Consider, for a moment, Relic Entertainment's startlingly diverse RTS resumé. Homeworld. Monstrous Creatures. Company of Heroes. The Dawn of War games. and let's not forget all those expansions. I mean, do those guys have ants in their pants? They just will not stop innovating.
And crucially, Relic has succeeded where so many other developers have failed: at making Warhammer 40,000 work as a videogame, and absolutely nailing the IP in the process. Dawn of War brought the races and technology of the 40K universe to vivid, howling, bolter-spewing life in a way that did justice to the universe. And for those of us whose days of inking and dry-brushing have passed into fond memory, it offered an accessible way to carry on enjoying 40K.
After the multitudinous mega-army madness of Dawn of War, and the further race-rostering of its expansions, DoW II came as a surprise. The reduction of sheer troop volumes to four heroes and their attached grunts, not to mention the abolition of traditional base-building mechanics, signified a decisive genre-shift. Dawn Of War had become a seamless blend of RTS and action-RPG; a kind of plasma-fuelled, four-character Diablo, which posted chin-stroking tactical challenges at every turn. The first expansion, Chaos Rising, enriched the experience with meatier loot, deeper role-tinkering, tighter campaign-narrative and a meaningful purity/corruption mechanic.