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Community member Surrealitycheck luckily got a hands on playtest and had a chance to talk to Jonny Ebbert! Lucky!
Anyway, he posted up a report on his experience with the game, so you should definitely check this out!
NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST OF UNITS
Many units are summoned in as special abilities rather than built.
I talked to the MIGHTY JOHNNY EBBERT and he said that the demo would probably be out after the game was published, and the multiplayer beta would be out a little before for those who had soulstorm.
Having arrived a little early due to anticipated Tube delays not rearing their heads (miracle) I found that the event was already happening. The gleaming dome of a certain relic designer betrayed his presence, and I was ushered to a computer and began poking around.
The computers were Dell XPS of no particular note. Specs were as follows:
- 2GB ram - Geforce 8800 GTX - Quad-core P4s at 2.4/2.6 (can't remember)
The graphics settings were all turned up to high (but not ultra) and the game ran smooth as silk. No visible slowdown for me at all, and the game looked very good.
The ARMY PAINTER (ohnoes)
The army painter is actually extremely simple, slightly to my disappointment. For all races other than space marines you pick 4 colors (primary, secondary, trim and somethingelse) and that's it. For SPESSS MEHRINES you can also select 4 different color application patterns (conventional, vertical split, alternated vertical split, and horizontal split with different colored legs + boots). There's not much more to it than that, although you can give your army a pleasing name.
Having produced 4 suitably purple factions (Hive Fleet Wat, The Boyz of Wat, the Wat Guard and the Wat-tan craftworld) I set off to find multiplayer fun and adventure. Unfortunately there was no inter-personal conflict at this particular event, possibly for technical reasons - although I don't have a definite answer why. Thus all my experience was with the perfectly reasonable AI and the single player. This means that any pronouncements I make about tactics, balance or anything else of that ilk should be taken with an enormous helping of sodium chloride to prevent misinformation resulting in unfortunate errors on February 20th.
The rest of the write-up is being written atm, just thought i'd update with that as I stitch in sections.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts about each of the factions in multiplayer after a short discussion of unit values, etc.
The average early-game unit costs between 240 and 300 requisition. This is enough to get you 8 boyz of the shoota or slugga variety, ripper swarms, hormagaunts, termagants or a squad of guardians. Space marines are exceptionally expensive; a 3-man tactical squad will set you back 500 requisition straight away (although you start with a little over that, so at least you can get it out).
At the beginning of a game you start with your commander and a basic unit.
Space marines: Your commander + 3 scouts Tyranids: your commander + 8 hormagaunts Eldar: Your commander + 8 guardians Orks: Your commander + 8 SLUGGA BOYZ
The pop cap is not quite what it seems. All sides have 100 pop cap; however, each race makes vastly different demands on it. Each space marine in a tactical squad is worth five pop cap. This means a full cap space marine army is extremely small and powerful. Tyranids, on the other hand, seem to average 2 pop cap per squiggly unit, maybe less. 3 Terminators will set you back twenty-four pop cap.
HP is scaled somewhat to this. Tactical marines have 400 hp each, but this is exceptional. Hormagaunts have about 800 each, and most commanders have between 600 and 1000 at level 1. Vehicles are also roughly around that level, although they have an armour type that makes it count for a lot more!
Veterancy is major
Going from level 1 to level 2, a space marine squad goes from 1200 hp to 1560 hp.
To me this suggests that relic are deliberately trying to let you keep your early game units competitive by a combination of strong upgrades and the levelling mechanic. Level 10 slugga boyz would presumably be able to beat the snot out of level 1 nobz! The games I played against the CPU meant that the highest unit I saw was level 3, and the highest commander level 6 - but I'm pretty sure one can go above that.
As I don't really have a structure for this I'm going to jump right in to a description of each army.
The tyranids are odd fish. Unlike every other faction only their synapse units gain vet - the liddle hormagaunts and termagants don't have XP bars. This to me suggests a British-style "synapse units give out stronger synapse" style deal, but I have no objective evidence for this assertion. They are extremely cheap - 270 req per early game unit - and here are your tiers and possible build options.
