Dawn of War 2 Multiplayer Beta

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dow2logoI’ve been in a very pickup-and-play mood lately.  My mouth has been hurting a bit and that’s made my attention span pretty much zilch when it comes to focusing and doing anything specific for a long period of time.  It’s been the perfect opportunity to play a lot of Dawn of War 2 Multiplayer Beta which has been available to the public on Steam.  I played the first Dawn of War and the expansion packs (all but this most recent one) and enjoyed the game’s campaign and dabbled in the multiplayer.  I never thought that the game held much against Warcraft3, Starcraft, or their ilk but it was a decent game nonetheless.

Dawn of War 2 changes things up a bit by removing the building aspects of the game and having players focus solely on creating squads from a main building and then using them to capture nodes and fight your enemies.   There are two types of nodes on the map – to simplify it it’s basically money and power.  You spend these to make squads of troops, which is as simple as it sounds.  You can upgrade your main base twice to level three and unlock higher tiers of troops/vehicles.  It’s rather simplistic and makes me miss the control I had of making buildings and such bu the simple nature of it works because of how intense the micromanagement is with squads.

The gameplay in DoW2 is pretty solid.  As I said, you’re going to need to be good at micromanaging your squads as you use them on the battlefield.  Squads can each be upgraded with different types of weapons and given squad leaders on top of your hero being able to upgrade and use different items from a selection of items unique to your hero.   Additionally, it feels like each squad has special abilities to use including your hero unit which has spells and abilities as well.   There are also racial abilities that can be used as you build up points for killing enemies (similar to the Command and Conquer games) that change slightly with which hero you’re using.  Each hero for each races alters the feel of gameplay which gives the game a lot of diversity – 4 races – 3 heroes each.

My favorite race by far are the Orks.  They’re crazy and offer a lot of options in battle.  I find it best to always have a healthy mix of melee and ranged troops and work my way to tankbustas (anti-vehicle) troops to reinforce.  Using the Mekboy hero allows me to throw proximity mines and really control the enemy’s movement. It’s always important to maintain a healthy army or else you will quickly find yourself overrun – especially against the Tyranids.  Additionally, paying attention to what your enemy builds is crucial.  Unit counters are yet another form of micromanagement in DoW2 and if you’re not making something that counters your enemy then you will feel completely useless as your units die within seconds and the enemy walks away unscathed because his units were strong against yours.   It makes each game feel different and dynamic though, which is a plus in RTS games.

The maps in the multiplayer beta are pretty good.   A big part of the gameplay revolves around using the terrain to your benefit.  Commanding your troops to take cover is so very important because if you just ignore where your troops are standing then you leave yourself open to being completely annihilated through suppression, flanking, and other outright weaknesses with not taking cover like more damage.  A big part of DoW2 seems to be controlling the map and disabling your opponent from being able to move troops around.  If you control the crucial parts of the map long enough to hunker down and secure them then the game is won.

DoW2’s online matchmaking system is downright awful.  It takes forever to find opponents and teammates to play with in “find game” option and the “custom games” where you search a list of games to join is plagued with the same issues that seem to pop up in every game like “NAT negotiation” problems and other lag/router/firewall issues.  Why can’t another company replicate the Battle.net experience – it’s ridiculous.  On top of the online lobby/matching being horrible, the game suffers from crashes, lockups, and intense lag.  There is a bug right now that is causing some people (myself included) to CTD every other game.  The lag in-game is horrific to the point of getting skippy gameplay and intense latency waits for players to catch up.  Additionally, if someone in the game is running with their settings too high then it brings -everyone- down with them.  A message pops up saying “So and so has their settings to high and is lagging the game” … it’s bonkers.

If the lag, bugs, crashes, and online matching system can be fixed then the game stands a chance of being fun.  I’ve clocked like 10+ hours in it over the past 3 days because I enjoy it enough despite the annoyances.  It’s no Starcraft, but it’s fun.  Whether or not I end up buying the game when it launches will hinge entirely upon how much I’m enjoying my current selections and whether or not another RTS (Like SC2) launches soon.

If you have nothing else to do or find yourself interested in a decent RTS then I highly suggest you try the public open beta while it’s available on Steam.

  • I could never get into RTS games that abandon building-building (is there another way to say that?). If you’re going to take that half out, why not play PlanetSide or LOTR: Conquest… something similar?

  • It’s still a pretty good RTS Squad game. I really like how diverse the games feel when you try different approaches. There’s probably some balancing that still needs to be done and I can think of a dozen additions to the game that would make it even better.

