Dawn of War 2 – Retribution Review

Ten years after the events of Chaos Rising and the fall of the Blood Raven’s Chapter Master to Chaos, Sub-Sector Aurelia remains in a state of constant warfare. The pirate Freebooter Orks have arrived to take advantage of this and loot the sector, the vile forces of Chaos continue to spread their blasphemy, the Eldar of Craftworld Alaitoc work to recover key artifacts from their past, and the feral Tyranids remaining from the failed Hive fleet invasion have suddenly reestablished contact with the Hive Mind.

The Warhammer 40K universe has always been a great deal of fun. The sheer silliness of the whole thing is very endearing, and you can’t help but get attached to the horrible races that inhabit this crazy reality. Relic has always done really well with their Dawn of War games, but Dawn of War 2 seems to be following the same path as the original with each expansion being less fun than the last one.

Retribution picks up the tale of the intrepid Blood Angels after the big cliffhanger ending of Chaos Rising. Everything’s going to hell as usual, and only the liberal application of violence can fix things. But this time around we get a separate campaign for each of the races, including the newly added Imperial Guard!

Except we don’t.

While there is a separate story line for each race, every campaign consists of going through the same missions with slightly different voiceover. While I understand that making six different campaigns would be a lot of work, why did they make such a big deal of this feature when it obviously isn’t true? I would have been happy with another fully fleshed Space Marine campaign (although considering they’re my favourites I might be biased), but instead I got excited at all the possibilities of the different campaigns.

Cue major disappointment.

Another big disappointment for me was the change in gameplay allowing you to build as many units as you want from captured bases. While this worked well in the original Dawn of War, that was a different type of game. Dawn of War 2 has always been about a small group of unique squads that you need to use in the right combination to overcome the challenges that come your way. You couldn’t just build units and throw them at the enemy, you had to think tactically. I really loved this different style of gameplay, and it feels like a step backwards to go back to the resource collection/unit building mechanic. While all resource collection is done via combat, it’s still a big change.

Overall, while Retribution is still a lot of fun to play, it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, and it actually takes a backwards step with the shift in gameplay. I think it’s telling that I had a hard time pulling myself away from Dawn of War 2 and Chaos Rising, but I had to force myself to finish Retribution. Hopefully Relic will break their downward trend with the next expansion.

What I Liked – Combat is still fun and visceral. Imperial Guard are always a welcome addition.

What I Didn’t Like – The shift away from squad based tactical play. The reused storylines for each race.

Rating – 3 out of 5 (Average)

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