Company of Heroes, since it launched back in 2006, has been one of the most exciting and rewarding World War 2 RTS (Real Time Strategy) experiences you can find. It blended complex tactics, great visuals, and a campaign that tested your skills with each new mission. Now, Relic is back at it, with Company Heroes 3, and it feels like they have not skipped a beat, delivering refreshing concepts with the core gameplay loop we know and love.
It has been almost a decade since Company of Heroes 2 launched, but the team at Relic have lost none of their edge. Jumping into the preview session, Company Heroes 3 looks fantastic. From the visuals to the overall presentation, the studio has done an amazing job modernizing the look and feel for the modern age of gaming. The series has always been known for its visual style, and that is still very true here.
Beyond the look, what is most exciting is the feel of Company Heroes 3. There has been a lot of attention to how the game plays, with new systems all working with the classic formula to make something new, while keeping what makes the series so good. Company of Heroes 3 has been built to appeal to both fans and newcomers to the franchise, with a massive single player experience, along with offering four playable factions all set in a new theatre of war.
“We set our sights on both Italy and North Africa, which has been a big piece of that, and we want to be part of it because we thought that environmental diversity was one of our key pillars, we wanted to get more breathtaking environments to the game,” explained Lead Gameplay designer, Matthew Phillip when asked about the new setting in Company of Heroes 3.
“It was a great lever to get into more factions, as well. So, you know, this is the first time in company heroes franchise history that we will be launching with four factions as opposed to two out of the gate. So that’s kind of like a high level of a bit of the rationale in terms of how we got to this larger scope team overall.”
“While we only saw a small segment in the preview, Company of Heroes 3 is already looking very impressive.”
That new setting is unlike any seen in the game before. It showcases the small nuances of the landscape of North Africa, from the ruined buildings to the many unique environmental and territorial places to utilize and think about tactically as you go about your missions. With new missions, and new factions to take advantage of, Company Heroes 3 feels like a much larger and more fleshed out experience. If the preview build is anything to go off, it should be exciting to dive into.
While the Italian Campaign was a much more dynamic affair, the North African Operation is closer to the classic mission structure fans of the series know all too well. With fixed objectives and goals, you get a good sense of what Company Heroes 3 brings to the table, and why it is so exciting.
Playing as the German army for the preview, the new missions take advantage of all the new ways you can use tanks, units and the many tactics at your disposal. You can now take advantage of tank-riding to quickly overwhelm your enemy, and new units can be dropped down to quickly turn the tide of battle, such as the Guastatori combat engineers and the L6/40 Light Tank. If that were not enough, there are new ways to take on even the strongest combatant, including side armour, enemy vehicle recovery and vehicle-towing that help you position your strongest, and deadliest artillery, something the preview build took full advantage of.
Above all, one of the most interesting additions to the Company of Heroes formula is the tactical pause. While the frantic pace of combat can be exciting, the new addition lets you plan your moves, and work out the best way to take advantage of the terrain and your resources. While it won’t make Company of Heroes 3 easy, it will give new and returning players the tools to take on even the hardest missions.
“There’s certainly quite a few gameplay mechanics that we’re looking to throw into this one here,” explained Matthew Phillip when asked about the new mechanics players can look forward to in Company of Heroes 3. “I think it’s more about the sum of all of those together, there’s not really one critical major mechanic. It’s really about all those features combined to just elevate the game to the next level of the presentation, gameplay, being authentic and appropriate to the action, it’s all about coming back to cinematic warfare the series is known for.”
Expanding on this concept, Senior mission designer, David Mill explained, “Certainly from a mission perspective, one of the ways that this Company of Heroes differs from the previous ones is that there are a lot more, there are more missions that are a bit more open-ended in terms of how the player can approach their problems, or approach the problems and approach, you know, the engagements that we set up for them in the mission.”
While we only saw a small segment in the preview, Company of Heroes 3 is already looking very impressive. The team has put effort into each aspect of the experience, and it shows the love and attention to detail that has gone into the game so far. Set to launch on November 17th 2022, Company of Heroes 3 is already looking like a solid entry in the legendary series, and if they keep this level of quality and polish up for the full release, fans should be very excited.