Company of Heroes 3 Review - A Masterful Blend of Real-Time and Traditional Strategy
Company of Heroes is back friends, and this time there is a significant evolution for the acclaimed World War II strategy series. The developer Relic Entertainment has introduced a captivating fusion of real-time strategy (RTS) and traditional strategy elements reminiscent of the renowned Total War franchise. This highly anticipated title delivers a harmonious blend of intense tactical battles, intricate resource management, and strategic depth that will keep both Company of Heroes veterans and newcomers enthralled. With awesome audio design, solid gameplay mechanics, a huge roster of units, and customisable company skill trees, the game offers an immersive and engaging experience.
At its core, Company of Heroes 3 retains the series’ signature real-time strategy mechanics that made it a standout franchise. Commanding your troops in the heat of battle remains as exhilarating as ever, with tight controls and solid gameplay mechanics. Not to be outdone by the visuals, the audio design is next level, immersing players with hilariously dark-humoured squad banter and panicked calls for help when under fire, booming artillery explosions, and the telling sounds of houses and buildings collapsing from explosions. The fast-paced action ensures players are constantly engaged and challenged.
Company of Heroes 3 seamlessly integrates traditional strategy elements reminiscent of old school boardgames like Axis and Allies by granting players broader decision-making powers beyond the battlefield. The campaign map introduced for the Italian single-player campaign becomes a strategic playground, coupled with this new campaign map between battles and the introduction of company skill trees allows for significant customisation and outfitting of the companies to suit your play style best.
Company of Heroes 3 places significant emphasis on strategic depth and resource management, ensuring that each decision feels impactful. Allocating resources such as manpower, munitions, and fuel becomes a delicate balancing act on both the campaign map and in the real-time battles. This balancing act forces you to weigh up the risks and rewards of different strategies, Do you retreat and heal up companies or do you push hard and utilise more munitions with grenades and artillery strikes?
Both the campaign map and the real-time battle maps are beautifully detailed and provide both defensive and offensive capabilities, offering players varied tactical options. Regrouping your forces on the campaign map and building howitzer emplacements or machine gun nets can ensure that your next real-time battle either has artillery support, or you have shelled the enemy company or town reducing their company’s health and overall effectiveness in combat prior to engaging them.
The Italian campaign in Company of Heroes 3 is a grand narrative experience, featuring well-crafted missions that always keep you on your toes. The addition of the “TotalWar style” strategy campaign map opens up new possibilities for the genre, showcasing the potential future of these types of games. I for one would love to see a Relic put together a new Dawn of War game following a similar style of Campaign map into real-time battles, so let’s hope that’s on the radar!
Relic Entertainment’s attention to detail is showcased in the game’s breathtaking visuals and meticulously recreated World War II setting. The beautifully detailed maps provide a visually stunning backdrop for intense battles. Whether defending fortified positions or launching daring offensives, the environments offer both defensive and offensive capabilities, enforcing the strategic depth to the gameplay that you can expect from a Company of Heroes game.
I have two minor gripes with Company of Heroes 3, the first is that some non-scripted skirmishes can become repetitive towards the mid to late game, especially when you get the enemy forces on the run and they are low on supplies, the late game does tend to become a bit of a steamroll for all non-scripted battles.
My second issue with CoH3 is that while the majority of the console controls are solid, I had a heap of trouble activating/calling in special abilities. As you would expect, these are displayed on the side of the screen indicating cooldowns and when they are available. The only way I was able to utilise these was to either scroll my view back to the base or starting point, using the command wheel option and then select the ability I wanted to use. I did also find another way of doing it by selecting that company’s “signature unit” and using the command wheel and then selecting it through that.
Thankfully, after much mucking around and fiddling, I was able to locate a simple command for these special abilities on the d-pad. This is something that seemed to have been missed in the game’s tutorial and it was only by pure chance I discovered it. This is likely something that will have been fixed in a launch day patch or shortly thereafter, but if you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t fret.
One word on difficulty, if you are a veteran of the CoH series, skip standard difficulty. It is far too forgiving, and while this is perfect for newcomers, veterans of the series may prefer a higher difficulty for a greater challenge. The multiplayer performance, although not experienced personally, is expected to be solid based on the engaging single-player gameplay.
Company of Heroes 3 is a testament to the evolution of the series, blending real-time and traditional strategy elements with finesse. The game excels in its awesome audio design, solid gameplay mechanics, and a vast roster of units that offer diverse tactical options. The addition of customisable company skill trees enhances the strategic depth, allowing players to tailor their forces to their play style. While some non-scripted skirmishes can become repetitive, the well-crafted missions and beautifully detailed maps keep the experience engaging and immersive.
Though there are minor drawbacks, such as my noted issues with the console controls, and the always-on internet connection requirement, these do not overshadow the game’s overall strengths. Company of Heroes 3 sets a new standard for World War II strategy games, and its introduction of the campaign strategy in the Italian campaign opens up exciting possibilities for the genre’s future.
Company of Heroes 3 was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by the publisher.