Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor Hands-On - Driving a Tank

We get our hands on the next expansion for Relic's explosive 2006 World War II real-time strategy game.

If you played 2006's Company of Heroes, you'll remember the game's distinctive look and feel--how, unlike other real-time strategy games, it wasn't about harvesting resources or building structures, but about commanding a small squadron of determined troops in tough battles. The game turned heads with its explosive action and equally explosive environments; its impressive technology built war-torn environments with plenty of fully destructible cover. Now, the game is set to return in a new add-on, Tales of Valor, which will offer three new single-player campaigns, along with new drivable multiplayer vehicles. We had a chance to dive into one of the new single-player missions and try out the new tank controls, which will be available for one of the most feared tanks in World War II, the King Tiger. Please be advised that this preview may contain minor spoilers.

Ride a tank, hold a general's rank in Tales of Valor. Tank included.

The game will offer three new campaigns, and we had a chance to try out a section of the Tiger Ace campaign, a series of Axis missions in which you'll take control of a German tank crew. Each character can carry infantry weapons in battle, and indeed, you'll need their abilities as foot soldiers to complete your missions. We played two missions that took place in a tiny French village which, during the war itself, was locked down against Allied reinforcements by the resourceful crew of a single King Tiger tank--in the game, your crew, and your tank. And as part of Company of Heroes' role-playing game-like gameplay, your tank crew will be able to advance along certain skill lines that will result in immediate upgrades to the actual tank vehicle itself, such as increased firing speed or better handling.

This mission gave us a chance to try the new "direct fire" control mode, a toggle-able setting that lets you use your computer's mouse to freely rotate and aim your turret at different targets. The Tiger Tank's powerful cannon has two different firing modes that use different shells (and switching between them requires a brief pause as your cannoneer swaps out shells): one mode is highly effective against enemy vehicles, and the other is more effective against buildings, emplacements, and infantry. Firing the cannon is literally as easy as pointing and clicking, and there's a hovering crosshair that you can use to acquire targets as well.

The King Tiger mission starts off as an extremely satisfying romp in which you roll through the town, flushing out your foes. Your powerful tank can mow down smaller Allied vehicles and send enemy foot soldiers flying. (You can also simply run over enemy infantry in a tank to crush them.) Later on in the mission, the Allies send reinforcements in the form of their own tanks, and though none can compare to the sheer firepower or the massive frontal armor of the King Tiger, you'll still find yourself challenged to negotiate the abandoned streets of the city without coming under withering fire. The King Tiger is massive enough to barrel through most low-lying cover and powerful enough to blast through most small buildings, but you may prefer to keep your cover intact to ensure that your tank isn't immediately spotted and fired on by enemies as well. Once you've stomped through the map, you'll then maneuver your tank to various control points to help Axis infantry (your allies in this campaign) capture each point.

After completing this mission, we found that our tank, despite our best efforts, had broken down as the result of a story-related event, and our once-mighty tank crew became a small infantry squad in hostile territory. We found ourselves at the northernmost part of the town (toward which we had fought our way), tasked with sneaking down to the southern end to escape. In this case, we found that stealth was generally a better tactic than going in with guns blazing, though after the handful of skirmishes we did find ourselves in, we made sure to avail ourselves of the weaponry our foes left behind, such as Panzerfaust ammo to blast enemy vehicles.

The King Tiger's massive cannon will lay most ground troops to waste.

Given that the mission took place after the Allies sent along another wave of reinforcements, we were outnumbered and outgunned, and so we carefully did our best to avoid as many conflicts as possible. Tales of Valor is very much an extension of Company of Heroes, and consequently this was a small-scale mission with a small squadron of troops. Playing smart can help avoid casualties, but fortunately, the expansion's new "field dressing" feature lets you revive fallen comrades in battle, so that you can continue on your way without having to worry about losing key characters.

