Company of Heroes 2 – PC – Steam – 20 October 2020 – 500 hours on and this World War 2 based epic is still my favorite real time strategy game

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There was a recent sale on the Steam platform to celebrate SEGA’s 60th Anniversary. During the sale, Company of Heroes 2 was going for just AUD$1.20. If you see the sale, trust me, this game is so worth the money. I have clocked more than 500 hours on this game and its still counting as at 20 October 2020. It’s my absolute go-to to satiate my real time strategy crave. The brutal nature of World War 2’s battlefields come to life in this epic game and at times this grand real time strategy game shows you why war is messy. Luck plays a role in this game, but more often than not, being a skilled commander will win the day.

In this game’s most basic offering, you have access to an enormous amount of content, including the the game’s campaign, which is an amazing fictional retelling, though set against real events, of the Soviet campaign against the invading Nazis. The campaign follows the Soviets perspective from the battles at Stalingrad in 1942 and conclude in Berlin in 1945. The story, though showing the harsh realities of war, often portray the Russians leadership as cruel and focused on the most trifling issues. One example is a Russian commander executing an officer for disobeying his trifling orders to rescue a fellow comrade. I can understand why some users have taken offense to the portrayal of the Russians in the story, but to give the developers, Relic Entertainment, some credit, there were accounts of these types of atrocities taking place in real life.

Company of Heroes 2 Theatre of War scenarios pit you against various challenges

While you may learn some history by playing this game, particularly key dates and battles during World War 2, it won’t be a good replacement to history class.

What has changed since the original Company of Heroes?

Unlike the first Company of Heroes which focused on the Americans/British and Germans on the Western Front, Company of Heroes 2 brings a whole host of changes. The first thing is that the Eastern Front and it’s madness are prevalent. I’ve just listed some of the major changes from the original to this version below:

  • Infantry can capture points on the map by standing within the capture point’s circle, instead of needing to hug the capture point
  • Infantry can now jump/climb over walls and fences
  • Snow and ice are introduced on some maps, which mean that infantry can die if they are in the cold for too long and you can sink medium to heavy tanks that are rolling over frozen lakes by smashing holes into the ice
  • Units have true sight, based on real world physics, and a unit’s visibility range based on environmental conditions and type of unit, e.g. units can’t see behind things they would not normally be able to see
  • Heaps of new commanders for each of the factions, including the option to purchase commanders using in-game currency or real world money, instead of just a choice of three per faction
  • Bulletins that give certain units buffs such as 3% more accuracy for rifleman during the battle, including the option to purchase bulletins using in-game currency or real world money
  • Skins for all types of vehicles, support, light, medium and heavy vehicles
  • Tons and tons of downloadable content.
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Is Company of Heroes 2 a pay to win game?

Yes, but not to the extent of Star War Battlefront 2’s loot system. Company of Heroes 2 gets a lot of criticism for being a pay to win game when compared to the ‘balanced’ original Company of Heroes. It is pay to win, because you can buy commanders without having to play through hundreds of hours to earn the in-game currency. The way the in-game currency works is that you have a bar that fills up after each battle and when it fills to 6,000 points you earn a crate. After each battle, you earn 2,000 points for a victory and 1,500 points for a loss. The create rewards you with either an item (e.g. a commander, bulletin, skin or victory strike) or 500 in-game currency. Most commanders, particularly the sought after ones, are worth 15,000 in-game currency if purchased via the in-game store. You will need to sink in a lot of hours to get what you want or just hope you are lucky and the item you want comes in a crate.

