Since the Dawn of War 2 beta is exclusively mutliplayer, I am going to have to rely almost entirely on information I have found from secondary sources (i.e. not actual gameplay).
According to sources, the Dawn of War 2 single player is much more than a simple real time strategy game. For starters, this games does away completely with the construction of base elements. You won't have a headquarters in this version of DOW.
Thoughtful gamers might now ask, "But how do I build forces if I don't have an HQ?" The simple answer is that you don't build forces in this game.
To find the reasoning behind this, I really think that we need to look to the tabletop version of Warhammer 40000. I think I read somewhere the the developers tried to incorporate elements from this popular board game for this installment of Dawn of War and if it is true it makes a lot of sense why you don't build units or have an HQ in this game.
In Warhammer 40000 you start each battle with a set number of points which you can buy units for your battle. You start with these units in your deployment zone and your enemy starts with his units in his deployment zone. You then square off in your battle of strategy and tactics - loosing units as you inflict loses on your enemies units.
You never build more units (unless of course you have agreed with your opponent to have a certain number of "reinforcements" come into the game) and you certainly don't have an HQ.
You might have certain objectives that you are trying to accomplish in the tabletop version of Warhammer 40000; you might want to take a hill, or inhabit a couple buildings, or defend a particularly valuable location. But in most cases all you are really concerned about is inflicting the greatest amount of damage on your opponent that you possibly can while avoiding losses to your own squads of Space Marines, Orks, Tryanids, etc.
So, the Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 2 single player campagin appears to be an attempt by Relic, THQ, and the Warhammer franchise at porting the tabletop version of the game into a computer. You won't have an HQ but instead will get to choose which units you will take into combat at the beginning of each battle. It does appear like you will be able to reinforce your units, but only if you have captured certain objectives in the specific engagement you are on.
Fortunately, the units that you have access to throughout the campaign persist - meaning that the unit of Tactical Marines you used in the first battle are going to be the same unit of Tactical Marines available in the second battle. This is great because it allows players to experience an element of role playing and character attachment in the game. Initially, there are four units/leaders that you have to choose from. They are:
Tarkus - Tactical Marines
Avitus - Devestator Marines
Cyrus - Scouts
Thaddeus - Assault Marines
Each leader can be equipped with unique armor and weapons in addition to gaining experience and more advanced abilities. As the single player campaign progresses, players will be forced to make choices about which units to bring into battle, how to equip them, and what mix of tactical options they want on the battle field to face certain threats.
This type of system I think will add the following elements to DOW 2 single player:
- Increased knowledge of units and their special abilities
- Better use of tactics and more "advanced" style of play (as opposed to the "immature" blob style)
- More interesting strategic decisions concerning which units to give experience
- More immersive game experience
Overall, I think that these characteristics will make playing this version of the game very, very enjoyable. I want to be able to build up one unit and to become a master at how to use it. I want to be able to customize squads for the needs at hand.
For example, a squad of Tactical Marines with a flamer is going to be a must when facing the swarming Tryanids, but maybe I want to also include a Devestator squad as well to suppress the swarm. These types of decisions are going to be what make this version of the game fun.
Again, I will probably be going to make my purchase based solely upon the Dawn of War 2 multiplayer, but it is good to know that if ever I grew tired of slaying other players I could always get my Ork and Eldar slaying fix in the DOW 2 single player campaign.