The title of this topic is an open question, a call for debate and what I will start. I wanted to start by comparing Dawn of War III with a game that I personnaly enjoyed when I was a kid, its big brother, Dawn of War, which I think is still the game resembling it the most. I won't speak about Dawn of War II, because I simply didn't play it.
My biggest problem with Dawn of War III is that I think it is less fun than its older counterpart. What am I going to try understand is why I think it is the case.
Firstly, in term of Gameplay, what are the actual gameplay differences between the two games. I won't speak about content, Dawn of War III still has time to grow, it just needs time, and fan support. The major differences that I listed are :
- Proportionally to their games, in Dawn of War III, units cost far more, ressource generation is lower, and it is less efficient to invest in ressource generation than it was in Dawn of War I. The same goes for upgrades,
- Units are globally more tanky in Dawn of War I, and die slower even when being attacked by units made to counter their armor.
- Micromanagement is more important in Dawn of War III, because of the units skills globally more complex, but also because of the Cover and Stealth mechanics.
- Dawn of War III has smaller maps, with less but more concentrated ressource points. Furthermore, energy generator must be built on ressource points in Dawn of War III.
- Elite units in Dawn of War III are a lot stronger than Elite in Dawn of War I (is called Elite every units that was limited to a certain number of units at the same time on the battlefield, except builders, of course)
These are the most evident differences that I can come up with. There are naturally other differences, but I don't think they are that important. If you think they are, feel free to say in the comments. What can be deduced from these ? Well, obviously that this game was designed for competitive gameplay. These four points put together are all in this direction :
- The first point : The way you spent your ressources, since you got less of them, is more important. You need to be cautious.
- The second point : Placement error are unforgiving in Dawn of War III.
- The third point : Dawn of War III ask for more units management..
- The fourth : The control of ressource is a lot harder.
- The five : The strength of the Elite makes them harder to be dealt with if you are not careful.
So, OK, the game is harder. Maybe, as I am just a casual gamer full of nostalgia, this prevents me to enjoy Dawn of War III. This would be a logical deduction. Still, let's give it more thoughts.
I personnaly think that designing a game only around competitiveness is bad. Particularly for RTS, which is a type of gameplay that is naturally more exigeant than other genres. For me, a good series of game that did well in being designed around the fun and still being competitive is the Smash Bros series and I really feel that in that regard, amelioration can be made for Dawn of War III.
That said, even if the game is harder, I should still feel good or proud of myself when I win. The problem is, I don't have this usual feeling of accomplishment. I tried to look at pro gameplay or tournament match. I was not able to finish watching the games because I find them boring. So I guess that, despite my not so good level, it is not the only reason why I wasn't able to enjoy this game. I looked to some negative comments about the game to see if I could gain some insight or hunch about what I felt wrong. Then I saw some people complaining about the artistic direction of the game. Globally not interesting feedback, but then something striked me.
In a game of Dawn of War I that I played with my friend in a 1 VS 1 VS 1, I was Tau, one of my friend Eldar and the last one Dark Eldar. So, we used the random way to choose our starting zone and it went horribly wrong for me, we were in a 4-players map and I was between my two friends. I still managed to play and advance my technological tier (we were playing it cool) but I couldn't get out of my zone, so I decided to turtle. Good for me, Tau are good at turtling. Then my Eldar friend started launching assault, which I defended against. And gosh, that was glorious. He didn't scratch once any of my building. The map was little and had only one access to my base, so he couldn't even try to flank me or anything. He started assault of full Eldar assaults against my base, the Avatar of Khaine leading the way. Little by little a mountain of Eldars corpses was standing before my base. Warhammer 40 000 in all its glory. (I actually won because both of my friend surrendered). This is what is missing to Dawn of War III : scale.
The game's battle scale is too little. There is not this feeling of greatness. All of the points that actually causes the game to take more skills to play well actually reduce the scale of the battle. The importance of Elite is too great, and reduce the feeling of the impact of line units. I am pretty sure this is what is giving some people this MOBA feeling they get from this game (though I personnaly do no feel it). I believe that it would benefit this game a lot if the balance could be tweaked in a way that make it closer to Dawn of War I, feeling-wise.
That is all I have to say. Time to discuss.