Dawn of War 2 impressions

Dawn of War 2 is Relic Entertainments follow up on the massively succesful Dawn of War series. Relic being the only remaining RTS studio competing with Blizzard sure has it’s work cut out for it but the success of Homeworld, Dawn of War and recently Company of Heroes seem to indicate that they are somewhat good at what they do (understating for effect). Dawn of War 2 is a game that is more focused on small unit tactics compared to the massive armies of it’s predecessor but apart from that not a lot has really changed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big change. And for the better in my opinion.

DoW2 is simple put: fun. It’s a lot more like the classic Myth series then Command & Conquer style RTS games which makes play a lot more focused and immersive. The graphics are great and the different units with their different abilities make for interesting game dynamics. But there are a few glitches in this new way of playing.

First though, I wonder why it requires such outrageous system specs? It’s not prettier then Company of Heroes but it makes my core2duo 2,4 Ghz, 2GB DD2, XFX 8800GT 512MB machine stutter and jerk. Sure, I’m running the game in 1080p but I have no problem running CoH in the same resolution. Isn’t DoW2 based on the same engine? Recommended system specs are way below my machine so I can’t help feeling Relic somehow forgot, or didn’t have time for optimization. Please patch this up, this is just silly.

Gameplay wise there is also a question of complexity, long time readers will know by now that I’ve been an active advocate for simple games for the past 5 years but DoW2 is plain weird. It’s a game made to be simple to pick up, small units, distinct advantages for different units. Small skirmishes and simple to understand goals. Sounds great right? So why does each unit has 3 interchangeable special abilities that seem to come in enormous variety, all with different uses and hot keys?

It’s like if some part of the design was just hammered into the game without following the same rules as the rest of the game: Overall game design “simplicity and stream lined experience” Unit and ability control “pre 2000’s complexity comparable to text based logistic shipping simulators from the early 90’s?” I’m drastically exadurating now but the complexity is really strange to find in this game. It just makes little sense. Why aren’t the unit abilities locked to special roles? Or at least the ability groups locked to certain units? Does a sniper really ever need to use melee-charge? And why can’t I control all the abilities with the same keys, as I do in World in Conflict? Button A for ability A, button B for ability B and so on. No matter WHAT that ability is?

Oh, and the multiplayer gameplay is copied without shame from the original version of Dreamlords. But that’s just awesome.  ;)