Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3: release date, gameplay, multiplayer - everything we know

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Dawn of War 3 is happening, over a decade after the original. While we sit tapping power-armoured feet in anticipation of the April 27 release date for Relic Entertainment’s next game, allow us to bring you everything we know about the third iteration in the Warhammer 40,000 strategy series.

Read more: our Dawn of War III PC review.

Dawn of War 3 review

We can tell you what it's like now - pretty good! Here's our full PC review of DOW3.

Dawn of War 3 trailer

Most of all you just want to see it, don’t you? Here's that brilliant cinematic trailer used for the reveal:

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There's much more actual gameplay scattered below.

Dawn of War 3 release date

Dawn of War 3 will release on April 27 and is available to pre-order right now. It's available in three editions: Collector’s Edition, Limited Edition, and Standard Edition. 

Here's what's in the Collector's Edition:

  • Premium disc book
  • Lenticular art card
  • Official soundtrack
  • Godsplitter Daemon Hammer replica
  • Three mounted cloth faction banners
  • Masters of War Skin Pack

Here's what's in the Limited Edition:

  • Premium disc book
  • Lenticular art card
  • Official soundtrack

All editions pre-ordered before the game’s release will include the Masters of War Skin Pack.

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Dawn of War 3 gameplay

This was the first big question coming into the announcement - would a third Dawn of War follow the model of the first’s large armies and control-point capture, the second’s hands-on tactics at squad-level, or reinvent itself once again? The answer is a little of all three. As you can see in the video above, there's a new focus on scale and super-sized units, but retaining the clashing armies of the first game and the heroes of the second. 

Relic say that DoW3 will have “the epic scale of Dawn of War” combined with “the customization and elite heroes of Dawn of War II.” They've also shown larger units (Imperial Knights, Morkanauts and Wraithknights) and weaponry (orbital death beams) than we’ve seen in the games before - it’s doubling down on the increased scale. If you’re looking for a simple answer as to whether the game is closer to DoW1 or 2, it's the original with its own unique twist.

While the overall strategy of a map will still be controlled by power generators and capture points, just as in the first game, massive units with unique special abilities are how DoW2 is brought into things. They're called elites, and in singleplayer will be collected and upgraded as you progress. They're meant to dominate battlefields, be it through tactical buffs from commander units or, y'know, massive guns, but they've got specific weaknesses. Never send a hero in alone if you're not prepared to lose them. For a look at every Dawn of War 3 unit, check our dedicated article.

Cover is also returning, but simplified so that squads of units capture areas, becoming more resistant to range fire but easier to clear out with assaults, rather than flat buffs in certain areas of the map. Being in cover is close to immunity from ranged damage, so jetpacking/charging/teleporting in really is the only option to clear out the entrenched - but, obviously, assault troops have a massive advantage once close-quarters are achieved, so it won't take much to counter.

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Dawn of War 3 campaign

Dawn of War 3's campaign will feature each faction converging "when a catastrophic weapon is found on the mysterious world of Acheron" according to the official site. That weapon is the Spear of Khaine, as laid out in the above trailer. Through the narrative you'll move from Space Marine, to Ork, to Eldar as each go about their business of trying to absolutely slaughter the others.

Three missions - one for each faction - have been shown off since the announcement. While these are non-final and details may change before release, particularly regarding which units are available, they're the best look we've had at what it will be like to go up against the AI.

The first, for the Space Marines, involves roving through the icy plains in pursuit of the Eldar:

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Or if you prefer, here's Matt managing to get his indestructible war machine killed:

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Those things aren't free, Matt.

The Eldar return the favour, looking to draw out Gabriel Angelos by blowing up his stuff and threatening to kill his friends:

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Finally the Orks are also picking a space-elf fight to destroy an Eldar base:

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Throughout, you're using a selection of elite units in combination with a swell of line troops to complete massive maps with multiple objectives. All three follow the theme of starting small, establishing a base then overwhelming an enemy. Hopefull there's more variety to come and rival the ever-changing campaigns we've seen from more recent RTS games.

Dawn of War 3 multiplayer

Dawn of War 3 multiplayer

The betas for Dawn of War 3 have given an in-depth look at multiplayer. An objective-based system is used for matches, with turrets and power cores to destroy rather than simply wiping out your opponent's buildings. Here's our initial look at it, and some thoughts from the closed beta.

Beyond that, how will it expand? Warhammer is so ripe for addons that DLC is inevitable. The Company of Heroes 2 model seemed the most likely, with factions added as paid upgrades every so often, letting anyone face against them in multiplayer without paying, but to play as them you cough up the cash. However, big, chunky expansions worked very well for both the original game and the sequel.

