Company of Heroes Designer Diary #3 - Infantry Weapons and Tactics

Designer Blake Gilroy discusses some of the weapons to be found in this cutting-edge real-time strategy game and how you'll use them in battle


Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes may look like another World War II game, but this real-time strategy game from THQ and Relic Entertainment may very well revolutionize the genre. This is a game that should bring together everything from realistic and destructible environments to smart artificial intelligence to real-world tactics to create a cinematic World War II experience. Things that you've seen in movies should be possible in Company of Heroes. If your men are pinned down behind a wall, then send a tank crashing though the wall to provide another way out, and then have the men follow the tank for cover. Or if there's a machine-gun nest giving you problems, have your troops toss satchel charges into the building that it's in to bring the house down. It's good that we have Blake Gilroy, one of the game's designers, to discuss how you'll use some of these weapons in the game. Company of Heroes is scheduled to ship later this year.

Infantry Weapons and Tactics

By Blake Gilroy
Designer, Relic Entertainment

Today we're going to discuss the Allied infantry weapons and the tactics designed around each weapon. The Allied forces boast a powerful arsenal in Company of Heroes. While the weaponry may be potent, the first thing any fledgling commander will learn is that there's always a right weapon for the job, and not knowing which weapon to use can cost you the battle. Let's go over some of the weapons that will be available to you when playing the Allies and ways you can use those weapons to dominate your opponent.

The bazooka isn't great at picking off infantry, but aim it at a building and have fun.
The bazooka isn't great at picking off infantry, but aim it at a building and have fun.

Regular Allied infantry are armed with the M1 Garand rifle. The Garand's higher accuracy but lower rate of fire is best suited for mid- to long-range combat. Being a light rifle, the Garand will give your troops full freedom of movement to find some cover while maintaining a high accuracy to bring their prey down. Soldiers equipped with the Garand are able to fire on the move, allowing them to chase down strays, but their accuracy significantly drops while mobile, so when it comes to a firefight, it's best to keep them still to have their aim steady.

Other infantry are armed with the M1A1 Thompson submachine gun. Not the most accurate weapon, the Thompson is best used up close and personal where there's more flesh than air for the bullet spray to hit. Another light weapon, the Thompson will keep your troops mobile, but rather than finding cover, you'll want to use that mobility to exploit an open flank and get close enough to mow down some Axis infantry. Urban environments bring out the best in the Thompson, offering plenty of opportunities to ambush unsuspecting volksgrenadiers.

The M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun is a heavy machine gun designed to cut down Axis infantry by the dozens. With an intense rate of fire, this weapon will quickly suppress and pin enemy squads foolish enough to get within range. A heavy-weapon crew is needed to carry the .30 cal, and this crew will take a short amount of time to set it up. Once set up, you will need to supply cover for the crew--the gun only has a limited angle that it's able to fire in, and once flanked, it could be too late to save them. This impressive piece of hardware is best used out in the field to protect an influential choke point or on the defensive when you're expecting to see hordes of Axis troops at your doorstep.

There will be times that it may not be wise to charge into a swarm of Axis infantry entrenched behind sandbags, brush, and craters. In times like these, it's better to drop 60mm mortar rounds on their heads and watch the bodies fall limp. With their long range and high angle of fire, mortars are able to launch attacks over walls and foliage alike, circumventing cover the enemy might be using against you. While squads armed with the 60mm mortar are great at knocking out stationary troops, they have a miserable time trying to peg those troops on the run. Like the .30 cal machine gun, this is a heavier weapon that requires a little setup time, so you might not want to get a little too ahead of yourself and put these boys down where they'll be getting into trouble that they won't be able to get out of.

Mortars let you reach out and kill someone, even if they're out of sight.
Mortars let you reach out and kill someone, even if they're out of sight.

Guns don't get much bigger than the 105mm howitzer in Company of Heroes. Shells that fly out of the howitzer will demolish buildings, turn armored vehicles to scrap, and make the human body something that can no longer be identified by either fingerprint or dental records. On top of that, this baby can fire halfway across a battlefield. What more could you want? Well, this behemoth is so large it actually requires engineers to construct it directly on the battlefield, and once constructed, it won't move very far. The howitzer requires a cooling-down period between bombardments and cannot protect itself during that period. You'll have to be vigilant to not let the crew manning this beast be killed in action, because once they're gone, you can bet the Axis troops are going to grab it for themselves, and the last thing you want is for that giant barrel to start turning toward your direction.

And then there's the M9 bazooka. Meant for larger targets, it's rare for the bazooka to hit its mark if that mark is a small human being, but when it does hit, you can be sure you'll see limbs flying. Too inaccurate to be an effective infantry killer, the bazooka still has other uses when dealing with Axis infantry. If you find your opponent using a stone wall to cover the flank of a heavy machine gun, knock down that wall with a bazooka and bring that gun down from the side. If an offensive push has been halted by grenadiers taking cover behind sandbags, blow up those sandbags and let your riflemen and machine gunners do their job.

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