Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and based on Games Workshop's tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. It was released by THQ on September 20, 2004 in North America and on September 24 in Europe.
Three expansion packs have been released: Winter Assault in 2005, Dark Crusade in 2006, and Soulstorm in 2008. Its first sequel, Dawn of War II was released in February 2009. Another sequel, Dawn of War III, was announced in May 2016 and released in April 2017. As a series, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide as of January 2013.
The game is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, a dystopian vision of the far future. Humanity has forged a galaxy-spanning empire, The Imperium of Man. The Imperium is in a state of constant war with the Orks, Eldar, and the human servants of Chaos, desperately fighting to preserve the human race from extinction. The single player campaign is set on the planet Tartarus. This also sets the stage for Dawn of War II — Retribution.
The campaign begins on Tartarus, an Imperial planet on which Colonel Brom and his 37th Tartarus Planetary Defense Force Regiment are under attack by a large group of Orks. The Blood Ravens 3rd company, led by Captain Gabriel Angelos, arrive on the planet and saves Brom and his remaining men, who then proceed to exterminate the remaining Orks in the vicinity. In the aftermath of the battle, Gabriel is joined by the Librarian Isador Akios. Brom asks Isador about the recent sterilization of the planet Cyrene; however, Isador makes it clear this is not a permitted subject for discussion, particularly in Angelos' presence. The Blood Ravens then prepare to attack the Orks surrounding the port, in order to protect the evacuation craft.
Gameplay is initially focused on capturing and holding strategic locations on the battlefield. These control points are captured by infantry squads and provide resources to construct additional units and buildings or unlock certain units in an army's tech tree. Battles are won either by holding a certain number of control points for a period of time or by destroying all of the opposing armies' HQ structures. A number of special conditions are available to choose from to customize matches.
Two primary resources exist: requisition and power. These resources are not harvested or otherwise gathered by the player's units. Instead, requisition is generated constantly by the army headquarters. The player can increase the rate at which requisition is acquired by using infantry squads to capture and control "Strategic Points", "Critical Locations" and "Relics" on the battlefield. These points, with the exception of the "Critical Location", can be reinforced with defensive structures called Listening Posts that also increase the rate of requisition accumulation. Though resources are unlimited, all sources of requisition will eventually decay, dramatically decreasing their supply rate.
In addition to these primary resources, the Orks also have Ork resource. Ork resource is generated continuously by Waaagh! banners and is used up when creating Ork troops and vehicles. The number of banners and the size of the Ork population determines the Ork's Waaagh! level which in turn determines the technology level the player has access to.
Infantry units are not given orders as individuals; they move and attack as squads. Most fully reinforced squads consist of about eight individuals, although when they are first requisitioned, they usually have fewer. They can usually be equipped with special weapons and a specific leader, depending on the squad type. Squads can produce and replace their own units and weaponry anywhere in the field, but the player must wait a short period of time before new individuals, weapons, and leaders appear in the squad. Additionally, all races have commander units, which are general leaders or other units that can be attached to most squads, but are produced separately.
Vehicles are highly resistant to most standard infantry weaponry, so they must be targeted with specific heavy weapons (e.g. anti-tank rockets) to be destroyed. Vehicles can also be upgraded with multiple weapon systems, usually forcing a choice between either anti-infantry or anti-vehicle armaments. Walkers are a type of vehicle often armed with powerful heavy melee weapons, causing devastating damage in close combat.
In addition to a typical hitpoint system, infantry units also have morale. When in combat, squads take morale damage as well as health damage. However, morale applies to a squad as a whole. In addition to health, the morale of a squad heavily influences its combat ability. When morale drops to zero, the squad "breaks", which significantly reduces the squad's ranged accuracy, damage dealt in mêlée, and defensive capability. The squad's movement speed, however, is slightly increased to allow it to retreat. That said, the unit must still be ordered away from the combat for it to escape. The squad's morale will regenerate on its own while the squad is not in combat, and the squad will "regroup" and regain combat effectiveness once it reaches a certain threshold.