WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank and occupation!
I'm Jeff Lydell, and I'm a producer on Chaos Rising.
WP: We've seen the single-player before, but this is the first time you've demoed the multiplayer aspect for us. What's new in terms of the Chaos Marines versus what we saw in the multiplayer aspect of original Dawn of War II?
JL: Well, with Chaos Rising, we add the Chaos army, and that's an entire new army that you can play with online. We got a couple of interesting things going on; we've talked before about how we're an "expand-alone" project. That means you can go out and buy Chaos Rising just on its own, or you can buy Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising and put them together. If you buy Chaos Rising just on its own, you get the Chaos army and you get the Chaos Rising campaign, and that can be played with the guys who are playing Dawn of War II. It's the same code, the same community, everything is united, and that's the new box.
WP: That's something that you guys also did with the original Dawn of War, where the expansions weren't necessarily tied to the original game, and based on what you had, you could play with certain races. How does that play out from a balancing standpoint, where you only have one race to play versus the four that you could play if you had the original game?
JL: With the original game, you had four races, and if you buy Chaos Rising, you have the fifth race. From a balancing standpoint, it's actually easier, maybe not for the reason you think, but we don't have to worry about the Dawn of War II vanilla game and the Chaos Rising game. It's the same game. We bring in all the same armies together, and we have to make sure that they're balanced against everybody so that everyone will keep playing. What we want everybody to have out of Chaos Rising and the Chaos army is a whole new set of options, a whole new set of heroes, and a whole new set of units and abilities to play with. To even the score, because we've added a lot, we are shipping out a free update to the existing races, and it's going to add new units to each one of the races as well as some new abilities. On top of that, we're adding new maps, all free to the existing Dawn of War II base. That's not typical of how expansion packs usually work. You usually have to pay to get in (laughs), but we think it's more valuable to keep our community together and playing together than string them along for the next $30.
WP: Everyone who has played Dawn of War II is familiar with the Space Marines. You assume that the Space Marines and Chaos Marines are going to be somewhat similar, but what are the gameplay differences between the two?
JL: The similarities are fairly superficial. There are Chaos Space Marines and there are Space Marines, the loyalists. When it comes to gameplay, there are a lot of choices that you make in terms of how you're going to equip yourself. One of the big concepts we've added for Chaos — they're all about worshipping their gods — is worship mechanics. We have Worship and the Heretics. What you get for worshipping is dependent on your commander hero choice. They can build different shrines that have different effects, again dependent on your commander hero choice and which god he's aligned with. You can also dedicate a given squad to a god, so you can take your Chaos Space Marines and dedicate them to the god of corn, and they receive power axes and melee buffs and they become a dedicated melee unit. They have lots of very powerful options for, say, "I want to be a melee army, I want to be a ranged army, and I want to dedicate myself to that function."
WP: Let's talk about counters. Say I’m used to playing the Orks or the Tyranids, and I know how to fight the Space Marines, but what do I have to worry about when I'm fighting the Chaos Marines?
JL: You're going to have to worry about having some tough opponents that have some very strong melee options, the ability to choose ranged options if they want to, and some really powerful abilities that they can use against you. We've got the sorcerer as one of our commanders. He's going to be able to fire the Doom Bolt out of the box, and that's one of his basic abilities. That's very good at countering swarming types of units, like Ork Sluggas and things like that.
WP: Earlier, you mentioned some units that will be added to the existing Dawn of War II armies. Can you expand on some of those at all?
JL: Absolutely. For the Space Marines, we've added the Librarian, and he's a dedicated melee and caster unit. You can bring out in the second tier. Space Marines were a little weak on melee options so we've added one more. He also has some abilities and magical stuff he can do, so he can cast a shield wall that will knock back a whole ton of enemies. He can cast a spell called Veil of Time, which will remove setup requirements from Devastator squads or anything like that. It makes him a very powerful little guy.