A lot of this could also depend on how successful the game is in its first year. A Dawn of War 3 that sells a couple of million copies is a far steadier base on which to build a constantly expanding service model than one that limps its way to a couple of hundred thousand, getting a single expansion before being shelved for the next big game.

Dawn of War 3 battle

Dawn of War 3 modding

The army painter is back, and Dawn of War 3 will launch with a map editor. They want to expand on that with proper workshop support for mods.

Afterall, what is more ripe for modding than a Warhammer 40,000 game? No matter how long Relic spend building a base version, within three months Games Workshop will have released some new army, unit or special character that someone would want to use. Even if GW gave up on the franchise tomorrow, Relic aren’t going to cram everything that currently exists within the massive universe into the game - the community will gather up their favourite factions and get them working, if allowed.

Such it was for the first two games, with mods like Ultimate Apocalypse still being regularly updated by committed development teams. While neither ever had the legacy of something like Skyrim or the long-running map-making pedigree of Blizzard's games, there was a tonne of interest there and will undoubtedly be for the third iteration. The previous versions didn't have the support structure of the Steam workshop, nor the modern internet speeds and level of modder capability that's pushed mods into such a mainstream area of gaming.

Dawn of War 3 units

Dawn of War 3 units and races

We have a dedicated list of every Dawn of War 3 unit that's been confirmed or spotted so far. For a brief rundown of the three factions - and yes, it does seem like the game is limited to just three on launch - here's a video for each:

Space Marines

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Eldar

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Orkz

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That's everything we know - so far. Check back when you can for more info, and let us know what you're excited about in the comments below.

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Tovias avatarScytheMonkey avatarBen Barrett avatarDizzle avatarVishnu100101 avataraplosky avatar+20
Tovias Avatar
1021
1 Year ago

I am not a fan of the squad gameplay of DoW 2, I would rather have more DoW 1. Let's hope they don't try to turn it into a blood e-sport.

4
Vishnu100101 Avatar
3
1 Year ago

The squad gameplay became too sameish. I liked the Dawn of War original gameplay better. Especially with the multiple expansion packs. I hope they can do the same kind of thing in the third installment

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Gradash Avatar
25
2 Months ago

I love they do the expansions but more like Total War: Warhammer than Dawn of War 1.

In TW:W all expansions are incremental, in DoW1 you get new games... This mean what the new expansion brings is not used in previews games... I love see me game grown like CA have done with TW:W

1
Penisalada Avatar
3
3 Months ago

I am a fan of the squad gameplay of DoW 2. I would rather have more DoW 2.

1
ScytheMonkey Avatar
67
1 Year ago

I am a fan of the squad gameplay of DoW 2 (as well as the more traditional gameplay of the first). I would rather have a true DoW 3 in the way that DoW 2 was an evolution from DoW 1. DoW 1 still exists and is still fun, as does DoW2. Lets not just rehash with marginally updated graphics. Bring me the next level of WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH!!!

3
Thorgald Avatar
3
1 Year ago

Well, the evolution of DoW 2 technically already happened with "Space Marine" which kind of turned out to not work all that well for THQ (as they were counting on that game to save them). I'm not saying the game was bad, it just wasn't the game enough of us wanted. So if Relic plans on making a DoW 3, it damned well better be a proper RTS like the original. Hell i'd be happy enough if they just remastered said original (with expansions) and bundled it up into one game. I'd happily throw my money at Relic for that alone..

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

I think either would be fine, really, just so long as they don't ever mislead us.

What I don't want is a repeat of Dragon Commander. Where the original pitch -- along with all of the provided concept art and resources -- was focused around a flying dragon action game with MOBA/RPG elements, and turned out to be a really, really bad and hilariously archaic strategy game from the '80s with Choose-Your-Own-Adventure elements.

Not to say I didn't like the story of Dragon Commander (I did!), but it wasn't the game they promised, nor the one I truly wanted. The thing is is that the original pitch promised a game to make up for the underwhelming use of the playable dragon in Divinity II: Ego Draconis. It was meant to be an improved version of that, not a really (truly and genuinely) awful RTS where you barely use the dragon at all. That was pretty much the last time I trusted Larian, never bothered with Original Sin.

It's funny, because playing Dragon Commander I could even see the MOBA elements that once were. Such as the AI having a habit of moving in very preset lanes, which isn't all that RTS-ish at all. They pretty much just produced units and sent them down lanes. That was it. Yay 'strategy.'

Sigh. Sorry about the venting.

