Earlier this week at an event held by THQ in a secret location, us here at Capsule Computers were given a glance and/or playthrough of some of their upcoming games. One of these games was the upcoming Company Of Heroes 2 strategy game from Relic Entertainment. Unfortunately, we were unable to actually go hands-on with the title as the game is still in Pre-Alpha and has yet to leave the workshop. However, we were shown a pretty decent developer commentary and some gameplay footage of some new features present in the series. I have to emphasise that what we were shown was a pre-alpha version of the game and everything that we’ve reported on will be subject to change based on the developers whim.
Company of Heroes 2 is set in Europe, over near Russia and features historically inspired battles and missions from the battles around the 30s/40s World War 2 era. Because of this setting, there is probably not going to be any continuity between this and previous games and as such should be appealing to both newcomers and veterans alike.
The primary element that was on display was the new snow-based gameplay elements which is based around the actual combat elements from the games historical setting. Basically in Company Of Heroes 2, players soldiers will be subject to the harsh conditions of perpetual snowfall and occasional snow storms. This means that players will now have a new element to manage on the battlefield aside from the usual tactics of battle. For instance, individual soldiers will need to keep warm by taking cover or by having a field engineer construct fire to build heat. If a unit fails to keep warm, he will succumb to the snow and die.
There are also other snow-based elements, such as the element where units will prefer to move across footpaths over deep snow. In the deep snow, units temperatures drop significantly and their movement and effectiveness are cut. Having this kind of element adds a certain tactical depth to the field that could be manipulated by the right player.
During the playthrough, we were shown a lake made of ice. What made this interesting is that your normal infantry units could mostly cross the lake safely, heavier units like tanks would deal damage to the ice and could eventually sink in. It was also shown that the heavier tanks would be more likely to fall into the ice than the lighter tanks.
Of course, the game wouldn’t be a sequel to the original hit without having similar gameplay elements to the ones presented in the original game. As someone who actually played the first game (albeit a long while ago), I can tell you that is incredibly similar to this latest offering. For instance, both have cover, both have squads, capturing points on a map in certain game-modes and etc. However there is a new addition to these that make this new game stick out and that addition is the new vaulting feature. Players squads will be able to vault over walls to quickly gain ground or to get to cover.
At the moment of writing, the game that we were shown wasn’t as visually impressive as the first game was when it was unveiled back in 2006. However I would like to note that this is still the Pre-Alpha version of the game and assets and the like have probably been borrowed for development purposes. I’m hoping that the game will look much better when it’s completed.
Overall Company Of Heroes 2 is shaping up to be an excellent looking title that strategy fans everywhere will enjoy. There are enough new changes to make fans of the classic want to return for more and because of it’s unique setting of Russia vs. Germany, new players won’t feel left out of the story.