Company of Heroes 3: Alpha Preview

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New Company of Heroes are released less frequently than the leap year and another novel by Donna Tartt is published. The first part of the military strategy from the studio Relic was born back in 2006, the second – in 2013, and the third “pre alfa” was rolled out just now. But long breaks are not associated with a radical revision of the gameplay. It’s just that Canadian developers have other worries: either they blush from the failures of Warhammer 40,000: Destructive Wave 5e, Dawn of War III, then they turn pale from the warm, friendly looks of Russian gamers who appreciated the plot of the second “Company of Heroes”. What emotions will the third installment of the series add and should we expect revelations from it?

Theater of War

The game takes place on the shores of the Mediterranean during World War II. More precisely, in the period between Operation Husky in the summer of 1943, when the Anglo-American troops landed on the island of Sicily and liberated it from the Nazis, and in the fall of the same year – with battles on the Apennine “boot” itself. The situation there was dramatic: after failing in Africa and losing significant forces in the battles for Stalingrad, dictator Benito Mussolini lost the support of his own party and was removed from power. But Germany had other plans. The Germans invaded Italy, occupied it, and formally returned Mussolinithe reins of government, establishing the puppet Republic of Salo. And between the south of the country, where the Allies deployed their activities, and the north, controlled by the Wehrmacht, fortified defense lines arose. It was this obstacle that the soldiers of the USA, Canada, and the British Empire had to overcome in order to get to Rome.

The pre-alpha scenario of Company of Heroes 3 shows the height of the Italian campaign. The allies already own Sicily and have occupied the homeland of baby rattles – the city of Taranto on the “heel” of the Apennine Peninsula. Now they have to liberate Naples, drive the Germans out of the surrounding provinces and move north – to Montecasino, from where a direct road to Rome opens. This is what the game invites us to do. It is known that Africa will also appear in the final version, where General Erwin Rommel, nicknamed the Fox of the Desert, distinguished himself. But now only the trailer hints at these events – the battles for Tobruk and El Alamein, fans of strategies will have to wait.

Strategy and Tactics

Unlike the previous game in the series, Company of Heroes 3 consists of two balanced aspects, strategic and tactical. There is a global map where you can plan operations, carry out command tasks, capture territories, receive reinforcements, bomb the enemy from sea and air, and at the same time spend the accumulated experience on improving troops. Something similar was offered by the Ardennes Assault add-on for Best grenade spots dust 2 , but there were simple outline maps with arrows in the spirit of Paradox’s creativity, and here everything is brighter, clearer, more dynamic – somewhat reminiscent of Total War… Squad figurines move around areas with houses, mountains, forests, roads, rivers, and bridges, spending action points. Opponents are designated with exactly the same soldiers – they act at the behest of artificial intelligence when their turn comes. At the same time, objects are subject to change. For example, in the story, the Nazis destroy the bridges leading to the north of the country, which is shown to us with all the effects put in such cases.

The main scenario begins with the capture of the Pomigliano airfield, from where the Germans are raiding Naples and develops to the north, where it is necessary to prepare the assault on Montecassino and defeat the insidious General Taube. To achieve the goal, you need to choose one of three armies – British, American, or mixed. Each option has its own advantages. For example, the British get good Indian artillery and two ships at their disposal, whereas if you choose the United States, you will have one. And in addition to the main missions, the partisans offer you from time to time to take on secondary ones: either eliminate an enemy officer, then seize a hospital, then help the partisans escape from the encirclement, then free Avellino – the homeland of the Sopranos from the television series of the same name. Such assignments bring experience and allow companies to be strengthened before serious trials.

Is the Revolution Canceled?

Given the pre-alpha status, the game is still far from perfect. The destructibility of the environment, on which the developers rested, is framed somehow: a tank, for example, then knocks down an obstacle, then passes through it, like a ghost through a tombstone. At the same time, armored vehicles still do not know how to crush enemies – if you give the car an order to run into a soldier, it will begin to fidget in place, as if there were not people ahead, but a wall. Seriously, Relic, back in  Dune II, I used a shoga to flatten enemies with a harvester.

Other imperfections are also noticeable. Either the icon is not drawn, then a pink cube is displayed instead of a unit, then the fighter looks in one direction, and shoots in the other. Auto-selection of the route is also not particularly pleasing: the impression is that it ignores elevation differences – and as a result, the detachment lays an extra hook along some ditch, and even in the line of fire. To save manpower, you have to tightly deal with micro-control. At the same time, one cannot fail to note the new animations like rolling when running to cover – they look great.

Most of the technical flaws, of course, will be fixed for a full release in 2022, so there is no point in dwelling on them in more detail. The problem is different: the game in its current form is nothing to surprise. Almost all the innovations of Company of Heroes 3 have already met somewhere. The transitions from the global map to local battles are reminiscent of the Total War series on the F95Zone platform if diplomacy, politics, and city development were thrown out of it. The use of ships and aircraft is not much different from what we saw in the fifth and sixth “Civilization”. And many interesting solutions migrated straight from the second “Company of Heroes” – such as the ability to pick up abandoned weapons on the battlefield. But this, frankly, does not attract a revolution and does not justify the seven-year lull before the show of “pre-alpha”.

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