In fact, Dawn of War 2 directly borrows graphical and gameplay elements from Company of Heroes. For instance, CoH's cover system--wherein cover was rated with colored shields, and soldiers' future positions were marked with green dots--is exactly copied in Dawn of War 2. Sticky bombs and grenades are deployed with timers in exactly the same fashion as the World War II shooter.
No longer a traditional RTS, developer Relic has actually deviated from the genre even more with this project than they did with Company of Heroes. Dawn of War 2 could now be described as a small-scale tactical RTS, with a surprising amount of RPG flavor.
The heroes can be equipped in an RPG-like character loadout screen. Weapons, armor and accessories--all either found in battle or gained as mission rewards--can then be equipped before battle. The accessories are limited-use abilities, such as orbital strikes or a high-powered shot power. The armor and weapons were quite cool: the force commander, a melee specialist, was equipped with a massive Thunder Hammer. Each piece will have a set of statistics, including ratings such as Damage Per Second.
The single player story features a branching mission structure. Several missions can be chosen from at any given time, each with its own story and rewards. Other than weapons or armor, rewards also come in the form of experience points, which boost the level of the squads. The demo level had a reward of 845 XP.
The missions available to choose from were "assassination" or "defend"; our demonstrator chose the former, the goal being to kill a giant ork named Bonecrusher. Relic is attempting to make each level and scenario feel like a piece of the story that matters. To whit, a short cinematic of Bonescrusher played before the level loaded, and the map itself was given a dramatic flyby before gameplay began.
Battles will often offer players secondary goals, such as capturing shrines. Though heavily defended, shrines will offer both short term and long term rewards--they immediately allow you to reinforce your troops, but they also offer you persistent traits, such as a mana bonus that carries over into another battle.
Relic is holding multiplayer details back for now, though they did mention that the online gameplay will be powered by Games for Windows Live, so expect matchmaking and achievements. The single player campaign will also support two player co-op, and the Eldar race has been confirmed for the title in the recent CG trailer.
Dawn of War 2 is slated for a PC release in early 2009.