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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising

Expanding the universe.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Genestealers! Their begged and bayed for inclusion in multiplayer is almost enough to make Chaos Rising an automatic must-sell for Warhammer 40,000 enthusiasts. The betaloned, baldy death-beasts haven't had much gaming action since Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels. Their welcome addition to the Tyranid ranks in this first standalone expansion for Dawn of War II represents just one of the affectionate nibbles to the earlobes of 40K fans.

Relic seems conscious the parent game caught a fair bit of flak from DOW buffs, so they've tried to address the major complaints with Chaos Rising. Something is required to win the crowds back, though - hence Genestealers, a Space Hulk Tribute level, masses of hitherto-unknown back story for the Blood Raven Space Marine chapter and a new, playable Chaos faction that tips its hat to all four Chaos gods, not just boring old Khorne again.

Yeah, yeah, Blood For the Blood God and all that - but what about change for the change god, plague for the plague god and sex for the sex god? In fact, it's the plague god, Nurgle, who's closest to centre stage this time around. Take control of the murderous collective of mutated marines, self-sacrificial Heretics and slathering demons that is Chaos and your ultimate reward, your top-end, game-changing unit, is the Great Unclean One.

That name will be instantly familiar to anyone who's never purged their adult minds of all the 40K lore they absorbed in their youth. But if not: basically he's a skyscraper-sized ball of pus who keeps being sick everywhere. You'll know when he's out and about, put it that way. Clashes between this pestilent fat boy and the Eldar's own supersized angry person, the Avatar of Khaine, are likely to be the game's most spectacular sight.

Tom gives the Eurogamer news team their daily morning briefing.

The rest of the Chaos roster is broadly similar to the Space Marines. Chaos Marines are an obvious parallel; Chaos Havoks are similar to Devastators but with a choice of heavy weapons, including anti-tank rocket launchers, and then there's the Chaos Dreadnought.

Lest hearing that one of the tier 3 units is a Predator tank in Chaos adornment has you rolling your eyes with sad over-familiarity, know that there'll also be two types of demon - tier 2 Bloodletters, heavy melee-hitters, and tier 3 Mounted Bloodletters, who are really heavy melee-hitters. Most interesting, though, is the upgrade paths for some of these guys. The Chaos Marines, for instance, can swear allegiance to different Chaos gods, each of which grant different special abilities.

The Chaos Lord and his summons can... Hey! Stop looking at the Bloodletters' bums!

The cheapie Heretics, meanwhile, are a large gaggle of weak fighters, little more than resource-snatchers and cannon fodder - but they can sacrifice themselves to provide a significant combat boost to any nearby friendlies. Messy suicide in the name of power is as good a summation of the Chaos take on things as anything else. All the existing DOW2 factions are getting a new unit too - the healtastic Librarian for the Marines, the semi-magic, teleporting Ork Wierdboyz, and the Eldar Wraithguard, a smaller, cheaper variant of their Wraithlord walking tank. The cheeky Tyranids get two - the aforementioned stabby and stealthy Genestealers to appease fan outcry, and the hulking tier 2 Tyrant Guard.

In terms of Chaos' hero units your offence guy is the Chaos Lord, a biff-in-the-face sort wearing Terminator armour and able to siphon enemy health and summon bonus Bloodletters. If you're playing defence you'll want the Plague Champion, a Paladiny ranged type who bothers the enemy en masse with debuffing auras and can lay down deadly turrets.