Gameplay remains the same in line with the previous titles, except for the new aerial units that do not follow these rules.
Each race is given a new aerial unit which does not obey the normal rule of engagement in the Dawn of War series.
- Chaos Space Marines gain the Hell Talon
- Eldar gain the Nightwing
- Imperial Guard gain the Marauder Bomber
- The Necron Tomb Spider's Attack Scarabs have been granted flight ability and Necron Lord receives the C'tan Deceiver entity.
- Orks gain the Fighta Bomba
- Space Marines gain the Land Speeder Tempest
- Tau gain the Barracuda
A Warp Storm surrounds the Kaurava system, isolating it from all forms of contact. The nine races drawn to investigate arrive in the system with their own fleets and conflicting intentions. However, the Warp Storm wreaks havoc with their navigational systems and strands them on the four planets and three moons of the system. The nine factions are then forced to battle between planets to ultimately conquer the planetary system and discover the reason for the warp storm.
If the Kaurava System is conquered by Chaos, the player learns the reason of the Warp Storm: an ignorant Imperial Guardsman with latent psyker genes was whispered to by the Chaos Gods, to prepare a ritual. He unknowingly summons the Alpha Legion to Kaurava System.
As with predecessor Dark Crusade, Soulstorm features a "meta-campaign" featuring 31 territories spread over four planets and three moons.
One difference however, is that unlike Dark Crusade, there are no persistent bases. Once you conquer a province, the base structures you have built up will not be present in future conflicts. This can be remedied by reinforcing provinces you own with buildings and units in between battles, or by establishing a forward base using the Sisters of Battle army ability.
Multiplayer remains the same as in previous titles, with players given the ability to either play via LAN or on the Gamespy network. A new 'medal' system has been added that provides rewards for certain player milestones (5-to-1 kill ratio, etc), but doesn't appear to actually function upon initial install and play in multiplayer. It is assumed this problem will be addressed when an official patch is released along with other various bug fixes and corrections to the game.
Along with the previous seven races, Dawn of War: Soulstorm introduces two new races.
Appearing as a twisted reflection of the wiser and spiritual Eldar, the debauched Dark Eldar prowl the galaxy as pirates and mercenaries, where they can indulge their wanton passion for brutality in bloody combat against other races across the stars. Hailing from the dark city of Commorragh, where wandering shadows tear apart the unwary, the Dark Eldar use the Webways of their people to travel anywhere in the cosmos, making war wherever they see fit.
The Dark Eldar are what is left of the thrill seekers and sense-addicts of the Eldar empire, that formed pleasure cults to indulge themselves in all manner of forbidden and profane desire. Their hedonism and lack of restraint brought ruin to the Eldar, for the pain and torment they inflicted birthed the Chaos God Slaanesh, enemy of the Eldar race. Thousands of Eldar worlds were ravaged, and trillions of Eldar fell to Chaos, their souls consumed by She Who Thirsts, or to infighting between the Craftworld Eldar and their corrupt brethren. The Dark Eldar were defeated and cast away, where they were isolated on Commorragh and cursed by Slaanesh.
This curse, known as the Thirst, gives the Dark Eldar an all-consuming need to drink the souls of other beings. To continue their existence, the Dark Eldar make war all over the universe, applying the scholarly traits of their race to channel this thirst into horrible powers they can call down on their enemies. They also maintain the speed and marksmanship the Eldar are known for, but they lack the hearty resilience of other races. It is a grave sorrow for the worlds that fall under the Dark Eldar's baleful eye, for they will know unending torment at the hands of their merciless conquerors.
Sisters of Battle
The Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, known informally as the Sisters of Battle, are the female warriors of the Adeptus Ministorum, the church of the Imperium commonly called the Ecclesiarchy. This group venerates the God-Emperor of Mankind, who sits immortal on the Golden Throne. Thousands of psykers go to their deaths on a daily basis to sustain the Emperor, and in return for this terrible price he protects the human race from their implacable foes.
The Sisters of Battle are primarily concerned with seeking out and purging heretics and rogue psykers, viewing them as unclean abominations. They are also responsible for converting humans on inhabited worlds to worship the God-Emperor of Mankind, which they accomplish through their Missionary units. Their intense zealotry allows them to channel the Emperor's will into devastating abilities called Acts of Faith, allowing them to quickly turn the tide against dangerous adversaries.
Every Ecclesiarchal warrior wears power armor not dissimilar to their brethren in the Space Marines, though they lack the latter's cybernetic upgrades or genetic altering. In battle they tend to favor heat flame-based weapons for their purifying effect. This makes them especially dangerous to infantry units, who crumble easily in direct assault against the Sisters of Battle. Finally, the Adepta Sororitas can call upon their Living Saint, a venerated warrior borne on wings who smites the heretics with bursts of Holy Flame.
In Dawn of War a basic un-upgraded Sisters of Battle squad is closer to a squad of Imperial Guardsmen than a squad of Space Marines, though they do have high morale, their health is quite low when compared to other tier one units available for a similar price. This is because the sisters lack the space marine's genetic and cybernetic upgrades which also limits them to slightly less powerful power armor compared to the ones worn by the space marines which rely on the cybernetic implants to function effectively.