Now, I was on the YouTube comments in regards to DOW3 when someone more or less said: "If Relic wants to make a Starcraft 2 clone, then make a new IP."
And honestly, I would prefer a new IP too. I don't find the Warhammer universe that interesting (mind you I haven't read the books, only played the games and even still i'm not that interested). I think Blizzard was right to basically get inspired by Games Workshop's IPs and make it their own interesting universes. I found Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2's story and characters far more interesting than whatever was in Total Warhammer or the DOW games.
But, as much as I'd like Relic to do their own thing... I sadly think that's not possible.
We live in a time where the RTS genre and player base is shrinking. There are some exceptions, with StarCraft 2 and MOBAs doing preeeeeetty well for themselves. And while COH2, Relic's latest game, wasn't a financial failure (or at least I think it wasn't) and Relic claims that it's the most played RTS game on Steam, I think on average it gets about 3000-6000 players playing at the same time. Not a bad number compared to other RTS games that take foreeeeever to find players because the communities died off rapidly but it's nowhere as good as Starcraft 2 and I'm going to assume that, putting aside SC2, just not thaaaaaat great of a number all by its self.
And lets look at every other RTS game outside of SC2 or the MOBAs. Even though TotalBiscuit, Angry Joe, and others gave Grey Goo, Act of Aggression, Planetary Annihilation, Ashes of Singularity, Homeworld: Deserts of Karak hundreds of thousands if not millions of viewers and coverage per, those games either sold extremely poorly or its community and playerbase died a week or two in. A lot of them original IPs too.
And hence it's why I understand why they're using the Warhammer license AND trying to appeal to more traditional RTS and/or MOBA players. It's a well known IP to get enough reach to 40k and RTS fans (such as Angry Joe who didn't review COH2) and and it seems like people want a faster paced more traditional RTS game. That's why people backed Planetary Annihilation, Grey Goo on Kickstarter and highly anticipated games like Act of Aggression because "it's a game that harkens back to the golden age of RTS games." Like I said, they quickly died out due to various reasons. But what's clear is that there is a loud enough demand for a more traditional RTS with basebuilding, faster action and combat without having to consider cover or RNG. What's also clear is that a large appeal of games like Warcraft 3 and MOBAs are the hero units that you micro and thus gives some personality to your playstyle.
Also, the visuals. Like others mentioned, its primary function probably is to be able to be played on as much PCs as possible, something Blizzard and other devs have done with largely much success (and I cannot comprehend why Ashes of Singularity decided to aim for high specs). The clarity and other reasons are likely secondary reasons.
And I can't say I know the financial situation at Relic but I feel that if DOW3 doesn't sell as much as they and Sega want, then we may see Relic downsize or worse, shut down, thus meaning there'd be less RTS games in a shrinking market. It would also mean that Blizzard would be the only large studio-backed game dev/publisher since Sega backs Relic and I can't think of any other RTS game with a large studio backing.
All in all, I say all of this because I feel like too many people think Relic is dumbing down their game because they just want multiple more digits in their profits. But I feel that they assume if Relic keeps making the same games they've made before in this shrinking RTS genre, that everything would be fine. Or that they should just make a new IP, again in this shrinking RTS environment. Now you can argue whether Relic is adapting to the situation or copy pasting from Blizzard/dumbing down the game for casuals but I think at the end of the day, Relic needs or at least would like a big success lest they downsize or Sega lets go of them :S