This weekend at the EB Games Expo held in Sydney we were able to get some hand-on time with the upcoming Company of Heroes 2 video game created by Relic and being published by THQ. Company of Heroes 2 is the sequel to the award winning Company of Heroes released in 2006 and is a strategy game franchise that tries to capture the tactics of war, rather than massive armies shooting at each other. The build of the game that we were playing was clearly marked as a pre-alpha build of the game, so anything we have stated in this article may not be a factor in the future. This is how the game plays currently.
I want to talk about the overall look and feel of the game so far. It is clearly evident that this is a sequel to the first Company of Heroes because the way it looks and plays carries that feel of the first title. If you’re someone that has played the first game, picking this game up you’ll feel at home almost immediately.
What makes this franchise unique is that you don’t really control individual units within a group, rather, you control squads of troops across the battlefield. What makes this game play differently to other strategy games though, is the use of cover. If you move your mouse around the battlefield whilst you have a squad selected, you’ll notice that a group of circles appear when placed near cover, this is where your units will spread if they’re moved into this location.
Cover is incredibly important to the Company of Heroes experience, as I quickly learned when I tried to use StarCraft II tactics to lure out enemies. I should have known better, but it’s been around 5 or 6 years since I played the first game, so yeah. Another thing that is important is flanking. I remember fighting this one group of enemies with a machine gun next that would keep one of my squads pinned. This was torture as I couldn’t get anyone out there to lob a grenade onto the gunner to take out the nest. Fortunately I had a squad further back that was not pinned, so I was able to run them around the situation and lob a grenade to take out the gunner. I was able to then take the rest of my units in and capture the area.
I’m not entirely sure if this was in this build or not, but one of the quirks of Company of Heroes 2 is a kind of warmth system where if you’re units are in the cold for too long they freeze to death and die. Unfortunately for my play through I was unable to determine if this was present. I was either good at keeping my units warm, rushing through too quickly to see it kick in; or my units were being killed way too quickly for it to be relevant. There’s also the possibility it wasn’t in the pre-alpha build of the game.
Overall I absolutely enjoyed my time with Company of Heroes 2 and can’t wait to get my hands on a more completed version of the game. This is definitely a game that strategy fans everywhere will enjoy. Heck, I think that most gamers will enjoy this. THQ and Relic are doing a great job so far with it and it looks like it might be able to rival the original.