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Warhammer 40,000 fans, your prayers to the Emperor (or Gork, Mork, Isha, or whichever vile daemon you heretics worship) have been answered. A turn-based strategy adaptation of Games Workshop's grimdark tabletop wargame is coming, but not from the usual source. While Relic developed and THQ published the 40K RTS series Dawn of War, this is by specialist strategy developer and publisher Slitherine.
We don't know much, though. Yesterday's announcement said it's being made for multiple platforms with "best talents in design and development" available to Slitherine. And that's about all.
"Slitherine are clearly established and successful masters of their genre of games, and there are many fans of their work here at [Games Workshop]," head of licensing Jon Gillard said in yesterday's announcement. "It's a pleasure to work with such like minded individuals who share our passion for strategy games of all types."
As well as the Slitherine brand, the Slitherine Group includes Matrix Games and Ageod.
Relic was working on a Dawn of War III, but it ended up sidelined while the studio focused on Company of Heroes 2. Relic was bought by Sega in the great THQ shutdown sale, and it's not yet clear what will happen with 40K there now.
[That image up top is from Relic's Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution]
The anime-inspired Tau are bringing their mecha suits to Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution this month, with a new Tau Commander hero coming to Last Stand mode as paid downloadable content. Developer Relic also announced that new premium multiplayer chapters are in the works for the Chaos and Imperial Guard factions.
"The major themes that drove the design were to have a hero that was offensively potent but fragile, and to provide different avenues of playstyle," Relic's Clint Tasker explained in the announcement dev diary. According to Tasker, the Tau Commander can be set up to be offensive powerhouses, disrupt enemy forces, or support their allies.
Relic says that the Tau Commander will arrive alongside Imperial Guard Death Korps of Krieg and Chaos Word Bearers chapter packs in the next update, this month. The chapter packs traditionally cost $7.49. Relic hasn't announced how much the Tau Commander, the first new Last Stand DLC hero, will be.
While the Tau became playable in the original Dawn of War with the standalone expansion Dark Crusade, this will be their debut in the Dawn of War II sub-series.
Dawn of War III is on the way, but its predecessor is getting at least one more piece of downloadable content. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution is planning a new DLC pack to highlight another piece of 40K lore: the Ultramarines.
The pack is coming in a nebulous "future update," so we're in the dark for release timing. In the past, armor packs have cost $7.49, so this is likely to hit at the same price, but nothing has been announced.
In a blog post, we got a peak at the units. Each of them carries "a distinctly Roman Empire influenced look" according to Relic artist Matt Kuzminski. This manifests itself in ornate armor styles and stylish plating. Kuzminski calls the Dreadnought his "favourite element of this pack," modeled after the Forge World version. Old Space Marine models have been replaced with Scouts and Devastators to match the aesthetic.
Having previously tarted the Space Marines up as the Dark Angels with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution paid downloadable content, developer Relic has announced it's giving the Eldar a DLC makeover next.
The cosmetic-only Eldar UlthwÃ© pack will customise your multiplayer Eldar army with a new look styled after the forces of Craftworld UlthwÃ©. All units are deck out in slimming new black skins, with a fair number getting new and custom outfits too.
Tweaks include a Farseer insipired by Dawn of War - Dark Crusade character Farseer Taldeer, new robes for the Warlock Commander, a Wraithlord based upon concept sketches for the original tabletop miniature, fur cloaks and new helmets for Seer Council warlocks, and snazzy lightning decals for the Falcon and Fire Prism.
The UlthwÃ© DLC's price hasn't been confirmed yet, but it'd be surprising if it weren't the same as the $7.49 Dark Angels pack. It's due to arrive alongside the next Retribution update.
Relic recently revealed that it plans to let players "build your own custom mega army" in the still-not-officially-announced Dawn of War III, though there's no word yet on exactly what this will entail.
Cosmetic tweaks along the lines of the UlthwÃ© DLC are common in the original Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame. It's not difficult to imagine DoW 3 coming with a set number of alternate parts, accessories, and decorations for players to customise their armies, then selling extra packs of bits as DLC. Such a setup would allow players to tinker while still supporting the post-launch income stream Relic has created with these DoW 2 faction packs, though this is of course pure speculation.
Though Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III is still not formally announced, that hasn't stopped publisher THQ and developer Relic from talking about the RTS sequel. The latest revelations come from Relic marketing manager James McDermott in an interview with Eurogamer, covering topics including custom armies.
"Looking at what we had real success with with Dawn of War II - Retribution, with the DLC, and with customisation and building their armies and collecting being a big part of what 40k fans really love, we want to make that a big part of DoW 3," McDermott said. "There's going to be lots of opportunities to expand and build your own custom mega army. That's definitely an area we want to invest in. We see a good opportunity."
Customisation is a staple of the tabletop miniatures wargame, from paint schemes and replacing figures' components with snazzier parts to flat-out inventing new factions. The most recent DoW only supports relatively limited custom paint options. How exactly will it all work in Dawn of War III? Until the game's revealed, who could possibly say. But custom armies!
McDermott also backed up THQ core games head Danny Bilson's remarks that Dawn of War III will combine elements of the first two with new elements and MMO aspects. DoW 3 "is going to have a much larger strategic component to it, more of a global battle going on with little tactical things, sort of MMO-like," McDermott explained.
"We're trying to leverage even more so on the Games Workshop tabletop game, and then combine that with the game mechanics people have said, 'If you were to make a DOW3 we would like this kind of balance of things,' and what we think would be good for strategy games as a whole."
Bilson had hinted in 2010 that Dawn of War 3 might be free-to-play, depending on how well the F2P Company of Heroes Online was received. Considering that it shut down in February this year, you can probably scratch that out.
McDermott also teased the announcement Relic is due to make at the Gamescom show in August, saying "There is something cool and I think people will be really pleased to hear about it." If we all wish hard enough for a surprise Homeworld 3 announcement, it might just come true.
"The design goal for Last Stand has always been that wargear would give you new ways to play, rather than straight-up be better. I've tried to maintain that design philosophy with these items," designer Clint Tracker explained in the announcement. "One, so that players do not have to buy it to compete for top scores and two, to stay true to the original intent of the mode. These items are here to create new and awesome ways for players to slaughter mobs of infantry in the two arenas."
Two new items will be released for each of the six Last Stand heroes, intended to be work together and support particular approaches. The Imperial Guard Lord General's gnarly bearskin shrug and shotgun, for example, will toughen up his turrets and help him tackle crowds of infantry. The Space Marine's snazzy new hat and shield, on the other hand, toughen him up and boost melee damage so he can happily go on hacking enemies to pieces.
Pricing for the DLC has not been revealed yet, though producer Jeff Lydell told GameReplays that it'll be "Purchasable per hero or in a bundle for the whole set." There's no word on a release date yet either. The previous DLC, a purely cosmetic Dark Angels skins pack, cost $7.50.
Presumably the new wargear will also be released for Dawn of War II - Retribution - The Last Standalone, the $10 standalone spin-off of Last Stand mode.