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Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II

Interview: Relic talks story and engines

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II has its heart set in the world of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe. The clue's in the title. To find out more on the upcoming sequel we caught up with senior designer Matthew Berger and producer Mark Noseworthy for an update on the direction Relic's going.

What functionality does the Essence Engine bring to Dawn of War II that wasn't possible in the original? Can you do - for example - organic-looking models now like Tyranids?

Matthew Berger: We pretty much took Dawn of War in one hand and Company of Heroes in the other and smashed them together. It's a bit simplistic to just answer the question by saying "more", but that's almost the simplest answer.


We've been able to get better effects and better sync-kills. For people who think the Eldar aren't as awesome as Space Marines just wait till you see Eldritch Storm for the first time.

And it's not just the Essence Engine, we also have Havok ragdoll which is not only highly entertaining for deaths but we've also come up with some pretty unique uses of it for abilities and weapons.

As for Tyranids; yes we can do them and we can do them in a manner that does them justice. Tyranid players are going to feel that the wait was well worth it when they see the Carnifex lumbering across the battlefield or a group of gaunts running around and over walls.

Players now have to deal with consequences regarding mission choices. How far-reaching will the consequences be?

Berger: Much like in any conflict your resources are limited. You just can't be everywhere at once so you're going to have to prioritise where you go and what targets you strike at. The story isn't linear and you'll be unlocking different elements of it at different times depending on which paths you focus on.

Your choice in targets will also affect how your characters are equipped since certain missions will offer certain rewards and you may want to go after those to help you progress more easily. Finally there are certain missions that will have greater and wider impacts; completing these missions or choosing to avoid them will affect the planets as a whole and may make your life pretty difficult if you skip too many of them.

World in Conflict was praised last year for story and characterisation. What can we expect in this regard from Dawn of War II?

Berger: Relic has always tried to make the stories of our games stand out. We know that it's mostly about the gameplay but we also believe that the story helps make this gameplay more compelling.


Take the Dawn of War franchise as a whole from the original through its various expansions we've tried to weave our story into the Warhammer 40,000 mythology with the Blood Ravens slowly revealing elements about their mysterious past and how they might be connected and to whom. We've also created these amazing characters that fight for what they believe in, even if it's just pure fighting in the case of the Orks, and watched as they clashed against one another.

I won't enter into too specific details about what we did for Dawn of War II because that would spoil the fun but we're definitely going to learn more about the Blood Ravens; we're going to see characters we've seen before and we're going to meet new ones. Even by Dawn of War standards I think we've managed to come up with some pretty cool story elements.

Why won't this be like other RTS games?

Mark Noseworthy: In traditional RTS, base building represents the tech tree and grants you access to new units and abilities throughout the game.

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