I have strong feelings about Relic’s classic real-time strategy game Company of Heroes. I’ve gone so far as to call it the “perfect RTS.” So yeah, the news today that a third game was coming was both a huge surprise and a pleasant one.
If you’ve never played the games, and are wondering why I’d say such a thing, know that Company of Heroes wasn’t your average RTS. It wasn’t interested in mining crystals, or building walls, or rushing with alien insects. It was a game about war that took the minutiae of battlefield action very seriously, from cover to elevation to flanking, which created a free-flowing tactical situation where every encounter in every battle felt like a fresh new challenge, a little puzzle to unlock using the right weapons in the right places.
Where the first game was set in Western Europe, and the second on the Eastern Front (before returning to France once more via expansions), the third Company of Heroes is set in the Mediterranean, taking in both the battles over North Africa and the Allied invasion of Italy.
This means we’re playing as the US and British on one side (joined by Commonwealth troops and the Italian resistance) and the Germans and main Italian forces on the other.
Here’s a big, fancy launch trailer:
But of more practical interest might be this gameplay trailer:
So yeah, it looks a lot like Company of Heroes! One new thing I really like the looks of is a greater emphasis on urban combat. In previous games buildings were important to take control of, but occupying them felt a little arbitrary. Here, your troops will breach and clear a house before moving in, which should hopefully make inching through densely-packed Italian towns a more interesting challenge.
This is very cool to see! It was a real bummer that Company of Heroes 2 was...such a bummer (though it did get better through expansions), and after eight years of nothing it was easy to assume this series was dead in the water (or resting on perfection, depending on your levels of optimism).
Company of Heroes 3 will be out in 2022 on Steam, but there’s an alpha build you can try out now via the game’s Steam page.