Company of Heroes 2 preview: Cold Snap

A hands-on look at Company of Heroes 2, the anticipated RTS follow-up from Relic Entertainment.


The Russian front in winter is a cold, desolate, unforgiving landscape. Armies have fallen by underestimating the bitter, bone-chilling conditions of the country's northern regions. Company of Heroes 2 puts this experience in stark relief by making the environment itself as dangerous as any enemy army, and looks to give the real-time strategy genre a fresh dose of realism.

In my hands-on time with a demo at PAX, the poor weather was a constant factor in survival. A combat engineer became indispensable, not just for constructing standard buildings, but for scouting ahead to build fires at key points on the map. Without precious fire, the infantry would freeze to death -- once an infantry unit's gauge drops below a certain point, they'll die without a single bullet fired.

Vehicles and buildings can provide relief from the cold. Even finding some cover will keep land units from dropping further, but it won't warm them up either. The most complex army strategies will fail without a basic handle on survival tactics.

The cold conditions also impact movement in some key ways. Thick snow will impact infantry units, forcing them to trudge through slowly. Frozen-over lake beds provide a thick layer of ice that can be stepped across easily enough with lighter units, but might crack under the weight of a heavy tank. In fact, leading enemies into cracked ice is a perfectly cruel way to use the environment to your advantage.

The new "True Sight" mechanic, which creates a dynamic fog of war based on environmental hazards, adds another wrinkle. Almost anything can contribute to obscuring your vision of the battlefield, from buildings to weather patterns to forests. This adds untold complexity to the game, as positioning and ambushes become vitally important.

Despite the myriad of changes, the core of the game is still Company of Heroes through and through. The game carries its own methodical pace that is more about careful management than vast, overwhelming armies. The snowy landscape gives more context to the limited resources, but Company of Heroes 2 still feels like it has its own comfortable niche in the RTS space.

I lost my sample match. The combination of the cold, push and pull between other armies, and cracking icy lake bed ultimately overwhelmed my best efforts. I would have preferred a win, but I can't feel too much shame about losing. In real life, much more accomplished strategists than I have failed at the same goal. Russia is not a welcoming front, and Company of Heroes 2 appears to put that strategic mettle to the test.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 7, 2012 8:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Company of Heroes 2 preview: Cold Snap.

    A hands-on look at Company of Heroes 2, the anticipated RTS follow-up from Relic Entertainment.

    • reply
      September 7, 2012 8:51 AM

      "the NEW True Sight mechanic"

      Yeah it was new. When World in Conflict did that.

      Why do people keep gasming over this game? It's an obvious set-back in WW2-realism-RTS, which itself is a genre held barely alive by less titles than I have fingers.

      I loved Company of Heroes, I really did. But it is not the alpha and omega. Look at how well CoH Online did and then extrapolate that success for a game that is most likely to challenging/complex for the masses and underwhelming for the spoiled niche.

      All it uniquely adds is the gimmick of "COLD". Yes it is a gimmick. It has been done before, maybe not as directly as mentioned above but we had environmental hazards. God knows how many sand trawlers we lost to worms...

      But are these "advances" in the engine, these additions and this hype enough to turn it into the "award-winning" game it is being celebrated as?

      Does it have:
      Every unit having their own, personal inventory?
      Every unit having their own personal FOV?
      Potentially controlling every unit and its weaponry directly?

      No? Well, just give it time till it steals that from the Men of War engine as well..

      Yes, CoH2 will sell well enough to warrant a Dawn of War 3 with the engine.

      It is not, however, the holy fucking grail for RTS.

      • reply
        September 7, 2012 9:47 AM

        But I've had more fun with CoH than any of the MoW games. Surely that means I should be more excited about CoH 2 than the next MoW?

        Sure, True Sight isn't revolutionary, but I want it in CoH.

        Just because MoW has more detailed stuff doesn't make it better. I like CoH because of the whole product that it is

        • reply
          September 7, 2012 9:48 AM

          PS: I also like MoW, but haven't had anywhere near as much fun.

        • reply
          September 7, 2012 12:11 PM

          No doubt.

          MoW had TOO much realism and honestly it took away from the experience imo. I only played it very little though.

      • reply
        September 7, 2012 9:50 AM

        Because CoH 1 is still the best "action" RTS out there.

      • reply
        September 7, 2012 12:08 PM

        it IS the alpha, and it IS the omega. It is also obama, jesus, and mountain dew.

      • reply
        September 8, 2012 5:48 AM

        CoH being awesome has little to do with WW2. It was awesome for the gameplay, especially in multiplayer.

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        September 8, 2012 1:25 PM

        I'm not sure that, with putting flags on fuel depots in the middle of a battlefield and having the resources magically teleport to you so you can build a tank in 90 seconds, hyper-realism is what they are going for.

        As long as it's really fun, I won't give a damn.

    • reply
      September 7, 2012 10:06 AM

      Keeps getting better and better.

      Feel free to support the hero who originally designed this game.

    • reply
      September 7, 2012 11:58 AM

      They had me at "Company of Heroes 2". Instabuy for me, regardless.

      CoH one was such a fantastic, fresh game. Still awesome even today.

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