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Dark Crusade Cover

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade is the second expansion pack to the PC-based real-time strategy (RTS) game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ. Based on Games Workshop's popular tabletop wargame, Warhammer 40,000, Dark Crusade was released on October 9, 2006. The expansion features two new races, the Tau Empire and the Necrons. Including the Imperial Guard from Dawn of War's first expansion pack Winter Assault, this means a total of seven playable races in this expansion.

Unlike Winter Assault, Dark Crusade is a standalone expansion that does not require prior installation of Dawn of War or Winter Assault to play, allowing the user to play as all seven factions in both single player Skirmish and Campaign modes, though not in multiplayer.

Parallel to the release of Dark Crusade, THQ also released a triple pack of Dawn of War, Winter Assault, and Dark Crusade, dubbed Dawn of War Anthology. The case is embossed with images of all the faction leaders of the campaign dressed in their respective wargear.

Gameplay

As with previous Dawn of War titles, Dark Crusade is focused on the conflict portion of gameplay; in order to obtain more resources players must fight for them. Each player starts off with a base and wins by fulfilling mission objectives. There are multiple tiers of technology, with each allowing for more powerful units and upgrades.

Units

The number of units a player may field at one time is determined by population and vehicle 'squad caps'; these limit the number of infantry troops and vehicles a player may have on the battlefield. Squad caps may be increased using methods differing between races. Most units have a melee attack and a ranged attack. Units are often specialized to be better using one attack type. All units also have stances; these affect how the units respond to enemies. There are three types of units: commanders, infantry, and vehicles.

Commanders are hero units, and can usually only be built once. If they perish, they may be rebuilt. A sub-class is the semi-commander unit, which has many abilities like the commander unit but may be built multiple times. Infantry are foot soldiers, and may either be regular or heavy, with heavy infantry being much tougher than normal infantry. Vehicles are heavy weaponry and transports, and include tanks, artillery and troop carriers.

All units, aside from most heroes and vehicles, come in squads. These are groups of infantry that are commanded as a single entity. They may be reinforced with additional members, equipped with special weapons, or be attached to hero units. Some squads have special abilities, such as grenades, teleportation, and stealth, unlocked with research or leader units. Unit longevity is determined by their health and morale points, which govern a squad's fighting effectiveness. Both are reduced by weaponry; morale recharges independently or due to unit abilities, while health is increased by healer units or repair.

Buildings

Aside from their initial headquarters, races may build research and resource centers, unit-producing facilities, and defensive fortifications. Research buildings may research special upgrades that increase the abilities of that race's units, while resource buildings produce resources. Unit facilities produce infantry and vehicles. In order to access their next tier, a race must build certain buildings to unlock new technologies and buildings.

Multiplayer

Players may either connect directly by IP connection, play on their LAN or play through an online service offered by Gamespy. There are eight game modes available for online skirmish play, such as Annihilate, which requires the player to destroy every enemy unit and building, or Sudden Death, which causes a player to be eliminated if another captures one of their strategic points. Multiple game modes may be enabled, calling for multiple winning conditions. Due to its nature as a standalone expansion pack, the player may only play as the Tau or Necrons in multi-player. They must enter their original Dawn of War CD key to gain access to the original four races. Likewise, a Winter Assault CD key is needed to access the Imperial Guard.

Campaign

The expansion features a "Risk-based strategic layer", which is a campaign including a "meta-map" of the world of Kronus, the game's setting, similar to those in Westwood Studios's Dune games as opposed to the old, programmed, linear storylines common in most real-time strategy games. Due to this lack of linearity, there is no plot aside from the opening cinematic; rather, as the player conquers various opposing factions for control of Kronus the game provides a narrative specific to whom the player has conquered. If the player wins the campaign, a cinematic is played that depends on which faction the player was controlling. With the release of Dawn of War II, it is learned that the Blood Ravens (Space Marines) were officially the victorious faction, and that they were the army that both defeated the Imperial Guard present on Kronus at the city of Victory Bay and the Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines who had sought to conquer the world. It is left ambiguous whether or not the Blood Ravens were the faction that eliminated the other combatants.

