Company of Heroes Online - the free-to-play version of the classic PC real-time strategy game that's previously only been available in Asia - is going to be released in the West, publisher THQ said today.
Having tinkered with the game in overseas markets, first with a Shanda-developed title in China and then an in-house THQ production in Korea, Company of Heroes' Western launch will see the original 2006 title essentially re-released. Multiplayer will become "persistent", requiring you to create a character then log hours and win matches to advance in rank. Or, if you'd rather skip the slog and get straight into the more powerful abilities and units, you can just pay up (though paying won't get you anything you can't unlock through regular play).
As a pleasant bonus, the game will include, also free of charge, the singleplayer campaign from the original Company of Heroes, which even four years on remains the pinnacle of real-time strategy in many people's eyes.
Oh, and if you're wondering whether this will be a sloppy port handled by an external studio, fear not: it's being handled by Relic, developers of the original (and Homeworld, and Dawn of War).
The multiplayer game could suck a suck for all I care. If the singleplayer game is free, that's the deal of the decade right there.
Company Of Heroes Returns [Venture Beat]