Video and Audio
Visually, Company of Heroes 2 looks amazing. The battlefield scars and changes as the carnage happens, and there is a lot of attention to detail. The vehicles greatly resemble their real life counterparts, which is wonderful. Terrain wise, there is enough variety to keep players interested for a long time. With maps ranging from snowy battles, to forests, all the way to cities; the attention to detail shines through all of the different settings. Another interesting feature is that certain maps will change to reflect the actual seasons of real life. This adds a new level of depth to the battlefield. However Company of Heroes 2 does suffer a pretty huge flaw that plagues a lot of modern day games: poor optimization. On the lowest setting, Company of Heroes 2 looks like the original Company of Heroes; but does not perform the same. On a mid range PC, the game was very choppy and had a few crashing issues. This a huge problem for an RTS where smooth gameplay is 100% necessary.
The audio in Company of Heroes 2 is also quite good. While the gunfire and other sound effects are quite average; the voice work is incredibly above average. The narrator conveys a lot of emotion; and so do each of the units. The callout when the player selects a unit mimics that of an actual World War 2 troupe. This gives the player a real feeling of an overarching commander.
Gameplay and Control
Company of Heroes 2 feels a little bit differently than most other RTS games. It functions similarly to Relic’s other RTS series Warhammer: Dawn of War. In Company of Heroes 2, the player is looking to capture various resource nodes. These nodes provide three different resources: Manpower, Fuel and Munitions. These resources accrue automatically, and collect at a faster rate with each point the player controls. By capturing said points, the player expands their territory and thus the area in which they can build. The maps are very long and tall; which gives the player a huge front to defend. Often, the enemy will attempt to sneak through the player’s line in order to capture a point within the player’s territory in order to distract the player from an onslaught. This gives Company of Heroes 2 a very dynamic feel which is very enjoyable.
Company of Heroes 2 has another very enjoyable mechanic: Cover. After issuing a command to a unit, their waypoint will be one of three colors: green, yellow or red. Green signifies that the unit is in complete cover, yellow is for partial cover, and red is completely exposed. While in cover, units have a much higher chance to receive less or no damage at all, making it invaluable in a big battle. Furthermore, there are buildings in which units can post up in for extra cover. These buildings however, are prone to destruction. If the building is being shelled out by rocketeers or armor; it is liable to crumble and all of the poor units inside will be crushed. This provides the player with a nice risk versus reward aspect when setting up a defensive perimeter.
Another nice feature is that the game has integrated Twitch.tv support. This means players can jump right into streaming without having the hassle of outside programs. This a wonderful feature for potential streamers, and should be added to more games.
At the base of it, Company of Heroes 2 feels a lot like the original which is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, it is very easy to get accustomed to the game for veteran players. On the other hand, Relic has not added that much between the original and this new edition. In fact, they’ve actually removed a bit. To start, there are only two different factions to choose from. This is a disappointment, as the game only focuses on the one theatre of war: Russia vs Germany. Another element lacking in Company of Heroes 2 is a single player custom game option. This means that players must either play against other players or alongside other players to test specific builds and to learn the maps. This is a pretty big issue in a game with competitive multiplayer.
Control wise, Company of Heroes 2 controls much like it’s predecessors; and almost any other RTS. With easy to learn key binds, learning how to build that specific unit or structure will quickly become second nature. The click precision is a little awkward to get used to at first. Units tend to gravitate towards cover, which can mess with micromanagement. This can be quite annoying in certain scenarios.
Company of Heroes 2 has several different game modes to choose from. These modes consist of a traditional story Campaign, a Theater of War mode, and the online Skirmish option. The story mode is a single 14 mission campaign set on the side of the Soviets. The campaign is very well done and ranks as being above average compared to other games of this genre, however the inclusion of only one campaign is rather disheartening. The Theater of War mode is designed to bridge the gap between single player and multiplayer. With three different types of gameplay to choose from: single player challenges, co-op missions and AI skirmishes, there is a lot to do here. Furthermore, the player can play as either Germany or the Soviets; which welcome change from the campaign.
The multiplayer consists of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 content; all ranked and matchmade. In addition to a ranking system, the game also includes a leveling system, that rewards players with additional units to include in their loadout. Luckily, XP is also earned in single player modes; helping prevent any potential imbalances. Furthermore, the player’s loadout also consists of doctrines: overarching buffs that cater to the player’s play style. This leaves room for customization and fine tuning of one’s army and allows great variation on the battlefield. Overall, Relic definitely hit the mark with Company of Heroes 2’s multiplayer gameplay wise. However they did make a huge mistake in one regard: Day One DLC. Upon launch, there were four doctrines that are available for purchase. This is horrendous, and is a blatant cash grab.
Aesthetically, Company of Heroes 2 is beautiful yet poorly optimized. The gameplay is also incredibly fun and a nice take on the RTS genre. The game controls very well, and the keybinds are incredibly easy to learn. The lack of any real additions to the game, and the inclusion of only two factions is a disappointment. However Company of Heroes 2 makes up for it with it’s vast array of content designed to keep the player enthralled for hours. Overall, Company of Heroes 2 is an enjoyable game, and is definitely worth the purchase price to the RTS fan.