Company of Heroes 2 still has a strong online multiplayer community with varying skill

When you purchase the game, you will be given access to three commanders each for the Wehrmacht and Soviet forces plus three basic bulletins. The Wehrmacht have some of the most versatile units in the game and some dangerous medium/heavy tanks like the Panzer IV, Panther and Tiger Tanks, while the Soviet forces relies on superior numbers in both infantry and tanks and also have some of the heaviest tanks in the game with the KV-1 and IS-2 Tanks. Similarly, when you purchase the downloadable content for the other forces, you will get three commanders for the U.S Forces, the British Forces and Oberkommando West plus three of their basic bulletins. Each of the factions play differently and its fun to try them all. The U.S. Forces focus on early mechanize forces and superior arms, the British Forces have the most defensive units and fortifications and Oberkommando West have moveable bases and fast hitting, yet nimble units. I prefer the British Forces as I like to stand back and whittle my opponent’s strength before overwhelming my opponent with my numerically superior forces of Sherman Firelies, Centaur AA, Infantry Sections and 6 Pounder AT Guns. (Not every battle turns in my favor, given the role that luck can play.)

The game’s downloadable content is definitely worth considering, because they add hours of gameplay. In the Theatre of War, you can play various missions as either the Wehrmacht or Soviet in various scenarios, e.g. defending a bridge against various forces without a base or attempting to attempting to destroy enemy bases against an ever increasing enemy. There are a lot of worthwhile, fun missions to play. Some of the missions, where you can select your own commander, make the game easy given that as more commanders get added to the roster, the more options you have to complete the mission. If you get the Western Front Armies and Ardennes Assault downloadable content, you can also play an interesting, yet difficult campaign against the Oberkommando West as the U.S. Forces.

Company of Heroes 2 loading screen of 4v4 real players before the big battle

If you don’t mind, given the game has been around since 2013, most of the downloadable content is cheap and is often on sale. There is no real reason not to get the most bang for your buck by buying what you want, particularly if you consider joining the main aspect of the game, its multiplayer.

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Multiplayer is still strong and it’s where I sink my hours

The multiplayer and quick match is still going strong in 2020. The game is still solid and is remarkably still fantastic even in 2020. It holds up better than most real time strategy games being released after it, including the Sudden Strike series, Steel Division and Iron Harvest. I still prefer Company of Heroes 2.

When you are in the midst of battle, they are so much fun, because if you are in a match other than a 1v1, you need to work with your allies to take down your enemy. It is a great feeling when you are able to hold your own in a 2v1 moment, while your ally readies an offensive. The game almost plays like a chess match, but with World War 2 infantry, tanks and planes. Though, you don’t really get to control planes. To make it more realistic, unlike some other games, you generally won’t see a mix and match of Allies and the Axis forces in the same team. There is a clear Allies versus Axis divide.

There are some massive cats in Company of Heroes 2, such as the feared German Tiger Tank

Company of Heroes 2 is not a quick game. Each match will start off slow and most players will be building up their resources early on by relying on their infantry and light units to secure an advantage. Your first steps in this game are far more crucial than your last step. Players with a familiarity of a map before the game begins will have the advantage of knowing which zones to aim for and all the various choke points. If you get your machine gun into the right building, you can stare down your opponent for a good crucial 5 to 10 minutes while you gobble all the extra resources.

If you are a new player, I highly recommend avoiding multiplayer other than 1v1s. The multiplayer can be unforgiving as there is an expectation that players have an inkling as to what to do. Most players still around are veterans who are getting their daily crave. The other option for new players is to play several offline modes against hard difficult computers. If you can beat them or come out even, you will be ready to take on players in Multiplayer. Mind you, those bunkers building tactics won’t be as effective against real life players… You may learn the hard way that you are not able to use the same tactics against a human player that was successful against a computer.

The Tiger Tank’s bigger brother, the Tiger 2 comes to play in Company of Heroes 2

There are lots of quality of life things in Company of Heroes 2 to appreciate and it is a sign that it is a well crafted game from top down. For one, you can change the view of the game by holding Alt on your keyboard and moving your mouse around until you are happy with the angle/view. You can also view the tactical map by pressing ‘0’ on your number pad to get a better feel for unit placement and capture point territory.

Company of Heroes 2 allows you to change your view at any time by holding Alt on your keyboard

The aim of most Multiplayer Quick Matches is to secure the Victory Points. Each side has 500 points and the team that has their ticker go down to zero first loses. The more Victory Points you hold, the faster the ticker goes down for the opposing side. Of course, when you start the battle, you don’t necessarily want to capture the Victory Points because resources such as Munitions and Fuel Points are key to be able to unlock and use your commander abilities and bigger arsenal. If you want tanks and the the ability to upgrade your base to access these units, you are going to need to stockpile fuel.

