Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Updated Hands-On - The Sisters of Battle Plus New Air Unit Profiles
We get our hands on the latest stand-alone Dawn of War expansion and check out the Sisters of Battle for the first time. We also have new details on air units and advanced unit armor.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Soulstorm is shipping in a matter of weeks. But before it goes out the door, we got our hands on a very close-to-final version of the game to check it out. Soulstorm is the latest expansion to the popular Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War series, but it's also a stand-alone expansion, which means that you don't need to own any of the previous games in the series to play it. What it will offer is a huge single-player campaign, as well as two new factions.
The game's campaign looks to be epic, as it involves four worlds and three moons to conquer. You can play as any of the previous Dawn of War factions, as well as the two new ones in Soulstorm: the Dark Eldar and the Sisters of Battle. A warp storm erupts next to the worlds of the Kuarav system, which is occupied by the Imperial Guard, though it has an insurgency of Space Orks as well as some slumbering Necrons. The warp storm transports the Chaos Marines to Kuarav, which in turn attracts their mortal enemies, the Space Marines. The Necrons awaken, which results in the Tau arriving on the scene. Then the Eldar and Dark Eldar get into the mix, so the Sisters of Battle arrive to just kill them all and let their God Emperor sort them out.
There doesn't appear to be a scripted campaign with a story to follow, like in previous games. Instead, the campaign lets you choose a faction and try to conquer the Kuarav system, one province at a time. The four planets have between six and eight provinces on them, and the goal is to take your faction leader and his or her army and expand your empire one battle at a time. You can knock an opposing faction out of the game by capturing its capital province, which is home to its citadel. The moons each contain a single province.
This was our first opportunity to try out the Sisters of Battle faction. These fierce warrior priestesses serve the God Emperor of the human empire, sort of like his right hand. It is an elite force that blends religious elements into the battlefield, from its cathedral headquarters to its convent barracks. And one really neat ability the Sisters of Battle have is establishing a forward base prior to a battle. For example, if you're playing as the Sisters and launch an attack into a neighboring territory, you have the option to purchase certain structures beforehand. When you actually enter the battle, you'll find them already set up at your base, saving you precious time and resources.
On the next page, we'll introduce some of the new air units that appear in the game. Soulstorm will introduce one new air unit for each faction. These are the very first air units to appear in any Dawn of War game.
New Air Units and Wargear
Space Marine Land Speeder Tempest
The Land Speeder Tempest is a heavily armored version of the Land Speeder unit that is hardier in battle and, despite its lack of sheer speed, has better handling and can turn quickly to escape enemy fire. Because it is piloted by a Space Marine infantry unit, it can also often survive a direct hit to its cockpit. This vehicle also has two separate missile upgrades, krak antivehicle missiles and frag antipersonnel missiles. It's a midgame unit that requires a Machine Cult structure to build.
Space Marine Armor: Rogal's Fist and Iron Halo
Soulstorm's campaign focuses on Brother-Captain Indrick Boreale, a powerful force commander unit who has been ordered to conquer the Kaurava system in the name of the Imperium. Over the course of his adventures, Indrick will be able to earn upgrades from the Emperor himself, including the mighty Rogal's Fist, which will increase his strength in battle, and the Iron Halo, a holy artifact that emits an energy field that can actually disrupt enemy fire.
Chaos Hell Talon
The Chaos Hell Talon is said to be the product of fusing man, machine, and daemon, and has mysterious ties to the insubstantial plane of existence known as the Warp. The Hell Talon is piloted by three Chaos servitors and comes equipped with a powerful array of weapons, including a mounted antipersonnel autocannon (which is even effective against lighter vehicles), dual lascannons to blast enemy air units, and incendiary bombs that are effective against nearly any target. The Hell Talon can also drop biotoxin bombs that infect their targets with a plague that can be spread to any nearby troops, friend or foe. This powerful midlevel unit requires a Machine Pit structure, but must be upgraded to access the biotoxin bomb.
Chaos Armor: Khornate Chainaxe and Helm of Alpharius
In Soulstorm's campaign, the forces of Chaos will be led by Lord Girraveus Carron, a twisted berserker who seeks to claim the Kaurava system for the forces of Chaos. To aid him in his task, he'll eventually be able to recover several powerful relics, such as the Khornate Chainaxe, a powerful antipersonnel weapon that can massacre infantry units regardless of their armor bonuses, and the Helm of Alpharius, an artifact that not only reveals any cloaked enemies immediately but also inflicts damage upon them.