Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade Preview

Making a popular tabletop game transition to an RTS franchise is not an easy process. Relic Entertainment took a big gamble when it released Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War in September 2004, but it proved to be a very successful move on their part. With an expansion pack out the door a year later, Relic is now working on the second expansion slated for release on October 9, 2006. Titled Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, the expansion will include two new races, more units for existing races, specialized war gear (only in single player), new single player campaigns, and multiplayer enhancements.

The backbone of this RTS game is to rack up and maintain two resources, power, and requisition. Taking strategic points, critical points, and relics will increase your requisition, while building plasma generators in your base or taking slag pits will increase your power. Without the two resources, you won’t be able to build your units or buildings, so you can tell keeping a constant flow of each is critical. After capturing strategic points or relics, you can build listening posts on top of them, which increases the requisition output along with adding some protection. If you want to upgrade the listening posts, you can reinforce them for more requisition output and armor, and also attach an Engagement Research outpost, which will further increase the requisition output.

A demo was released recently featuring a tutorial and two single player levels. Both levels feature the new Tau Empire, as you fight against the classic Space Marines. The Tau Empire is an alien race governed by a caste system; the Fire Caste is the military aspect for the empire. Some of the units featured include the Fire Warriors (typical ranged soldiers), the Kroot (allied melee race), the Tau Commander (can be outfitted with various upgrades including a flamethrower [good for infantry], a fusion cannon [good for vehicles] and a missile launcher [good for buildings]), the XV15 Stealth Team (stealth units), and the Sky Ray Missile Gunship (the only vehicle available in the demo). Initially, the Fire Warriors are your standard bread and butter ranged units, but they have zero melee capabilities. So to balance them out, you can build a Kroot barracks to introduce the frenzied melee race – the Kroot Carnivores – to keep the enemy at bay, while the Warriors rain ranged death upon them. Along the way, you can upgrade your units, give your Kroot Carnivores a jumping ability to hone in on enemies more quickly, or give your Tau Commander the ability to use snare traps against your enemies to decrease their attack power and speed.

While the Fire Caste is the military aspect for the Tau, the Earth Caste is the building one. From your Cadre Headquarters, you can build Earth Caste Builders, which handle building duties. Specific buildings include the Tau Barracks (provides the several units mentioned above), a Path to Enlightenment Post (provides research to improve infantry units, commanders, and vehicles, and also increases the overall squad and vehicle cap), Kroot Barracks, Vehicle Beacon (builds a variety of vehicles, limited to just the Sky Ray for the demo), and two Command Posts: the Mont’ka Command Post and the Kauyon Command Post. These two posts are mutually exclusive, meaning they can’t exist at the same time. Both Command Posts upgrade your Kroot units, and also allow the research for more buildings and vehicles. The Mont’ka Command Post allows for the teachings of Mont’ka tactics – "the killing blow" – along with providing more units – XV8 Crisis Suits and vehicles (the Hammerhead Gunship). The Kauyon Command Post allows for the teachings of the patient hunter, along with providing more units, Kroot Hounds, and research for more buildings and vehicles.

The Infiltration system for the Tau mostly applies to the XV15 Stealth Team (more units may utilize this in the full game). The stealth team has the same capabilities as the Fire Warriors (in terms of having primarily ranged weaponry and having the ability to take strategic points), but they are stealth-oriented, so be sure to keep them out of the heavy firefights. Their unique abilities provide some infantry advantages, however. For example, you can use your Fire Warriors to distract some enemy units, then jetpack (the stealth team has jetpacks) your stealth team in to create some additional havoc, and once discovered jet them out. They aren’t the strongest units, but they add a nice touch of variety to the strategy aspect in Dark Crusade.

Expanding on the additional units for the existing races, the Imperial Guard will be getting a Heavy Weapons Team (extremely powerful stationary, but once moving the heavy weaponry is unavailable; can entrench themselves, which increases their defense and offense), Chaos will be getting a Daemon Prince (one of the strongest units in the game – has a special ability to roar that demoralizes units, but very vulnerable to daemon specialized units), Eldars will be getting Harlequins, Space Marines will be getting Grey Knights (specialized daemon hunters, but limited to just one unit at a time; special abilities include a speed boost and an area of effect psychic attack), and Orks will be getting the Flash Gitz (deals extreme ranged damage, wears light armor, and is very expensive).

The other additions in the expansion take place in the single player campaign. While adventuring through the single player mode, players can gain war gear, which upgrades your weapons, armor, and abilities. There will also be a "Conquer the World" mode, where you can conquer the world of Kronus. In this mode, you’ll find yourself playing across a strategic campaign map to conquer the world one portion at a time.

Mark down October 9th on your calendar, RTS fans, because that’s when havoc in the year 40,000 continues with the next Dawn of War expansion pack from Relic.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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