E3 Impressions - Company of Heroes 2

4:03 PM, Jun 9, 2012   |    comments
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'Company of Heroes 2' from SEGA.

THQ is bringing PC gamers back to World War II with its upcoming RTS title Company of Heroes 2.

While it's a sequel to the original Company of Heroes game from six years ago, Company of Heroes 2 doesn't technically take place after the events of the first game.  Rather, it's concerned with other happenings during the second World War.  The original followed events along Germany's Western Front with US/British forces.  This upcoming sequel will pay attention to the Eastern Front and how Soviet Russia dealt with Nazi Germany.

"You'll be playing as the Soviet Red Army and it's gonna play through from when the time Germany invaded in 1941 right up to 1945 when [the Soviets] march on Berlin," explained THQ Communications Manager Simon Watts.  "So, you're really going to be following that heroic struggle and one of the biggest comeback stories in human history when you think that in 1942 Russia was basically on its knees on the verge of defeat and in 1945 they were knocking on the gates of Berlin."

Moving from the Western to the Eastern Front isn't the only thing different with Company of Heroes 2, as a number of technological and gameplay advances will also be implemented.  In fact, Watts cites those as the main reasons it has taken the company six years to create a sequel.

"We wanted to make sure the technology was to a point that we could do it justice and really make Company of Heroes 2 the best possible game," he told News10 Game Guy Barry White.

While the developers are not trying to actually change the overall Company of Heroes experience, they are doing a number of things that they believe will improve upon the first and give the player more.  Examples of this can be seen in a snowbound battle as shown during E3 2012 where the Soviets and Germans were in the heat of battle in knee-deep snow.  Not only did the snow affect how solders on both sides moved (the deeper the snow, the more labored the soldier's movements), but the snow itself is dynamic -- melting when hit by a flame thrower or being packed down by vehicles.  The biggest change, though, seems to be how the fog of war mechanic will work in the sequel.

"The industry standard for line of sight, which was something we had in the original Company of Heroes and from a technical point of view was back then impossible to change...was a sort of magical circle that would be punched into the fog of war and you can see anything that's within that radius and it's not affected by the game world," explicated Watts.  "Our system, True Sight, actually allows for objects in the world to dynamically block line of sight.

That means that as soldiers traverse the battlefield, they don't have a "halo" of sight surrounding them -- rather they see in straight lines with object that get in the way (such as trees) blocking whatever is behind them from view.  While it may take some getting used to for players, it may prove to be the better way to do line of sight and fog of war in the future for RTS games.

While the game is still in development with much work to do, Company of Heroes 2 already looks like a graphically good game.  The gameplay demonstration ran smoothly and a very good level of detail could be seen on most everything, though some animations admittedly still needed some work.  Still, should the development team put the work one would expect them to into finishing and polishing this game as a finished product, it should be one of the better-looking RTS titles available when it hits the market.

A PC exclusive, Company of Heroes 2 will be available in early 2013.  While an exact month or day is not currently available, it has been confirmed that this title will be available through Steam and will support Steam achievements.


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