This is just a quick bit of writing on my thoughts and impressions of the beta release of Company of Heroes 2. Right now all you can do is play online or create a custom game against AI. This means no campaign, no challenges and only six maps to play on. That said, you can get a good idea about how things work and what kind of equipment and maps will make it through to the final release.
It’s been a long time since Company of Heroes released in 2006, but things really haven’t progressed much at all. Graphics are certainly better than before, but not substantially so as it runs on an improved version of the Essence engine, which was used for the last game. Granted, this is a beta so things could change. The maps, so far, are also of a similar scale as before, as are the numbers of infantry and tanks. While that’s not a bad thing at all, I have trouble keeping track of all my units already, it further illustrates how very similar this iteration is to its predecessor. The Nazi play very much the same as they did in the last game, and the Russians play like the US did seven years ago.
Nazi have smaller squads – typically four units – but they are better trained and have better equipment than their Soviet counterparts. Their armour, tanks etc., is generally superior to that of the Soviets, but cost more. Conversely, the soviets (you can see where this is going) have large squads – typically six units – but of poorer quality, the same goes for their vehicles. A T-34 will be outperformed by a Panzer IV, but the T-34 can be requisitioned for less and so can be gained earlier in a skirmish, which can be an incredible advantage if used correctly.
So far, I feel the two sides are quite well-balanced. I haven’t felt truly overpowered or under-powered playing as ether side, but then again I haven’t been playing for very long. I don’t think anyone has, so its not all that likely that I would have come up against an overpowering tactic or combination of units just yet. If you play right you can normally handle anything. For instance dealing with Nazi tanks as the USSR is difficult, but if you plant lots of mines and have AT guns around to finish the job, you should be fine. Or you could just use a T-34 to ram an enemy tank, disabling its main gun and damaging its engine (this immobilizes the T-34 completely and destroys its main gun too) then move up something else to finish the job.
Despite the similarities to its previous iteration, I’m still enjoying it immensely. Indeed, the fact it’s very similar isn’t bad considering how successful and enjoyable 2006’s title was and still is. But, calling it Company of Heroes 2 seems a little misleading as it’s really the same game set on the Eastern front.
That said, I’m still going to buy it.