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Interview with Brent Disbrow on Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3

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Interview with Brent Disbrow on Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3

Editors Note – The transcription was done by Jonathan Rivera

Gaming Instincts Co-founder Leonid Melikhov sits down at E3 with the Campaign Lead from Relic Entertainment on the next entry of the Dawn of War franchiseLeonid Melikhov

Hello everybody. This is Leo from Gaming Instincts, the co-founder and journalist. Today, we’re going to be talking about Dawn of War 3 with?

Brent Disbrow

Brent Disbrow, Campaign Lead at Relic Entertainment.

Leonid Melikhov

Awesome Stuff. So, what would you like to tell us about the campaign in Dawn of War 3?

Brent Disbrow

Uh, so it’s really excited to be talking about finally. Uh, its very [a] strong epic story – the kind of thing that uh, our fans expect and we’re telling it from three perspectives which we’re really excited about. You know, we’ve got the Space Marines, the Orks and the Eldar. Uh, we’ve got Gabriel Angelos, the chapter master of the Blood Ravens and what we’re doing with the story is we’re telling it from his perspective. When it’s a Space Marine Mission we have similar heroes for the other two races and we’re interweaving those perspectives through the course of campaign. So, the first mission, for example, you play as a Space Marine, the next one in an Ork, the next one is an Eldar, which give you the opportunity to see thing you’ve in previous missions, but from someone else’s perspective.

Leonid Melikhov

I see. Um, what’s the biggest change from Dawn of War 2 to Dawn of War 3?

Brent Disbrow

Well, uh, probably uh, it’s the return of base building and large armies. The spectacular battles that people loved in Dawn of War 1, we were like, “Yeah, we want to do that!” And, but we really like the heroes from Dawn of War 2 and kind of like agency – the player agency that they brought to the field of battle. So we thought, “Well, let’s put those two together, add some new mechanics that we haven’t talked about yet”, but add some new mechanics to make Dawn of War 3 the special sauce that is.

Leonid Melikhov

Awesome! I was watching the demo and you guys had some cool, super elite heroes. Can you give us some more detail on that?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, absolutely. In the demo, what you saw were the Assault Terminators. It’s a trio of heavy, terminator armor wearing, heavy melee unit. Does a lot of damage up close and in order to offset the fact that they um, have to, they walk slow, they can teleport. They can teleport into enemy cover and really ruin their day from a surprise attack. Uh, then you’ve got Gabriel Angelos. He’s returning. He’s stronger than ever. He’s also got terminator armor and big demon-smashing hammer. You know, he’s got the God Splitter, which is a leaping attack which smashes enemies and knocks them back when he lands. We’ve got the, he’s got the Retribution, which is an energy dome that knocks enemies back does a lot of damage and forms a temporary shield that reflects the bullets and projectiles of the enemies. And then, of course, you’ve got Lady Slaria, the Imperial knight. The biggest unit we’ve ever had on the field of battle. She kicks a lot of a-, uh, a lot of butt. Uh…

Leonid Melikhov

You can say that. That’s alright.

Brent Disbrow

I can say ‘a lot of ass?’

Leonid Melikhov

You can say that. We’re fine with that.

Brent Disbrow

Okay. She kicks a lot of ass! She’s awesome. Uh, you know, she has two big abilities. she’s got Gatling guns for arms, so her first big ability is the Gatling Barrage. She leans back and just lets it rip with those two Gatling guns – just total destruction in front of her.

Leonid Melikhov

Yeah, I saw. That was pretty awesome.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah!

Leonid Melikhov

That process never gets old.

Brent Disbrow

No, it doesn’t get old at all. Um, and then the Iron Storm missile launch, um, you target up to six different targets, or drop six missiles on one target. Uh, either way, it’s bad news for the other guys. It’s a lot of fun to play with.

Leonid Melikhov

So, can you tell us maybe a little bit more about like, what kind of units or heroes the Orks could expect to have, or no?

