At last, the long wait for Company of Heroes 3 is over. Exciting times for those already in the know, but why should you – a humble real-time strategy fan who may not have played the series previously – pick up a copy now it’s out?
There’s no need to invent some elaborate reason, as Company of Heroes 3 genuinely offers some big innovations and idiosyncratic features to both the series and the genre as a whole. You can see for yourself on your own PC, by grabbing a copy from Steam (though be sure to check you meet the Company of Heroes 3 system requirements first), but we’ve put together a quick guide to this brave new world of RTS goodness.
This latest instalment in the incredibly detailed strategy series will allow more scope than ever before, introducing new unit types, factions, and styles of play. The theatre of war is yours to explore, and if you’re still not convinced, read on.
Fun with factions
CoH3 isn’t holding anything back from fans who download on day one, as the game has already launched with four factions. This is double that of any past game in the series, and very much a sign of things to come. Play as the aggressive US Forces, who focus on production and combined strength; the returning British Forces, a young and agile faction perfect for new players; the challenging Wehrmacht with its devastating counter-attacks; or the brand new Deutsches Afrikakorps, who can call in support from across Europe.
Whichever faction you choose, you’ll get unique and exclusive units that bring the possibility of limitless play. The long-awaited additions of the Deutsches Afrikakorps, for example, bring iconic units into play such as the Panzer 3, Flak 88, and Tiger tank, enabling your army to tow and tank ride into battle. If you’re playing as the US Forces, you might be more inclined to try out the vividly-named Sherman Whizbang for a bit of mobile rocket artillery, as the US troops focus on self-reliance and production. The British Forces take an alternative approach, instead appealing to nations far and wide for support, including Gurkhas and the Indian Artillery.
What good is an international war simulator if you’ve not got anyone to fight with? Rather than resting on its quite-considerable multiplayer laurels, the CoH franchise has decided to amp things up a bit for those who like to play in teams of (or against) real people. They call it “the evolution of multiplayer gameplay”, we call it “a bloody good time”.
The inclusion of two more factions means that players can double the fun with friends – playing with up to four pals at a time. Not only can you fight to the death, seeing which of your closest and dearest buddies you can destroy in intense PvP combat, but you can also put your differences aside and team up – fighting against the mighty AI threat. The intelligence aspect of the game’s Artificial Intelligence has come on leaps and bounds since the last instalment, and can level the playing field against up to four real-life players.
…Or better alone?
Perhaps we were a little harsh earlier. As it turns out, playing CoH3 in single-player is just as much fun. There’s enough new features and strokes of development genius to keep you busy for hours, exploring the most advanced chapter in this legendary RTS series. As mentioned earlier, you’ll now be able to do new things with your units, such as tank riding, which makes everything feel just a little more realistic.
There’s a bigger Battlegroup tree, allowing you to immerse yourself into the deepest of tactical plots, even when you play alone – and who wouldn’t want to feel like a single-handed strategic genius? Right from launch day, national armies from Italy, India, and Canada will be available as part of this revamped Battlegroup system. You’ll also be able to play the new Dynamic Campaign Map, launching you into a sandbox-style game where the whole of the Italian war effort is in your hands.
Take the high ground
Speaking of strategic genius, CoH3 really really rewards RTS-style smarts. If you’re a new player, this makes it a perfect game to get started on, as you’ll soon learn what makes these kinds of games tick; whilst for veteran players, it really puts the ‘king’ in ‘flanking manoeuvres’. You’ll be able to make some really sneaky and wily plays which will not go overlooked. Vehicles now come with side armour profiles, which means your positioning matters more than ever.
Getting yourself to higher ground will also give you the edge this time around, as true verticality mechanics come into play. The theatre of war will now have layers and levels, from which you may be at an advantage – or leave yourself open to attack.