In Company of Heroes 2, before each game, when you choose your force, you are given the opportunity to equip yourself with three commanders and three bulletins. Ideally, you will want to have three commanders that cater to your playstyle and are versatile so that if find yourself on a map with wide open plains you’ll have the perfect commander, as well as when the map is full of buildings and debris. Admittedly, some commanders are more popular than others, but you could win with essentially any commander. I tend to think your skill is far more important than which commander you have. For instance, if my enemy goes for an anti-tank commander against my tank commander, I look to buffer my forces with infantry and support weapons like machine guns and mortars. My preference is defensive commanders with artillery.

The battles can get intense in a 4v4 in Company of Heroes 2

Not every battle is fair. There is some luck involved and sometimes a lucky artillery barrage lands every hit on your forces. It is what makes the game frustrating, but fun. I found I had a lot of fun decimating my opponent even after they launched several, albeit lucky, rocket artillery at my infantry in the fog of war and I came back from behind and destroyed all three of a Soviet enemies’ Katyusha Rocket Artillery with my Oberkommando West Puma.

You can either repeat the same mistakes or learn not to repeat history. I have been in fights where some incredible AT gun placements have wiped out all my tanks, because my opponents knew where I was going to strike and positioned them well in advance. This incident taught me about flanking and separating my tanks to get around things, because you don’t know what’s under the fog of war most times.

These Panzer IVs and Panther Tank are being bombarded by some enemy artillery in Company of Heroes 2

When the tanks start turning up on the battlefield, a new phase in the battle begins. Some players engage in tank rushes, while others build up tanks for defensive operations. It’s all up to you and your allies. When the mighty tanks arrive, the excitement comes when you come up with creative ways to disable it, whether its disabling the threads or making it too dangerous for the tank to move into your domain. The German forces tend to have good maneuverable tanks, while the Allies have more hard hitting tanks that prefer to be stationary. I’ve seen some players using the Soviet forces, who just sit back and wait for the German attack before ushering in their SU-85 or a set of T-34s ready to counterattack (or they just put them in positions in anticipation of an attack).

Throughout the game, it’s always a good idea to communicate your intentions so that you can synergize your strategies. If in doubt, you should see what your ally is doing and follow them into engagements. Obviously, don’t charge into a machine gun, try to flank the machine gunner if your ally has its attention.

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Downside aside, the game is worth it and you should try it

The in-game music and sound effects are amazing. If you are attentive, you can hear what is about to come before it actually appears in the fog of war. Whether it’s a heavy tank, rocket artillery or a Stuka dive bomb.

Managed to win in Company of Heroes 2 and secure myself a new US commander to use in another fight

When you win, you may be lucky with your crate, like I was above, and get a new commander. Normally when you receive a crate, its content will usually relate to the force you are using. Since I was using the U.S. Forces, I received a new U.S Forces commander.

A major downside to the game is that when a person in Multiplayer drops, there is no way for them to rejoin the game at all. There has to be a better way for this, like how the MOBAs do it.

The dreaded in-game store lets you get what you want faster with in-game currency or real world money

As mentioned, the big downside to this game is that there is a loot system and it means you can visit the in-game store to purchase a whole host of things, from new commanders, bulletins, victory strikes and skins. While some of the items provide negligible buffs and are not ground-breaking, they still give the feeling of unfair when only the privileged, like me, have all the keys (just kidding, even I don’t have all the commanders unlocked).

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Overall, Company of Heroes 2 is an epic World War 2 real time strategy game with lots of content, fun strategic gameplay and is well crafted. The community is still strong and continues to grow as more and more people get into it. If you don’t know much about World War 2, you will learn heaps after playing this game. Once you have played enough battles in Company of Heroes 2, you will realize that those Tiger Tanks that you once feared aren’t so scary anymore.

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