Brent Disbrow

I can’t talk about that right now, but you know, what you saw in the demo um, you know, you it’s basically two units that would be sort of like, uh, the Assault Terminators and Gabriel Angelos. Those are kind of two early-game units, if you will, from an elite perspective. Slaria is kind of a late-game [unit]. We’re going to have that similar model of early, mid, late-game alite for the other races.

Leonid Melikhov

Also, different sizes. Small, big and…

Brent Disbrow

Absolutely. Yeah. Well, you probably saw it, right? You probably saw the story, the story trailer, right, uh, that we released six weeks ago, or something like that?

Leonid Melikhov

Yeah.

Brent Disbrow

You know, in that, we saw the Imperial knights going up against the Great knights for the Eldar. That’s, that’s the big unit we’re probably going to see for the Eldar.

Leonid Melikhov

I see. Um, so, what was the biggest challenge for you guys in Dawn of War 3 in terms of development. Was it about balancing the campaign with the base building and the hero phase? Was that probably the hardest thing to do?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah. You know, the studio had a lot of experience building one or the other, and so bringing the two together and making sure that uh, we made sure that there was counterplay for or against these elite units or against the ba, uh, the allied units that you build through your bases. Um, also, that there’s clarity of gameplay, making sure… well, okay, yeah, there’s a lot of units on screen. Fantastic! We want to make sure the players understand what’s happening every moment of the match. Yeah, that was a big one for us.

Leonid Melikhov

I see. Cool. Um, now, RTS. It’s a very particular genre and there’s people who, love it, and there are just people who don’t really care for it. I personally was born with RTS, well, I was born with a lot of things. You know, RTS, FPS back in the PC days. I played um, Warcraft and Starcraft, Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3. Where’s my Warcraft 4, Goddammit?

Brent Disbrow

[Laughs]

Leonid Melikhov

You know? All that stuff, but there’s not that many as there were back in the 90’s. I think we can all agree with that. So, I mean, Halo Wars 2 is coming out, but that’s more of a, you know, it’s a console thing. It’s, it’s still a RTS, but I’m talking about more of like a hardcore, like that old-school PC feel. You sit down and you’re probably going to play for hours. You will not go to bed for a while.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, fingers crossed.

Leonid Melikhov

You’re going to start playing a match, you’re like, “I need to do this.” Thirty, forty minutes later, you’re in an entire battle in the mutliplayer and yes I win. And then you play another one.

Brent Disbrow

Yes!

Leonid Melikhov

You know how that goes. So, how do you guys feel about making um, you know, just, how you guys want to re-egnite the RTS genre here? you know? Are you introducing anything in particular that no one else has done before? But I guess the combination of those thing you’re doing is pretty much the unique thing about Dawn of War.

Brent Disbrow

That’s one of the big unique things, um, that we’re talking about.

Leonid Melikhov

Do you have anything in particular for Esports or multiplayer? Have you guys ever looked at that, because Starcraft 2’s big on Esports and all that. Have you guys ever looked into that realm of gaming because Esports is getting huge?

Brent Disbrow

Esports is undeniably huge um, huge opportunity, you know. We’re focusing on the campaign. You’ve seen our campaign and we’ve got a really exciting multiplayer mode that we’re going to be talking on more in the year, you know, in the future. Yeah, expanding into those things is a definite possibility.

Leo: Definite possibility?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah.

Leonid Melikhov

So, maybe you have, in the future, some kind of a ranked play and then casual play modes?

Brent Disbrow

We’ll be able to talk about that more in the year.

Leonid Melikhov

Okay, sounds good because I, you know, I’m sure some people want other games than Starcraft 2 in terms of competitive. Because It’s like the only RTS right now to play terms of like, for money.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, Yeah.

Leonid Melikhov

So, why not jump into that crowd. I mean, Epic is doing Paragon for MOBAs. There’s a whole MOBA market, so I think you guys can maybe have some potential. I don’t know. So, we’ll see,I guess.

Brent Disbrow

You know what? If, if the fans like it enough and we think it’s the right opportunity, then yeah. It’s definitely on the table.

Leonid Melikhov

That’s cool.

