E3 2013: Company of Heroes 2 Preview

June 12, 2013

Content written by Adam Shurey.

I spoke with Relic’s Mission Designer on Company of Heroes 2, an RTS with a strong historical theme, featuring battles that actually happened in real life during WW2 while trying to be as accurate as possible. Fairly average from a graphical standpoint, but there’s a large number of troops on screen, and some fancy particle and environmental effects.

The first game was popular, and Relic want to keep the same feel. It’s a more cinematic experience this time. It features a heavily updated engine, new options for multiplayer. 100 levels of progression in multiplayer, with lots of unlocks. Skins, units, and weapons. Nothing too overpowered. It’s more about offering choices than power ups. You can focus on what you want to, whether it’s tanks, planes, or troops. Commanders have five abilities each, and you can unlock them for use over the course of the match. For example, an artillery strike, special units that aren’t available any other way, defensive manoeuvres.

Campaign is comprised of 14 missions, and will last for 10-15 hours. They’re diverse, they all have a different focus. For example, using snipers during a blizzard, and then switching to large scale missions where you command a huge army. The game has been in development for about 3 years. New tech has been added to the engine over that time, prototyping went well. The developers did lots of research about the weapons and places that were going to be featured in the game.

New Theatre of War mode, which is a set of single and co-op challenges. 18 ToW maps at launch, and there will be free additions to that over time. There will also be paid DLC. The series hasn’t really had co-op before, so it’s an exciting addition. They believe that it really adds to the overall experience.

What sets CoH2 apart from other RTS games is that it makes you use your squads of soldiers and the environments together. Too many RTS games don’t use the environments enough, Relic reckon. The time of year affects the maps, lakes freeze over, and they can be broken in order to sink enemy units. The developers were nervous about implementing that, they thought it might be too overpowered, but it worked out well. They ended up with a lot of winter maps. The game’s Creative Director is really into military stuff, and wants the game to be as accurate as possible. They visited the places where the battles happened, as well as tank museums, seeing the real versions of the vehicles. Certain things, like tank driving speed and weapon reload speed have been tweaked to make things more fun, but overall the game is very authentic. Everything is modelled very accurately. What did the armies actually do? Did they focus on certain units? Things like that were taken into account.

Company of Heroes 2 aims to release on 25 June this year for PC.