Company of Heroes 2 Beta First Impressions

by / Friday, 24 May 2013 / Published in Editorials & Reviews, Gaming News

Since Company of Heroes 2 Beta ended last Monday, I felt like writing an article about it to help people learn more about the game.

Company of Heroes is a franchise made by Relic Entertainment. It is an RTS game, which stands for real-time strategy. Company of Heroes 1 took place during the second world war, on the western front, with the American and British playable as allies, and the Wehrmacht and Panzer Elite playable as the axis. In Company of Heroes 2 there are currently only 2 playable factions: the Russian faction for allies and the Ostheer faction for the axis. As you can guess now, this time Relic takes the battle to the eastern front during WWII.

a fierce battle

In Company of Heroes 2 Beta, you can only play a few gamemodes. You can play both of the factions, but you can only play PvE or PVP skirmish. This includes a few maps, which support up to 8 players, with the modes 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4. You can play Annihilation in PvE, and Victory Points in PvE and PvP. In Annihilation,  you must destroy all the enemy’s troops and buildings. In Victory Points there are 3-5 victory points spread over the map. When one of the 2 teams has the most victory points captured, then the points of the enemy drain away slowly. Once the points of your enemy reach zero you win. All over the map, in whichever gamemode you play, there are flags, which divide the map in different areas. once you capture an area, you get the resources it generates. There are strategic points, which generate a low amount of fuel and ammo, but they can be dedicated to generating either ammo or fuel, with a fuel depot or ammo depot. There are low, medium and high points, which  generate different amounts of ammo or fuel. Ammo is used for weapon upgrades and certain abilities, while fuel is used for getting vehicles and tanks.

In the game you can train all kinds of different troops. There are riflemen, engineers, snipers, mortars, anti tank cannons, light jeeps, light armored cars, light tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks and artillery. I do not want to go too much into the details of the units, since it is just a beta and it is subject to change. However, I’ll name some of the troops or general groups, to explain a bit of my thoughts. During the game, and especially during battle you will earn command points. You can then choose a doctrine, from which you will unlock abilities/units etc. to enhance your army. Each doctrine benefits a different playstyle, so pick wisely. You will be stuck with it for the rest of the match!

The weather conditions affect your units. Soldiers will move more slowly through thick snow and vehicles will drive more slowly through thick snow. During a blizzard it is recommended to move the infantry troops to the nearest fire or try maneuvering them inside the nearest building, or else they might die because of the cold. In Company of Heroes 1, there was no interactive weather that would affect the battlefield. Some more awesome features of the battlefield in Company of Heroes 2 is ,for example, ice. You can move units over the ice and you can destroy ice. The water left over will freeze again during a blizzard, creating new ice. During blizzards, the height of the snow will significantly increase, and once the blizzard is gone, the height of the snow will lower a bit. I think this brings us more strategic options to use on the battlefield. It may even turn the tide in a match you are losing. For example, it could cover up your main force, to capture the victory point on that chokepoint where you have been losing fights for the past 20 minutes.

An example of the interactive weather

So far I have really enjoyed the game. I have played about 10 hours in the week I got to play. It really felt like the game was on the right track to becoming as successful as its predecessor, but it was still a bit unbalanced. It definitely felt like a beta. At first, the Germans felt way better than the Soviets. This is because overall the Soviet army feels like an army which is full of low cost units, which aren’t as combat effective as the German troops. When playing the Soviets, you could win it early on, since you can build your main infantry from the HQ building. The first tanks you get as the Soviets are cheaper than the German ones, but considerably less effective. I’m not saying that the units of each army should be exactly the same, but a bit more balance is really needed to lift it to the level of its predecessor.