Brent Disbrow

You know, we’re focusing on the product we’re talking about and it’s super exciting because, like you say, there’s not a lot of competition right now, but the competition that IS out there is very strong. So, [laughs]…

Leonid Melikhov

Yeah, but it also has its own issues.

Brent Disbrow

You sure?

Leonid Melikhov

And then people get all tired of that, [and say] well let me jump on a new game because it has these cool things. So…

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, Yeah.

Leonid Melikhov

Um, what is your personal favorite thing about Dawn of War 3?

Brent Disbrow

Personal favorite thing about Dawn of War 3? What do you mean?

Leonid Melikhov

In terms of maybe mechanics, or is it?

Brent Disbrow

Jeez, uh, you know what? I’m such a, [chuckles], a super fan of the missile launch for Slaria! I’m sorry. I know that’s kind of cheese ball, like, I know it’s the thing we just showed, but I can’t get enough of that. It brings back happy memories of anime and the sheer amount of carnage, uh, you know, the death from above. The faction mechanic of the Space Marines where you load up those drop pods and you drop them down whenever you want. I always get a kick out of the big surprises those cause, too. [Chuckles]

Leonid Melikhov

Right. Do you guys have destructable environments and how is the cover system working this time around?

Brent Disbrow

So, uh, you saw a bit of the destructability in the demo. Uh, when it comes to cover, what we’ve done is, is, we’re focusing on heavy cover. Uh, what we’re doing with the heavy cover is, uh, we want it, you know. With the scale of battle and with the number of units on the screen and that desire to bring clarity to gamers, we decided that, okay, let’s make heavy cover more about almost a temporary emplacement. So, you put your units in there, they’re safe from ranged fire, but the enemy has the counterplay of being able to send melee units in there, right? Or, like you saw in the demo, right, Assault Marines could jumpjet into it or Assault Terminators can teleport into that heavy cover. So there’s that counterplay and also heavy cover has a finite lifespan. It has its own health bar. When that heavy cover is gone, it’s gone forever. So, in multiplayer matches there’s a lot of play around those cover spots and that’s not the only cover we’re doing, but that’s the one we’re talking about right now.

Leonid Melikhov

Cool, awesome. Can you tell us a little bit more about the environments that we’re going to be in?

Brent Disbrow

No. [laughs]. Uh, what I can tell you is that Acron is, you know, a planet of ice and fire. That’s one of the environment sets. We’re going to have more to show and unveil later in the year.

Leonid Melikhov

As long as you have nice, green, lush environments, I’ll be happy. Will you have any of that, or something?

Brent Disbrow

[Chuckles] I can’t talk about it yet. I’m sorry. [Laughs].

Leonid Melikhov

Ah, that’s fine.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, but I think, uh, I think you’ll be happy with the stuff we’re working and going to be showing later in the year.

Leonid Melikhov

Okay. How long have you guys been in development for [on Dawn of War 3]?

Brent Disbrow

Uh, this team’s been working on this game around two and a half years.

Leonid Melikhov

That’s quite a good while, now. So, you’re coming out to end of the year, will be probably three years?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, yeah, probably. Yeah.

Leonid Melikhov

And you’re releasing next year, right?

Brent Disbrow

Yes.

Leonid Melikhov

So, about four years?

Brent Disbrow

Uh… Somewhere in that range, yeah. Three to fours years, you know. Um, I can’t really say exactly because that would give away… [Laughs] the releasing window.

Leonid Melikhov

That’s fine. I see. Do you guys thinking of doing the closed beta or something to test the servers? Anything like that?

Brent Disbrow

I think that’s stuff that we’re talking about internally, yeah. We’ll know more later in the year.

Leonid Melikhov

Okay, so it’s possible?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah!

Leonid Melikhov

Okay, cool. Awesome! So, what’s your favorite race to play as?

Brent Disbrow

My favorite race to play is the Orks. Uh, yeah [laughs]!

Leonid Melikhov

Same here!

Brent Disbrow

I just love their personality and just the sheer amount of goofiness on the field about them.

