Company of Heroes 2
Company of Heroes 2 is a real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux. It is the sequel to the 2006 game Company of Heroes. As with the original Company of Heroes, the game is set in World War II but with the focus on the Eastern Front, with players primarily controlling the side of the Soviet Red Army during various stages of the Eastern Front, from Operation Barbarossa to the Battle of Berlin. Company of Heroes 2 runs on Relic Entertainment’s proprietary Essence 3.0 game engine.
In January 2013, Sega acquired Relic Entertainment and along with it the Company of Heroes intellectual property from THQ. The game was released on June 25 in North America and Europe.
The resource-generation system from the first game has been modified. Players will still capture specific flagged points all over the map to collect munitions and fuel credits, which will be invested in assembling their units. Most armies can construct caches to increase the fuel or munitions income from these points, though some points produce a higher income of one material but cannot have caches built on them. Instead of the soldier units actually gathering at the flagged point itself, capturing the point is possible if the player’s units are inside a specific zone with no enemy units in the same zone. The accumulation of these resources and the size of the player’s army can be much faster if players capture various flagged points all over the map. In order for a player to receive the benefits of a captured flagged point, it must be part of a continuous area of captured territory, thus allowing an unbroken chain (“supply line”) connected to the headquarters. Thus, the resource intake will be curtailed if the opposing side captures territory that isolates (“cuts off”) owned points from other allied sections in the map. Manpower is used to build common units, and the amount will decrease the larger a player’s army grows.
Units can occupy a civilian building and use it as a temporary strongpoint. However, the occupants can be flushed out through attacks by artillery or soldiers using flamethrowers and grenades. The building-damage system from Company of Heroes is retained and enhanced; wooden buildings set afire will continue burning until they are reduced to cinders. Furthermore, buildings can be damaged by tanks and light vehicles driving into them. The Soviets’ main structure is the Regimental Field Headquarters, which is used to produce conscripts and field engineers. The Special Rifle Command, Support Weapon Kampaneya, Mechanized Armor Kampaneya, and the Tankoviy Battalion Command are the respective Soviet equivalents of the original game’s barracks; weapons support center, vehicle center, and tank hall. A field hospital can help treat seriously injured soldiers. The Wehrmacht’s main structure is the Kampfgruppe Headquarters, which is used to produce pioneers and MG42 Heavy Machine Gun teams and to upgrade battle phases to allow for more advanced units and structures.
Combat includes controllable units that are recruited and ordered directly by the player (through the user interface at player-controlled buildings, or through a doctrine ability), as well as activated support actions, such as artillery bombardment or air cover suppression. Every controllable unit type, whether infantry or vehicle, has an associated construction cost and recruitment time, as well as a range of fighting abilities. Vehicles and infantry can eventually be upgraded by purchasing specific capabilities. Upgrades generally improve the unit’s effectiveness. Some upgrades are global, granting immediate benefits to all deployed units, while others must be purchased on a unit by unit basis. Most combat takes place through direct, line-of-sight engagements. As with the original Company of Heroes, colored dots will show locations that provide varying degrees of cover for soldiers and support units. Soldiers can also climb over low terrain obstacles such as fences and walls while vehicles, depending on their type, can simply smash through obstacles. Occasionally if a vehicle takes too much damage, it will be abandoned rather than destroyed; the crew is killed but the vehicle remains mostly intact. Abandoned vehicles can be repaired by engineer units and recovered or captured by sending an infantry squad of sufficient size to crew it, or they could be destroyed by collateral fire to deny them to the enemy. The game also offers the player a chance to complete side quests in a mission, which are denoted by an inverted triangle icon.
The game’s Essence 3.0 engine introduces a new line-of-sight feature called the TrueSight system, which aims to better emulate troop visibility in real combat. In contrast to overhead visibility seen in other strategy games, TrueSight more accurately represents a unit’s visibility range based on environmental conditions and type of unit.
Weather conditions are a major factor in Company of Heroes 2’s gameplay, under the new ColdTech weather-simulation system. Since many battles in the Eastern Front occurred in winter weather, troops can die of frostbite if caught in the outside during severe weather, especially when pinned by enemy fire; a thermometer-shaped bar to the left side of the unit icon denotes a soldier’s body temperature. The soldiers can recover their body heat if they are close to a bonfire or have found a building to shelter in, though soldiers in cover outside will not lose or gain body heat. Players moving through deep snow will move at a reduced speed unless they are on a road; their footprints are also visible to the enemy. Certain maps have frozen bodies of water, allowing for more movement options. However, players face the danger of being attacked from the other side; as a result, the ice can buckle under the weight of the units in movement or shattered by explosions.
Theatre of War
The game introduces the “Theatre of War”, a series of single-player and cooperative missions detailing various aspects of the Eastern Front campaign from both German and Soviet sides. Eighteen missions set in 1941 will be part of the game upon release with the missions from 1942 onward available as downloadable content. The first of these offerings is Case Blue, a package only free to pre-ordered copies and Red Star editions of the game, featuring the Axis forces during the Fall Blau campaign on the Eastern Front. Later releases include Victory at Stalingrad, taking place around the city of Stalingrad during 1942, and Southern Fronts, focusing on events surrounding the spring rasputitsa in 1943.
Company of Heroes 2’s campaign attempts to tackle Joseph Stalin’s Order No. 227, which prohibits retreating except under the direction of senior officers. Starting from the fifth mission set in Stalingrad, Order 227 will be in effect if the player deploys Fresh Conscripts, Frontovik Squads, or Penal Battalions. A time bar appears on the left side of the map display; for that duration, players must not have their soldiers go into full retreat back to headquarters or else said soldiers will be executed for doing so.