    I’ve played the LOTRO Conquest beta and it feels exactly like Star Wars Battlefront (made by the same people too). Planetside and LOTROConquest are different types of games though – they’re FPS/Action style whereas DoW2 is RTS.

  • I was really dissapointed with Dow2. I just cannot understand the logic behind Cutting down on the Unit count from the previous DoW game, and completely cutting out any form of base building. Then after all that cutting down on the amount of units in play.

    In the effort to make the game accesible to new players they have completely taken the core out of what makes a RTS game and that is ” Strategy “. The game is so shallow and empty and fundemently broken to the core thier is not really all that much of a game left. And it was a pretty disturbing moment when that all came to mind.

    Its a real shame, if they had of concentrated on what makes RTS games good they really could have expanded on DoW 1 and made a really good sucsessor.

    Such a shame

  • Unfortunately, that’s where you’re wrong.

    The original Dawn of War was a unit spam fest. You’d build up 398548653946 squads, reinforce them until they were full, give them heavy weapons and just rush. Dawn of War 2 tries to emulate the tabletop game and does a very good job of keeping the player in the action at all times rather than just watching your immense army shoot stuff until it dies.

    By removing base building, the game focuses almost entirely on squad management. You have to monitor their health, whether they’re behind cover, what units the enemy is bringing out and adjust accordingly on the fly, which keeps the action engaging and By lowering the unit cap, the game makes you care about every single squad, which is something I have really yet to see an RTS do.

    I play Space Marines, so with every squad costing upwards of 500 requisition, my vehicles over 40 power and taking up 15-ish population cap, I WILL be doing my best to make sure none of my units die, which, again, is something I haven’t really seen an RTS do well before DoW2.

    The game is good, people are just whiny and suck at adjusting to something new.

  • My friends and I still play regularly play 3v3 Dawn of War skirmish (<3 the Skirmish AI mod project) when we get bored with BF2 or C&C3. We played Company of Heroes a little (effectively DoW 1.5) and it’s easy to see where a lot of the ideas in DoW2 come from.

    DoW1 with an updated graphics engine would have been fun, but DoW2 multiplayer is a genuinely fresh experience – as different to DoW1 in many ways as DoW1 was to the C&C/SC generation. It might not be what everyone wants, but at least they’ve taken some brave steps in a risk-averse industry.

    The lack of modability in the new game could hamper its longevity, but the prospect of official DLC might work as a long term platform for new content.

    Plus, now we get to ‘Nid spam with the real thing. 🙂

  • @Artemesia. DiD you ever play Dow1 online long enough to learn the game ? By ur post i assume not. Maybe go watch a Gold replay on GR.

    As for squad management. The ui is very clunky and hard to even individually select the units or get health points for separate units. Really is just a terrible game. With little to no micro / macro.

  • Sounds to me like you’re just upset that I called you on your inability to handle a big boy game.

  • hey is there any info on the units or the heroes abilities anywhere on the web ? infos on what the upgrades exactly do and how much the increase something?

  • Just to tell all previous people whom have insulted Dawn of War 1…. it’s not just a matter of rushing a big army. You could use skill and select your army correctly. And although Dawn of War 2 (Disappointingly) ddoesn’t have a building system it makes up for it with great unit control.

  • DoW2 uses the Company of Heroes engine, hence why they are so similar. Oddly enough, the matchmaking service in CoH worked well, and I don’t get why DoW2 is any different. Hopefully it’s just because it’s an open beta.

    Looking forward to this being my RTS for a good bit, until x-mas and SC2 🙂

  • @Artemesia

    I actually feel like this version is much less involved and requires a lot less tactical thought. its just build units hit points and hope you have the right things when you get there.

    the last version i liked because it required you to pick upgrades that fit you best and you could outfit each squad to your liking. such as putting 2/8 with missle launchers and 2/8 with flamers and the other 4 had standard weapons. this allowed you to change your strat on he fly to adapt.

    this version you upgrade once and your stuck with them forever. the zerg side has units that once you make them snare and suppress from range its all they can do and become sitting ducks otherwise. the space marines are hampered by this horribly because you ahve to have 3 tactical marine squads to cover 3 different types of enemies and your almost out of pop by then. i played every expansion of the last game and this game feels much more dumbed down and less strategy.

    this game seems to me about who can cap the most things the fastest to build your trump vehicle before the other guy and hope you wipe him out before he can counter.

