Company of Heroes 3 brought out the best in me. Although it’s not an easy game, and there are still many wars, there were moments that made me laugh. It’s not just the soundbites that your soldiers make, such as hurling insults in strong Welsh accents or speaking in Cockney rhyme slang or deep American drawls. While your men may spend as much time yelling for a doctor as insulting the enemy they might also be spending as much time shouting at them, the balance of the “tally ho” side is.
You will be the Theatre Commander for either the Italy or Africa campaign. This means you will direct fighting squads led by Generals. You will spend your time moving vehicles and soldiers to strategic positions.
You will control Allied forces in the Italy campaign, mainly British and American. In the African campaign, you will be leading the Axis forces under General Rommel. The initial focus is more on vehicles, as Rommel, a well-known tank commander, allows for tactical variation.
This mode has three main goals. You want to help advance the war effort by capturing specific targets and destroying enemy defenses. To get ahead of enemy movements, you can call in air support and bombard coastal targets with warships. You can also transport troops by sea. Company of Heroes 3 is closer to a grand strategy game. You can also auto-resolve battles, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.
However, the most enjoyable part of the game is getting your hands dirty. The action shifts to ground-level arenas once you are in combat. These arenas feel authentic and dynamic. You’ll be able to produce units in special buildings that are limited by population, then move on to enemy-held areas such as supply points and town centres. The order of the day is shock and awe, with the Hun being smashed with as much firepower possible.
That’s at least how it plays in the initial game. You’ll need to play more tactically as you face more difficult and ruthless opponents. This is especially important if you are trying multiplayer against free-thinking humans. Going in guns blazing won’t get you far if you end up on the side of a building. You can pause the game for solo campaigns or skirmishes in order to wait for commands. This allows you to make pincer movements, flank enemy guns, or place your machine guns, mortars, and bazooka teams.
To allow your squads to advance, you’ll need to keep them in cover as much as possible. You won’t be allowed to move your soldiers if you are suppressed. They’ll take a foetus position and shout until they can move again.
You can equip squads with sticky bombs and satchel charges as well as heavy weapons. Additionally, you can set up aid posts to replenish your troops or establish forward operating bases to provide more vehicles and ammunition. The battles are short and encourage quick-paced, impulsive decision-making rather than chin-stroking deliberations. Company of Heroes 3 has this advantage. It makes war feel more like an adventure than a hard look at the facts.
It’s quite impressive graphically. The environments are extremely detailed and never feel the same. You will fight on both arid plains or densely packed urban areas. You can position yourself in bell towers or clifftop vantage points. To avoid being caught, you will need to be careful. You can also take down the building with a tank. The tracking camera was not smooth for me. It was often juddery and unwieldy. I also experienced framerate drops at every battle start.
Company of Heroes 3’s combat sections are the best. It’s amazing how immersive it can be to see explosions rocking the landscape and heavy ordnance destroying buildings. While you will have some solitary moments, they are always prelude to the explosions getting louder.
It’s a game of making quick, heroic decisions when the odds are against you. These moments are always exciting and earned.
Company of Heroes 3 is not a unique setting or concept. However, it’s filled with charm and playability. You won’t be bored if you overlook the casual wartime racism and iffy framerate.