Tier 1: Ripper swarms (240 req), Termagants (270 req), Hormagaunts (270 req), Tyranid Warriors (400 req + 10-40 power (can't remember)
Tier 2: Lictors (~350 requisition, 45 power) and Zoanthrope (300-400 req, ~90 power)
Tier 3: Carnifex (~500 req 200 power), Ravener Brood (400 req 75 power (very rough figures))
The tiers cost about 250 req 50 power for the first upgrade, and 350-400 and 90 power for the second. The carnifex is the notional "relic unit" but it is worth noting it has no squad cap. I had 4 on the map at one time, albeit with a bit of turtling to get the power necessary. Power is the real limiting factor early game, and it is worth noting that econ harassment is absolutely essential to get ahead. power plants are built at power nodes over the map, and you can capture the other side's power plants if you simply cap the node rather than laying waste to the plants. This means you can either opt for a harassment strategy of shooting up the plants or a full out domination strategy of trying to make them yours.
Oddly enough, the small tyranid units have no biomorphs (at least none I could see), which seems a bit of a missed opportunity to me. Maybe however their job as pure cannon fodder is being emphasised - they are vastly cheaper than other races units. You will be pleased to hear that Without Number makes its appearance as a reinforcement power based on biomass which spawns 30 pop caps worth of titchy tyranids in your base at a reduced requisition cost but at a biomoss cost.
Biomass is like waagh, zeal and (I have no idea what the eldar one is called, I didn't clock it) and builds up as you fight and kill. Abillities you execute that cost biomass reduce your bar, but it seems to fill up vastly faster late game (presumably due to the increased value of the kills).
The hive Tyrant is noticably slow in comparison to the other two heroes. He does have a lot of health, however, and seems to kick the crap out of anything he gets next to. I'll make a note about how his wargear works in another section, as the system is a little confusing, but suffice to say he has stuff you'd expect - extended carapace, psychic scream, bioplasma etc. He seems a strong melee tank commander with decent support powers, including a pheromone cloud that automatically heals and reinforces tyranid units inside.
He's very nasty. He's most analogous to the warp spider, but he can lay tunnels. And these tunnels can be used by your allies. I'll describe how wide the range of allied behaviour is later on, but suffice to say the teamwork opportunities here are amazing. He has a ranged attack which can be upgraded to ravage vehicles, and a melee splash attack if you feel like it. He seems like a high damage hit and run commander with some nice utility worked in.
An odd fish, even more so than the other two. He obviously has the glorious flesh hooks (which to me feel a little cheesy, as you can simply yank an enemy commander over to your assembled forces and compel a retreat. If they don't retreat the commander will simply be torn to shreds. I think it might be nerfed a lil'), but he also possesses infiltration (which drains his energy while in use, unless you get the chameleon scales wargear). He has a bizarre option called Loner which gives him increased damage when he's not near any of your units, making him quite an enjoyably vicious commander killer. His description as "Ambush" seems to be pretty fair, as in a sustained fight he seems to suffer a little. Shares many support powers with the other two.
About those support powers;
The tyrannoforming support power heals and buffs tyranid units inside its area of effect, debuffing enemy units. It's a biomass ability, and seemingly very powerful. The other abilities that spring to mind are mycetic spores for the hive tyrant (summons a unit of warriors as well as ravaging any units in the area of effect), bio-plasma for the hive tyrant (aoe damage somewhat akin to a plasma cannon, costs energy on use) and fleet of claw for the ravager (speeds him up, glorious name).
The minor tyranid units have some synergy designed into them. Hormagaunts do extra damage when in big swarms and in synapse, and termagants make targets more vulnerable while shooting at them and can knockdown enemy units when in synapse range. There also seem to be different kinds of synapse. Warriors can be upgraded with different weapons which impart different types of synapse, namely ranged, melee and durability (?) synapse. Each buffs a different aspect of the creatures under its control. There are also upgrades for the other synapse creatures that seem to alter the effects of their synapse on the units around them.
The carnifex is absolutely brutal. He's immune to small arms fire (like the tanks), and can be upgraded with a venom cannon (which seems to absolutely ravage enemy armour at truly bizarre speeds), thornback (gives him a charge and a melee boost - seems to be the most expensive by far) and somethingelse which I can't remember at the moment. He is a little slow, however.
I will put my cards on the table. The orkz are by far the most flavoursome army in the game at the moment. Everything about them is funny, from the evil grot eyes staring out of their base turrets to your gretching battle announcer imparting pearls of wisdom such as "Boss! Dey've blown the... the... FING up!!!!". They are also gleefully fun to play with.
