Company of Heroes 2 Preview

Relic Entertainment has a big job ahead of them improving on one of the most successful RTS games ever made, but judging from what I saw at the preview it’s so far so good.

From the start of making Company of Heroes 2, Relic said that they did not want to take the series in a different direction. Instead, CoH2 offers a drastically improved version of an already brilliant and wildly successful game.

Authenticity is definitely one of the focuses with the sequel, and Relic is keen to show the gritty conflict that was taking place on the eastern front during World War 2. The team behind the game have taken their research seriously, even visiting a lot of the places in which conflict took place, and so it’s no surprise that they’ve really nailed the look and feel of the war in Company of Heroes 2. Realistic gun sounds (all recorded straight from the guns themselves) enhance the effect even more.

Company of Heroes 2 runs on the Essence 3.0 engine, and it looks stunning. Our preview of the game showed us a battlefield on which intelligent soldiers lay down on their stomachs to avoid machine gun fire, and were actually hindered by layers of snow rather than it just being a decoration. An epic battle at the end of our demonstration showed soldiers manning a machine gun and taking each other’s places in the event of the gunner dying. I was impressed with just how brilliant the whole thing looked.

The destruction physics that CoH is known for return as well, meaning that blowing a hole through a wall to reach enemies is as much of offensive an option as charging straight into their faces is. One particularly good example of destruction was when the player burnt a house full of Germans down with a flamethrower and we got to watch parts of it slowly fall apart as the inferno raged inside the woodwork.

Vehicles in the game have been improved, and this was demonstrated to us with a tank that looked both heavy and threatening to all that opposed it. If a vehicle such as a tank is knocked out on the battlefield, it can be fixed and claimed by either team in the conflict, meaning that vehicles can become completely new points of focus in the battle.

Company of Heroes 2 introduces a line of sight system called “Truesight.” This means that soldiers on the battlefield can actually hide behind objects such as trees to avoid being seen, and smoke bombs can be used as an excellent way to overcome enemies – whether the player can see them or not.

Relic have also added a vaulting mechanic in the game which allows soldiers to simply vault over low walls and fences should the need arise.

There are two new armies in the game, and your play style should differ drastically depending on who you pick. A chilling moment in the preview demonstrated the famous order 227 in action for the Red Army, and led to several soldiers being killed purposely with friendly fire. The whole room seemed stunned at this point, and it goes to show how well that Relic have captured the gritty conflict of the eastern front.

Company of Heroes 2 is a PC exclusive title and won’t be out until 2013. It looks like it’ll be well worth the wait though and fans have a lot to look forward to in this stunning sequel.

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