Dawn of War II: The Last Stand Hands-On PreviewBy Brian Leahy - Posted Aug 28, 2009
Relic’s Dawn of War II is a great game and players are about to get a nice treat in the form a free downloadable game mode called “Last Stand”, which pits a team of three against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. The mode is similar to Relic’s “Operation Stonewall” scenario in the Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor expansion and is, at its core, a “Horde” mode.
Last Stand is described as an “arcade experience” by associate producer Otto Ottosson. To this end, the mode will ship with one arena and a each wave of enemies is pre-determined so players can make adjustments to their strategies in an attempt to top the leaderboards. The developers aren’t ruling out new arenas, but the mode will ship with one.
Players will choose between three commanders: the Eldar Farseer, Ork Mekboy, and Space Marine Captain, earning experience and new Wargear as they play through the mode. Characters can be leveled up to 20, but Relic describes the system as a “horizontal” leveling system. The stats are determined by the Wargear you choose to take into battle and not the character’s level. Wargear unlocks different abilities, buffs, and spells for your commander. In some cases, a level 20 character might want to equip their level 1 weapon based on the abilities it provides. This system also comes with the added bonus of allowing low-level characters to group up with higher level players and contribute to the score.
The gameplay focuses a lot of multipliers. During my play session, there were times when we were earning 240 times the number of points for each kill. There are three ways that multipliers are handled in Last Stand. The first is a ticking clock that resets at each wave and every time a kill is made. Fail to make a kill before it runs out and you’ll lose its multiplier. The second increases every wave that no one dies. This one is key for getting as many points as possible as it has no limit. The third revolves around two capture points in the arena. Holding one will drop a 3x on you and both will yield a 6x multiplier. Enemies will attempt to take them back during the waves.
There are 20 total waves, with every fourth wave containing a special enemy set. These waves can be thought of as boss waves. This could include an enemy Force Commander with two Apothecary’s that can heal him. Wave 16 is especially challenging as the game puts you up against a mirrored set of commanders that can use the abilities you’ve selected for yourself. Teamwork is necessary. Waves 17 through 20 were not in the build I played, but I was assured that they would contain even more surprises.
My best playthrough yielded just over 1 million points. The QA team for the DLC has hit over 10 million on its best run. This is an extremely fun mode coming to Dawn of War II that could help bridge the gap between the singleplayer experience and online component. Grab two buddies and get ready to make your Last Stand when it is released free of charge this October.