Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault Designer Diary #3 - Finally, Multiplayer

Designer Jonny Ebbert discusses the improvements in the multiplayer gameplay that are being built into Winter Assault.

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With the game scheduled to ship next month, the developers at Relic are currently busy applying the final layer of polish to Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault, the expansion pack to last year's popular sci-fi real-time strategy game. As you'd expect from an expansion, there will be plenty of the fast-paced combat and glorious visuals that you experienced in the original game. You'll also get a new faction to play, a new story to explore, and plenty of other new features. This also goes for the multiplayer portion of the game. While certainly fun to play, the multiplayer in the original game suffered from some balance issues. As Relic designer Jonny Ebbert discusses in our third and final designer diary, the Relic team has addressed those issues in certain ways.

The graphics look as sharp as before.
The graphics look as sharp as before.

Reach Out and Crush Someone

Jonny Ebbert
Game designer, Relic

Many of our fans want to know what Winter Assault's multiplayer game has in store for them. Many are hoping that the expansion will add new depth and dimension to the multiplayer game, and we've worked hard not to disappoint them. Here is a small sampling of what players can look forward to.

First, we have adjusted the unit values and the tech trees of all of the existing races. Our goal was to add more rewards for climbing the tech tree. We felt that too many games were decided in Tier 1 in the original game, and we tried to make advancing to Tier 2 a more viable strategy. Tier 2 units are now decisively more powerful than Tier 1 units and should now be worth the time and money invested to get them. An all-out Tier 1 rush is still going to win you several games, but you're going to have to keep a close eye on your opponent to make sure he isn't sneaking his way up the tech tree (otherwise you could be in for serious problems).

Adding a fifth race is also going to change the way the game plays. The Imperial Guard have a much stronger base defense than the other races, which can make them harder to dig out in the early game. Games featuring the Imperial Guard will probably move up the tech tree more often, giving players a chance to use more of the game's units in competitive play. The Imperial Guard are also very hard to crack once they hit critical mass. Players are going to have to make use of what we call "disruptor units" if they want to break the Imperial Guard's lines. One example of a disruptor unit is the revamped hellfire dreadnought. The hellfire dreadnought's missiles pack a powerful explosion that can send troops flying in all directions. These disruptive explosions will help you crack the Imperial Guard's imposing troop wall.

Ranged combat is for wimps.
Ranged combat is for wimps.

We've also added several new ladder maps for the expansion. Three of these maps are actually four-player maps that should give players more room for expansion and for deception tactics. One of the other new maps is a bit smaller than most and should bring action earlier than most players expect. The goal is to offer more variety for ladder play and to reward players who can vary their strategies.

All in all, we think we have a fun multiplayer experience ready for our players, and we're looking forward to seeing the strategies they come up with. This will be our last diary, as our team is really focused right now on finishing the game and getting it into your hands in September! We hope you'll enjoy it!

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