    Personally i dont like this version at all, and having 8 sepcial abilities on your hero in horrible bind spots is dumb. i like trying to add cover to the mix but the suppression makes you lose all your units almost immediately. some of the bigger vehicles are a bit nuts as well with taking 3 of my space marine walkers to take out one eldar walker. and once you upgrade your marines to be anti vehicle one anti melee unit cuts you to ribbons.

    the pop cap also seems low to me. which makes the super upgrades almost worthless cause you ahve to have 30 pop cap but by the time you have 500 req 500 zeal you dont have space to let 30 pop go unused.

    anyway my 15cents, not happy with the changes at all.

  • I find the DoW2 beta disappointing, as well. The small scale really fails for me, both for fluff and for gameplay. Add to that the irritating mechanics – retreating hero being chain KD’d by scout shotties, insta-gibbing suppresion, etc. – and my overall response to the game is just irritation.

    It just feels very trivial (fluff) and shallow (strategically) to run around with 3 or 4 units most of the game – which is what, 12 space marines?

    Particularly in the context of your average match, which quickly devolves into running around the map ganking power and victory points (nothing else matters), then mashing “X” to retreat back to base when the enemy shows up.

    I also think the maps are really uninspired. There’s no theme or recognizable narrative to them, they’re not evocative at all – and they just feel cluttered rather than offering distinct tactical and strategic options, so they don’t have any cohesive gameplay personality either.

    I didn’t play DoW multiplayer (no computer to run it at the time) but I’ve followed the competitive scene enough to know that it was most certainly not a ‘mass army and zerg opponent’ game, at least at the higher levels of play. It’s not important anyway, since DoW2 is clearly its own game – just not one I can muster any excitement for.

  • I doubt I’ll do DoW2 but I will put my vote in favor of the Action RTS sub-genre. I slugged it out with Total Annihilation back in the day, did some Starcraft and Warcraft 3, but all that base-building micromanagement just bores the crap out of me. Just put me in the fight already…

    I’ll go for the Action RTS any day… Ground Effect 1 & 2, World in Conflict… and Tom Clancy’s EndWar on the 360.

  • The only time I’ve ever had a problem with the game crashing was when I was facing off against Orks. They recently patched a bug in which the Tyranids would cause a CTD when they hit T3, and I think it may be a similar case with your Boyz causing some technical difficulties. Best of luck with your WAAAGH. Hope you stick with the game, ’cause from the look of it I will.

  • I got DoW2 Beta and was expecting a standard RTS with 40K armies. I was disapointed at first until I got into it a few games.

    It feels more like the TT than it does a standard RTS. Having unit’s going from cover to cover while having other units covering them with fire is just fun.

    I never played DoW1 but I played StarCraft/Warcraft series and C&C Series. It’s different but it’s fun.

    The match making is horrible though.

  • Strategy != Micro.

    I like DOW2, limited units gives me a greater feeling of control and allows me to better use each ones abilities rather than selecting all units and sending them over there.

    Im a warhammer nut though!

  • @ Artemesia

    So when you have no logical response you resort to childish name calling. I think dow2’s simplicity is fantastic 4 u after all.

  • Hi,
    I think both sides of the argument have strong points. However, DoW2 is a game that really grows on you. It can be frustrating in spades sometimes, but equally it can be enormously satisfying. Especially when you break the enemy with a clever maneuver. I agree that vehicles are overpowered. Space Marine tanks are pretty damn easy but the main walker units can be a beast to destroy, even with dedicated anti-tank. It tends to become a case of hold the enemy with early units, and then rush to get dreadnoughts out to smash him.

    On a side note the lag in the game is extremely annoying. Do you reckon this is mainly the game or the people? I’ve found i’m lagging a lot recently, despite having 24mb bb and a pretty decent comp. I can understand how giving an effectively free multiplayer game of this calibre, can attract people who may not have bought the game because of low-spec machines.

  • I think the lag is a mixture of the people and how the game’s multiplayer system works. It brings out the worst possible scenario every time.

  • Hi. I think both sides do have good points. However you must take into account the strategy and detail of the unit controll. In the old Dawn of War I could have two turrets, a listening post turret and a unit of Tactical Marines and I would never have to check if my strategic point has been lost. Every battle that begins there ends fast. And if my unit is injured I can always just reinforce right there on the spot.
    Dawn of War 2 in different. I have to check each of my units to make sure they’ll win the fight. I have to retreat if I loose more than one man to make sure to make the most of my recources( I’m normaly Space Marines and my english sucks sorry) I realy do think Dawn of War 2 is superiour. But who knows. It might just be the change from Dawn of War 1 that has got me likeing it more.
    Sure the game has major lag problems and maybe the lobby isn’t the best but does it realy matter as long as the game’s good? Don’t get me wrong I loved base building as much as the next guy but do you realy want to spend so many points making buildings only to be unit spammed by the orks on normal + difficulty?
    Finaly ( Yes my long boring speach is nearly over and your all probably going to prove me wrong about everything but ) It’s the beta version. And unless none reported the lag problems ( Which you might want to do before commenting on this complaining about lag problems ) i’m sure they’ll fix it. Game designers have been stupid in the past, but they sure dont make alot of laggy games. Unless your internet sucks ofcourse.

