Sunday, 7 April 2013

Critical Rocket's thoughts on Company of Heroes 2


After waiting for a few years now we will finally be able to play Company of heroes 2 this June.  The sequel to one of the best RTS games ever released focuses on the other more massive scale front, the Ostfront.

Many fans of the original game wanted to play as the red horde against the slowly crumbling axis forces in the original title, but according to Relic the original engine couldn't handle more than 4 armies.  This was proven to be false when the eastern front mod team added the Russian army without too much effort and the game didn't collapse in on itself, and later evidence was shown when Dawn of War 2 added 6 armies in total on the same engine.

Now it's fair to say that pressure from then boss THQ probably forced Relic to abandon any work on a third expansion for the world war 2 RTS in favour of making another game in the lucrative 40K universe.  Company of heroes 2 was revealed a while ago and details where a tad thin back then.  Now we know a lot more about what exactly you will be doing when June rolls along.

Many players have already gotten access to the closed beta.  I myself have played a bit of the beta although I will refrain from posting anything specific in case it breaks any NDA's.  Suffice to say the multiplayer/AI beta is fun and definitely has me excited about the full release.  There are a few issues for me at the moment though, such as a lack of certain vehicles and a somewhat limited infantry selection.  This could change before release of course and I hope it does, because at the moment the German forces feel very much like playing the Panzer Lehr from Company of heroes, while the Russians have no real unique hook to them like the American and British troops did.

The new weather systems are a nice touch and add new ways to play tactically as you have to be aware of incoming blizzards and how your troops may freeze to death if they are caught in the middle of the map with no cover or heat sources to stay warm.  Sight is reduced massively in a blizzard as is movement so unless you have a fleet of transports for your infantry expect combat to become either a artillery duel or a short time out to combat operations while the blizzard passes.

Graphically it still looks nice and runs very well even for a beta client.  I don't have a top of the line PC and it runs very smoothly with 7 AI all battling at once.  The engine is showing it's age though as textures can look a bit ugly up close on some units, and for me the blue and yellow paint on vehicles is distracting although this is because I prefer my realism compared to gameplay where the aesthetics are concerned.

I do wonder what Relic plan to add to this game post release though since the area of expansion is fairly limited for both factions.  The Russian forces are generally covered in all areas unless they do a early war expansion that adds things like the BT series of tanks and possibly lend lease vehicles.  Germany have a few more options because they can at least choose to add minor axis nations to the fray with a few Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian or Finnish troops, but I somehow doubt relic will bother sadly.

The only thing I can think of is a Italian expansion that adds the American and British factions back into the game along with a new variant of the Wehrmacht army, but I can imagine that would bring a lot of forum rage from fans.  Either way it will be interesting to see where exactly Relic go with Company of heroes 2.  We can only hope they don't go down the line of minor DLC additions like map packs, skins, experience boosters and the like.  Relic fans want full expansions and not to be gouged for chunks of change every couple of months.

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