Company of Heroes 2 prides itself on authenticity, down to tank types and simulated weather systems. But some Russian critics are calling foul for how it portrays their leadership and tactics during the fierce battles of World War 2.
Polygon reports that vocal critics in Russia and the surrounding countries have expressed offense to the game's portrayal of the country. This has hit its Metacritic score as critical players call it "a complete falsification of the history of Russia and its methods of warfare" and "ideological rubbish."
Specifically, critics take exception to the depiction of Russian tactics, like sending soldiers into battle without weapons, and shooting retreating soldiers to discourage the practice. Relic claims the depiction is historically accurate, and based on research and testimony from soldiers. But its detractors say that they are too selective, and that it doesn't properly portray the Russian sacrifices that helped curb the Nazi invasion.
"The campaign is basically one giant, offensive stereotype," said Lukasz Markiewicz, a Polish tax officer with a degree in ancient history. "The events on the Eastern Front were likely the most grim four years in the history of mankind. There is nothing wrong with trying to recreate that. It is wrong however to essentially reduce it to the lazy stereotype of German Ubermensch Wehrmacht and SS against the Soviet Horde.
"The Eastern Front was a confrontation of two murderous, totalitarian regimes. The problem is, this brutality gets turned up to eleven and ends up being a parody," he added.
Game director Quinn Duffy said they "had to choose specific battles and incidences to deliver the breadth of the narrative," and notes that the campaign's story took its main inspiration from embedded journalist Vasily Grossman. He says elements like sending soldiers into battle without rifles are "entirely plausible," and as intended, it's "not about cruelty or incompetence, it's about desperation and bravery."