Fans of the Warhammer universe can’t plead entertainment famine at the moment, with a feast of new games coming out based on the much-loved franchise. In addition to third-person action adventure title Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and the Vigil-developed massively multiplayer online role-playing game Warhammer 40,000 Dark Millennium Online, Gamescom 2010 saw the reveal of two more games based on space cavorting, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Retribution and its eventual replacement, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III.
At Gamescom 2010 we had the chance to see Dawn of War II: Retribution in action, including a look at the cranky Orks and their quest for loot. The game will take place 10 years after the events of Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising and replace the tin-can-wearing Space Marines with the garbage-can-wearing Ork Freebooterz, led by warboss Kaptin Bluddflagg. Joining his ragtag crew are Mister Nailbrain, Spookums the Kommando Nob, and Brikkfist with his jetpack and hammer. Developer Relic Entertainment is keeping the exact story details close to its chest, but it did say that it loosely revolves around the Eldar getting their hands on an important item--an item that the Orks would also like to be in possession of and are willing to smash and kill to steal.
The Ork humour and personality were on show in spades, and as we completed our gear loadout aboard our ship before jumping headlong into the combat, Kaptin Bluddflagg slipped into something a little more menacing, donning a set of sharp, dirty steel shoulder armour. As a Kommando, Spookums can equip a grappling hook, and while it’s not necessarily the most predictable device with regard to its precision, when it works it will allow you to get him close to the action, flanking fortified positions for a tactical advantage.
Our demo level took place on a lava planet. It wasn’t always a lava planet, but the frequent bombardment of the region had seen the planet surface break up, exposing the fiery core underneath. Our objective was to locate and destroy gateways. Variety is key to allowing players to experience battle the way they want to, and DOWII: Retribution is promising plenty of it. Locating war banners allows you to build and add new units to your squad of four heroes, while requisition and population points allow you to quickly amass a small army. Locating and taking control of an HQ will allow the building of vehicles, with the promise of tanks available later in the game. From what we've seen, this isn't a resource management game, so you can simply begin to build once you control the structures.
Stomping around, our main tactic was to use Kaptin Bluddflagg as a meat shield, soaking up all the incoming fire of our attackers, mitigating chunks of it with bonuses coming from our armour and character progression. Once their weapons were fixed on him up front, we used the rest of our squad to lay into them wholesale, Brikkfist rocketing into groups with his jetpack and landing heavily on top of them.
In addition to the pickup items that drop on the battlefield, once you return to your barge after successfully completing a scenario you will earn new war gear and experience points. As you level up, you will be rewarded with a choice of loot, as well as unlock new abilities to use as part of your arsenal.
From our brief look at the game, it’s already very much in the vein of its predecessor and brings with it the humour and looting personalities of the Orks. Changes to the reward system should provide new toys to play with more often. Grab your eye patch and your parrot for when these space buccaneers board the PC in early 2011.