I have strong feelings about Relic’s classic real-time strategy game Company of heroes. I have gone so far as to call it “perfect RTS”. So yes, the news today that a third game was coming was both a big surprise and a nice one.
If you’ve never played the games and wonder why I would say such a thing, you know Company of heroes was not your average RTS. It was not interested in extracting crystals, or building walls, or rushing with foreign insects. It was a game of war that took minutes of battlefield action very seriously, from cover to height to flanking, which created a free-flowing tactical situation where each encounter in each 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 again via expansions), the third Company of heroes is located in the Mediterranean and takes in both the battles over North Africa and the Allied invasion of Italy.
This means that we play as the United States and the British on the one hand (along with Commonwealth troops and the Italian resistance) and the Germans and the main Italian forces on the other.
Here’s a great, fancy launch trailer:
But of more practical interest, this game trailer may be:
So yes, it looks very much like Company of heroes! A new thing I. really as the appearance of is a greater emphasis on urban struggle. In previous games, buildings were important to take control of, but occupying them felt a bit arbitrary. Here, your troops will break and clean a house before moving in, which will hopefully make the thumbs up through packed Italian cities a more interesting challenge.
This is really cool to see! It was a real bummer it Company of Heroes 2 was … so stupid (although it got better through expansions), and after eight years of nothing, it was easy to assume that this series was dead in the water (or rests on perfection, depending on levels of optimism).
Company of Heroes 3 will be out in 2022 on Steam, but it’s an alpha build you can try now via the game’s Steam page.