Dawn of War III is out, bringing together the best of the previous two entries in the franchise with a bunch of fresh new gameplay twists. In Dawn of War III, the action is frenetic, abilities are devastating, and death swiftly follows the slightest of mistakes. There are a lot of new mechanics and units in #DawnOfWar3, but the most impressive by far are the gigantic mechs.
Dawn of War III introduces the largest units in the 12-year history of the video game series, and indeed, some of the largest units of all real time strategy games. These brand new units let you take control of mighty mechanical behemoths to stomp your opponents on the battlefield into pulp. To celebrate today’s release of the game we discuss these massive war machines, their strengths, their weaknesses, and the pop-culture mechs that inspired them.
Humans: The Imperial Knight, Lady Solaria
The Imperial Knight is a truly amazing beast. Half chapel and half war-machine, the Imperial Knight is a colossal construct towering over the battlefield. These relics of ages past are controlled by noble feudal vassals of the Imperium—families who have sworn loyalty to the eternal Empire of man and will come when called upon, bringing their massive and nearly invincible war machines to bear on the battlefield in the name of The Emperor and their family's honor.
One such noblewoman, Lady Solaria, has allied herself with the Blood Ravens Space Marines. With her Imperial Knight Drakaina, Lady Solaria rampages across the battlefield, shrugging off heavy fire, and crushing the enemy beneath barrages of gatling cannon fire and missiles (and, occasionally, her massive mech's feet).
The Imperial Knight is an all-rounder in comparison to the other two factions' gigantic mechs, it specializes in long-range firepower and lots of it. Buildings and heavily-armored targets are pounded to paste by the power of Lady Solaria's missile barrages, while massed infantry get cut down like grass by her twin gatling cannons.
If Lady Solaria has a weakness, it's speed. She may be nigh-invulnerable, but she's slow, and an easy target for high-damage targeted abilities. Despite the size and power of her Knight, she's also vulnerable to close combat, since she can't bring her massive weapons to bear on enemies swarming around her feet.
If Lady Solaria has an equivalent outside the world of Warhammer 40,000 (although who could truly match up to her?) it's probably either Liberty Prime from Fallout 3 and 4 or the good old-fashioned Metal Gear Rex. Like Liberty Prime, Solaria and her Knight are inspiring symbols, meant to act as much like a rallying banner to the troops around as a weapon. When Solaria arrives on the battlefield, even the most beleaguered infantry below her know the tide will soon be turning in their favor.
In terms of pure load-out and damage, Metal Gear Rex is her closest cousin, or perhaps some of the heavier mechs from the various Mechwarrior universe games. Like these mechs, Solaria is equipped with heavy duty mid-range weaponry that is devastatingly powerful, but recognizably similar to modern weapons. You won't find any black hole guns or plasma-fusion-whatevers on Solaria's Imperial Knight, just some classic missile launchers and a pair of gatling guns that shoot bullets the size of a VW Bug.
Eldar: The Wraithknight
What do you do with an incredibly skilled warrior if you're a dying race and they get killed on the battlefield? Why, stick their soul in a gem and shove it in a cool robot of course! The Eldar Wraithknight (along with their smaller relatives, the Wraithlord and Wraithblade) are like a walking advertisement for what you can achieve when you're dedicated to recycling. Y'know, if recycling involved sci-fi necromancy and creating killing machines instead of sorting out your cardboard from your plastic.
A Wraithknight is created when one half of a pair of Eldar twins is killed. Due to their powerful psychic bonds, Eldar twins are much closer than human twins, and if one of them is killed, the other will begin to wither away, dying from weakness and starvation.
To make sure that good twin doesn't go to waste, the Farseer councils of the Eldar will usually elect to place the soulstone (a kind of soul-storing gem) of the dead twin in a Wraithknight, which is then linked to the surviving twin who can psychically pilot the giant mech thanks to their connection with their lost sibling.
In comparison to the Imperial Knight, the Wraithknight is a nimble, quick war machine, despite its massive size. Expertly crafted from wraithbone by Eldar Bonesingers, the Wraithknight can leap, run, and slide around the battlefield, avoiding the most powerful weapons of the enemy army while weaker shots bounce off regenerating energy shields.
The Wraithknight excels at ranged combat, especially against heavily armored targets. Their distortion blast ability can slow down tanks and lift heavy infantry off the ground, leaving them as easy pickings for the mech's powerful twin wraithcannons, which open up the fabric of space to tear apart even the toughest targets.
To get an idea of how the Wraithknight functions, imagine a cross between the Jaegers of Pacific Rim and the Evas of Neon Genesis Evangelion (only somewhat less insane than the latter). Like the Jaegers, the Wraithknight is piloted by a psychic link between two minds. They're both equipped with powerful energy weaponry, though the Wraithknight prefers to hang back a little in comparison to the Jaegers, who tend to go toe-to-toe with Kaiju.
The Wraithknight moves more like an Eva in combat. Though the Wraithknight is colossal, it's almost as nimble as a person, and like the Eva, the Wraithknight possesses a soul of its own, taken from the dead and used to operate the war machine. Luckily, the Wraithknight is a bit less prone to turning into a psychotic monster on the battlefield, and it doesn't have to use a piddly knife for most of its fighting either.
Orks: Beauty Da Morkanaut
While the Imperial Knights are ancient relics and the Wraithknight is a wonder of carefully-sculpted psychic wraithbone, the Morkanaut is a little more, uh, eccentric. These gigantic, lumbering monstrosities of scrap metal are custom (or as Orks say, 'kustom') made by a Big Mek as an effigy to Mork, the Orkish god of brutal cunning and/or cunning brutality, depending on what day of the week it is.
The Morkanaut is nearly impossible to kill and equipped with the latest in Orkish weapons technology, which mostly involves bolting things to other things until something explodes, hopefully near the target. It's powerful, tough, but not at all graceful—next to the Morkanaut, even the Imperial Knight practically looks like a dancer at the royal Russian ballet.
The job of a Morkanaut, more than any of the other mechs in Dawn of War III, is to support the other Orks around it. When near the Morkanaut, Ork troops are able to reinforce and replace lost casualties in a squad, which means you don't have to lose momentum after a decisive victory. The Morkanaut can also project a powerful force field, which blocks incoming damage in a radius around the mech, perfect for shielding your shock troops from fire as you assault an entrenched position.
Like the Imperial Knight, the Morkanaut has some similarities to our old friend Liberty Prime, but the true equivalent of the Morkanaut in pop culture is probably something closer to the war rigs of Mad Max. Like the war rigs, each Morkanaut is totally unique, custom built by mad mechanics to their own tastes and whims out of scrap and salvage. Just like the war rigs, you'll usually find some nimble troops (gretchin in the case of the Morkanaut) clambering all over its massive bulk, repairing machinery, and patching holes even as the battle rages around them.
And c'mon, couldn't you imagine a dude standing on top of one of these giant mechs with a flamethrower guitar?