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AW4 (Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict is called this as an abbreviation) is the greatest multiplayer game in the series, and I've written close to 40000 words about it in my work-in-progress guide. It's not even halfway done yet. AW needs to keep a multiplayer focus because it can't compete with FE's universe.
boring_name is completely correct about AW4 not being dark and gritty. Let me sum it up for you: First arc (Beast): Guy and his gang kills people because he can. Second arc (Greyfield): Guy and his gang invades a country because he can. Presumably this is revenge for losing a previous war, but we're given no explanation as to what caused that war in the first place. Third arc (Caulder):Guy uses his viruses and superweapons on people because he can.
There's no rhyme or reason whatsoever for these actions except that in a world without law, people's natural instincts of dominance manifest themselves. Unfortunately, the plot didn't really delve into that. There were no morally ambiguous characters -- characters in which going with one decision or the other was acceptable. The plot made it so that The Beast was pure evil, Greyfield was pure evil, and Caulder was pure evil. That's not dark and gritty. Waylon was perhaps morally ambiguous, but he only had one level and the game didn't explore him too much: whatever feelings you felt for Waylon were erased when he had that childish chat with Will in C20.
The only time the plot approached dark and gritty was when Greyfield's survivors believed in The Cult, since that gave you a morally ambiguous choice in destroying The Cult's followers. They didn't know that The Cult was a ruse.
I'm pretty convinced that Intelligent Systems can't make up a story that makes you sympathize with the enemy. You didn't sympathize with Caulder. At least you could understand Von Bolt (in AW3) because he wanted immortality. For a post-apocalyptic story that has an enemy with logical reasons behind their dastardly deeds, see Fallout 2.
Easily the original universe. Didn't care much for Days of Ruin. Me and my friends clocked so many hours in Duel Strike. Days of Ruin was lame due to kinda lame units (well, it had the originals, but the newer units were meh) and lack of character choices.
If you believe in Jesus Christ, have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, and are 100% proud of it, put this in your sig.
DoR wasn't gritty, it was just some horrible anime-inspired claptrap with awful writing. Least the earlier ones knew this and didn't take itself seriously. Great balanced gameplay, probably the best of the bunch - you really had a chance with most COs, so it didn't degrade into a Colin Zerg rush.
"There's nothing like the feeling of slamming a long silver bullet into a well-greased chamber."(Revolver Ocelot,MGS) -Sick metaphor ahoy!