  • I agre that its a shame they took out the original dawn of war concept that made the game a success in the beggining. I for one will not be buying this game because its just not the same as the regular DoW. I was hoping they would upgrade the graphics, add the new race, add a FEW new things like hidding behind stuff and so forth. It looks like a COH copy now and i never liked the idea.

    p.s.: DoW 1 was about strategy, you could only control a limit of squads and the squads always had a weakness so the other player would analyze the weakness and take him out. The way you recieved resources made it not like a rushing game even more. I will miss this game, no doubt!

  • I think the emphasis on the get out there and fight was to heavily laid on. Atleast give us some type of building process other then a lame ass tier system. Also the requestion nodes are completely useless compared to the huge bonus you get from your base. For me action was giant armies clashing with bombs everywhere. Not 6 space marines playing power node tag… All in all im not going to get this game. Im going to revert to Dow 1 where atleast its fun. If you think this game is “strategy” and not who gets the vehicle first…your a simpleton. This was a huge slap in the face relic. I looked forward to this game as soon as i saw it come out. I will stick it out untill Sc2 hopefully they didnt @#$! that game in the butt.

  • Hey, you know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of that time they were making a Dungeons and Dragons: Ravenloft game for the Sony Playstation One.

    However, at that time, Sony believing that console players were mentally challenged, they made it a fighting game. A really… bad… 3d… fighting… game…

    (Look, said Sony… it’s still D&D really, but with none of that annoying roleplaying game stuff to get in the way of the enjoyment!)

    I’ll buy Dawn of War II right after I gouge my own eyes out, but I’m still holding out hope for Starcraft II.

  • Dawn of War 1 will remain better until they get rid of the Steam aspect to DOW 2. The fact that they make you sign in to 2 different web hosts is awful. Just to play an offline skirmish, you still have to log into 2 different things. Steam and Windows Live. ITS AWFUL!!!!!! They need to fix it. I have a laggy awful game every other game.

  • It’s not a bad game… But they really should do something to level the battles: Fights between 3 levels 1-3 versus 3 levels over 10 only grant a long and frustrating path of failure until you can see something resembling a victory. As of now they have nothing to help find people of similar levels to make battles a lil bit balanced and people want a chance to win, not load a slaughterhouse.

  • I personally enjoy DOW2 as much as i enjoy DOW1 (plus expansions). What DOW2 does is bring a refreshing experience, not just a remake of previous DOW games with different characters and new races/ abilities. DOW2 re-invents the game instead of just doing the same thing over over again under a different title

  • i totally agree with andrew.

    I played both games, and i’ve only gotten as far as dark crusade in the Dow 1 series, but i heard soulstorm is totally amazing and adds even TWO more races to the already impressive amount of races preset, and adds air units to the play. Dow 2 on the other hand not only eliminates building (which is so incredibly fun with each race having their own little building effects) but also cuts down on unit count whereas if you ask me the more units, the better. Clearly, anybody sayinng that Dow 1 is “all about reinforcing units, pumping them with heavy guns, and zerging” is a fucktard, and thats why Artemisia is a retard. Dow 2 is a fun game, but nowhere near as good as Dow 1 Soul Storm, and i hope when they are making Dow 3 they will revert to some earlier ideas that can be found in Dow 1.

  • ahhh

    i forgot to mention i find it quite hilarious that the guy in this review said that Dow 1 is nowhere near as good as warcraft 3, starcraft, etc, because i played all of those and i have to be absolutely honest when i say that Dow 1 dark crusade (have not tried soul storm yet but i’m sure that’s even better than crusade) is by FAR the most fun RTS game i have ever played. So i mean of course, starcraft is an all time masterpiece, but if u ask me Dow 1 is a far better game. Of course, don’t get me wrong, if sc came out the same year Dow 1 did maybe it’d be a better game. but ever since i started playing crusade(i skipped original Dow, and Winter Assault sadly crashes every time i start it) i’ve been having more fun than with any other game (except for WAR online). Oh well, just my 2 cents.