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Company of Heroes 2 Review

  • First Released Jun 25, 2013
  • Reviewed Jun 25, 2013
  • PC

Company of Heroes 2 is an entertaining strategy game that excels when it pulls out all the stops.

It is said that war never changes; war's intensity, its perils, its world-shifting consequences remain unflinchingly true. Company of Heroes 2 demonstrates this weary axiom by overwhelming your senses with the heat and light of battle--battle that closely recalls the kind of skirmishes you once triumphed over in the original Company of Heroes. This is not a real-time strategy revolution, but a fun revival of enduring mechanics that pulls you into the trenches of the eastern front.

Given the series' penchant for explosive multiplayer confrontations, you might be inclined to overlook Company of Heroes 2's campaign, though you would be missing out on some of the game's better moments in doing so. The narrative is not, however, a return to form for developer Relic Entertainment, whose Homeworld games brought RTS storytelling to great heights. Given the excellence of many of the campaign missions, it's disappointing that the surrounding cutscenes can't meet their levels of excitement, try as they might. It's best to ignore the decidedly old-looking cinematics, the cast's uncomfortable accents, and the cliched attempts at dramatizing a strained soldier-commander relationship. Instead, let the missions themselves do the talking; the best ones communicate the hopelessness and despair the cinematics fail to capture.

Even early missions impress upon you the disposability of your troops, frequently commanding you to retreat when you are overrun, all while you order in one nameless conscript squad after another. Interesting new mechanics, too, effectively communicate the helplessness of an individual combatant, and not only during the campaign, but in AI skirmishes, online multiplayer, and elsewhere. On snowy maps, the fearsome rush of cold and wind don't just make for a chilly sight, but also make for chilly soldiers. Soldiers feeling the frosty sting need a warm fire (provided by a resourceful engineer or pioneer) or the confines of an available structure to avoid succumbing to a frigid death. Infantry trudge slowly through drifts of snow, and crossing an icy pond could prove fatal if the weight of a tank--or the eruption of a grenade--proves too much for the flimsy ice to handle.

A flaming tank is not the kind of warmth a soldier needs to stay alive.
A flaming tank is not the kind of warmth a soldier needs to stay alive.

And so you don't confront just the forces of the enemy, but the forces of nature too, and make important tactical considerations in the process. Do you risk sending unprotected soldiers to a desolate capture point, hoping they can make the trek without freezing to death? If it's later in a skirmish or multiplayer match, you might have half-tracks for transport purposes, but the possibility of an early lead might make it worth taking a gamble with a few squads. The weather is not an issue on every map, but when it's a concern, your usual tactical approach (say, leading a few squads around the map to capture victory points while advancing far enough to build heavy tanks) may not work well, if at all.

The campaign excels when making you feel the heartlessness of your commander's orders. Voice-overs frequently remind you that you are sending troops out to die for the motherland, and the endless stream of free conscripts most missions gift you on medium difficulty reinforce the idea that no one individual is indispensable. Unfortunately, this huge supply of free infantry makes it too easy to win by steamrolling across the map using sheer numbers. It's far more satisfying to win a mission by sending out multiple, carefully constructed control groups across the map and micromanaging their abilities. (Some infantry can toss Molotovs, and snipers can fire debilitating rounds, for instance.) Most campaign missions don't require that kind of high-end strategizing, however.

Even with the use of free soldiers, campaign missions still manage to be varied and intense. Some of the intensity comes from the chaos of tanks lighting up the map and artillery demolishing entire buildings that then collapse before your very eyes. These are spectacular moments from a visual perspective in a sharp-looking game, but rarely are such sights just for show. When a squad hits the ground, pinned by oppressive fire, it looks authentic, of course, but it also hinders your progress. A Katyusha's rockets might hit a structure and make a grand fireworks show, but that structure may be in the way of your actual target, forcing you to fully destroy it so your rockets can reach their mark--or to find a better position. Company of Heroes 2 is a one-two punch of powerful production values and nail-biting confrontations. Just bear in mind that you can't experience the fireworks if you are still using Windows XP, because the game doesn't support that operating system. Nor, for that matter, does it support dual video cards in Crossfire or SLI configuration.

Armor is vital, but you need infantry to capture victory points.
Armor is vital, but you need infantry to capture victory points.

Company of Heroes 2 excels when it sticks to its standard strategic formula. In a typical match, you start with a squad of engineers or pioneers and construct the necessary structures to pump out new units. You don't send out resource gatherers to collect wood and iron as you might in a traditional RTS game, but rather move infantry quickly across the map to capture victory points. At such points, you might build add-ons that increase your flow of fuel and munitions, which are the resources, along with manpower, required to create units. It takes a lot of time for the campaign to introduce its resource-gathering mechanics, however, so if you're new to the series, don't expect the campaign to do an entirely great job of getting you prepared to take on human opposition.

The campaign, however, isn't the only way to get in some offline practice. As is usual for an RTS game, you can play skirmishes against the AI, but there's another suite of options called the Theater of War. The Theater includes a number of cooperative and solo challenges, which are typically much more challenging than the campaign. While the campaign is focused on the Russians, the Theater includes both USSR and German missions, some of which are wildly intense and entertaining.

A Crimean mission, for instance, lulls you into a sense of security as you lead your German infantry from one victory point to another, only for legions of Russian tanks to invade your main base, less concerned with map control than with attacking the heart of your operation. Managing various infantry squads while using antitank weaponry and heavy armor to fend off the aggressive Russian army requires you to keep every scuffle under tight control. This is the kind of entertaining test of wits that shows Company of Heroes 2 at its strongest, and this intensity is replicated in other solo and co-op missions that have you holding off tank invasions and holding your own in the unforgiving winter.