Leonid Melikhov

And all their just crazy contraptions and all that stuff.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, it’s fantastic.

Leo: Um, so we’re going to see a lot of blood and a lot of, you know, crazy things? IT’S Warhammer 40K.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah.

Leo: It’s kind of funny, I interviewed uh, another Warhammer game the other day. The Martyr – the action RPG. It’s looks pretty good.

Brent Disbrow

Nice!

Leo: So, now I’m doing this! Everything’s Warhammerthese days.

Brent Disbrow

It’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful time to be a Warhammer fan.

Leonid Melikhov

You know what I can’t wait for?

Brent Disbrow

What’s that?

Leonid Melikhov

Warhammer: Space Hulk.

Brent Disbrow

That looks really good.

Leonid Melikhov

Unreal Engine 4. Co-op play. Looks gorgeous.

Brent Disbrow

It’s going to be great:

Leonid Melikhov

I can’t wait to play that.

Brent Disbrow

Like, it’s a great time to be a Wahammer fan!

Leonid Melikhov

It is!

Brent Disbrow

Warhammer 40K just has this, lots of really cool explorations of it in different genres.

Leonid Melikhov

Right. I don’t care for the tabletop, but I just love the universe because it’s just perfect for video games and just whatever.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, it’s great fun.

Leonid Melikhov

Awesome. Now, this might be a little bit off topic, but I just want to get this on as a developer’s opinion and an industry opinion because I like to ask questions like that. You guys have probably seen the Project Scorpio announcement for Microsoft with all its crazy specs?

Brent Disbrow

Yeah.

Leonid Melikhov

How are you guys looking at this as a, um, as industry professionals? Where consoles are slowly starting to go away from cycle and more into these iterative design? Hey, we have, yeah, this. You can release a game that plays on these three different platforms depending on how much money you spend. You have different powers and all that and, you know, you’re a PC developer, so that’s kind of familiar with you. Um, how do you guys feel about that? Is it an interesting change for the industry, personally?

Brent Disbrow

Uh, it’s an interesting change for the industry. Um, you know, like you said, we’re PC guys and so. You know, our focus, when we make a PC game, is to make sure that that minimum spec game that we build for and the maximum spec, there’s a great experience for whoever owns it and I’m sure that, you know, uh, Microsoft is thinking the same thing. You know, I can’t really speak to it because I’m not developing for that console [Project Scorpio].

Leonid Melikhov

Have you guys ever thought about bringing out this game for consoles in any way, shape or form or, maybe, doing future projects, not necessarily Dawn of War, but just going on the console itself because consoles are really big right now. And there are a lot more PC oriented than the previous generations and I think they are becoming even more PC oriented in the future.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, I saw the Xbox One is gong to be supporting mouse and keyboards too, you know, which is exciting for me and I just, as a developer, you know. Relic makes PC games right now. That’s where our strengths are, where we’ve always done it. So, um, yeah, so is there a chance that might change in the future? Yeah, but, you know, right now we’re working focusing on what we do well.

Leonid Melikhov

Oh, that’s totally fine, but it’s exciting stuff. That’s why like to see what everyone says.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, absolutely.

Leonid Melikhov

It’s, I think it’s a good time to be alive, so.

Brent Disbrow

Yeah, no doubt!

Leonid Melikhov

With that being said, we’re going to be finishing up in 30 seconds or so. Is there anything else you would like to say about Dawn of War 3 before we leave?

Brent Disbrow

Well, you know what, we’ve been really working on it [for] a long time, we’re really excited to be sharing it with people. We hope that excitement is contagious, that everybody is going to be following us closely throughout the rest of the year. Uh, you know that machine you saw today? That, uh, E3 mention? We’re going to release that as a video on our YouTube and Twitch streams on June 24. So, people will be able to see what you saw as well on June 24. So, that will be pretty exciting.

Leonid Melikhov

Awesome, great stuff. Thank you so much, Brent!

Brent Disbrow

No worries. Thanks. Very nice to meet you!

Leonid Melikhov

You too.

Brent Disbrow

Cheers!

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