It seems pretty clear that Relic wants the dust to settle before even considering Dawn of War’s future. That’s fair, I think they need some time to take stock, re-align along the path of greater community engagement they’re planning, and come back to Dawn of War with fresh eyes.
However, for those expecting or even hoping that DoW3’s death means a radically different, “better” DoW4 will come next, well, I struggle to see how that pitch could be made to anyone with the power to greenlight it. A full-fledged sequel is time-consuming, expensive and risky, and there’s no guarantee it’ll be any better received the next time around. Why would Relic stick their necks out a second time? And it’s no good saying “Relic just needs to make the Dawn of War we all wanted!” - leaving aside the obvious, that’s a pretty piss-poor design document.
So what’s lower-risk? Well, a DoW3 expansion, at least, comes with a base to build upon. And it’s also something we know Relic had every intention of doing. By the way, those of you who think Dawn of War 3 was absolutely terrible in every aspect and had no redeeming features whatsoever, you might as well step out now to save yourselves some time. :P
Okay, so who’s left? The people who think everything dies far too easily? Cool, that’s health and damage tweaks. Heroes too powerful? Same again. Don’t like power core? Fair enough, let’s make sure Annihilation with turrets becomes the standard gametype. Maps are laney? Sheesh, you know what, I won’t even argue that, because the solution is easy!
I guess what I’m hoping to claw towards here is that there’s nothing so fundamentally broken about the game that an expansion couldn’t resolve it - look at WA; Relic has form when it comes to making bold changes to the meta in expansion titles.
I accept that some things aren’t likely to change - sync kills or DoW1-style cover aren’t going to be added. How/if they should be brought back is a discussion for a DoW4 thread.
But nevertheless, I think a standalone DoW3 expansion that focuses on the player retention aspect - otherwise known as the fun aspect :P - could bring people back to the title.
So I hope to see a bit of constructive, but realistic, brainstorming here, for how you’d revive DoW3’s fortunes if you were in charge. I’ll try to justify everything I suggest, but I’ve already rambled on quite a lot so...
Meta tweaks and more maps
Continuation of DoW3’s campaign
Yes we can argue the mission design blew no-one’s socks off and the lore was slapped around a bit as is traditional with DoW - but really, who doesn’t want to know what happens next? Which brings me onto:
Not much to say here really. They were teased, people want them .
A second faction you say? Madness! Well, I have my suspicions some were holding out on DoW3 until their favourite race got added. Chaos is popular, and adding two “evil” factions at the same time hasn’t been done before in a DoW game, so there’s that too. However, and this is heresy, but… I’d be prepared to see Tau go in instead, if that was more popular. Also Tau and Necrons is a nice Dark Crusade 2.0 nostalgia trip! You know you want it.
I think it’s a mistake to expect people to go from the campaign to head-to-head matches as part of your game’s longevity plan. Now I’ve loved RTS nearly all my life, but I find online pretty stressful. Making the campaign co-op in DoW2 seems to have been a popular decision, so maybe that needs to come back. However, that then hinges on the campaign alone, which brings me on to:
More singleplayer / co-op content
If you want the people who don’t like multiplayer to keep playing your game, you either hope the campaign + skirmish compstomping can hold it up, which DoW3 seems to have proven it can’t, or you provide more SP content.
My wild idea? Anyone remember the Generals challenges from C&C: Zero Hour? You’d pick your faction and then fight a series of Generals obsessed with a particular style of warfare, on scripted maps sort of like DC’s Stronghold maps. I think ripping this off would have some great benefits - more SP scenarios without the need for a narrative to tie it all together, as well as a chance for the fluff fans to see more of the universe they love (Say on one map you fight an Imperial Fists commander in a ridiculously fortified base who’s shamelessly ripped off all the defensive doctrines, on another a Space Wolf Wolf Lord who throws endless waves of howling blood claws, sorry, assault marines sans jumppacks, at you, or an Iron Hands Iron Captain who drowns you in vehicles, a Iyanden warlock who throws ALL the wraith-stuff at you, you get the idea). It’s also another co-op opportunity, and a welcome return for the enemy captain throwing race-specific slurs at you. Oh, and if popular, easily expandible with further scenarios.
Expanded army painter
An opportunity for a clear improvement on the previous titles, and a nice gesture for the hobbyists - more colourable areas, an option for a different palette for elite units, and of course, custom badges and banners!
Stretch Goal: Race-specific structures in Power Core mode
I didn’t think the gameplay of PC was terrible, but the fluff fan in me found the weird structures belonging to no known race, well, irksome. Replacing them with structures looking like they belong to the races of the team owning them would cure a lot of my issues with it. It’s a stretch goal because I’m not sure it’s worth doing all that if everyone prefers annihilation anyway.
Okay, I’ve written far too much already, and besides, 2 factions, a story campaign and a whole pile of standalone scenarios is by itself pretty ambitious for an expansion. What would you focus on?