Their tiers + units:
Tier 1: Shoota boyz (270 req), slugga boyz (270 req), Stikkbommaz (310 req, 10 power - enough to make them a slightly delayed unit) and STORMBOYZ (300-400 req, 20-40 power)
Tier 2: Trukk (not sure on req, 45-90 power) and Loota Boyz Tier 3: Nob Squad (400 req 110 power) and LOOTED TANK (310 req, 100-150 power)
Unlike the tyranids all ork units get veterancy. Shoota boyz seemed to me to be vastly more useful in the early game than slugga boyz, but perhaps that's just my dakka tendencies showing. Their guns sound like submachine guns, very meaty. I didn't get to give stikkbommaz and stormboyz a proper go, but you can upgrade the other 2 boyz squads with nob leaders and speshul weapunz as you upgrade your HQ. If you zoom in on them while they fight you can hear them saying stuff like "DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA AHHAHAHAHA" and "NUTZ TA YOU, WE'Z OUTTA HERE".
Even the basic orc units have some kind of synergy. Slugga boyz get a WAAAGH cry that has an exponentially greater effect depending on how many other slugga squads there are around them. Shoota boyz seem to get an ability called "Aiming? Wotz dat" wen you give them a big shoota.
Their special resource is WAAAAGH, directly analogous to zeal and biomass.
The three heroes were:
The Kommando is a strong ranged infiltrator. He had a selection of amusing grenades, some unlocked by upgrading and stun grenades by default. The stun grenades seem especially insane early game, guaranteeing total annihilation of weak squads like guardians by your trusty boyz. He can summon kommandoz onto the battlefield at the cost of waagh and can be upgrade to a speshul knife, a close-combat shotgun or a (and i'm not making this up) a triple-barrelled scatter rokkit-launcher. The last one seemed to kill infantry as easily as it killed buildings and vehicles - very orky!
I didn't get to try him, but he has abilities such as allowing the units around him to reinforce and heal, summon extra boyz, that kind of thing. He's apparently a strong melee tank type hero in the vein of the hive tyrant.
He's somehwat like the kommando in that he's ranged (one of his upgrades is the ingeniously named "deff gun", which we are informed is strong against infantry due to killing them) but he can drop turrets and healing/reinforcement points. Turrets are strong, and reinforcement points are extremely useful as both you and your allies can use them as retreat points. The teamplay element is very very strong in this game!
The waagh abilities that I remember are the aforementioned "rokz" (drops rokz on dem).
All in all the orkz feel very solid to play. The games I used them in didn't last long enough to get to nobz and looted tanks, so somebody else will have to fill you in on those.
And now we come to the Pointy-eared naughties, the Eldar. Just like in the original Dow, they seem a faction that rewards micro over and above the others. They are fragile and fast, and seem to do very decent damage.
Units and Tiers
Tier 1: Guardians (270 req), Howling Banshees (400-odd req, small power requirement), Shuriken cannon teams (240 req maybe?) and Warp Spiders (400 req, 45-100 power)
Tier 2: , Falcon Grav-tanks (300-400 req, 100-130 power) Wraithlord (400 req, 110 power?)
Tier 3: Avatar (500 req, 200 power), D-cannon platforms (240-300 req, some power) and Fire Prisms (400 req, 200 power maybe?)
Guardians are cheap, weak, but reasonably damaging. They certainly feel like decent early-game support troops, and can be upgraded with extra health and armour. Interestingly enough, it seems that the early-game eldar play will revolve around their shurken cannon teams to make up for the fact that the guardians are fairly weak - again allowing a higher skill cap for the eldar player in comparison to the other factions. Howling banshees are nasty and ninja. Warp spiders seem reasonably good but I didn't get to play with them very much, so can't really pass adequate judgement on them. Didn't build a falcon either.
The avatar, on the other hand, is absolutely fucking insane. He has six thousand hp, and two extremely powerful abilities (a line damage move rather like living saints, and the aoe move demonstrated in the video. His sword seems to make short work of vehicles as well as infantry. He's also the only hardcapped unit I've found and makes eldar around him immune to suppression. He's so good in fact that it feels to me like he's there to make up for the fairly weak eldar infantry - ie late-game eldar are being balanced around the assumption that you have this ugly fellow around messing people up.
I didn't get to play with him much, but he feels like a combat farseer. He shares eldritch storm with her, but also possesses conceal (an ability cast on a friendly unit) and seems to have a reasonably strong ranged attack.
Now this fellow is nasty. He has some nifty togglable wargear, including some energy-draining heavy guage spinner fibre that does extra damage, and his most important ability; to teleport other squads with him when he jumps, including allied units. This means that you can use your commander to teleport your allied tyranids' carnifex right into somebody's big blob of ranged units or what have you.
