Company of Heroes 3 Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)
If you love Total War, then you definitely want to check out Company of Heroes, too. Or, if you’ve been a fan since the first Company of Heroes real-time strategy (RTS) video game came out in 2006, then you definitely need to check out the sequel. So far, there have been three mainline entries in the series, all RTS games that so candidly define the genre. A little tactical gameplay here, and a little cover and terrain there, Company of Heroes understands the gravity of adopting the significant World War II events to a fault.
I have to say, the first-ever Company of Heroes in 2006 really threw the ball out of the park as far as expectations went. So much so that the sequel struggled to meet the high standards set by one of its own. And, consequently, the uncertainty I had coming in to check out the third entry. Will Company of Heroes 3 live up to its high reputation in the RTS gaming space? Does it fulfill the demanding intricacies of war? Are the graphics and performance up to par? Just how great is Company of Heroes 3? Let’s find out in today’s Company of Heroes 3 review.
Two Campaigns. Four Factions. One Game.
Relic’s ambitiously implemented two campaigns: one set in the vineyards of Italy and the other in the desert lands of North Africa. Four factions take reign against one another here, including the British and US armies for the Allies and the Wehrmacht and Afrikakorps for the Axis. History-wise, four factions make sense, with the game set in the theaters of World War II, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded an even more extensive variety of factions.
Wishes aside, Company of Heroes 3 makes for a wholesome multiplayer experience. Who wants to boggle down strategic maps and storytelling all alone? When can you jump straight into the meat of the game, where moment-to-moment gameplay reigns?
From a bird’s eye view, you get a pretty good picture of the sights beneath. The map looks huge, though it definitely focuses on a section of the larger Italian and North African sites. It’s refined and beautifully textured. The ocean has crystal blue water, and the land is flowy and rugged. It’s brilliant. I’d have loved a little more detail, with the possibility of cracks showing and an on-ground view of the terrain made possible. Overall, it’s aesthetically good enough for the third sequel.
Where to Start?
This doesn’t champion war, given the current climate. Still, it’s utterly fun, settling in the Wehrmacht’s commander’s shoes and executing some poor judgment. Well, tactical demands, still. You’ll be launching missiles on enemy front lines, whether it’s from tanks or sea monsters. The Italian campaign mode is much larger, evidently borrowing a thing or two from Total War.
The mission here is to work your way upwards, from the tip of Italy’s Sicily to heavily-protected Rome. Each section of the map varies in size, terrain, and difficulty, though the enemy AI barely tries to make the conquership harder for you (more on that later). Resources could run out if used unwisely.
These are the usual war elements like manpower, fuel, and ammunition. Some routes are well-guarded, and others pose less of a risk. It sometimes does feel like the case of the hare or tortoise juxtaposed. Deciding whether to take the faster route and exhaust resources and risk defeat or the slower route and conserve resources, but hardly put in the effort that equals fun.
Ultimately, Company of Heroes 3 is a game that champions dominance, all while building your forces, positioning them in areas of advantage where there are enough spots of cover, capturing territories, and defending them against enemy forces.
It’s Your World
Italy’s side of the Mediterranean is more free-form, borrowing ideas from the Total War campaign maps and allowing you to capture territories in your own way. As soon as you obliterate the Germans’ air, sea, and land defenses, more urgent matters arise. You could help allies in other parts of the map, which comes in handy for strengthening relations with the UK and the US generals, which later counts toward support for the final takeover of Rome.
This packed tactical content makes Company of Heroes 3 such a blast. That you’re always kept on your toes and that losing a battle is as easy as taking a mere breather. What’s more? The progress made feels unique to you. Depending on your actions, however accidental, the missions adjust to your journey. How cool is that?
Don’t Be Afraid to Consult
If, at any point, takeovers start to take a toll on you, don’t be afraid to consult the tutorial book. It’s much more fun that way, as you have all the possible moves at your fingertips. Like the naval vessels, for instance. They can be easy to miss. Or, the supply points, which you shouldn’t ideally destroy, or else the resource bonus you’d have received from capturing said territory would go to waste.
Though Not Much Consulting is Needed
On that note, you’ll hardly need too much consulting, especially when you’ve managed to soar in the real-time missions and want to test the wider campaign map’s waters. It’s just hardly dynamic, in the sense that once you capture a territory, the enemy AI does very little to try and pry it away from your hands. So, essentially, all you need to do is capture a town and go on vacation. No setting up of defenses or being on high alert is needed.
It’s funny because conquering other towns needs tearing down their defenses first. So, why not implement the possibility of the enemy AI retaking a lost territory, thus forcing you to proceed through the game cautiously? Without that constant challenge, campaign maps feel easy even after you’ve won over a city.
It’s made worse by the simplicity of the gameplay. Seriously, you could easily get by pushing your little men slowly up the countryside for the first few hours. No mastery of the multiple combat systems at play is necessary. Or, an evident effect on your abilities when your men’s health starts to drop.
The Detriment Factor
The strength of Company of Heroes 3 lies in its real-time battles. Because of the series’ mastery of the genre over the years, they’ve perfected the craft so much that it feels overly exhilarating to play. You’re constantly kept on your toes throughout the missions, and your brain fires up from moment to moment, cooking up some insane strategy to capture enemy territories and make them your own.
If only the journey didn’t stop there because once you capture a territory, it’s all pretty much smooth sailing. The enemy AI could care less whether you’ve left a previously conquered territory unattended. Or, whether you’ve built strong enough defenses to withstand any future contentions.
Simply put, once you’ve captured towns, you’re free to move on upward until you’ve reached the capital. The result of which is a somewhat linear feel to a specific story of the US and UK’s liberation of Italy. To call Company of Heroes 3 a sandbox would be a long stretch, which I have to say is a missed opportunity to take this game to a whole new level truly.
There’re plenty of accolades to throw at Company of Heroes 3, from the fully-fleshed tactical moment-to-moment gameplay, courtesy of the years of experience since the series’ first release in 2006, to the evidently refined and polished settings of the theaters of World War II, unlike any we’ve seen so far. The scenery is so gorgeous-looking. It offers such an undeniable joy to maneuver.
Thanks to the variety of factions, settings, and tactical systems, Company of Heroes 3 will surely get you hooked for the several hours gamers willingly throw at RTS games. The only worrisome thing is that the enemy AI just doesn’t deliver, even on cranked-up difficulty. The opening hours are simple, perhaps too simple to feel any challenge in capturing territories.
The opposition starts picking up the pace, and the battles become more intense. However, it’s hard to want to return for a second go at it, when you just don’t feel the rush of adrenaline that games like these promise to deliver. The first try is a blast, though. Not to mention the additional North African operation, which will begin soon after the single-player Italian one ends.
I love the vast content, the similarly extensive maps, and the tense moments between making battle decisions, only mere milliseconds apart. I only wish the game posed more of a challenge and that capturing a territory didn’t mean total success but instead meant a change in mission from attack to defense. All in all, Company of Heroes 3 is a no-brainer title you wouldn’t want to miss checking out, albeit for the first time.
Company of Heroes 3 Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)
World War II, Re-Imagined
Company of Heroes 3 understands RTS, much like the previous two entries. The series, as a whole, is regarded as champions of the genre, carefully crafting battlefield moments that truly matter. This one is a no-brainer recommendation, even if it’s your first try.