Surviving the Frozen Heart of Mother Russia

Our first look at Company of Heroes 2 takes us to a new locale and a dark time in World War II history. Get all the early details here.

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Company of Heroes 2, the sequel to 2006's real-time World War II strategy game Company of Heroes, is taking you deep into the icy heart of Mother Russia. This sequel's campaign will span from the Germans' initial invasion of the Motherland in 1941 to the Soviets' attack on Berlin in 1945. Those four long years will claim the lives of tens of millions of soldiers and civilians as the Soviet army repels the German invasion through sheer manpower and brute force. As game director and history buff Quinn Duffy puts it: "The Russian army is a million hammers, all smashing their way towards Berlin."

We had the chance to see those hammers in motion during a recent hands-off demonstration of Company of Heroes 2. Relic Entertainment's senior designer, Jasen Torres, and creative manager, Simon Watts, took us through a quick scenario highlighting some of the changes and additions coming in this sequel.

To those hoping for a simulated moral system, a la Dawn of War, you're out of luck.

As in any good land war set on the eastern front, snow is a constant companion. Our first exposure to the game was of Russian soldiers trudging knee-deep across a snowy battlefield. As the developers explained, snow has depth, and it will impact movement. Snow slows you down, and your units will leave tracks for others to discover. These tracks are persistent, and astute players will learn to spot the differences between various tank treads and footprints to gain insight into what their opponent is fielding--even if they can't see the units themselves.

Snow can also be used in more devious ways. In one scene, a group of soldiers were tasked with assaulting a house. They could either trudge their way through the heavy snow, leaving them slowed and exposed, or take the snow-free road up to the house's gate. They chose the road--just as the enemy assumed they would--and were met with a surprise attack in the form of several well-placed land mines.

While the snow is a hindrance, there is a new ability for quickly navigating the battlefield. Infantry units can now vault over certain pieces of cover. No longer are you forced to run your troops through a narrow gate, or wait for a vehicle to come smashing through, because your men couldn't surmount a waist-high wall.

In certain scenarios, you will desperately need that forward momentum lest you be labeled a deserter and cut down by your own men. An early cinematic established this with the execution of Order 227. Infamous for the line "Not a step back!" this desperate decree was intended to keep the Soviets pushing forward--no matter the cost. This dark tone is something Relic is tapping into with the campaign for Company of Heroes 2. Does this mean every time you wish to move your units back a few paces they're going to be shot? Not likely. The gameplay ramifications are still being tweaked, but building an enjoyable game takes precedence.

A healthy does of fire can quickly deny your enemies cover within buildings.

One feature the developers were very excited to show was the new line-of-sight technology, TrueSight. This system aims to better emulate troop visibility in combat. Instead of having the fog of war peel back at an even, circular pace, it ebbs and flows like inky water as your troops move across the battlefield. As some foot soldiers pass through a dense forest, they can see only thin slivers of what lies ahead because of all the trees. Enemies are restricted by TrueSight as well, and once you have an understanding of how the system works, you can start using it against them.

In one scene, an SU-76 tank was slowly creeping through a deserted village. The road was narrow and the buildings tightly packed, which meant the tank's line of sight was basically shot. It came as little surprise when an antitank round disabled it in one shot. However, it wasn't a total loss. The tank's crew was ordered to abandon the vehicle, and thus became a new, separate unit. Abandoned vehicles can be recaptured and repaired, by either side. When asked whether a player could hijack a moving vehicle or not, the developers smiled and stated that to capture a vehicle, you must get rid of the crew first--how you do that remains to be seen.

There are plenty more improvements coming in Company of Heroes 2. One area the developers felt needed improvement was AI scripting during campaign missions. In this case, less is more, since they would like the skirmishes to be a bit more random when replayed multiple times. Sound design is another area they're examining closely. As the developers noted, they're now taking their own recordings of live weapon fire from multiple distances to better simulate the action in their game.

See that little stone wall in front of the house? You can jump over that.

For those with DirectX 11-compatible machines, Company of Heroes 2 will take advantage of that technology for some added visual improvements. However, our demo was still using DX9, and you will have the option to choose between the two in the final game. If purchased through Steam, Company of Heroes 2 will also utilize Valve's Steamworks technology with matchmaking and Steam achievements. The game will be released on PC--the only version the developers would confirm at this time--sometime in early 2013.

Discussion

69 comments
dragoonslayer19
dragoonslayer19

Might be a silly quesion but I need to know if this game has pause button, I cant stand RTS games wthout a pause button.

Cybrian
Cybrian

Combat zones are invariably scenes of the utmost misery, but the Eastern Front was as close to hell as one could get.  It's not a theater of war I'd willingly want to re-enact; even the simulation promises to be hell.  But I look forward to the release; such is my affection for CoH that I'll forgive any bugs and get the game anyway.  And I want to get it before the winter comes.

sniphunter
sniphunter

i LOVE THIS GAME , CAN'T STOP PLAYING COH ToV.....

CANT WAIT FOR COH2 !!!!!!!!!! \(^_^)/

7Deuce
7Deuce

CoH is one of my favorite games of all time.

 

All this and no word on how many factions there will be, or if the U.S. is even included?

 

For the "history buffs" they use as part of development, it amuses me that they still label the Soviet Union as Russia, when in fact it was numerous nations who were included in the union and participated in the war just as Russia did. Considering Joseph Stalin himself was Georgian, not Russian.