The player may pick a faction to play as, and then engages in turn-based combat with the other A.I.-controlled factions. There are multiple provinces, which are conquered by fighting a regular skirmish match over them. These may give either a special bonus or supply special 'honour guard' units, which are powerful, non-trainable versions of regular units. They may only be made on the main battlefield overview screen, and, like provincial reinforcements, cost planetary requisition, a resource gained on a per-turn basis based on how many provinces the player controls. Honour guard units transfer over provinces and may be used repeatedly. There are also seven 'Stronghold' provinces that function as bases for the respective factions; these are made like more traditional campaign games, with multiple secondary and primary objectives that vary from faction to faction.

Also, a race's commander unit may be upgraded with special "wargear", unique, customizable upgrades that vary by race. These are awarded at battle milestones, ranging from a certain amount of kills to conquering many provinces.

Campaign scenarios are persistent, meaning that all player structures are 'saved' when a game is won. For example, if a player builds a base and conquers a province, only to have a neighbouring faction attack aforementioned province, the player will start out with his previous base, with the exception of having no technology researched. Players may also choose to garrison provinces with units that are instantly available should the province be attacked. These are bought with planetary requisition.

Setting

DarkCrusadeFactions

All the factions present in Dawn of War - Dark Crusade

All the pre-existing factions gained new units in Dark Crusade, and two new playable races are made available, including:

Tau Empire

One of the two new races in the game, the Tau are unique in multiple ways. Tau Fire Warriors and their anti-gravity vehicles are powerful in ranged battles, but have weak melee capabilty. To compensate, they fight alongside the alien Kroot, using these primal warriors as auxiliaries. Also, they are the only race with a 'choice' in their final technology choices; two final tier buildings are presented, which provide different end-game units and technologies. Only one may be chosen. The Tau also do not have any standalone defensive structures or minefields.

Necrons

The Necrons are unique, as they do not require requisition to build their army. Rather, power is the only resource needed to make Necrons units. However, capturing Strategic Points and building Obelisks (the Necrons' listening post) will increase the speed of research and building, and will also expand the population cap. The Necron Monolith, their homebase, is restored as more buildings are built, while also unlocking new units (similar to how the Zerg function in Starcraft), and functions as the only vehicle- and troop-producing building for the faction. When fully restored, the Monolith becomes mobile (albeit very slow, though it can teleport) and is armed with very powerful Gauss weaponry. Many Necron units have the ability to resurrect, and most will leave persistent corpses on the battlefield that may either self-resurrect after they die or be restored by specialized Necron units.

The Necrons were previously seen in Dawn of War - Winter Assault at the end of the single-player campaign, but were noticeably stronger.

Notable Characters

Dark Crusade features some reappearances by characters from the past games in the series, such as Farseer Taldeer and Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter, who were featured in Winter Assault.

Plot

The events of Dark Crusade take place on the former Imperial Civilised World of Kronus, a planet on the Eastern Fringe of the Imperium in the Segmentum Ultima, where the local human population has been absorbed into the nearby Tau Empire. It is also an ancient Necron Tomb World, whose inhabitants are starting to awaken. Eldar from Craftworld Ulthwé soon arrive to stop the ancient Necron threat from growing. In addition, Kronus happens to be a world with a variety of hidden Imperial relics, left behind from the Horus Heresy, that are significant to the Blood Ravens Space Marines, the Imperial Guard and the Word Bearers Traitor Legion of Chaos Space Marines. There is also a local Feral Ork population in the southern jungles of Kronus who quickly mobilise against the new threats when the Ork Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter and his WAAAGH! arrive on the world in search of their next battlefield. Faced with such opposition against the thriving Tau Sept, the world's Tau Governor Aun'el Shi'ores, knowing the planet must be kept within the Tau Empire, orders his Tau Fire Warriors into battle against the other factions.

Canonical Endings

The game has various endings for all the different factions, but Relic has stated that the Blood Ravens defeated both the Necrons and the Imperial Guard in the canonical ending. Through the dialogue in Dawn of War II, it is apparent that the Blood Ravens were able to conquer Kronus and return control of it to the Imperium. Davian Thule, the Captain of the Blood Ravens 4th Company who also led the 1st and 2nd Companies to the world, also bears scars in Dawn of War II which he received during the final battle with the Necron Lord of Kronus at the end of Dark Crusade. Also, Sergeant Tarkus received Terminator Honours after his struggle against the Necrons and Tau during the Dark Crusade. The Blood Raven ending reveals that the Blood Ravens went through one of their greatest trials after the Dark Crusade was over; the Inquisition launched a thorough investigation into the Blood Ravens' purity as a Loyalist Chapter after they fought against their own fellow servants of the Emperor, the Imperial Guard. Though not necessarily canonical, if the player beats the Space Marines as the Imperial Guard, it is shown that the Guard discovered documents on Kronus detailing secrets about the Blood Ravens' history that didn't match up with their official past as known by the Imperium, thus leading to the probing investigation of the Chapter by the Inquisition.

