Full disclosure: One of my favorite genres is Real Time Strategy, and 2006’s Company of Heroes is easily one of my favorite games in that genre. The perfect balance between accessibility, complex systems, and historical accuracy resonates on so many levels as a video game enthusiast. It was a pleasure to sit down and try out the single player campaign of Relic Entertainment’s long-awaited follow up, Company of Heroes 2 at the Sega booth at E3.
While the original game focused on the allied assault from D-Day to the end of the European campaign, this one covers the Eastern front; the site of some of the bloodiest and most brutal combat the world has ever known. Aside from the absolutely stunning detail in the visuals, there are three primary components which Relic has added to this game. The first one is ‘Cold Tech’, which factors the brutal cold of the Russian winter into combat — Ice breaks and refreezes, snow has depth that can impede progress, and blizzards can decimate exposed units. The second component is ‘True Line of Sight’, in which a unit can only see as far and wide as it would in real life. This addition increases the need for tactical awareness at all times because enemies could literally be right around the corner. The final addition is simply ‘Vaulting’, which improves the movement options for units.
The section I played was a middle chapter of the single-player campaign. I took control of Russian forces as we retook a city and had to defend it from a German counterattack. Many of the basic commands and unit types are similar to COH 1, but with the new environmental factors it felt like a new kind of experience. All of a sudden, a frozen river became a death trap as a well-placed grenade could cause a tank to sink to the icy waters below. In the end, I successfully defended the town but it was not easy. The enemy AI is much improved in this installment, and I shudder to think what they have in store in later levels.
Company of Heroes 2 will be released on June 25, 2013 on PC.