Look, the point is is that as long as the don't mislead anyone with what the game is, it shouldn't be disappointing to or hated by anyone. They just need to tell us what the gameplay will be like and actually stick to that.

I don't think it matters whether it's like DoW1 or DoW1, there's an audience for both. All that matters is that they don't pull a Larian.

Footnote: For those curious about what I mean by the concept art providing supporting evidence for a very different game pitched than the one delivered? The original trailers were shown to be sky combat games, and the art received with the special edition clearly displayed each character in the story as originally having had their own dragon form (something which certainly didn't last).

1
ScytheMonkey Avatar
67
1 Year ago

I forgot to mention, but by "fan" I mean that this is the only game I *need* to exist damnit, and I can't express my dissapointment with THQ leadership for screwing all this up with their idiotic pursuit of a tablet.

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Ben Barrett Avatar
388
Ben Barrett(14 hours played)
1 Year ago

Agreed on this. There definitely isn't a high enough appreciation for the way DoW was reinvented between games while maintaining the same setting, units and feel, to a degree. If they can do that again, it would be impressive, but I've no idea what kind of startegy game it would be.

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powellnf Avatar
3
1 Year ago

Just a couple nit-picky points about what was shown in the trailer for each race:

Those aren't Harlequins, those are Banshees. Harlequins are actually (according to recent GW releases) a separate faction within the Eldar race all together, similar to the Dark Eldar.

Likewise, that's not a Wraithlord in the trailer, which are roughly the size of an ork dreadnought - but a WraithKnight, putting it in the class of titan along with the Imperial Knights its fighting in the trailer.

3
Ben Barrett Avatar
388
Ben Barrett(14 hours played)
1 Year ago

Whoops! The first is my bad, I'd somehow forgotten Howling Banshees even existed, and felt stupid as soon as I read about them elsewhere.

Second was just a typo - we'll be referring to them as Wraithsummats from now on.

0
aplosky Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I hope that DoW 3 is more like DoW 1, because as a solo player I did not like DoW2 at all.

Relic seems to believe that RTS gamers do not want to build a base. There’s no base building in Dawn of War 2 and there is no serious AI. It mostly hangs around passively and never does something to surprise you ever. DoW 1 was so different and advanced in that respect. DoW 2 was a stone age game compared to that.

-

I stopped playing DoW2 after a mere 10 hours or so (even though I own all DoW2 games), but I still play Dawn of War 1 after all these years. I can’t even guess how many hours I have poured into the DoW 1 series. It must be many thousands of hours. The same goes for the excellent Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, which also has great base building and a reasonably good AI (especially with mods).

-

What Relic does not realize is that base building, if done well, is hugely enjoyable. It adds an extra dimension to RTS. It adds an extra layer of decision making and it offers important natural and realistic strategic objectives. It adds meaning to a battle and it makes things feel more personal, when for example the enemy destroys an important structure in you base. It is much more fun than only using some sort of capture the flag system like in DoW2 and Company of Heroes.

DoW1 had also a great modding community because DOW1 allowed modders much better access to it's systems. DoW 2 virtually killed all this.

Of course the visuals of DoW 2 were great. The Tyranids looked plain awesome. But visuals are not enough. I hated DoW 2 as a game. It was a horrible, horrible game for solo players. A huge disappointment.

To be frank I have very little hope concerning DoW 3 for an RTS fanatic like me.

2
demonkoryu Avatar
2
1 Year ago

Exactly the same with me.

2
Penisalada Avatar
3
1 Year ago

At first i remember when Dow 2 came out i was pissed that there was no base building, but then after playing it has, and still is one of the best Dawn of war games out. Although the lack of support behind the game was its demise, they stop updating it, put all the energy into Last stand which was fun for one night but is the most repetitive thing ive played. Then community took over, modding and creating DOW2 elite mod, which fixed a shit load of bugs that needed adressing and buffs and nerfs to balance it. The cover system was great in dow2 and some of the best multiplayer rts games ive had was with that game. This Dow3 (although the flashy big buget trailer looks awesome) the in game pics ive seen looks pretty hectic and just looks like a SC2 ball of colourful units but obviously still in Alpha.

"Relic's artists have taken more inspiration from the colourful paint jobs of the tabletop game. It's a step away from the dark doom-laden tone of the fiction, and the game looks fantastic in motion. " This to me is a HUGE mistake, the dark gritty look is what makes 40k, this is not blizzards super cute colourfull kid crap, its dark, its brutal...keep it that way.

Anyways fingers crossed they dont fuck it up, im sure i will still get it and lets hope they put a newish spin on RTS and there is a decent competitive scene.

