Company of Heroes 3 Review (Campaign) – The previous Company of Heroes were my most favourite RTS (Real Time Strategy) games of all time. I played lots of RTS games back in the days like Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Starcraft, and alike. However, none could actually give me the thrills and fun of Company of Heroes. I loved the World War II setting but it’s mostly because how well-crafted and well-designed the games were.
Destructible environment, its cover system (which I think was the first in RTS back then – I could be mistaken), veterancy system, and animation detail arere just some of the things I love within the series.
Thankfully, these elements are still in Company of Heroes 3 which make the game as fun as its predecessor (and they have now added tank riding, high ground bonus, etc), though there are definitely some disappointments.
The most obvious one is the single player element, or the Campaign – which is the heart of Company of Heroes series. In Company of Heroes 3, there are two types of campaigns. One is a dynamic, sandbox game mode which is a resemblance of the Total War series and the other one is a short, scripted Campaign that we knew of from the previous games.
It’s certainly the franchise’s first take on creating a dynamic campaign through a sandbox-style gameplay, which takes place in Italy during the World War II. Here, you have a layout of the big map where you can take cities, attack encampments and defenses, recruit companies of different Allies Factions, spend skill points, and more. This is done through a turn-based system where you can move your companies (which consist of units and detachments) around the map like a chess piece.
Each company will have a range of movement and can normally do one action like attacking an enemy unit, defense placements, or cities. There are of course other factors in play when you are attacking such as being able to call for a coastal bombardment (assuming you have a Battleship or so nearby). If you capture an airfield on the map, you can also purchase planes to help you out to maintain air superiority, do a recon (which will open the fog of war on the map), and more.
Once your unit attacks a city or meets up with an enemy unit, a real-time battle will begin – which takes you to the usual Company of Heroes’ RTS battle.
There are obviously lots of strategic decisions in play here as you have to manage your current resources and skill points. Should you unlock a new unit like the awesome Sniper for your company? Or should you keep the skill points and make your troops stronger? Should you spend it all to get more support during the battle ahead?
As cool as this sounds, a lot of the executions fall short unfortunately. The enemy AI seems pretty passive, there are random events happening every now and then to keep you busy but not many actually matter in the campaign, and attacking non-mission cities usually ask you to do the same thing over and over: capturing and holding 3 points in the map to win it.
When you do attack or follow the main missions, things get more interesting with scripted dialogues and strategical battles. For example when I was attacking an airfield, my company was constantly being harassed by German fighters’ strafing run. An optional objective appears to capture a Wirbelwind Flakpanzer (German’s anti aircraft vehicle) somewhere in the map and upon securing one, make the annoying problem goes away. We need more like these.
Overall the dynamic campaign is a next step for Company of Heroes but I somehow feel that it’s not as good as the Total War series yet (they certainly have more experience with it along the years). Thankfully, we do have a second type of campaign in Company of Heroes 3: the North African Operation which consists of 8 great missions.
North African Operation
The traditional, linear campaign that you probably want from a Company of Heroes game here is great. The narrative, battlefield map design, objectives, and scripted events make the battles really fun to play and go through. You’ll be taken to different types of missions and able to replay some of the historical battles through the desert environments.
The narrative story itself is okay (you won’t be drawn into it and there is no actual character that you’ll have time to love) but if you don’t care with all that, you’ll have fun like you’d expect from a Company of Heroes game. I wish that the team focuses more on this but I do appreciate their decision to go and try out the new Dynamic Campaign mode.
Company of Heroes 3 Single Player (Campaign) Review Conclusion
Company of Heroes 3 is as good as its predecessor in terms of graphics, sound, and gameplay details. Seeing how an infantry unit breaches a building or when a big flak gun is reloading and firing its ammunition, is always very satisfying and never gets old. Executing the right abilities (lots of them per unit) at the right time, positioning your special units for full cover from a recently-blown-up enemy tank, and managing lots of different units with different specialties are the best experience you can get from an RTS game. The battlefield is always changing and the game does take advantage of this, they are not just there for pretty pictures (though there’s nothing wrong with that).
The dynamic campaign is an ambitious goal for sure and while there are many disappointing executions (it’s not as dynamic as I thought it’d be, repetitive skirmish missions, etc), it does serve a nice sandbox for you to enjoy what Company of Heroes game design can offer. The battles are always frantic, fun to play and watch. And while the AI is not always that good and menacing, there are other game modes for you to play on such as online multiplayer (Competitive/PvP and Co-Op) to test your skills and enjoy the game for many months to come.
Disclosure: Company of Heroes 3 review licence was supplied for reviewing
Company of Heroes 3 Review
It’s still one of the most beautifully designed and well-crafted RTS games in the World War II setting and every battle is as satisfying as it can ever be to look at