 

 

S-181
S-181

Looks good, but i hope relic's next project is homeworld 3

AceBalls
AceBalls

COH is still my fave RTS to this day ;) It will be a great day for gaming when this is released!

pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

While I wait for this I will try "Zelda: The Wind Waker" as Gamespot tells me this is a game I may like.

duderdave
duderdave

Thanks, Max.

 

Now, when do we get to see the videos, eh? :)

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

This is awesome news

 

=D.......

 

I'm looking forward to this!

 

y3ivan
y3ivan

no german/ axis campaign?

Hellequin85
Hellequin85

Change is good but I hope they don't change too much from the first game which was awesome. I'm hoping it'll be equally amazing!

paladin125
paladin125

Been waiting for this game forever, looks like its shaping up to be pretty awesome. By the way, I believe you meant "morale" instead of "moral" in the first pictures caption.

pidow
pidow

Can't wait to play.

gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

the RTS games await there new comrade commander to arrive

burnettaj
burnettaj

Great game. Wil be buying this one.

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

The first game was the best RTS game on years. The gameplay was amazing, the graphics were astonishing for that time, great multiplayer, etc.

I just can't wait to get this on Steam.

Gilgamesh89
Gilgamesh89

Company of Heroes 2 The best strategy game workmanship so far.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Thank god, another excellent PC RTS.

arcsina
arcsina

Finally

what took you guys so long?

Therimight
Therimight

This, I think, will be quite good. I really like TrueSight, I have wanted something like that for years. It will make multiplayer matches rather interesting, though. choosing where to engage will suddenly acquire a whole new level of importance. I would definitely like like to see that in many RTSs in the future. Many of the RTSs that i have seen recently have had really dumb A.I. when it comes to skirmish mode. The campaign will have good A.I. because there is a developer sitting behind the wheel, for the most part, but in Skirmish the training wheels are off, and the A.I. is allowed to run rampant. But unfortunately it's been pretty stupid.

Nodashi
Nodashi

/me gusta face.Damn, my favorite scenario, one of my favorite games ever. Can I haz pre-purchase with beta invite? XD 

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

I can't wait but was hoping for a bit more then just the Russians added as a team. Will the Multiplayer/Skirmish side of the game still contain the American and British teams? and could we see a possible Pacific campaign in the future but involving the Japanese/Chinese/American.

TheJoker88
TheJoker88

Lol. It seems pretty rediculous that there would be any chance of this coming to a console.... Even mobile platforms or tablets. There's way too much micro that goes on in COH for it to ever really work on a console, and I'm not so sure mobile/tablets would have the specs to really run it effectively....With that said, I'm so excited for this game. 

GhostofWar75
GhostofWar75

OMG yes! cant wait. its gonna be awsome!

glbbg
glbbg

Remains to be seen.

GamesAndRoses
GamesAndRoses

OOOOO my god. I can not wait for this.

 

I am defiantly upgrading my PC to take advantage of that DX11. 

qioden
qioden

cant wait, enough said

oflow
oflow

As long as they dont half-ass the gameplay or make another ToV I'll be down to support them.  I really hope they dont do away with basebuilding like they did in DoW2.  While DoW2 was tactical, it basically was a dumbed down version of  CoH:OF and the lack of enthusiasm by people that liked DoW1 showed.  CoH's base building wasnt like the typical RTS basebuilding it actually helped determine the strats used in the game depending on what the enemy team was trying to put out.  CoH pre ToV is in my top games of all-time listing so heres hoping they dont screw the pooch on this because THQ cant take too many more fails financially.

Arranik
Arranik

Holy sh*t, I am hella excited for this.

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

It's definitely exciting. I always like Relic!

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

mmm looks interesting, i hope the other armies are still gonna be present, would be nice if they got tweaked too panze elite and brits never felt complete

niklev83
niklev83

Finally! Amazing news! Can't wait to get this game! :)

thequickshooter
thequickshooter

i hope there is a us vs japan campigan 

that will sound awesome

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

For those of you who already own Company of Heroes 1, I suggest you head over to Moddb and pick up the "Eastern Front" mod. It is essentially this entire game added on to the last one. 

MAT30-
MAT30-

Fucking amazing ideas!! thats what i want to see NEW IDEAS not old shit wih new paint

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @ChaosUndivided pacific campaign is a bit adventurous for a game about close quarters land warfare.

 

Besides there are decent rts for the ww2 pacific campaign. Battlestation pacific.

RTHKI
RTHKI

 @Sgthombre I've tried it twice. Can't recommend it until they fix game breaking bugs and bad design choices. A KV-1 should not have an incredibly short range and a V-1 shouldn't crash the game.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

 @y3ivan

 Thats true but there was plenty of close quarter combat on Iwo Jima. Island warfare can be done the same with air craft and ships being used as support powers just like in the previous game. Plus you can do Manchuria against the russian. Or you can focus on the Chinese pushing the Japanese back out of China similar to the Russians pushing back Germany... Sorry for the rant.

oflow
oflow

 @Gelugon_baat well no game is going to be canonically correct for the most part and I was more referring to the base-building is CoH as opposed to DoW1.  The main difference in IMHO is that in CoH you actually had tech trees which made a difference in how you built the base and DoW2 doesnt which is why I said it was dumbed down.  Just saying I hope the new essence engine is more like coh than dow2 when it comes to coh2.

oflow
oflow

 @Gelugon_baat its not the same the coh veterancy system is far superior to dow2