The first Company of Heroes from Relic Entertainment is one of the most finely-tuned real-time strategy (RTS) titles ever released. It balanced base building and resource management with terrain manipulation and tactics to offer players an incredibly deep and diverse strategic sandbox. While its 2013 sequel didn’t quite manage to live up to the series’ incredible first outing, Company of Heroes 3 has been released as one of the most comprehensive and accessible RTS titles released in years.
For those who don’t know, Company of Heroes 3 is an RTS set during the second World War. It features two single-player campaigns, AI skirmishes, and online multiplayer. During matches, players must build bases, give orders to various squads that each come with their own abilities, and fight to control numerous objectives spread throughout the battlefield. To achieve victory, players must build up their forces from squads with different skills, take full advantage of cover around the map, gather resources, and repair or heal their units when necessary.
Balancing these elements helps make combat encounters in Company of Heroes 3 incredibly intricate. There are so many elements to consider for each encounter that players are given the power to approach things however they wish to. Conquering enemies feels very freeing because of how open it is for players. Players can also pause the game at any time to give them more time to coordinate their units and efforts, which helps give players the ability to finely execute their plans and react as the battlefield changes and evolves. However, pausing is not available when playing online against others. Players can also give squads a queue of commands to set up a string of actions, like setting up numerous defenses in an area.
What is especially impressive with the tactics of Company of Heroes 3 is how seamlessly reactive it is. Destroyed vehicles become new sources of cover for infantry, weapon emplacements can be moved, and sightlines react to events accordingly. The game’s mechanics are adaptable and are impressively comprehensive and polished without ever feeling broken or like they are getting in the way of the player’s strategies, which is excellent.
When looking at Company of Heroes 3’s single-player campaigns, there are two experiences on offer. The first focuses on the African theater of the war and is a more standard linear affair that RTS fans will be familiar with. However, this campaign is a solid offering worth playing regardless of the player’s experience level with the franchise. It works well to help newcomers get more comfortable with the game, while more experienced players will find some great mission variety and a solid story that makes it well worth checking out.
The second campaign is instead focused on the Italian theater of the war and boasts a more open structure similar to the kingdom management systems in the Total War series. This campaign offers a higher level of strategic management and coordination that could bring a lot of new considerations to the campaign. However, the map and systems of the mode are awash with bugs and issues that make it difficult to get through. The excellent fights within this campaign vastly outweigh its issues, but its problems do make it harder to play this campaign rather than any of the game’s other offerings.
For dedicated players, there is a solid progression system in Company of Heroes 3 that allows them to unlock various cosmetics and profile ornaments. Unfortunately, there is a store tab in the game that is unavailable at the time of writing, so it remains to be seen precisely what shape it will take in the future. However, the game already has solid customization options that can be unlocked and equipped to alter the appearance of units and buildings to customize each of the game’s four unique militaries available to players.
It is no exaggeration to say that Company of Heroes 3 is a triumph of the RTS genre. Its graphical flairs and proficiencies make it feel as cinematic and epic as modern war movies. In addition, it offers an amazingly deep strategic experience, fantastic onboarding for newcomers, and plenty of content to keep fans playing for dozens of hours.
Company of Heroes 3 is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.
Company of Heroes 3
- Rating - 9/109/10
It is no exaggeration to say that Company of Heroes 3 is a triumph of the RTS genre…It offers an amazingly deep strategic experience, fantastic onboarding for newcomers, and plenty of content to keep fans playing for dozens of hours.
Arron is a writer and video editor for But Why Tho? that is passionate about all things gaming, whether it be on a screen or table. When he isn’t writing for the site he’s either playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching arthouse movies, or trying to find someone to convince that the shooter Brink was ahead of its time.
March 20, 2023