Although it was still a closely guarded secret when Company of Heroes 3 was released, we can guess as it is fully playable in its current state, so to speak. We know this because we recently participated in a preview where we got our fingers in the game.
The “completely playable” phrasing is quite significant because it sailed smoothly up to a point, then crashed down again and again. However, this is not unusual due to the technical way preview games are made available to game journalists, and it still seems to be an issue, which is why it does not bother me in particular. However, this limited the amount of gameplay I was able to check out, but at least I managed to try more or less all the preview playback features.
The preview takes place in the North African part of the campaign, and for once we got a preview that lets you play like the bad guys, because for some reason previews often focus only on the good / neutral side of the game, which has a tendency to be a little annoying, to be bad at video games is, as always, the most fun. I assume that all readers know the Company of Heroes series, otherwise it’s very simple, it’s a classic historical RTS game where you, the general, have to make a number of different decisions to win a war / battle.
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Relic Entertainment is working on an already successful series here and has added enhanced terrain and building destruction, with what can be considered better animations and mechanics, though this is hard to appreciate when playing in limited 1080p on a 4K screen.
There will be British, Americans, Germans and Italians to command, but instead of the latter being a kind of partisan mechanic, as was first thought, they were in this game through part of the Wehrmacht. We did not try the campaign part, only the battle scenario, which I had hoped to try, as it is supposed to look like Total War, and when that was the case, I had hoped for the Total War style WASD control camera on the battlefield, which was not present.
It is, as always, necessary to use a mixed mix of troops, and likewise, strategy is of paramount importance, something I learned when I accidentally ordered my repair truck into the shooting range, which meant I was stuck with much higher production costs for new ones. armored vehicles and much less efficient use of engineers. The importance of strategy is especially evident when you have only one AA pistol and a tank of mortars, and you soon face the rage of the air units. Needless to say, a gun will not do much good to aircraft, as my opponent found out after I ordered a Stuka raid on his bare machine gun.
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For less experienced players, and those who like to think too much about the tactical situation, there is also a break option available, which I am a big fan of, but if you prefer the hectic moment of battle, just do not use it. But do not come crying when you in the hard way find out that this game takes things quite seriously and tank armor is not the same, leading to destruction when your armored column gets destroyed in an attacking flank.
Infantry units are versatile, depending on what they are. Being able to take control of enemy tanks, mortars and machine guns – which of course you countered with the right type of units or grenades, as otherwise they will make cards with your troops – is part of this extremely important for gameplay.
Despite the 1080p limitation and crash, Company of Heroes 3 seemed like a very nice and detailed title, with no delays or other performance-related issues. There are plenty of games that were not included in this preview, and sea combat, live air combat, and the dynamic campaign map were missing this time.
I like how terrain and buildings, trenches and fortifications have a much more realistic impact on the battle and the route your armor has to take, often to the point where it can not fully support your land troops. So as you can see, this game has a lot of potential, but I would rather take a closer look at the final product before I can say anything definitive, despite the fact that it looks pretty impressive so far.