponge says:

      Hnnnng yes. I might have gone to work very late yesterday morning. I got sidetracked by my lizardman riding a T-rex and I had to try him out obviously….

  12. Hoot says:

    Dawn of War 2 was a brilliant online multiplayer RTS that was hamstrung by poor balance and at the time GFWL, curse it’s soul and the soul of the corporate android that came up with the idea. Fuck you, Ash.

    If they had remade DOW 2 in a modern engine, addressed the balance issues, changed or removed sync kills, kept the existing cover system in and made 3v3 the flagship mode, I would have been sold. It was the perfect counterpart to the 1v1 intensity of SC2.

    As it is, the game didn’t actually have an identity. It just played like a shit RTS.

    • Silvermarch says:

      Seriously, I had so much fun with the beta for Retribution as the Imperial Guards General. Dawn of War II: Retribution was such a great tactical game. A more polished and balanced version would have been amazing.

  13. Hoot says:

    Also, I think people just underestimated what the fans wanted from a DOW game.

    They didn’t want paper units. They wanted Space Marines to be able to kill 400 orcs or whatever, like in the lore.

  14. racccoon says:

    Yeah, this should do the game justice! :)