Relic's Dawn of War real-time strategy series has always striven to bring the brutal and chaotic battles of the Warhammer 40,000 universe to life. Most recently, last year's Dawn of War II expanded the battles by adding new playable races to the original game's basic four (Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar). These new races included the terrifying Tyranid, a race of telepathic, murderous aliens bent on devouring and destroying the galaxy. The silent, wholly alien Tyranid have been a perfect antagonist to the campaign heroes of Dawn of War II--the valiant Blood Raven contingent of the Space Marines. But in the game's next expansion, Retribution, the Tyranid themselves will play a leading role in the single-player campaign. Producer Jeff Lydell explains.
GameSpot: We have to admit that it's pretty intriguing to hear the Tyranids will now be a playable faction in the single-player campaign for Retribution. Tell us about how the team eventually came around to the decision to give the deadliest xenomorphs in the galaxy a starring role in the story.
Jeff Lydell: Our goal with Retribution was to give players a chance to play with as many of their favorite 40K races as we could. Since no one has had a chance to play the single-player campaign with Tyranids in any of the Dawn of War products, they were a natural choice.
GS: How exactly will the Tyranids' story be told? It seems safe to assume, for instance, that they won't be getting mission briefings from commanding officers who trade witty banter.
JL: You are going to hear the voice of the hive mind. That's not a physical character but more of a very creepy voice in your head. The Tyranids are also psychic creatures and are capable of picking up enemy transmissions. Some of the story is told from the point of view of intercepted vox calls or overheard enemies.
GS: Without spoiling anything, tell us what the Tyranids' motivations in Retribution will be. Are they simply looking to devour known space and annihilate anyone who stands in the way? Or will they have specific objectives tied to the story?
JL: The Tyranids have a compulsive need to complete their original mission and reunite with the main fleet of the Tendril. Something in the sector is preventing them from reforming the synaptic link, and they need to neutralize that threat.
The Tyranids are looking out for the fleet, and events in the sector are going to force them directly into the heart of the conflict. It will all make sense once you are playing.
GS: Will the faction have any new units or heroes unique to the campaign (that don't also appear in multiplayer)?
JL: Yes, they will have a new unit, and it will also appear in multiplayer.
GS: How will Tyranid heroes grow and improve over time? Will players kit their Tyranid heroes with gear in various inventory slots and choose to spend experience-based points in various ability scores? Or will they improve differently?
JL: The role-playing elements for the Tyranids are [restricted] to the [advancement of the] hive tyrant. We did this for a few reasons, the main one being that we wanted the majority of the Tyranids to be disposable squads. Disposable meant the progression aspects didn't make sense. We also couldn't have multiple speaking characters with the Tyranids, since their entire lore revolves around them being a race united under a single consciousness.
As you progress with the Tyranids, your overall army will get stronger.
GS: Is this change indicative of how Relic plans to design future expansions and Dawn of War games in general? By giving each race a turn at single-player campaign stardom?
JL: It's too early to speak for every future Dawn of War game, but I'll reiterate that our mission with Retribution was to get as many races as we could into the hands of our players. The last two games had focused entirely on the Space Marines as the playable characters, and it's time to let some other races have their time in the sun.
GS: Can you give us a general update on Retribution's development? What aspects of the game is the team currently working on? What's got the team most excited?
JL: We've been able to play through the entire game for a month or two now, and we are working on finishing off the last features of the game before we start fixing bugs and polishing.
What's got us each of us excited depends on who is working on what. I'm personally excited that we have multiple races available for the campaign and great stories for each of them.
GS: Finally, is there anything you'd like to add about the Tyranids, the campaign, or Retribution in general?
JL: For the Tyranids, I'm really happy with the voice behind the hive mind. The actor who did it has a very creepy voice. For the campaign, I'll add that the Tyranids aren't the last race we plan on announcing, and for Retribution, I'll add you can expect new content and new features to be announced in the coming months.
GS: Thanks, Jeff.