Company of Heroes was a smash success, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise as the team at Relic has had a great deal of practice. Homeworld 1 and 2, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Dawn of War II, Space Marine, and more have all hit like a ton of bricks, bringing revolution to the usual dirt-farming RTS world. Holding strategic points in the field isn’t the only change – the game also brought directional suppression, unit veteran upgrades and recruiting, line-of-sight, meaningful infantry, directional tank damage, and far more to the table, giving players a completely new experience. Amazingly, that was 2006.
In this pre-alpha build, we got to see some of the incredible gameplay advancements the last few years have brought us. The team at Relic is trying to capture the brutality of the Eastern Front, and this is clear from the opening moments. The demo opens with a frozen field that has clearly had tree-burst shelling in the area.
Eschewing the circular fog of war system seen in nearly every RTS for a completely new paradigm, Company of Heroes 2 gives us a new gameplay system. In a completely dynamic way, the line of site changes organically. Smoke mortar rounds obscure your vision as well as that of the enemy, tracked vehicles and tanks (because they see through a periscope or slits in the metal) have nearly no peripheral, but also a bit longer forward vision. As our troops rounded trees, their vision widened and they were able to see a SU 76 taken out by artillery strikes. Unlike CoH1, this vehicle can be re-captured or even seized by the enemy. While the SU 76 isn’t an armored fortress, a Tiger or Soviet IS-2 could become a huge tactical advantage to take or destroy.
The AI in Company of Heroes 2, even at this early Pre-Alpha stage, has access to the same tactics as you do. They flank, suppress, use True Sight fog of war, and more – they are on the same playing field and have the same advantages and disadvantages. As we vault over sandbags and walls we press to clear the remaining ground troops a Russian T-34 rolls into battle, crushing everything (including trees!) under its hulking 30 ton frame. The battlefield is decimated by the power in this tracked monstrosity, but its tracks slip freely on the frozen lake as it tries to cross. The tank being in a vulnerable state leaves it in ready position for a Nazi
The first Company of Heroes won awards and accolades from press and fans alike. From realistic battles, a new resource system, and incredible sound, the game had it all. Company of Heroes 2 looks to raise the stakes with a dotted line to real battles, live-captured weapon sounds, and more realism than ever before – it’ll be hard to wait for its release at some point in 2013. Stay tuned as more info comes available for this gorgeous title.