Review: Company of Heroes 2 (featuring the British Forces DLC)

World War Two seems to be a theme for most games in current times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it is a reminder to us of a time when the fate of the world hung in the balance as two great powerhouses clashed together on battlefields across the world. Most games have focused on the war from the perspective of Britain and America fighting on in Western Europe and in the Pacific. Company of Heroes 2 however starts off by investigating the largely ignored Eastern Front conflict between the Soviets and the Wehrmacht.

By focusing on the Eastern Front, Relic Entertainment have been able to create a rather gritty campaign focusing on the tales told by a Soviet Officer turned journalist. The campaign can prove challenging as you attempt to lead the Red Army to victory from the smoking ruins of Stalingrad to the gates of Berlin, with reference to some of the darker aspects of the Soviet side of the conflict. Some missions will have you throwing millions of young conscripts at objectives just to erode defenses down to a minimum, others will have you desperately trying to keep a view men alive as they scour the map for resources to complete objectives. One that stuck out most to me was early on in the campaign where I was trying to hunt down a Tiger tank with only a handful of infantry and few anti-tank weapons. Relic last year also released an expansion to the campaign named Ardennes Assault which focuses on the struggle the US Forces had against the German Oberkommando West. You play through a campaign map, commanding three out of four companies (Fox: US army Rangers, Dog: Support, Able: Airborne, Baker: Mechanized) as you complete missions with the objective of conquering the map. The nice twist is that your companies can be wiped out if you don’t look after your units during missions. You can of course reinforce them but this harms your companies experience points and costs manpower that you could use to improve the company perks. The missions themselves are challenging, often throwing in extra objectives to help you progress in the overall campaign.

With so many targets of opportunity, commanders in Ardennes Assault must think carefully before committing their forces to a fight.

You will be forced to deal with the elements depending on the map environment which adds a nice challenge. If it is snowing, you will likely experience blizzards which will kill your men with frostbite if you don’t shelter them or keep them near campfires. Deep snow and mud will have an effect on your armies mobility and make you forces vulnerable to attack.  To help you men survive in this grueling and bloody theater of war, the cover system from the original game has been much improved, putting your soldiers behind green heavy cover (eg.Walls, tank husks, sandbags) will give them a defensive edge compared to yellow light cover (craters, fences, hedges) and certainly more protection than standing in the open. To help support your army on the offense or defense, the game employs a number of commanders which can provide passive bonuses such as giving your infantry the ability to construct sandbags or upgrade to flamethrowers, or they can give you call in supports such as Tiger Tanks or Airstrikes. These when deployed by a competent commander can make the the difference as to whether a battle is won or lost so choose your commander wisely as there is no going back.

So now that’s just brushing on the base game which has been around since 2013. I’m really excited by the fact that his fall they have brought back the British from the original game. I will say right here that they do play much better in Company of Heroes 2 than in the original game in my opinion. They have gone from being a predominantly defensive, Artillery powerhouse faction to one that can be a menace in the offense and the defense if the player knows what he’s doing. The British units are great at holding onto territory and gain bonuses in rate of fire as well as defense for being behind cover. The Infantry Sections can be specialized into forward artillery observers for your artillery cannons at your headquarters or into a team of combat medics to patch up your men in the field. You also have the choice of equipping those infantry with Anti-Infantry Bren Guns or Anti-Armour PIAT Launchers allowing you to adapt to any situation. When there is the call to hold the line, the Platoon Command post lets you choose between the ability to build light armored cars with a 75mm gun to tackle vehicles or the famous Bofors “Ack-Ack” Emplacement to lock down territory and provide a threat to infantry and light armor. Between this fearsome emplacement and 17 Pdr. Anti-tank and Mortar sites at your disposal, the British once dug in will be very difficult to remove. The Company Command post however is where you truly decide your play style for a match. You are presented with two upgrades, Hammer (offensive) and Anvil (Defensive) tactics which provide different bonuses. Hammer will give you the speedy Comet tank and allow you Engineers to give any vehicle a speed boost ability to help you punch swiftly into enemy territory. Anvil Tactics on the other hand will grant you the ability to create fearsome Churchill Tanks which are heavily armored and able to tackle most situations (even dealing with infantry by tossing frag grenades out of the crew hatch) as well as giving the Royal Engineers a heavy Vickers K machine gun and additional repair bonuses. These two tactics require some coordination with your team so that a player doesn’t find himself going offensive when their is a need for defense and vice versa. The stock DLC will also provide you with three commanders to support your battles, Commandos, Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers with the ability to unlock more.

The British Forces are your best friend if you have an area that you can not afford to lose. As the old saying goes, the best defense is often the best offense.

The British Forces DLC I feel represents the personalities of the British troops rather well. The voice acting is brilliant with the troops reacting to their surroundings. Your soldiers can go from quietly chatting while idle to swearing their heads off and cracking jokes when under fire. Relic have even given a nod to the diversity of the soldiers that fought side by side during the war. These young men came from a variety of backgrounds and from all parts of the country and the voices reflect that. I had to smile at the thickly accented Welsh Engineers and the Scottish Snipers in contrast to the clipped calm voices of the English officers.

All in all, Company of Heroes 2 is evolving to be a successful contender in the world of real-time strategy games. The additional content does genuinely expand the game play whether through additional factions to aid in stomping on your friends in multi-player or new missions whether in Co-op with friends or whole single-player campaigns spanning a region of the conflict. I’m definitely hoping for an Operation Market Garden campaign in the future.

Rating 8/10

Available at: Steam, Website

Price: £ 29.99, $39.99

Minimum:

  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Processor: 2Ghz Intel Core2 Duo or equivalent 
  • Graphics: 512MB Direct3D 10 capable video card (GeForce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 2900XT) 
  • OS: 32bit Vista 
  • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
  • Hard Drive: 30GB free Hard disc space

Recommended:

    • Memory: 4GB RAM 
    • Processor: 3Ghz Intel i5 quad core or equivalent 
    • Graphics: 1024 MB Direct3D 11 capable video card (GeForce GTX 470 or Radeon HD 5850) 
    • OS: 64bit Windows 7 and above 
    • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
    • Hard Drive: 30GB free Hard disc space
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