The Dividing of the Ork Clans

The Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter, who survived the Lorn V Campaign in Dawn of War - Winter Assault, began his new WAAAGH! in the feral Ork-infested Green Coast on Kronus. As is often the case with the Orks, Gorgutz's WAAAGH! was formed by uniting several weaker clans under his banners, which were used as symbols of his authority in his stronghold. The Blood Ravens used this dissent to their advantage by destroying Gorgutz's banners, causing the Ork clans of Kronus to begin fighting against each other and defying Gorgutz's reign. The Blood Ravens ultimately slaughtered their way through the infighting clans and killed Gorgutz's personal guard. However, he took his revenge on the Space Marines that bested him by detonating several warheads, killing his own minions and several Blood Ravens. In the confusion of the explosions, Gorgutz escaped through a cave and was able to flee Kronus on a hidden Ork starship, returning once more in Soulstorm to continue to plague the Imperium.

The Necron Catacomb's Collapse

The Necrons, the original rulers of the planet Kronus, emerged from their stasis tombs in the Thur'abis Plateau. The Blood Ravens descended into the caverns beneath the plateau to discover a huge network of catacombs hidden within, holding innumerable amounts of Necron soldiers. Despite the dark and fearsome location, the Blood Ravens fought their way through the catacombs, destroying Necron beacons (Which could cause different effects on the player or his enemies, such as reviving fallen Necrons or causing the player's vehicle units to turn on him/her) as they worked their way into a key structural point inside. Captain Davian Thule placed a powerful explosive device which caused the catacombs to collapse, thus ending the Necron threat on Kronus, though it is hinted that the Necrons were merely slowed in their reemergence by the collapse, and not destroyed altogether.

Farseer Taldeer's Gambit

Farseer Taldeer constructed her attack force in the frigid northwestern reaches of the planet Kronus, and rather than risk her own Eldar warriors in her stronghold's defense, positioned herself between a splinter cult of Chaos Space Marines and a small force of dissatisfied Orks that broke off from Gorgutz's WAAAGH! However, in doing so, she backed herself into a corner controlled by three Webway Gates that allowed her access to the rest of the Eldar army in space. The Blood Ravens fought their way through their old enemies, defeated the Ork and Chaos threat, and were able to hold the Webway Gates to prevent any possible escape for Taldeer. The Eldar Farseer chose to sacrifice her own life in order to allow her troops to flee, seeking refuge on the planet. It is unknown whether or not they eventually escaped or succumbed to the Blood Ravens' bloody swath of destruction across Kronus.

Governor-Militant Lukas Alexander's Last Stand

The Imperial Guard, having set their stronghold near a Hellstorm Cannon that had once been a part of an Imperial Imperator-class Titan that had fallen during the Horus Heresy, had claimed as their forward operating headquarters a city that they had wrested back from the Tau after their landing and renamed Victory Bay, fully believing that they could regain control of the planet for the Imperium, even if that meant facing Space Marines. The Blood Ravens, however, were able to fight their way through the heavily-defended Imperial stronghold at Victory Bay, and eventually took control of the Hellstorm Cannon itself and sparked a revolution amongst dissident Imperial troops who refused to fight Astartes after their Commissar was killed. The Blood Ravens added these troops to their own forces and fought their way through the heavy defences held by Lukas Alexander, and were able to end the Lord Governor's reign on Kronus. In the after battle report given by Thule, it was mentioned that the Blood Ravens held Alexander in the highest regard, especially since he had stayed absolutely loyal to his orders and had defended Victory Bay with skill and honour. Despite his loss, Alexander and his troops were commended and honoured for their bravery in standing up to the Blood Ravens' assault. The one exception to this was the treacherous 5th Company, who were all executed without mercy for betraying their regiment, even though they had joined forces with the Space Marines after Anton Gebbett, the Commissar attached to their company, was killed.

