the franchise Company of Heroes is an old acquaintance of those who love real-time strategy and since the release of the second game in 2013, fans have been looking forward to a new chapter. well, Company of Heroes 3 is a reality and the Techblog tested a preview (in pre-alpha) of the game. Check out our initial impressions.
It is worth noting that, as said before, the tested build is a pre-alpha and does not represent how the game will be released (scheduled for 2022). Some gameplay features, expected in the final version, could not be tested and others were still in an early stage of implementation.
Mediterranean at war
Company of Heroes 3 it takes place during World War II and, more precisely, during the Allied incursions into Italy. You’ll have to conquer territories both along the coast and through Italian mountains and cities. The developer promises authentic and detailed visuals, both from maps and from the aesthetics of the time.
I am not going to evaluate, at this moment, the look of the test version because I believe it is far from the expected final result. Other than that, the region’s mountainous relief is notorious on the overall map and will require the player to think carefully about the path to follow, especially due to the verticality of the map – which can be an adversary for the visibility of their squads.
Learning a little friendlier
If you are not a player used to RTS (or real-time strategy) it may take you a little longer to understand the various actions that need to be taken in each of your turns. From creating new barracks (for recruiting squads) to better positioning your soldiers on the map (and ensuring that each unit is well equipped and with the right skills), the probability of a rookie getting lost is real.
Relic Entertainment developers claim that Company of Heroes 3 is friendlier to newcomers to the franchise. I could see some of this during the nearly five hours of gameplay I played, which allowed me to finish two big missions and explore a bit of the overall map.
At least in the pre-alpha version there was a tutorial to explain the basic gameplay functions, for example: choosing a place to build your tents, recruit squads, position units, use the environment to your advantage (like not forgetting to use the covers to protect yourself), make upgrades of your soldiers and suggestions for completing objectives. If such a tutorial is part of the final version it will be a big plus to attract new players.
And just to let veteran fans of Company of Heroes calm, it’s not that the game is any easier. The level of challenge matches past games, the difference is that it has an “easier” part now to help new players. It is likely that this tutorial can be skipped, for those who do not find it necessary.
Mix of action, tactics and strategy
In Company of Heroes 3, you won’t just be restricted to moving in turns, spending action points to do so. This tactical gameplay will be present on the overall game map, but you can go beyond that. During their turns, still on the general map, the player will receive missions from their allies to capture certain areas, shoot down targets or even rescue informants.
Depending on the type of mission, the task will be more complex than just one exchange of fire (on your turn or on the enemy’s turn) on the map. The game will provide you with a local incursion to complete your objective and that’s where the action and strategy of gameplay comes into play.
After a short cutscene with the mission briefing, the player will be taken to the map of the region where the conflict started in the general map is taking place. Incursions to complete specific objectives are more focused on action, with more freedom of unit mobility, and strategy – you need to recruit soldiers, position them well on the battlefield and evaluate the best conditions for taking down targets, conquering forts and important routes of supplies.
You won’t have all the time in the world to complete these quests and some objectives have a time to complete. Exceeding this limit can result in the death of your ally (who had valuable information), loss of an important source of resources or even failing every mission, which will have negative consequences for your campaign on the general war map.
It’s a lot to worry about at the same time, and again to help newcomers it’s possible to pause the game (during these forays) and consequently watch the clock to analyze more calmly what needs to be done. During the pause, you can order certain units to use cover, better position other soldiers, retreat, or even attack. When you leave the pause, you will be able to see the result of the choices you made.
Keeping your soldiers alive is obviously very important in Company of Heroes 3. So if you feel that your squads are being drastically crushed it’s good to retreat. Surviving soldiers become veterans over time, as they accumulate experience on the battlefield, and can be promoted. This way, it is possible to unlock more abilities for them, which can make a difference in the next missions.
During raids, you can also pick up enemy vehicles and equipment for your battalion. Even with a main objective in progress, it is possible that other tasks will be given to your platoon. Completing them can guarantee more experience, resources and important information. These extra tasks are like optional side quests.
Game promises to be the best in the franchise
I had a positive initial experience playing the pre-alpha of Company of Heroes 3. There is a lot to learn, especially for players not so familiar with RTS, but the tutorials promise to be great allies (to anyone who needs it). According to the developer, the game will have the biggest single player campaign in the franchise’s history.
The pressure of thinking and strategizing in time to rescue a hostage or not to let an enemy get away with important information adds an extra degree of excitement to the gameplay. If you are not used to making decisions so quickly, there is the possibility of pausing your actions and thinking about the best way forward.
Company of Heroes 3 it may seem a bit “overwhelming” at first with so many options, but I believe it’s a matter of practicing to get used to it. The few animations available in pre-alpha were quite interesting and the initial trailer, shown by Relic (you can watch it below), was quite exciting.
Now is waiting for more news and, who knows, a beta version with more features implemented to test.