Didn't play her, but she seemed a reasonably strong melee character with very disruptive psychic abilities. Quite vulnerable though.
Will add more when I can think of what to say about the space elves :<
The emperor's finest are indeed pretty fine in multiplayer; hard to kill, damaging and pretty simple to use.
Tier 1: Tactical Squad (500 req), Devastator heavy bolter squad (370 req, spawns what is effectively a "weapons team" from what I remember - has to be setup), scouts (270-350 req), assault marines (500 req + 45 power I think, could be very wrong on cost)
Tier 2: Razorback (300 req, 45-50 power), Devastator Plasma Cannon squad (not sure on cost)
Tier 3: Predator (400-500 req, 110 power)
Space marines are popcap heavy, and you will be quite limited in squad numbers early game if you don't invest in lots of scouts as those tac squads are expensive. However, they will absolutely pee on anything they find early game, so if you don't need to cover that much territory it might even out. The tac squads can be upgraded with flamers at tier 1 for 40 req 20 power, and plasma guns at tier 2 as well as sergeants. The sergeants give them "And they will Know no Fear" which I think slows them down but makes them immune to suppression. Assault marines are very much like the single-player assault marines, with their big JUMP SPLAT jump abilities. I didn't use them that much.
Terminators and Dreadnaughts are summoned via zeal. They are both very very nasty. 3 Terminators is the equivalent of a quarter of another faction's army.
Space Marine Heroes
Melee tank hero, no surprises here. Didn't use him myself, can't really comment beyond that.
Quite damaging ranged support hero. He can be upgraded with several different weapons depending on role (a plasma gun and 2 different master-crafted bolters), the bolters either giving him a suppressing shot or boosting the ranged damage of nearby infantry when the ability is activated. The turrets take up 5 pop cap, cost 200 req and 30 power and absolutely ravage infantry. They have a limited arc of fire that cannot be changed, but if you can get people in front of them they will pay for themselves and more. His healing and reinforcing structure also acts as a retreat point, has a similar cost, and fully affects your allies. It is so good I almost thought it encroached on the apothecary's territory.
The venerable dreadnought is stompy indeed.
Didn't use him, so can't really say 8(
General Mechanics Stuff
On to more general stuff.
There don't seem to be CoH style "sectors". If you hold a point, you get the requisition / power from it. Power points are not quite as simple as they seem, however.
When you first cap a point, you get a nominal power increase. You have to pay 125 req to upgrade it, at which point you can start buying up to 4 power plants around it. This increases it to eventually about 25 power income. This is the obvious economic problem of "should I risk my early game for a strong late game". This is compounded by the detail that if your enemies capture one of your power points they benefit fully from the generators you built. This makes it a risk.
Power is the major limitation on tech and upgrades. Almost all wargear and unit upgrades cost about 25-70 power. This makes them big early-game investments - especially when compared to how cheap the tiers are (45 and 90 power respectively, universal for all factions AFAIK).
Tanks are fully CoH-style, complete with reversing and REAR ARMOUR HIT. They seem to be very hard countered by anti-tank weapons, too.
Shuriken cannon teams, loota boyz and devastator squads behave like company of heroes' weapon teams in that they have an arc of fire, facing and setup time.
Wargear for heroes is a little complicated. Most heroes have about 10-12 pieces of wargear they can buy, each piece representing a significant investment (normally about 100-150 req and 20-100 power). The most important thing is this, however;
many pieces are mutually exclusive.
This means you can't just pick everything and turn your hero into a god - if you want the gun that gives your friends a bonus to shootiness, you lose out on your suppression shot ability, or if you take the shotgun you lose the rokkit launcher. You never lose the option to switch weapon loadout - if you upgrade away from one weapon to another the list is repopulated with the weapon you just lost.
Examples of wargear for the ravener;
Claws that weaken the opponent when you hit them, slowing them
Claws that add melee splash damage
a ranged attack that does extra damage to vehicles
Adrenal glands that increase energy
Armour that slows attackers
Examples of wargear for the kommando
Semi-suicide bomb (sends him flying and does damage to him, but does MASSIVE damage to everybody around him)
SPESHUL ASSASSIN KNIFE
Better gear for more health and energy
Some bits of wargear grant abilities - for example the heavy gauge spinnarets upgrade for the warp spiders grants him the option of toggling extra damage against heavy targets at the loss of energy. Most heroes have some kind of energy shield ability.
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