Company of Heroes 3 - PC Review

Company of Heroes 3 by Relic Entertainment and publisher SEGA- PC (Steam) review written by Robert 't1ckles' with a copy provided by the publisher.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Company of Heroes 3 is the long-awaited third entry into Relic Entertainment's venerable Company of Heroes franchise. Set against the backdrop of World War II in both Northern Africa and Italy for their respective campaigns and is larger than ever. In addition to its two massive campaigns, there are also four unique multiplayer factions (also usable in co-op) that help bring variety and replayablility to the primary campaigns and various multiplayer matches. CoH3 is an interesting affair and has almost unilaterally split the Company of Heros franchise community in half. While sporting a "Mixed" review on Steam, Sega's Company of Heroes 3 has been received quite as was indicated by the various trailers or independant review scores that are in that 8.5-9/10 range, indicating there's a heathy community of players that are greatly enjoying this latest outing. So, where do my experiences with Company of Heroes 3 land it? Not surprisingly ...

That depends.

This was a difficult review to write- simply put, I didn't like Company of Heroes 3. Now, I imagine you'll probably have a few questions that immediately come to mind after jumping down and looking at the score for the game. Unless I miss my guess, some of those questions will be ...

* Is it a bad game? No. It's actually a solid game with some great mechanics, beautiful art, and some challenging but fair AI to it.

* Is it a buggy game? Less than most, actually, but there are still bugs- that's a natural part game development these days.

* If it's got good writing, engaging gameplay, and is a relatively stable release all-things-considered, then what's the problem.

To start, I'm going to reiterate as the internet can often take things way out of context but ... Company of Heroes 3 is not a bad game. On the contrary, it has all of the trappings for the next standard in small-scale historical RTS titles. Of the CoH franchise, the latest is the most accessible- whether you're an experienced player of the wargame and/or RTS genre or not, Company of Heroes 3 is actually incredibly easy to pick up. A clean, clear tutorial that helps push the campaign's initial story and gives historical background on the campaigns (so you learn stuff, too!). It's also great for those longstanding fans of the franchise that have embraced some of the evolutionary changes that have happened under the hood in an effort to modernize (and retain) for today's gaming audiences. However, there are a subset of veterans like myself that feel things are a bit off with Company of Heroes 3 and up until a recent conversation with Nick here, I hadn't been able to quite put my finger on it, but when I did? Things sort of 'clicked' and my opinion of Relic's latest release in this long-running and beloved franchise, while hasn't totally flipped, it's certainly changed enough that I felt it prudent to heavily edit the relatively sour original review I had for Company of Heroes 3.

What is it that came up that had me rethinking things? I was trying to explain what my "problem" with Company of Heroes 3 was and it hit me like a ton of bunnies; what is that you don't ask? It's the physics. In previous CoH titles, the physics felt real, plodding, and heavy with the weight of war; in Company of Heroes 3, every single infantry group move like kitted-out smooth tacticool-operators in an arcade game. Armor yeets itself (and bodies ... or buildings) all over the battlefield in a manner that really breaks the immersion and stresses my suspension of disbelief. Ergo ... Company of Heroes 3 is a good game, but I do not like it.

The new, arcade-y, and fast-paced style is what I think, a clear indicator of what both Sega and Relic Entertainment are aiming to break into; eSports. Starcraft II's getting a bit long in the tooth and with the current resurgence in the real-time (or "near real-time") tactics/strategy genre, it makes sense for them to strike with a name that's been highly trusted in the RTS genre for nearly 20 years. The downside is that in going for the more arcade-like physics and action, it takes something away from those of us that appreciated the Company of Heroes franchise for the more realistic take on World War II-based RTS titles. As I have zero interest in eSports or the arcade-like action that often comes with that territory (at least, with regard to strategy titles), Company of Heroes 3 just didn't resonate with me.

However, just as I'm able to recognize that I just didn't enjoy how it felt to be playing Company of Heroes 3, I can say that both campaigns are well written, can last upwards of 30-40 hours, and has some truly breath-taking moments in it. In its defense, CoH3 also provided me with something I wasn't quite expecting (that or as I age, my perspective is changing greatly) ... there were plenty of missions where, as I'm setting up ambushes or trying to take strategic points, emergent gameplay would sneak up on me. There was one mission where I'm holding a choke-point/section of the map and while there was all this other action going on, I had to focus solely on this small section- sure, the more "it's just a game, bro" of you out there will just be like, "yep, that's called micro'ing" which sure, it is. At the time, though, it didn't feel that way because it was the AI and I both acting/reacting in a small-scale dance (one I actually lost until I returned with overwhelming odds). What's interesting is that it made me care for this Band of Brothers that fought and died for this particular chokepoint. I haven't felt like that in an RTS game in a long, long time; it's just a shame that for me personally, it just did not resonate.

Gameplay balance in RTS games are always (and I mean ALWAYS) a constant work in progress, but when it launched, CoH3's balance was a bit rough, but once the feedback started rolling in and small hotfixes started appearing, balance evened itself out to be relatively decent across the board. Outside of the way the new physics in game feel, for me the next weakest link was actually the soundtrack. Where the sound effects, ambient audio, and general in-game chatter are phenomenal (honestly, I LOVE hearing the buildings come down- the rumble it produces on the subwoofer for my 2.1 system is just delicious), I wasn't exactly disappointed by the various musical scores- I just found that it was a distraction more than any sort of aural/orchestral history of things happening on-screen.

In the long run, the biggest struggle I myself ran into with Company of Heroes 3 was in fact, myself. In retro and after about 65 hours in game, I think that what Company of Heroes 3 is for me is that last goodbye. A wonderfully designed, well-made, and objectively good real time strategy game that has evolved to appeal to a new generation of gamers; the more I look back on my time in CoH3, the more I am oddly okay with it. Sure, I had to write, rewrite, then re-score this review a dozen times, hung out until the very end to finalize my thoughts, then fondly retire from a franchise I've spent the better part of two decades playing. This may sound bad, it's not- it's just an old gamer being happy to pass the torch, and am thankful to Relic and Sega for allowing me to do so on such a well-made title.

Here's to you, future Heroes!

Score: 8.5 / 10


1 comment:

  1. The game is not finish, the campaing art is worse than COH2, the game do not have the an option to save matches and replay them, there is not anti hack engine so maphack is already in use despite the game is quite new, the game wont allow you to identify your allies in a macth, so if more than 2 players are using the same faction you will not be able to identify who is who, the balance is completly broken because the brits (as always) can do a boys AT gun blob capable of killing anything on the move, however the brits tanks lack armor piercing capabilities. IT IS A MESS OF GAME


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