WE haven’t seen a lot of RTS games in recent years, and even fewer with a historical bent – the last one I can recall was 2020’s Iron Harvest – so the news that there’s a new Company of Heroes game on the way very much has my attention.
Company of Heroes 3 (developed by Relic Entertainment and being published by Sega for PC) is set in Africa and Italy during WWII and I’ve had the chance to play a hands-on preview of the game.
I was very impressed with what I experienced.
The mission cast the player as the German Deutsches AfrikaKorps (DAK) attacking a British position, aided by Italian units (played by AI).
The mission was a great opportunity to try out some of the different vehicle and infantry types – notably Panzer tanks, grenadier infantry, 88mm artillery, and Stuka dive-bombers.
One aspect I really liked was the ability (with the appropriate unit) to salvage enemy vehicles and repurpose them for your own use – rather than trying to crank out panzers, I was able to salvage a number of British tanks to swell my ranks.
Capturing field guns was present in Company of Heroes 2 and it’s definitely back here; I had a great experience when a squad of infantry were able to fight their way to an abandoned field gun, capture it, then turn it on a troublesome British tank that had been blocking my path.
Working out how to implement airstrikes was an interesting experience – the changing combat areas meant I might call in the Stukas, to take out British units, have my own units advance, and then everyone got caught in the bombing zone.
The mission also encompassed different strategic environments – trenches, open desert, and a village – giving an idea of the different ways units can be deployed and fight depending on the terrain and available resources.
The whole experience was well paced and exactly the sort of thing I want to see in an RTS, so I’m very keen indeed to play the full game when it launches in November.
It’s been confirmed there will be four factions in the game – the British Commonwealth (no confirmation of Australian or NZ troops, but given our strong involvement with the area at the time it seems likely), the DAK, the Wehrmacht (the regular German army; likely for the Italian campaign since the DAK didn’t operate there) and the Americans.
Also pleasing to single-player gamers like myself is the news there’s not one but two campaigns – one set in North Africa, and the other in Italy.
The official information for the game states that the North African campaign will let players “Command the infamous Deutsches AfrikaKorps, a new highly mobile, mechanised faction in some of the most famous battles of the Theatre, such as Tobruk, El-Alamein, and more”, while the Italian campaign is a “new Dynamic Campaign Map [which] delivers full ‘sandbox-style’ gameplay, allowing players to command the overall war effort in Italy and experience an unprecedented level of strategic choice.”
I’ll be interested to see how that second aspect works, but no doubt there will be more information available as the game gets closer to launch.
Company of Heroes 3 has been announced for a November 17th release and given the enjoyment I got from the hands-on, I’m very much looking forward to being able to write a full review of the game when a copy becomes available.