The fans of the Company of Heroes series had to wait a good couple of years to see the complete trilogy. For those more knowledgeable in the matter, it is said that the first title of this series is one of the most important experiences in terms of the Real Time Strategy genre and who, in a way, began to shape it. Not having continuation in terms of story line, this for me was the first experience in its battlefield, that has an extensive campaign mode, in two very different places. The battlefield in North Africa and beautiful Italy.
Company of Heroes 3 presents itself with immense content to be explored by the player, whether he is more hardcore or more casual in these wanderings, there is content and obstacles to be overcome in all its corners. With its multiplayer mode that allows you to fight wars 1vs1 or even 4vs4 different players and a campaign that unfolds in two different branches of history, with the typical missions in Real Time Strategy.
The South African Campaign is quite linear, where the player will have to follow the instructions given by the commander and advance in a kind of guided missions. In general, each mission is quite satisfying, although the game mode is always the same, the approach to each situation is always different, so each mission is always super fresh, and challenging the player’s strategy in some way. There are missions where it is necessary to protect areas and others where it is necessary to attack positions of interest before advancing for the final attack on the enemy’s base.
A super interesting aspect is how the narrative of this campaign is told. The player will receive directions from Erwin Rommel, general of the German African Corps (Afrikakorp), however, the cutscenes show the perspective of the Jewish people who fight on the side of the resistance. Even having to reach the objective proposed by the campaign, a parallelism is actually created that focuses on the horrors applied at the time by the Nazis and how their actions affected people.
The Italian Campaign is much more robust in terms of mechanics and takes the player to control the Allied Forces, in their quest for Italy in order to control Rome again. This campaign is not linear, as it’s presented to the player a huge map, very much like a Total War game, allowing the player to move around and engage in combat at his leisure.
The narrative will be presented through dialogues between 3 generals, however, this will be the secondary point in this adventure since the mechanics presented in this mode are the most striking aspect. The player will be able to control companies, they can be footmen, tanks, or even boats with the possibility of bombing locations up to a certain range. In all these cases, different distances to move are presented, like a board game, with the aim of controlling zones or destroying enemy companies, while proceeding towards the main point.
In some combats it is possible to click on the option to proceed with the combat automatically without any intervention from the player, indicated for situations where the player will have a guaranteed victory, in order to control certain key points it’s actually necessary to enter into direct combat, which can consist of missions with different objectives or in skirmish mode. In all cases, the player will have to delineate a consistent strategy to get the better of his enemies, in maps built in a sublime way. These maps are full of buildings, which provide refuge for both troops, and tighter city areas, where it is extremely important to position troops in strategic places to avoid flanking strategies by the enemy. I had to repeat some missions and rethink the strategy in certain moments of the action.
Although somewhat slow and with a huge lack of information on certain mechanics of the map and generals, this Campaign left me tremendously engaged and with the fervor of controlling different points of the map, leaving the enemy forces increasingly exhausted. As I mentioned, this mode can be approached in a more linear way or with the intention of exploring the map or controlling each city shown on the map. In this sense, it is difficult to point out the number of hours for its completion and it will always depend on the approach taken by each player.
There are 3 generals with the intention of helping the player to outline a strategic plan and who will eventually have access to side missions. Each general will have access to a kind of skill tree and by accepting their indications it is possible to advance in the same skill tree and receive their benefits. However, this could lead to the displeasure of another general and with that the relationship bar will decrease. The problem is that the experience or the consequent loss of relationship that we may have for each action is not indicated, only a bar with the current relationship.
The multiplayer mode is a save-yourself-if-you-can. Get ready to put a few hours in this mode, since a simple game can become quite extensive. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a 4vs4 room, but mechanically this game can “suck” anyone’s attention. The idea is not just to throw lines of companies to the front line of combat. Each company presents variations, such as the possibility of throwing grenades, changing the type of weapon to bazookas for encounters against enemy tanks and even the tanks can be controlled manually, giving a level of depth that I had never crossed before.
Company of Heroes 3’s combat is super immersive and presents a very high learning curve for anyone who really allows themselves to spend a few hours learning more about this title. Without having any kind of comparison with previous titles, the Campaign mode is quite complete and interesting, especially regarding the board game mechanics present in the Italian Campaign.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC acquired by the self]