McMillan’s Codex #44 by C.T. McMillan
Trailer Analysis: Dawn of War 3
Covering Dawn of War: Dark Crusade reignited my interest in Warhammer 40k. For a long time my fandom was pushed to the side in favor of more practical matters. 40k is an expensive hobby regardless if you just want to read the many novels. After revisiting Dark Crusade, I remembered why I like 40k, and I find myself overjoyed at what had been dormant for so long. By sheer coincide, when I was writing the review, the trailer for Dawn of War 3 premiered online and here I am putting my expertise to the test.
The darkness of 40k is rather understated in the videogames. You never get a clear picture of the desolation and horror unless you pay attention to the lore. The galaxy is locked in perpetual conflict where humans and aliens die in the billions. Pulling the strings are literal gods that represent all the worst aspects of life who feed off the endless nightmare. Taking a closer look at the individual worlds and races, the broader issues seem minuscule in comparison.
Dawn of War 3 seems to make a point of the series’ dread. The trailer opens with a quote saying “There is a terrible darkness descending upon the galaxy, and we shall not see it ended in our lifetimes,” alluding to the constant state of war. The proceeding footage shows a mountain of corpses that is continuously replenished by a flow of bodies falling from a cloudy sky. The mountain is symbolic, but based on the purple color scheme and what I know of the lore, the mountain exists in the Immaterium, a dimension in which warp travel is possible, the afterlife, and home of the Chaos Gods.
The next image is of a Space Marine from the Blood Ravens, a chapter created for Dawn of War, landing on the pile. Then you see the same Space Marine standing before a statue of the God Emperor in an environment I assume is reality. Behind him is a whole squad of Blood Ravens who takes a knee and prays to the statue. As they kneel, a torrent of wind blows through and gradually weighs down on them. Some falter and collapse while the first Space Marine remains steadfast and takes a cut to the face.
Compared to the traditional look, these Space Marines are lanky. They look like humans wearing armor when they are the complete opposite. The average Space Marine starts out human, but after intensive gene therapy, physical training, and surgery, they become eight-foot tall immortals of pure muscle with a second heart, another lung, and a host of other organs.
Above the statue comes a massive wave of Orks descending upon the Blood Ravens. After a cut you see the aftermath of a battle with the Space Marines dead. A couple Orks walk across the field with axes, hacking at survivors. One Blood Raven reaches up before an Ork tears off his arm with burst of gore.
After another cut, you see a Howling Banshee, an Eldar warrior, standing in the hollow of a wall. Then she draws her sword and makes her way down, followed by other Banshees. Unlike Dawn of War 2, their armor appears to take a step back from the form-fitting, asymmetric look of the models in favor of sharp angles. Furthermore, the texture is shell-like and organic. Eldar technology is based on Wraithbone, a material that can be psychically formed into whatever shape the controller desires. The organic texture of the armor is a nice touch that fits with the Eldar’s naturalist aesthetic.
Next you return to the Orks on the battlefield before another squad of Space Marines charges in. One of them meets a Deff Dread, an Ork mech, and is subsequently cut in half. Not even a second later, the Dread is destroyed by a Wraithknight, a giant Eldar mech. Then the same Wraithknight is attacked by a pair of Imperial Knights, their human equivalent. For Dawn of War this reveal is a big deal because before now, 40k’s larger mechanized units have not been included. How they will be used in gameplay remains to be seen.
In the short melee between the mechs, the Wraithknight is impaled and falls back in slow motion. Directly below the oncoming wreckage is the same Space Marine from before who brings up his sword in a block and smiles. The final image is of him lying on the mountain of dead with his smile before another corpse smashes on top as the cycle of death continues.
Most trailers settle for symbolism instead of outright telling you what they are all about. Often times you only get a small piece representative of gameplay or story depending on context. All I can infer from the Dawn of War 3 trailer is the tone is darker, the three main factions are Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks, and we will finally get to use mechs. But this is just one trailer and in the following months I expect to see more.