Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution Hands-On

By Darryl Kaye on February 7, 2011, 12:06PM EDT

Following the successful release of Dawn of War II, Relic got straight to work on its second expansion, dubbed Retribution. Although fairly similar to previous installments in terms of gameplay style, Relic has made sure to add a wealth of content. For example, each of the races in the game will have a separate campaign, including the new race, the Imperial Guard.

Retribution takes place ten years after the events of Chaos Rising (the first expansion) and the part of the campaign that we were able to play through focussed on Typhon Primaris undergoing Exterminatus. Depending on the race you choose to play as, events will differ slightly, but the campaigns will take place on the same levels, with the same set pieces. It's just the pawns that change, and the circumstances as to why they're in the situation.

Although this could be seen as a turn off, the different races control in vastly different ways. For example, when playing as the Imperial Guard, you'll get the chance to take control of numerous heroes. When playing through as the Tyranids, you'll get the chance to take control of just one, albeit much more enhanced, hero character.

As previously mentioned, gameplay is fairly similar to previous affairs, although the developers have stated that there will be a slight emphasis on "base building" this time around - it's very minor though. As you go through levels, you'll have the ability to take over structures, which can then be used to reinforce your motley crew of soldiers. You can also take over turrets along the way, which become fully under your control - a rather mean way to eradicate your foes.

For the most part, it's essentially just making sure you use your units to their maximum potential. As you only have a finite amount of resources, it's crucial to make sure that your units stay alive as long as possible. Unlike RTS games of old, where you could win by simply having superior numbers, Dawn of War II goes away from this, and makes players think more about strategic ways to win. For example, making sure you keep ranged at the back, melee up front.

Aside from the campaign, one of the biggest draws is The Last Stand. This is a separate game mode whereby one to three players can go against waves upon waves of increasingly difficult enemies. They never get any more allies though, so the outcome of the bout depends purely on player skill. There's a full level-up system in place, and the amount of item combos and heroes is rather impressive. It's just important to make sure you pick the right items to help the team.

It's actually rather addictive, but the AI could really use some improvement. There's absolutely no way to determine what kind of hero the AI will play as, so it could choose something completely useless, or something that just doesn't compliment what you were going for. Often, you'll find yourself having to revive them repeatedly, if only so they can be cannon fodder.

There is also competitive multiplayer, which will included a bit more base building. Capturing resources is the key to victory, but also expanding your territory. It's a very basic base building system, but it's also nice that the developers put this in here - it makes sure the game caters to more audiences after all.

Dawn of War II - Retribution looks like it will successfully build upon the Dawn of War franchise, and further Dawn of War II's story. The chances to the multiplayer alone are enough to draw players back, but the addition of single player campaigns for all of the races makes the deal even sweeter.

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