2
Dizzle Avatar
1
Dizzle(4 days 10 hours played)
1 Year ago

Totally agree with the author. I honestly liked both games in equal measure. Let's hope Relic keep evolving the franchise and bring us something really unique as they have done before.

1
akelm Avatar
1
1 Year ago

The reason I liked DOW1 and 2 is because it was definitely not warcraft model rts. The main thing was that the base defenses if built right could effectively hold off a t1 rush. Warcraft 3 defense philosophy was useless. That is the thing I want to see brought forward from the old games. Some of the other parts of Warcraft 3 would be fine tho.

1
Aragorias Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I'm still waiting. Can't wait for a true sequel to DOW1.

Frontline Battle, Big Armies, Really distinct Unites, Cover, Dynamic Cover, Close Combat, Morale....

Wow I loved that game sooo much. Never been an RTS like it ever since.

1
Fernii Avatar
1
1 Year ago

The best way to pull off the mix between DoW1/DoW2 is simple. Start off the game having a large army (but not as large as DoW1) for the first few missions, then either take command of a DoW1 sized army (or larger) in one mission branch, or go smaller squad size in another mission branch. Who knows? maybe on some of these missions you choose, you'll either see a larger number of your sides' forces in the distance, or have a short run-in with the small squad before you go your separate ways.

1
Thalesin Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Not to be a pedant but those were howling banshees, not harlequins

1
gabbe32 Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Anything info on Chaos?

Any new units or stuff, if they are even in the new game...

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD

1
Pol Pot Avatar
1
1 Year ago

No, nothing I know... I cannot belive they will have a DoW without the unholiest race there is to be created.

Death to the death god

1
*sigh* Avatar
221
1 Year ago

I wonder how much it will have in common with COH2 AA.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

Hooray, for there are orks. That's really all I needed to know. Double hooray for the presence of tau, and triple hooray for a playable tyrannid campaign! If those happen to be there, of course.

With just one of those present, that's enough to convince me to pick this up. I probably won't be able to play it due to my waning sight, but I might be able to get my significant other into it so that I may watch. That would be fun.

I loved the ork campaigns of prior Dawn of War games, they were fantastic. They're the 'well, if we're caught up in this we're going to have a rollickin' old time with it!' faction. They're just in the middle of everything, and having a blast because it's all very silly.

It's something the Space Marines never understood, really, which always made it even funnier. I feel that WAAAGH itself is but a great joke at the expense of everyone else.

1
FakeR Avatar
1
1 Year ago

no Chaos ? that sucks

1
CheniDaEst Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Forme just bring tau in the game and i'll buy it

1
Selzyr Avatar
1
1 Year ago

"Such it was for the first two games, with mods like Ultimate Apocalypse still being regularly updated by committed development teams. While neither ever had the legacy of something like Skyrim or the long-running map-making pedigree of Blizzard's games..."

The heck? no matter how I read it I laugh and go like "The fuck are you guys talking about?"

UA and a few other Mods created to DoW were/are the best examples of what a community can do and how much WE as a community can make a game big and more perfect then what the Company creating it did, Heck I'm going far to the point of saying that I'm not the only one that got the game due to the modding capabilities and the fact that great mods like UA are out, I still play DoWSS BECAUSE UA it self, and L.C is still updating the mod and adding more and more stuff to it, making it bigger and better, we didn't actually need a new DoW, or we do, but in the veins of DoW + DoWII "Commanders" upgrade and tatical gameplay, BRING THE FUCKING BASE BUILDING BACK! That's the outcry the Warhammer 40k community been asking, MAKE IT MASSIVE MULTIPLAYER on the MP department, and there? you got a fucking good game!

If DoWIII does that, heck the only thing I would say is something in the veins of Helldivers but 40k related, that would fucking ROCK!

1
griningtiger Avatar
1
9 Months ago

i really hope the eventually bring in the Tyranids! if they do it would be so worth buying

1
thedesserted Avatar
1
7 Months ago

I liked DOW as Im a much bigger fan of Traditional RTS games with base building and such, as I grew up with C&C and age of empires/mythology junk. I know DOW 2 was also popular with another crowd cause a lot of people prefer smaller scale games. But Im someone who has played supreme commander and sins of a solar empire for nearly a decade, and I much prefer huge scale fighting xD Its good to see that this will hopefully find mid ground between the two!

1
SamseDK Avatar
1
SamseDK(2 days 10 hours played)
1 Month ago

We need that walking pyramid from DOW 1, and all the races back

1
Max Ursa Avatar
68
1 Year ago

Prepare to recieve the Emperor's benediction!

0