The beta for Company of Heroes 2 is rolling on through the end of April. In the meantime, Shacknews got a chance to check out the new Theater of War mode, which offers special challenge missions for anyone looking to take a side turn from the main campaign and get some additional training before heading into the multiplayer arena.
Originally meant to be held to the end of COH2's campaign, the Theater of War mode is being touted as a combination of single-player challenges, co-op scenarios, and AI battles that allow Relic to tell different stories from World War II. As constituted now, the Theater of War missions will take place outside of the main campaign narrative. The game will ship with the 1941 pack, which will contain 18 missions--nine Soviet and nine German. Each mission contains different win/loss conditions than what's normally showcased in the campaign and Shacknews got to go hands-on with two of those battles.
The first was Blitzkrieg, a German challenge meant to teach the importance of unit management. The start of mission issued me with a couple of Panzers equipped with short-barrel guns, a pair of halftracks, and a few infantry squads. The objective was to capture all of the points on the map and losing my infantry would result in immediate failure. Among the objectives I was meant to learn was to strategically move towards points, using my scout car to check out the position ahead.
It didn't take long to notice one of COH2's more interesting upgrades. After clearing out a point, I started to repair my units before I suddenly got ambushed. I definitely didn't remember this from the original game, but it turned out that the Soviets wanted their point back, so I was thrown back into action. Blindly moving forward is clearly not recommended, because it didn't take long for me to walk over a minefield and for the Soviets to wipe out my Panzers with a mortar squad that I did not see coming. They rolled over my infantry soon after, resulting in a mission failure. Since there was no home base in place, I noticed that Blitzkrieg proved to be just as challenging, perhaps moreso, than the average campaign mission. Despite my failure, however, I did get a good chunk of XP for my efforts.
Next, I moved on to a Soviet mission called Indirect Fire. The objective here was to take out 15 German strongholds using three Katyusha rocket trucks. While I had a base this time around to bolster my units, I was also racing against the clock. This mission served to educate me on using the Katyusha trucks and teach me to be quick and efficient with my attacks. Of course, this also ended in failure for me, as I was far too sloppy with my movements and wound up running out of time. Still, I had a lot of fun with the trucks and got a good Company of Heroes experience without the lengthy opening phase.
More Theater of War missions will be coming throughout the next few months following Company of Heroes 2's release. In addition to the campaign's settings, these missions will range across various parts of the war-torn western and eastern regions, including the possibility of never-before-used areas like the Scandinavian Peninsula. Unlike new multiplayer maps, however, Theater of War map packs will come at a price, one that has not yet been revealed. Company of Heroes 2 hits PC on June 25.