It may still be very early in the year, but devout PC gamers who enjoy RTS games have one of their ‘game of the year’ candidates coming out very soon already. Relic’s return to the Company of Heroes franchise is coming out on February 23rd, and with Company of Heroes 3 SEGA might already have a PC GOTY candidate on their hands – in February, though that’s kind of what happened with Elden Ring last year as well. Time for a closer look.
We’ve had very limited hands-on time with COH 3 thus far, but what we’ve seen so far has felt like a wonderfully refined take on the classic formula, with small tweaks to the gameplay and a nice layer of audiovisual polish. What we haven’t seen yet are some of the storytelling aspects that give the game additional character and dramatic flair as you’re playing through the campaign – but seeing as how that’s always been a staple of the series we have little to worry about on that front either.
Included in the base game as a North African campaign and one that takes place in Italy – two of the lesser explored WWII combat arenas, and two that offer a good mix of different nationalities and characters fighting on either side of the conflict. The campaign structure is also said to be more dynamic in nature though, feeling less scripted and pre-defined in how you want to approach the larger conflict – with optional missions and different roads that can lead to success.
It’s also been ten years since Company of Heroes 2, and the sequel is gorgeous to look at. Relic had already made some of the best looking RTS games with Dawn of War III also still holding up well, but what’s impressive about COH 3 is not just the amount of detail that they’ve poured into the game but also the sheer number of units that can be on the screen at once – between ground units, vehicles and backup coming in from above, there’s a massive scope to even the smaller battles here, and it’s hard to get completely immersed in it all.
Gameplay-wise, they’re not breaking too far from the Company of Heroes mold here, but that’s good news for longtime fans. The expanded roster with a larger diversity of units is an improvement, and from our brief look at the game it also feels like they’re trying to carry that added diversity over to mission structures and objectives. It’s a familiar mix of strategy and tactics, but the added layers all feel like they could provide fans with subtle and major improvements. We can’t wait to pour dozens of hours into it, as it’s one of our most wanted titles of 2023 – and we’re certainly not alone in that.