Tales of Valor is clearly looking to add more gritty, small-scale action to an already excellent tactical strategy game. The expansion is set to ship in early 2009.

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169 comments
mfa1486
mfa1486

is cooollllll previews i well w8 this game sure after this previews thxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

zacharykavulich
zacharykavulich

finaly someone sees the awsomeness of the direct control mode of FOW they did steel the direct controll mode but even if they did it looks like a good game and i dont care who stole what i just care if the game is good or not

raimo117
raimo117

If you star thinking, there were less than 500 Tiger 2 ever made... No wonder they thought Tiger 1 was King Tiger.

Dagenrul
Dagenrul

Errr sorry to steal your thunder gamespot,but thats a Tiger one not a tiger two.with the sheer number of ww2 games out there i thought they would at least pick up some facts about that era.

revols
revols

Those german units still have winter clothes in warm season ?!

revols
revols

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Sudden_ATTACK
Sudden_ATTACK

and i quite a good shot.....I rocked as a tank kommander in FoW

Sudden_ATTACK
Sudden_ATTACK

it sounds like they stole the Direct control option from SHOWW2,FoW and the up coming MoW,if you report this 2 Digitalmindsoft,they will with explode(other than the Exp which isnt but i think it came out in Singapore

kengi_ikazuchi
kengi_ikazuchi

seems it would be hard to come out w/ an expansion when the buzz has already died down. They should have released a completely new stand-alone version taking advantage of today's graphix cards.

mehrdad1987
mehrdad1987

WOW, What A COH, i Will Upgrade my pc for this one, Wow

tevkid
tevkid

Could be, maybe I shouldn't be so down on it.

InfinitiLvr
InfinitiLvr

Tevkid I was just thinking that... maybe CoH will improve upon the already sweet direct control?

tevkid
tevkid

From the preview, the 'Tiger Ace' campaign sounds like pretty much an exact copy of the 'Wrath of the Tiger' campaign in Soldiers: Heroes of WWII, released back in 2004, which interestingly also featured a direct control mode. Perhaps CoH:ToV will also feature a British campaign where you have to capture the guidance gear from an experimental German rocket and an American campaign where you fight for the bridge at Nijmegen. Pick up SHOWWII for $5-$10 and save some money.

chaoscougar1
chaoscougar1

CoH has to be one of the best RTSs of all time, innovative and really changed the way RTSs were played

bloody_taco
bloody_taco

so it will be an rts, and have a mode where you have control over an individual squad/tank...genious

mavan33
mavan33

it comeing in april 13 2009

Sudden_ATTACK
Sudden_ATTACK

no they arent gonna add any new factions only units,maps,Game plaay modes and this feature,period

mavan33
mavan33

gamestop got a video

csbf4
csbf4

hmm thats a tiger 1 in the image above not a king tiger, get it right.

Dogongrog
Dogongrog

Having russians and japanese in CoH would be GREAT! They both had a serious contribution to the war and there wouldn't be an issue with who the japanese would fight cause they fought the Aussies, who if you're american, are part of the british commonwealth and they contributed to the war in europe, africa, the middle east and against the japanese. And seeing Australians in a war game would be very cool, cause we dont get the credit we deserve

m34d
m34d

let the russians and japs have another game COH is about europe, but im sure they will make a russian, japanese, and probobly even go on to make vietnam and desert storm games or just modern combat, that would be the prefered direction. I would like to see a north africa version pitting the XXX corps agains romels armored devision. Or italy they can brouden the games spectrum tremendously with just brits americans and germans. the road to berlin has been overused i think we should look for North africa and Bastogne to be in future packs, seems to be good for chrono on the Battle of the bulge.

