Ill preface this by saying that even though some grave errors were made with DoW3 i am a fan of Relic,i have played all the DoW series, am a huge fan of Total War Warhammer, and recently tried CoH2 so i could compare it to DoW3. They can make great games.
So this is my opinion and analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the DoW series and CoH2, the aim being to bring together the best aspects to give the community the game they want.
So let's look at each game
players enjoyed the freedom to create bases wherever they liked on the map. Some players like to play defensively and base building is a huge part of this.
Great Squads and abilities
On the whole the WH40k universe was well represented and the unit abilities were balanced to give a depth of strategic game-play. At the time building a squad instead of individual men was an evolution in the RTS genre. The ability to then customise with upgrades, and use special abilities further enhanced the games playability.
Stealth was balanced enough in the original game. The DOW3 implementation seems flawed by comparison. The addition of Stealth Cover is a nice idea, but why does it just look like some twinkling stars, could it not be some dark shadows or crevices??
These were just circles on the ground you needed to capture, very dull and unimaginative.
Whilst it was good to be able to get back your men, this could be done at any time, and required constant clicking to keep men coming. In retrospect this aspect of the game was a first go that was subsequently improved in future titles.
CoH2 managed to diversify Capture points so the game felt more realistic, adding Stars/ Objectives that had to be controlled to win the game. Fuel Dumps and Ammo Dumps added a little bit of realism and made the capture points more interesting than just a circle on the ground.
Only allowing reinforcement near base buildings or certain command centres was a good limitation, and reduced the endless clicking the re-inforce that DOW1 suffered from. I suggest that Barracks and HQ buildings become reinforcement points and maybe some other race specific buildings like Bunkers for Imperial Guard.
I would add Eldar Webways to the list of reinforcement points. Whilst on the subject of webways the DOW3 implementation of them was horrible, they could only cloak for a short time, and establishing a link was unidirectional and seemed to have some time limit of use that just made them frustrating. Webways were one of the main ways of making Eldar tactics work in DOW1.
Furthermore allowing transport vehicles to re-inforce allowed you to push into enemy lines. Rhinos, Falcon grav tanks and other transports often became irrelevant (IMHO) in DOW1 so the reinforce ability gives them a useful new focus.
The way the battlefield changes over the battle was excellent, Tanks crushing through walls was also super fun. I can only imagine how cool this could be in a 40k universe with giant Eliite Units mashing up buildings.
I dont mind paying for content, and COH2 had plenty of options. I would not object to paying
10$ for a new Race
5$ for a sub faction - eg. Dark Angels Space Marine sub faction, containing new skins, and units.
3$ for a new commander, or Elite
Another well implemented feature of the game missing from DOW1
I found the unit cap a little low, apart from that thumps up.
The campaign was fun, unlocking some elite troops as you conquered maps, and the gradual increase in difficulty worked for me. Maybe you can take a little from Total War Warhammer and add an End Game enemy to really challenge players. I just wanted more, more worlds , more races, more maps.
This had a great campaign where your commander levelled up and found equipment over the course of the game. The Character Progression was great.
For multiplayer it would be great to have a limited amount of leveling up for your Commander.
Fire Arcs and Cover
Similar to CoH2 you had to choose where to face your devastators for them to be effective. This added strategic depth. Heavy weapons should be vulnerable to close assault of flank assaults.
Removing the freedom to choose where to place your structures was the biggest disappointment in this version of the game.
The weaknesses are too many to mention so im just going to move to:
The new elites were great, but they also suffered from issues
On the plus side they had some cool abilities, and it was great to see some truly huge units on the battlefield. The Elite points mechanic added some variety to capture points too. However once you had earned enough elite points to unlock a unit they respawned on a timer, once all your elites were unlocked the Elite point resource was redundant. I suggest paying Elite points every time you need to call on an Elite.
I also think there should be a differentiation between Commanders and Elites.
Each force should have 1 Commander and 2 Elites. Each Player starts off with their Commander, but his equipment and ability upgrades can be improved with Elite Points.
Dare is say it, you could even have a DOTA style equipment menu that allows you to choose gear you normally find in the Campaign game at the cost of resources and Elite points. Using a system similar to Diablo2 commanders, each commander would have slots for Armours, Weapons, Helm, etc.
In the Campaign game elites would be unlocked by capturing certain territories.
To be honest i think its time to call it a day on DOW3, you are never going to build up enough momentum to give us all the races and updates we want. Give all the DOW3 game owners a free copy of DOW4. Listen to the community, and give us the epic game we want, and no doubt with hods of DLCs and updates Relic can make back the money the needed to invest to re-forge DOW3.
One of the key things in RTS games is combined arms philosophy. You should not be able to win using just one type of unit. If you spam just tanks, you opponent will defeat you with anti tank guns. If you use only infantry, tanks will wipe you. They must be used together. Stealth adds an extra facet to this. Starcraft even managed to add air forces to give an extra element, Im not sure if this would work in WH40k so air support is probably best left to unit abilities!
DOW3 tried to reinvent the wheel and failed, instead take the best game mechanics from the games you have already made and make the game the community want!