The Fall of Or'es Tash'n

The Tau began their assault on Kronus by taking over the Imperial city of Asharis, and re-constructing it into their new capital of Or'es Tash'n, a Tau stronghold of sizable proportions. Using both their own Tau units as well as the Kroot and their other xenos and human allies, the Tau built up a powerful defence in the new city. Using the city's own communications tower, they were able to keep tabs on the invading Blood Ravens. After a difficult struggle in which the Blood Ravens had to fight their way through Kroot and Tau alike, the Blood Ravens were able to kill the Ethereal Aun'el, effectively crushing the morale of the Tau Army. Shas'O Kais, the Tau Commander, fled Kronus in order to return the defeated leader's body to his homeworld of T'au, and the surviving Tau were either killed in the ensuing rout or evacuated from Kronus, leaving Or'es Tash'n to be reclaimed for the Imperium by the Space Marines.

Eliphas the Inheritor's Sacrifice

The Chaos Space Marines of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion, under the orders of their leader, the Dark Apostle Eliphas the Inheritor, were able to rip open a hole in the Warp and construct a gate around it to keep it stable. This allowed Chaos Daemons to pour through the rift and corrupt the land beneath their feet, as well as construct large pillars designed to use Chaos sorcery and sacrifice any willing or unwilling beings that ventured too close to further power their arcane strength. In the defence of the Warp Gate, Eliphas the Inheritor decided to allow his troops to defend their own sections of a long, twisted path to the gate instead of focus on the defence as a whole. However, because he was unable to command his defences effectively, the Blood Ravens were able to cut their way through the bloody gauntlet of Chaos Space Marines and demolish the Warp Gate. Eliphas, having failed his daemonic masters one too many times, was sacrificed by the will of the Ruinous Powers as a failed subject, his soul drawn wailing back into the Warp.

Yet Eliphas returned in Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising to bedevil the Blood Ravens once more after having been resurrected following much punishment by the Chaos Gods and placed in thrall to the Black Legion at the request of Abaddon the Despoiler, largely due to an unexpected level of fan popularity for the former Dark Apostle. Eliphas promised the Despoiler and the Ruinous Powers that his only mission in life after his resurrection was to destroy the Blood Ravens as a Chapter.

Development

Dark Crusade uses the same engine as the original Dawn of War game, which allowed the game's developer, Relic, to focus most efforts on revamping the single-player campaign and balancing out the two new races. By E3 2006, the two new races were demonstrated through an in-engine feature, though no playable version was showcased. New units were unveiled regularly after August 11, 2006. The first available playable build was released on September 18 to GameSpot. Dark Crusade exited the development stage on September 21, and was expected to be shipped worldwide by October 9, 2006.

Reception

The expansion was praised as an "excellent real-time strategy game", with its non-linear single-player campaign, stabilized multiplayer and additional features, and was selected by IGN and Gamespot as the best expansion pack of 2006. Most were quite surprised by the quality and size of the expansion, stating that the large amount of new content "breathed new life into the game". Critics cited the excellent balancing between races, saying it had a positive effect on both single-player and multiplayer. Aside from new units and races, changes to the gameplay mechanics, such as reworking of the elite unit system, were well-received, as critics felt that the changes "forced players to actually think about using real combined arms tactics in multiplayer and contributed to more games decided by genuine strategy and skill rather than just who can spec out the proper build order."

Some critics stated that the game's weak points included its complexity; some reviewers disliked how much micromanagement was required to effectively field one race against another, saying that this complexity was detrimental to the game. As one reviewer mentioned, "...when I stop having fun, I stop playing." The learning curve was also stated as being very steep for an RTS, due to each race being different. Another thing critics disliked was the player's inability to 'zoom out' with the in-game camera; this sometimes got in the way of large battles, and was especially noticeable when playing as or against the Tau, as their long range weapons often resulted in them engaging their targets off-screen. While general consensus on the revamped single-player campaign was positive, some critics felt that it was not particularly challenging; they found that the AI was strategically weak, and there were no random elements in most skirmish missions that would enhance replayability. The usage of a random auto-resolve feature to determine which races won which territories was seen as a downside; also, one critic found that the AI never attacked his homebase, and that they would attack insignificant zones regardless of the opportunity to capture more significant ones. In terms of new additions, some critics felt that the races, in particular the Necrons, were overpowered. Despite these accusations (or perhaps because of them), the Tau and Necrons remain some of the least-used races in multi-player games.

External Links

Sources

  • Dawn of War - Dark Crusade (PC Game)

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