After a cryptic countdown that focused on Italian beaches, Relic has officially announced Company of Heroes 3. The third installment of the acclaimed RTS saga will take us to experience the Second World War from the Mediterranean side, focusing on North Africa and Italy. The release is set for 2022, with a series of public tests available starting today.
In many ways, this third episode intends to return to the glories and style of the first chapter of Company of Heroes. Still, Relic assures that there will also be some innovations created specifically for this episode, such as the complete tactical break and a fully dynamic map for the campaign.
Leading the allied invasion of Italy in the Company of Heroes 3 campaign may seem more familiar to Total War players than to the hardcore of the saga. If Relic had previously experimented with the idea of a dynamic map in the campaign with the Ardennes Assault expansion, which I particularly liked, this map, as confided by executive producer David Littman, will be “a thousand times” larger than Ardennes Assault.
In addition to the possibility of cutting off enemy supplies by conquering an area of the map, you can control the airfields to obtain close air support in strategic missions in real-time (or deny this help to your enemies), bomb the enemy positions thanks to the use of warships offshore, or even take part in auto-resolved skirmishes with smaller units called detachments, which play a supporting role to actual companies. The campaign will focus on a character-centric story that, for the first time, will involve local partisan fighters in what comes as a mix of traditional RTS-style missions and scripted quests in scenarios like Avellino and Montecassino.
In single-player mode, Company of Heroes 3 introduces a new Tactical Pause system that gives the player the ability to “freeze” the battle and issue orders to all his units before re-entering the game and witnessing the effects of his decisions. . Although Relic is proposing this feature to facilitate the gaming experience for newbies, as a veteran of the RTS, I found this idea a real breath of fresh air. Ultimately, arrived at the end of a match in Company of Heroes 2, I have often realized that there were too many things to check simultaneously to be able to make effective decisions in a short time, systematically ending up abandoning some of the control points so that I could concentrate on other things. The new full tactical pause allows me to orchestrate all my units in a very satisfying way.
The raid is another significant change to strategic gameplay. It allows an infantry squad to break down the door of an occupied facility and slaughter (or drive away) all of the units garrisoning it. This novelty places much more emphasis on infantry, allowing opponents to attack a little more in fortified positions in the early stages of the game, ensuring that battles do not immediately get bogged down in a stalemate that tanks and heavy artillery can only solve. There will also be a new destruction system for those who like to burn the earth, which will see churches and villas disintegrate and collapse dynamically thanks to an engine that manages physics and an absolutely realistic sound sector.
Overall, Relic sees the first Company of Heroes as the “absolute standard” to be inspired by and has taken extensive community feedback on its controversial sequel. The “old school” base building system will return in Company of Heroes 3, and overall, this new episode will be more infantry-focused. You won’t gain control of heavy vehicles too quickly, and features such as the harsh climate system that can affect troop health have been eliminated. However, Relic mentioned the possibility that the harsh conditions in North Africa may play a different role.
We have a long wait before we can fully immerse ourselves in the world of Company of Heroes 3, whose debut is currently scheduled for the end of 2022. Relic, however, wants us to keep her company during the journey as she prepares for the finishing touches thanks to a program of public previews, the first of which will be available starting today and will allow you to control a small part of the Italian single-player campaign. According to the software house, the upcoming previews will allow players to focus more on the PvP sector.