I want to discuss on how to make DoW3 a successful multiplayer title to achieve greater esports scene than Company of Heroes. At its core, this requires popularity - people playing and watching the game. I want to talk about this goal by reflecting on the some of the history and features of Dawn of War 1 and 2.
The real problems with DoW2 were the rushed release (buggy game, lacking UI/multiplayer features), the terrible, god-forsaken Games For Windows (GFWL) Live systems combined with Steam, and a lengthy balancing span for a myriad of reasons (remember when T2 was 45 power in DoW2? Or stikkbombas 1-shotting genfarms).
The core mechanics of both DoW1 and DoW2 were good, it was just the lack of polishing the game needed to sustain a healthy multiplayer scene.
To my knowledge they both sold very well - clearly a lot of people buy them for aspects other than multiplayer, like campaign or skirmish with friends.
I really like where DoW3 is going with it's mechanics - back to the core of DoW1 but with advanced abilities and units that can execute mass carnage (the core of DoW2) - a good approach. People hate on the game for it's art design - as if that spoke at all about gameplay - and label it a "MOBA piece of garbage" because they have hero units (hello? DoW1 had the same thing). It looks more like a classic RTS. While it lack lack features like dynamic cover or lot's of abilities, I'd argue these "features" added more problems than they were worth (just look at the host of potentially game-breaking pathing problems in DoW2's history). The point being that more is not always best. A game with solid core gameplay can be good and reduces the complexity of balancing and coding a game for future updates.
What I'm more concerned about it are things like how the economy works, the pacing of the game. DoW1 had a very funky economy compared to DoW2. In DoW1, your economy grew at a powerful rate depending on how much you invest in building listening posts, possibly evening quadrupling income in a few minutes. It goes from a bare-bones income and a very low-resource game to an almost controllable income level where you can barely spend money faster than you get it. This income system has strong implications for the balance of the game and a demanding skillcurve with a punishing game pace.
- in 1v1, you can essentially lose in the first few minutes if you have a wrong cap order or a bad build order. Winning here meant controlling points and Listening Posts at all costs, losing some battles to this cause can work.
- This is in drastic contrast to DoW2: while it was possible to gain a tech advantage through controlling power nodes, your requisition income was more or less the same as your opponent, tied in with an upkeep system (Similar to coh2, a good mechanic I think). So it was usually pretty easy to build an army comparable to the enemy - the game here was to win the battles, not spam LPs to gain an insurmountable eco lead. Losing battles meant losing the game.
As such, I'm hoping they will add the economic pacing of DoW2 with the squad mechanic of DoW1. it should positively influence game pacing where you don't have the absurd games in DoW1 where you just overwatch units and send them out due to a massive float of resources.
I like the basic squad mechanics that I've seen. Is it exactly what I wanted? No - but no 40k game can ever be that. 40k is too detailed and comes with so much baggage that it makes it hard to conform to fans' notions of a great 40k game.
What DoW3 really needs is good multiplayer functionality (connectivity, matchmaking, leaderboards, lobbies) and a polished gameplay (as little bugs that affect a game's outcome in multiplayer as possible). I believe neglecting these goals makes your core base of players feel frustrated over these issues more than balance or lack of game modes or something. Having a good multiplayer system in place early on will keep players around. Good for both the community, potential esports, and Relic.
I'm hoping we'll get DLC race packs early on and frequently, like Total War: Warahmmer. It could be a prime money maker for Relic - selling Race DLC packs for $10-$20 bucks a pop to a large player base like DoW3 will have at launch. Even CoH2 had a dedicated base large enough to receive ample DLC's (Even if some people don't like the "p2win" content). I for one don't mind this new system - it allows devs to work on more content at a fast rate than we would normally get with "classic" expansion packs. And no one forces you to buy it. Although I can see how in some cases it can be a cheap money grab. I for one would be glad to throw some more money at Relic for race packs in DoW3.
-After IG and Chaos, add Dark Eldar, Relic! Please!