Discussion The Patient Gamer: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising


Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
So I recently completed Dawn of War 2's expansion campaign Chaos Rising, which adds the Chaos race in with the base game's existing 4 races (Space Marines, Eldar, Orks, and Tyranids) and features a roughly 15 mission campaign which, like the base campaign of Dawn Of War 2, plays more like a Squad based hybrid of your standard RTS game and your standard ARPG, a combination that really works and feels fresh despite not really doing anything new for either genre.

I played a fair amount of the original Dawn of War and Dawn of War 2's multiplayer back in the day (even building new maps for my group of friends using the awesome world builder tool), but I kept it strictly campaign this time around.

The technicals didn't get in the way: pretty quick to mop up around 10-15 hours, stable except the one crash I did have occurred *after* defeating the final boss so I had to complete the final mission twice, and the game ran very well on my signature system at 1440p Ultra and on my laptop with a 1050 4gb at 1080P High.

The campaign, if you're not familiar, is not simply a series of multiplayer matches where more and more of the tech tree and new units are exposed to you from mission to mission but more of a tactical ARPG where you are given the option to take 4 out of a total of 7 different squads (one will always be your character, the 'Force Commander') with different abilities and wargear options on a series of missions. In my campaign I tended to run my FC as a CC tank, with ranged support from a Dreadnought, Heavy Weapons Squad, and Tactical Marine Squad.

Every mission will reward you with "wargear" which are equipable weapons, armor and consumables and experience to level your characters. Leveling awards stat points that you can assign to health, ranged, melee, or mana, with each track having powerful unlockable abilities every half dozen skill points or so. This makes building your squad and choosing who to take on missions a remarkably rewarding experience.

The campaign also introduces a "corruption" mechanic over Vanilla DoW2 where either completing or failing to complete secondary objectives in missions sees members of your team begin falling to the lure of corruption and chaos. This "purity" mechanic granted additional abilities, and changes some key story events and the ending, depending on how pure or corrupt your squads are. The mechanic is handled about as well as one could ask: I wanted to complete the game with a "pure" squad and never felt that I was surprised or overwhelmed by having to manage my squad's corruption level. Plenty of consumable items and "corrupted" wargear are available to push your squads one way or another.

The mission structure does warrant some scrutiny, as essentially most missions boil down to "traverse this maze like map littered with enemies, then kill a boss enemy with a special health bar" with a few exceptions. Luckily the core gameplay of squad combat, the relatively short mission length, and some mutators thrown into the odd mission (no jump packs on the space hulk, timers, corruption objectives) keeps things interesting for the duration of the relatively short campaign.

The story and plot are good but not great. 40K is such an enormous universe with such a grand scale that all kinds of incredible story telling opportunities exist (see: any of Dan Abnett's books, the Soul Drinkers if you're into Space Marines falling to the dark side) that what is a solid story about a Space Marine chapter with some dark secrets facing their mortal enemy feels weirdly small and underwhelming in the end. One day I'm sure I'll get an inquisitor game with the cinematic style and production values of the Mass Effect series. One day.

Lastly is the "Last Stand" mode, which was a huge blast when I played it back in my DoW2 days, is back with the addition of a Chaos Sorcerer. Didn't get a chance to try it out yet, but I can't imagine it somehow became *less* fun.

All in all, I had a great time. RTS games are a rare breed these days, and good ones are rarer still. To get my fix, I've found visiting old gems (Relic has quite a few) has temporarily sated my interest.

The Dawn of War games can be had for a song nowadays , and with 1 and 2 you can't really go wrong, but beware that there are some fairly broad shifts between the 3 games of the series (DOW1 is a more traditional base builder, DOW2 eschews base building almost entirely for a tighter focus on squad combat, and DOW3 if reviews are supposed to be believed is some sort of MOBA-esq abomination).
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