KillaSamurai
KillaSamurai

This looks amazing!, CoH is one of my fave RTS games, shame i got vista and can't play custom maps anymore :( Stupid vista, i hope this expansion fixes the problem

Bonus_Feature
Bonus_Feature

I hear a lot of people pleading for Russians and Japanese. Trust me, I want them as bad as you. But, there is just one problem, the Russians and Japanese never fought each other out right and the Japanese never fought alongside the Germans. What I am getting at is the multi player has only historic maps and it is only Axis vs. Allies. So if Relic put in Japanese they would have to put in the marines to fight them. But only those two could fight each other because historically no one else really did. So do you catch my drift? No probably not, Im terrible at ranting. I'll just say that I think an African expansion is more likely than anything else.

cyberlima
cyberlima

I hope we have unlimited troops...i don´t like to fight with what they give... i would like more in the wau of red alert we can buil an army with large proporcions...thatás what i call war...Company of heroes is the best but please let us build our army....

bunkryan
bunkryan

it's not an FPS it's just an optional feature and i think it's a good feature because a lot of times when i'm playing the tank drivers don't react right away or do as i say and die so it will reduce casualties and they should make a russian and japanese expansion but i think the point they're trying to reach in the game is strategy in the western front if you haven't noticed there's a little too many japanese strategy games and they all have to do with naval combat because that's all it really was but having russians against the germans would be a great idea

paladin125
paladin125

seems pretty cool but I just hope they release a Japanese and Russian expansion soon

jonka123456789
jonka123456789

Hmmm.... I... I think... no... I.. I..... hmmm.... I think that summed it all up neatly.

major-stoner
major-stoner

Thats a pkwf-mk6 the original Tiger. Do ya think they play the game? hmmmmm...credibility you guys.

mavan33
mavan33

that tank is a tiger tank

mavan33
mavan33

i hope canada is in it

efp87
efp87

where the japanese? russians? russians have cool tanks too

SWATMAN4
SWATMAN4

Seems like its worth a shot, they could add a russian campaign with ruskie units, that would make an even better game. And the whole "KING TIGER" thing... seriously...if gamespot could get better writers. If they knew Tiger tank history, the King Tiger is more of an upgraded Panther than a Tiger. In fact, the King Tiger is probably only 10% related to the Tiger I.

fizik89
fizik89

...dont tell me all u do is drive a tank..

kwloy
kwloy

Mixed feelings, it will be kool to drive a tiger, but COH is supose to be an RTS not a FPS. This is a really risky move for THQ its a new thing to add a twist to the RTS experience.

Sun-Fac
Sun-Fac

it doesn't look that great

Marjk
Marjk

It's not a King Tiger, bozo. Just a Tiger I. Jeez, what would Gamespot ever do with 1) Writers who knew the product, and 2) People who can write?

InqVaga
InqVaga

i duno this could be cool, i do agree that a new side would be cool but what is left to do that u can do in this style of game. i think THQ just make a new game with the same system.

stuntmayne
stuntmayne

I say cancel this crap and make a decent expansion for coh, nobody asked to be able to drive a tiger or be able to aim ur tank's cannons or anything like that, we all want new sides, new units and new maps, not this waste of time

pooya_d
pooya_d

I am dying to play this........

KVASEY
KVASEY

No new factions or locations?! How long do we have to wait to get Russians or Afrika Corp?

RonTorque
RonTorque

My dream came true...Wished there was another COH

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

Did anyone ever play Faces of War??? They tried the exact same thing as this... RTS buut you can 'directly command' a squad. It didn't really work, but with just the one tank it might.

Foreward66
Foreward66

nice, but i wished they could have made a campaign on the eastern front or something like that insted

hvypetals
hvypetals

Yes more COH, exactly what the doctor ordered!

pidow
pidow

Just make it interesting and alot of replay, I'll be happy.

Richb90
Richb90

The Japanese and Russians would have made a more interesting expansion and did actually fight against each other in World War 2 as well as adding to all the possible campaigns they could be used in against the existing CoH armies. Still one of the best strategy games ever though!

IncipitOmega
IncipitOmega

Well I have the first 2,I'm sure going to get the 3rd.... Great game.