Company of Heroes 3 brings World War II to North Africa

Company of Heroes 3's single-player component will explore a side of World War II that's rarely seen.

Image: Sega

For over 15 years, the Company of Heroes series has been exploring every corner of the World War II conflict. It's hard to imagine there has been any stone unturned. However, Company of Heroes 3 is exploring an aspect of the war that's rarely discussed. North Africa was also embroiled in the global conflict and it's a story that Sega and Relic Entertainment will look to explore in their upcoming sequel.

Among the items unveiled during a special Tuesday reveal was one of Company of Heroes 3's single-player campaigns. The North African Operation offers something rarely seen in video games or media as a whole, taking players into a narrative-heavy experience across desert countries like Libya, Egypt, and Morocco. Relic notes that in contrast to the Italian Dynamic Campaign offering a more open-ended campaign, North Africa is structured closer to more traditional COH single-player outings. The development team takes historical accuracy seriously and will seek to tell a culturally grounded story. To that end, the team has brought in cultural and historical consultants in order to tell a story that's faithful to real-world events.

Company of Heroes 3 preview
Image courtesy of Sega

When players venture to North Africa, they'll take control of the Deutrsches Afrika Korps (DAK) for the first time in franchise history. The community-requested DAK are a hit-and-run contingent that's focused on fast mobility, flanking the enemy, and aggressive tactics. The DAK's mission in this campaign will be to defeat the British North African forces across regions like Ajdabiya, Tobruk, Gazala, and El Alamein. The DAK will also join Company of Heroes 3 as the fourth playable faction in multiplayer, joining the U.S., British, and Wehrmacht (the German faction that fought on behalf of the Axis Powers in Italy) soldiers.

Having tried out the first part of the North African campaign, it feels like more of the same Company of Heroes experience, which is certainly not a bad thing. Relic is among the best in its craft at putting together these military strategy games. There are a few quality-of-life additions that make the single-player campaigns a little easier to handle. Those who look at the overwhelming number of units that need to be managed simultaneously can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the addition of full tactical pauses. This stops all the action on-screen while allowing players to direct their units. Given how quickly action has unfolded throughout this franchise, this is a welcomed feature.

Company of Heroes 3 preview
Image courtesy of Sega

There are also some fun new ways to get around over the course of a skirmish. Infantry units can now ride tanks in order to get to a location faster. Speaking of tanks, if things get a little hairy and a tank is either damaged or flat-out destroyed, it's not the end of the world. New mobile repair vehicles are now able to repair tanks and in most cases, they can even salvage them entirely and have them running like new again. If a tank has taken a few hits and needs a boost, infantry squads can also conduct rudimentary repairs, though those will take slightly longer.

While there haven't been a lot of changes to the COH formula, those additions do a lot to refresh the experience. Little changes like being able to apply side armor (and likewise attack armored vehicles from the side) go a long way towards refining Relic's strategic warfare. Of course, fans shouldn't just take our word for it, because they'll also be able to try out the North African Operation's Mission Alpha for themselves. A free trial will be available on Steam starting today and running through Tuesday, July 19.

On top of today's reveals, Company of Heroes 3 has an official release date. Look for Relic's wartime strategy game to release on PC (via Steam) on Thursday, November 17. Relic also hopes to have the game's first expansion ready to roll out in 2023.

This hands-on preview is based on a pre-release Steam build.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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