Fresh Take on RTS Gameplay
I got the key for this game in 2015, and held onto it. I just held onto it, not being quite sure how much I’d like it. Starcraft II has been my most recent RTS reference, and while I didn’t hate the game, I find the whole base building-resource gathering-unit progression kind of cookie cutter mechanics uninteresting. Company of Heroes 2 turned all of that on its head for me, and has quickly become my favorite RTS. It’s also one of the most fun games I’ve played in years. It also makes me physically ill. Go figure. For purposes of perspective, keep in mind I own all the DLC to this point when reading this review.
Company of Heroes 2 is a World War II RTS game. You can play as East German forces, West German forces, Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. The game has several DLC additions, and each are standalone games. Each of the various factions comes with different DLC. You need to make sure before buying anything that the forces you want are included before purchasing. While you don’t need to own everything to play, you do need to own everything to play all of the maps. The MSRP for the game is $29.99, available about anywhere you can buy game codes. I’ve seen it, and bought it, in the $10 to $12 range. That includes every last bit of DLC available too, by the way. It seems to go on sale quite frequently, so wherever you like to buy from, toss it on your wishlist. It was first released in 2013, but holds up amazingly well graphics-wise. There is a HUGE mod community, as well as a pretty active multiplayer community. Though the multiplayer community is mostly invested in the quick match queues. The custom games were a little slow to fill though.
What Makes It Fun
WOW that gameplay! It progresses just like any other RTS, but it’s more subtle. You start with basic infantry, then you build up to light units, then medium, and heavy. A familiar pattern for sure, but CoH2 does it in such a way that you get this awesome buildup of momentum! Just as your infantry get engaged, you’re bringing in the next light armor. As your light armor gets shredded, your medium is ready to move up. It’s such an incredibly smooth transition, you don’t even realize it’s happening. You can choose from various commanders which will improve various units. For example one commander may improve the abilities of your basic troops, while another commander may grant you whole new types of troops, and yet another may add new tools (artillery strikes, smoke, etc) for you to deploy on the battlefield. It’s this huge, interwoven mesh of mechanics that is just executed so well that you don’t even realize how complex it is. This game is great at hiding just how deep the strategy goes! As for the cookie cutter base building-resource gathering model, CoH2 breaks that mold as well. There is limited base building (for most factions), and the resources are gathered by your troops! No need for peon management!
What Makes It…Not
This game has done something no video game in history has ever done. It makes me sick. Literally. I get nauseous, along with a headache from eye strain. Not a single game of any genre has done this to me. I did a little research and identified the problem. As it turns out, I’m not the only one either. The game’s field of view (FoV) is too close up. Field of View is the perspective you see on your monitor screen. Luckily I was able to find a mod to fix the problem! The BK MOD II mod backs out the field of view! As soon as I started using this mod, the sickness vanished completely! Unfortunately, the mod is not usable in the quick match games. As I mentioned above, custom games were slow to fill. When I tried to do some PvP games on one of my streams, I was never able to get a full 4v4 game. Below is an example of gameplay with the BK MOD II mod installed.
The Bottom Line
While I’m not ready to call it quits permanently, the Field of View issue has really put a damper on my enthusiasm for the game. If you enjoy playing against AI, then there are no roadblocks for you to this game! This is my new favorite RTS game, and maybe even in my top 10 favorite games of all time. It’s a really bittersweet situation for me. I love this game so much, but deep down I know playing against AI won’t satisfy me in the long term. Hopefully the FoV doesn’t bug you, and hopefully they change it in time for me! This game is in the middle of a multi-year planned cycle, so there’s plenty more to come before CoH 3. Don’t be afraid to jump in now!