Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2
From Before I Play
- The game includes a lot of "hard counters" (rock-paper-scissors matchups). The original campaign introduces new unit types gradually, so you'll get a chance to discover these matchups as you encounter new types of enemies. It's possible to alter the balance via wargear (e.g. default Avitus is anti-infantry; Avitus with a lascannon is anti-vehicle), squad selection (e.g. Thaddeus cannot withstand concentrated small arms fire but Tarkus can) and character progression (e.g. the Force Commander can specialize in ranged weapons, although it's a bad idea to actually do so). Effective use of combat abilities can also shift the balance in your favour: Thaddeus will get shot to ribbons if he charges an entrenched enemy squad, but if he makes an Assault Jump into their position then he'll leave them scattered and broken.
- Very few of your weapons will cause friendly fire damage. It's perfectly acceptable to charge your Force Commander into an enemy unit and then shoot indiscriminately into the resulting melee; your bullets will find their mark. Be aware that most bosses can't be permanently "tanked" in this manner; they'll walk past (or through) your fighters in order to disrupt your heavy weapons.
- Zoom in occasionally. Many of the melee sync-kill animations are worth watching close-up.
- Each of your squads will have a half-dozen different abilities, so you won't get full effectiveness out of them unless you have godly micromanagement skills. The co-op campaign feature cuts this workload in half, so give it a try if you're feeling overwhelmed. Retribution offers an alternative: you can swap out your micromanagement-hungry heroes in exchange for larger swarms of "dumb" units.
- You have a "retreat" command (hotkey: X), which is a very effective "panic button" since retreating units receive an armor bonus and enemies will rarely pursue them (note: CPU only; human adversaries will employ nasty tricks to stunlock and slaughter your retreating forces). You can also get a lot of mileage out of the attack-move command (e.g. attack-move 3 of your squads towards the target and they'll take cover as needed, allowing you to focus your attention on micromanaging the fourth squad).
- Increased difficulty does not make the CPU opponent more clever, nor does it increase the number of enemy units that you'll face. It simply gives each enemy unit greater toughness and firepower, which forces YOU to play more cleverly (e.g. by exploiting cover and denying it to the enemy).
- The game is moddable, but multiplayer game modes will be locked out if you're running ANY mods at all (even if you've only messed around with the single-player campaign files). It allows for some fun possibilities, though, such as outfitting your entire tactical marine squad with flamethrowers, or replacing your Force Commander with a Howling Banshee exarch.
- Once your team has reached level 20 in the original campaign, you might as well run through the final mission. It isn't necessary to complete all of the side missions. You'll notice that many of the late-appearing missions provide tantalizing wargear rewards. However, only the gear that your strike force actually CARRIES into the final mission will be imported into the Chaos Rising campaign; the rest of your armory will be lost (this isn't a bug, it's part of the story). Caveat: there are a few optional super-bosses that you might want to fight, regardless of rewards, simply to hear the post-mission party banter.
- "The Last Stand" has two maps. Stick with The Bloodied Colosseum until your character reaches level 10 or so; surviving The Anvil of Khorne requires anti-vehicle firepower which low-level characters simply can't have provide.
- They've fixed the major memory leak, but the game still isn't very well optimized. Be prepared to lower your graphics settings from the auto-detected defaults, especially if you're playing multiplayer.
- The multiplayer chat is a terribe cesspit of racism, memes, unblockable flooding, and bitching about Steam. Matchmaking is a bit fussy because you need to select a specific game type such as 3v3 (there's no "join any game ASAP" option). This factor, combined with the small playerbase, means that you might find yourself waiting for several minutes without any apparent progress. Custom (unranked) games sometimes fill up quickly, but you can't queue for multiple matches simultaneously. If any of your Steam friends play DoWII, then you may be able to skip a lot of the multiplayer headaches via invites.