To take the downsides of the Soviets a bit more in detail, I will give some examples. Early on in a match I played, I was playing as the Soviets in a 1v1 against a random Ostheer player. I sent 2 infantry units down to the southern Victory point, to ensure I would control it. The Soviet infantry units each consist of 6 riflemen each. The Ostheer player sent 1 of his infantry units down there, which consisted of 4 riflemen. This firefight ended in me having to pull back my 2 infantry units, which both only had 1 rifleman left. The outcome of a 12 Russian riflemen vs 4 German riflemen ended in 10 Russian losses, and 2 German losses. This was really annoying to me. Not only the fact that in the end it was gonna be one of the main causeswhy I lost that match, but also how can 12 riflemen be beaten by 4 riflemen. I didn’t really understand how something like this could happen. When I watched back that replay later to analyse it, I saw that I made 1 minor mistake, which is that I didn’t command 1 of the 2 Infantry units to sit behind cover, but then still, how can 4 men beat 12 men?!

more battlefield and destruction

I’ll use the rest of the match as an example to explain more about the Soviets. In the first few minutes after I produced my first t-34/85 medium tank, it was shredding the Ostheer’s infantry units to pieces, yet once it encountered the first StugIV, it’s short period of success ended quickly. Even though I had 2 infantry units with AT machine guns around it, the StugIV was holding up well. Basically what it seems is that the Soviets are only good when in numbers, not in 1v1′s. This seemed for both the infantry units (with exception of MG teams, snipers, mortars and AT guns) and tank units. The MG teams, AT guns, sniper teams and mortar teams seem to be equal in combat, mainly because they are the group of units which are mostly alike to their German counterparts. Yet I found that the Soviet units, especially tanks, weren’t really cheap enough to mass produce and to ‘spam’ them. I knew there was a different tactic which must work against the German superiority, yet up to today, after the closed beta ended, I still don’t know this tactic. Another small detail I noticed is that the German engineers can put up barb wire, which Soviet infantry units cannot pass unless the barb wire is being destroyed. The Soviet engineers can build barb wire but it will only slow down German units, which is in my opinion a bit unfair.

To not discourage all of you to try out this game, it is really nice and well thought out, dynamic weather conditions affect your units and the environment, you can destroy the ice for a defensive strategical advantage, and it will freeze back during a blizzard for example. There are many different tactics and strategies to defeat your enemy, and it is up to you which one fits you best. For me, I played mostly Soviets, but because they didn’t feel that well to play ingame, I switched to play a few botmatches as the Ostheerplayer against an easy Soviet computerplayer, and I won those matches solely to when I got my StugIV’s rolling onto the battlefield, so that is gonna be one of my tactics for the Germans. It basically is try to get a MG in houses close to capture points important to you, eg high value fuel for lots of vehicles later on in the match, and then try to barb wire the victory point on a chokepoint, to lock that one down as much as possible, and then having the ability to send more of your units to the remaining victory points instead of having to fight over that chokepoint and losing lots of units there. I would build mg bunkers behind the barb wire and have a tank or 2 guard it. Early on I would also try to get medium armored vehicles with a cannon/top mounted MG distort the enemy units capturing important points as much as possible.

I don’t want to make this a wall of text, so I am going to wrap it up here. I found the Soviet units are less effective then the Ostheer units in combat, and the Soviets didn’t feel like the Vodka drinking bastards we all think they are. They only seem to excel in combat when they have a significantly larger amount of units. Although you seem to have to use more resources to unlock the ability to train the same sort of units as the Soviet player can as an Ostheer player, the Germans still felt easier to play. Once you get the first StugIV rolling onto the battlefield that the Ostheer Player has, you can dominate the rest of the match, and turn the tide in almost any battle. Even though this sort of imbalance makes the game seem boring, I really think it is an exciting game, with excellent gameplay. Keep in mind, it is just a beta, and all of the things I stated here are subject to change. I hope I didn’t discourage any of you from trying the game in the upcoming open beta which will occur somewhere between now and the release. I had hoped for a campaign, where I might be able to pick up some ways to smash through the Germans as a Soviet player, but there is no campaign yet, and I don’t know if they will include it in the open beta. I feel like once the game is released (June 25th, 2013) the Soviet players will find some ways to smash through the German domination and I hope they will balance the units more efficiently. The differences between them aren’t an issue, though I think there must be a way to win the match as Soviet player, which is really hard at the moment. I haven’t nearly covered everything yet, but there is no reason since it still was a beta version. That was all for now, pls comment, and I hope to see you on the Eastern Front during the open beta !

P.S. there are no details on open beta yet, but I will make a post in other games, or maybe Next_Gen will, to get you guys on the eastern front !

a chokepoint

some tanks

a main force column

One Response to “Company of Heroes 2 Beta First Impressions”

  1. Brklyn says : Reply

    Nice write up.

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