Sunday saw our usual 4-man gaming team a man down due to social commitments (grrrr IRL [SORRY I WAS WATCHING DEADPOOL, GEORGE – Ed] ). After fifteen minutes of arguing about games to download, update or play, I persuaded the guys to load up Dawn of War 2: Retribution. The idea was to have a bash at the Last Stand survival mode while we decided what to actually play. Five hours later and we still hadn’t beaten wave 20, but time had been forgotten, as had choosing another game to play. As we were loading our pre-made games, we could see the concurrent gamers online and number of matches available. I was pretty impressed that a RTS title released five years ago still has about 1000 concurrent players online at once.

So I was further surprised when yesterday a friend linked a video about a new DLC content release for the Last Stand survival mode.

Back when the Dawn of War franchise was at the height of it popularity (during what I look back with fond memories as the golden age of RTS) developers Relic Entertainment were still under the rulership of the now long-gone publisher THQ. It was in March of 2011 that they released a second standalone expansion for DOW 2, Retribution. Its release was important for two reasons – firstly, it marked the transition of the multiplayer servers to Steam (which was a godsend to anyone who had previously played it on awful Games for Windows Live servers.) Secondly, it laid the ground work for DLC releases, one of which was a purchasable unit called the Tau Commander. Usable in the Last Stand mode, this unit in my opinion was (and still is) completely unbalanced and buy to win.

Hopefully the new DLC unit (available for free April 10th-15th) won’t have the balance issues of the previous DLC. My hopes may not be completely misguided, as Relic have released a five year anniversary bug fix for the game to go with the new DLC. There has also been talk on the Dawn of War forums of the developers taking player feedback, and suggestion of another bug fix release on March 10th.

So, why has there been all of this movement for a long dormant game?

Relic announced that it was working on Dawn of War 3 shortly before the financial issues with THQ and subsequent sale to Sega. To me, it looks like Sega have been testing the waters for interest in the franchise, perhaps to see if there’s the interest needed fore another addition to the franchise.
If this is the case, sign me up. I loved both the Dawn of War 1 and 2, as well as the first Company of Heroes game. The number of hours I have logged in them combined is in the low to mid 100s. I admitedly skipped Company of Heroes 2 as I disliked the feel of it, but I’m hoping that if Relic do push forward with Dawn of War 3 it will go back to basics whilst providing a fresh take on what for me has been a very stale RTS scene as of late.

Happy 5 year Anniversary, Retribution! I will be logging in during April to claim my free DLC, and will be keeping an eye out for any new information or updates.

Further reading:

Relic Announcement