In the Orks, we've added the Weirdboy. He's an out-of-control psychic. His brains are exposed from his skull, and he's pretty crazy. He can summon the Foot of Gork, which is a big nuke where one of the Ork gods steps on you and leaves a footprint in the ground and kills anything underneath it. Orks being Orks, it's mostly because all the Orks believe that's what's happening. He's also a little unstable, so if you get a kill-off on him when he's in the middle of a crowd, he can explode and take out his own guys, which is pretty ridiculous but totally suits the Weirdboy.
Into the Eldar, we've got the Wraithguard. These are really large infantry, robotic soldiers that carry miniature D Cannons, and they added a durable, ranged option for the Eldar players. That's something they were missing in their Tier 2. They weren't able to say, "All right. It's Tier 2. I want to go really shooty, really powerful on units that move kind of slow but hit hard." The Wraithguard hit like trucks, so that'll be really, really popular amongst the Eldar players.
Into the Tyranids, we've made a little change in the lineup. We've added two units. One of them is the Tyrant Guard, and it's replacing the Tier 2 Carnifex. He's not completely gone; he's been moved up to Tier 3, where we had some of those options. All of those upgrades are still available; you just have to wait until Tier 3. The Tyrant Guard is a very durable damage sink. You run into heavily entrenched enemies, soak up all their fire, disrupt them and charge them and knock them over. When you're about to get killed, you can put him into his shield mode, where he'll just drop down, hunker into his shell, and heal. He sits there healing, and you have to hit him with a truck full of bricks in order to kill him in that mode, so he's really good at disrupting.
We've also added the Genestealer. If you're familiar at all with Space Hulk, Genestealers are a longtime staple of Warhammer 40K, and they are elite melee squad capable of doing really high damage. They infiltrate when they're not moving, so if you just park them at a point and leave them there, they sit there and they wait and they'll come out of the shadows and attack whoever's coming by. They've got a bunch of options that let them upgrade with rending claws to kill vehicles and things like that.
WP: As Relic, you guys have seen the replays, and you've seen a lot of strategies. What are some popular strategies that aren't going to work anymore against the Chaos Marines that maybe worked really well in the original game?
JL: Against the Chaos Marines? Well, that's going to remain to be seen. The players always find a way to bend the Chaos Space Marines, or bend all of our armies. The thing you're going to have to be careful with Chaos is that the Space Marines are no longer the only durable enemies out there. Chaos is capable of soaking up damage with certain types of their squads and being pretty effective with that and also being pretty adaptable with what can happen on the battlefield. They have their worship option, which lets them buff certain areas and play a little more defensively. You'll see shrines that spawn and these temporary demons that attack anybody that comes near them. If they really sink their resources into that, they can start worshiping at that shrine, and that'll cause more demons to come out, which makes it more dangerous. They can also heal themselves by opting to go toward the Nurgle route, and that gives them lots of high durability units. Compared to things like Eldar and Tyranids, which have lots of units that pop easy but come in large numbers, the Chaos Space Marines will be a pretty big threat.
WP: One of the aspects of Dawn of War II has been cover. You could always get a huge defense bonus by hunkering down into a building. Have you made any changes in the multiplayer to how the buildings and structures give you a defense bonus once you're garrisoned inside?
JL: We've made certain tweaks. We've tried to make garrisoned buildings a little more useful than they were. Cover is still very important. It used to be, though, that buildings were more of a deathtrap, and we're trying to make them a little more worth the risk. The problem is that there are a lot of things that can deal with buildings, so if somebody has a flamethrower, you don't want to be in the building. You give up a certain amount of mobility going into buildings, but cover is still a very important part of our game and always will be.
WP: If you had to sum it up in two to three sentences for someone who is very familiar with Dawn of War II, what is really going to make Chaos Rising an expansion pack that's worth playing?
JL: Chaos. You get the Chaos race in multiplayer, and you get the Chaos Rising campaign, where the Blood Ravens tackle Chaos, and that's going to be very cool for a lot of reasons that are going to be obvious once you get into the story, but I really don't want to spoil that.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?JL: Yeah! Nobody's asked me about this, but it should have come up. The Blood Ravens in the campaign are going to have to deal with a traitor.
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