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

Thank the Emperor - there is an offline mode

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

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.