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Company of Heroes 2 - PC

Company of Heroes 2
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Genre:
  • Developer: Relic
  • Release Date:Dec 31, 2013
  • # of Players:1 player
  • ESRB:M - Mature (Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence)
  • Platforms:
Game Description: Company of Heroes 2 takes the popular RTS seriesto the Eastern Front, putting players in control of the Soviet army during World War II.
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Company of Heroes 2 First Look Preview -- New and Improved WWII Strategy, Now with More Russian Front!
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Article_77341

Company of Heroes 2 First Look Preview -- New and Improved WWII Strategy, Now with More Russian Front!

By Jake Gaskill - Posted May 22, 2012

It’s been six years since Relic Entertainment released its award-winning World War II real-time strategy title Company of Heroes for PC. Since then, the team has released two expansion packs for COH, a COH MMO, and several iterations in the Warhammer series, including last year’s Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. In other words, they’ve hardly been lounging around. The studio’s clear lack of complacency became even more apparent during THQ’s recent pre-E3 showcase where Relic walked us through a live playthrough of its upcoming strategy sequel, Company of Heroes 2.


Not having played the original COH, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into the demonstration, at least in terms of how what was being shown and the previous game, but creative director Quinn Duffy laid out the team’s goal quite clearly during his opening address.

“When we started looking at Company of Heroes 2,” Duffy explained, “what we realized is we didn’t want to do different. We wanted to do more. It was about providing more authenticity and more realism and more immersion and more of the dynamic tactical battles that Company of Heroes is known for.”

To achieve this ambitious feat, Relic developed new tools, new gameplay features, and even changed the theater of war--the game is set in Russia, aka the Eastern Front--to give the game its own unique look and feel. One of the most significant new tools is the Essence Engine 3, which gives the developers the graphical power they need to bring COH2’s deeper and richer gameplay to life. We got to see the power of the new engine first hand when the demo booted up, and the producer driving the game zoomed in and in and in, past a slew of frozen, bare trees, until the camera was mere inches away from his troops.

The level of detail on the troops, from their winter fatigues to the way they each mill about with unique animations, was pretty remarkable, and when the mortars started raining down, rumbling the theater around us as explosions sent snow and dirt cascading into the sky as the troops scrambled through the dead forest looking for cover, the new engine made its capabilities quite clear. Because you’re able to get so close to the action, the game has a much more “actiony” feel than a standard RTS. So when we watched the troops storm a nearby farmhouse and burn it, and its occupants, to the ground, it hit much harder than it would have had we been forced to watch it play out from a static position high up in the sky.

Company of Heroes 2

In terms of battlefield additions, COH2 includes a number of major features that drastically change how the game is played and the strategies it allows players to employ in the heat of battle. For instance, soldiers can now vault over walls. Not only does this make soldiers much more maneuverable in terms of assaulting enemy positions, but it also means soldiers can take cover from incoming munitions much more naturally and more quickly.

Of course, cover doesn’t last long in COH2, as the game features fully destructible environments, which an enemy tank was kind enough to demonstrate first via a turret blast and second via its tracks as it drove straight through the remaining bit of a stone wall some allies had a few seconds earlier been using for cover. It’s this ever-changing battlefield idea that Relic is really trying to drive home with COH2, and from the bits we saw, they are well on their way.

Another big addition is a feature called ‘true sight.” This sort of works like the fog of war in the old XCOM games, where you can’t see beyond what your troops can see. But rather than simply being represented by a simple circle surrounding your guys, COH2’s system is actually based on the eye lines of your soldiers. To demonstrate this, our driver moved a unit back and forth through a clump of trees. As the troops maneuvered through and around the trees, the greyed out areas around the edge of the screen undulated and shifted in an almost liquid-like way, revealing new areas while concealing others.

As you’d imagine, this system also adds a tremendous amount of tension to battlefield traversal since, as in many an RTS, enemy forces aren’t visible until your units spot them. The threat of accidentally stumbling across a tank position or a machine gun nest should be enough to force players to think before they act. This of course represents one of the team’s main objectives with COH2, mainly that “victory should be tactical,” according to Duffy.

Company of Heroes 2

As you’d imagine, this system also adds a tremendous amount of tension to battlefield traversal since, as in many an RTS, enemy forces aren’t visible until your units spot them. The threat of accidentally stumbling across a tank position or a machine gun nest should be enough to force players to think before they act. This of course represents one of the team’s main objectives with COH2, mainly that “victory should be tactical,” according to Duffy.

Another battlefield feature players will have to take into account in COH2 is snow. As the fighting takes place in the chilly environs of the Eastern Front, you’ll be fighting across vast stretches of frozen land. Aside from the visual joy of seeing boot marks and tank tracks (another source of tension since spotting said tracks will be a good indication that danger is rear), the snow also factors in strategically as it will slow down troops moving through it. Of course, cutting through deep snow can provide an advantage if used to, say, flank an enemy position, and is a much wiser decision than charging quickly up a clear road, despite the speed it affords.

For COH fans, there’s a lot to be excited about in this latest installment. That core RTS experience appears to be in tact, and Relic has obviously made a significant effort to push what COH lovers, and RTS fans in general, have come to expect from the series and the genre. We’ll have plenty of time to see if this ambitious effort pays off as the game isn't slated for release until 2013.

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