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Company of Heroes 2 delivers classic RTS gameplay on the Eastern Front

Hayden Dingman | June 26, 2013
Company of Heroes 2 is a sequel with a few new tricks that plays almost identically to its predecessor, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Luckily, the Theater of War mode rectifies that shortcoming. Here you'll find co-op scenarios, solo challenges, and regular battles against the AI. As far as I could tell, all scenarios are based off actual events during World War II, lending the battles a nice veneer of authenticity. Theater of War is also the only place you'll be able to try out the German forces in single-player.

Theater of War mode is where Company of Heroes 2 shines, at least as far as single-player is concerned. multiplayer formula is essentially an adapted version of the system in Battlefield: each team has a certain number of tickets when the game starts, and various command points are scattered across the map. Control more of these areas than the enemy and their ticket count gradually decreases. When you run out of tickets, you lose.

It's a tried-and-true formula that still makes for great games--battles evolve into a literal arms race as you counter the enemy's tanks with AT guns and build bunkers encircling your favorite regions, trying desperately to take one more point and expand your supply lines. Throw men in cover and wait for the enemy to fall into your trap, or funnel their tanks into your deftly placed minefield. Theater of War mode encourages the sort of tactical decision-making that isn't really required to complete the campaign.


Sure, capturing and holding points is a classic RTS trope, but it creates plenty of opportunities for challenging tactical decision-making.

And that's a shame, because it's in those moments when you're quickly making difficult decisions that you really feel like a wartime commander. Battles are frantic and very deep, though newcomers may find it overwhelming to manage all this information at once.

Right now Theater of War mode contains 18 missions--nine Soviet, nine German--though Relic plans to expand this content later (through paid DLC). It looks like packs will be organized by year; the game ships with scenarios from 1941.

Old General Winter
Relic adds a few new features to Company of Heroes with this sequel. Most touted is the new ColdTech system, which fits well with the Russian setting. Here's how it works: during certain matches troops fight in blizzard conditions. Your units will get cold over time, courtesy of "General Winter," eventually dying from exposure if you don't huddle near a bonfire or sequester them in a building.

Deep snow slows down your troops while also leaving tracks for the enemy to know where you're headed. Frozen rivers and lakes can be blown open with mortars or mines, turning unlucky units into unwitting Titanic reenactors.

 

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