Running into campaign trouble? Order in more conscripts.
Running into campaign trouble? Order in more conscripts.

Company of Heroes 2 occasionally deviates from formula, likely for the sake of variety, but reveals some fundamental drawbacks in doing so. Sniper-focused missions in both the campaign and the Theater are a bit of a slog in and of themselves, but also showcase odd enemy AI behavior, with squads moving out of the line of fire only to return to their starting positions, or simply not responding at all. Luckily, another puzzle-type mission is more successful, and has you hunting down a tank with a small selection of units that must scour the map for appropriate antitank weaponry. This game of cat and mouse is then contrasted by the following mission that concludes with an all-out assault on the citadel at the heart of Poznan. Having big tanks to play with is an appropriate reward for dancing around a similar armored hulk in the previous mission.

You might see all of this offline and cooperative play as the lead-up to Company of Heroes 2's multiplayer suite, and it's online that you see some of strategy gaming's finer moments, along with a few nods to modern gamification that don't improve the online game in any meaningful way. Balance is key to successful multiplayer matches, and the game mostly hits the right marks in this regard, with some exceptions. A miniature swarm of Panzer 4s or a couple of half-tracks stuffed with snipers can ruin your day in a hurry, for instance, and it takes a good bit of high-level online play before you can start managing your resources and find ways to counter units that seem too powerful.

Pinned troops are useless troops.
Pinned troops are useless troops.

Once you've reached that point, you've probably earned a relatively high rank--meaning you have also earned persistent unit bonuses, such as increased accuracy for your antitank guns, or increased damage for your T-34s. It's easy to bristle at the thought of units unbalanced by design, and at the need to grind levels for such small perks. Luckily, the bonuses are too small to affect you as you learn the ropes. By the time you level up high enough for the small enhancements to matter, you'll be playing opponents who are on equal footing, more or less.

What fun it is to face evenly matched competition. You see human competitors exploiting mechanics the AI never can, such as the authentic line-of-sight mechanic, which unveils the fog of war based on what the unit should be expected to see, rather than a set radius. A mortar team in the right nook can wreak havoc on your progress, forcing you to fire position-revealing flares or order expensive recon aircraft lest you continue to get blown to bits. The recon comes courtesy of your chosen commander, who affords you certain abilities you can perform once you earn enough commander points during the match. You might find air recon useful--but ordering in an artillery barrage or a flamethrower tank could also change the tide of battle.

Put a tiger in your Tiger tank.
Put a tiger in your Tiger tank.

Online battles can be wonderful. Your decisions from the very beginning of a match can have far-reaching consequences, from the way you handle your engineer or pioneers, to your ability to get infantrymen into cover, to the effectiveness of your flanking maneuvers. Careful planning can culminate in a tense standoff at a single victory point, with your tank rolling in at the last minute to pick off the remaining enemy shock trooper vying for point control. But heartbreak also comes, often in the form of a flame-spewing half-track capable of burning multiple squads to a crisp.

Of course, such multiplayer mayhem recalls the original Company of Heroes' best moments, and you couldn't accuse this sequel of reaching the heights of the classic that spawned it. This familiarity is unlikely to breed much contempt, however, given Company of Heroes 2's consistent level of enjoyment. Its barrage of online and offline skirmishes doesn't always hit its mark. But when it finds its target, Company of Heroes 2 delivers a loud and mighty payload.

Back To Top
The Good
Many matches are a test of skill and resolve
Theater of War missions offer a variety of great challenges
Winter maps demand different tactics
The best missions emphasize the despair of war
Fantastic production values get the adrenaline pumping
The Bad
It's too easy to exploit the campaign's endless conscripts
Balance issues and grind to contend with
Some tedious missions showcase inconsistent enemy behavior
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play bass in Rock Band.
346 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for bobban49

It was a decent game but as a huge fan of COH1 this game was interesting for a little while but it just didn't re-create the magic of the original. The commanders were not as fun as the brilliant doctrinal trees of the original. It was also going back to two factions from the four that the original eventually expanded to. If they made it just as an expansion to the original by adding a Russian faction the game would still be alive.

Avatar image for zizo490

what the difference between coh 1 and coh 2 ?????

Avatar image for naryanrobinson

I haven't played either of these games but a friend of mine is really into them and he loves to sit there while I watch him play and explain in detail every single reason why this is terrible compared to the last one.

Avatar image for q1212q

Company of Heroes 2 is a VERY--BIG--DISAPPOINTMENT !!!

Why? Because a very simple and straight forward cause : the logic of the game is different from the first one. That is it. This is the brand of the game - its logic : AI logic, User options - build (how much, and where) attack and defend(resist).

You "invent" shit. The core of the game must remain the same as from it's predecessor. You tamper with the core, you make a big mistake - as seen.

Solution - maintain the original core of logic, and change the graphics as stupid as you can afford, you still will have happy users. Guarantied.

Thanks! (for nothing) :)

Avatar image for doraemonllh1989

lol at a bunch of nerds arguing

Avatar image for msquishyq

This game was created by Goebbels' grandson.

Avatar image for 124C1

This game is just a shame when it comes to history and plot.

Avatar image for Madvesemir

Why don't you americans stop flinging mud at ussr? Of course there were infringements of human rights now and then, but not to foolishness beyond belief and reason. Since the beginning of the war, your beloved anti-retreat troops had detained a total of 657,364 retreating or deserting personnel, of which 25,878 were arrested, and only 10,201 shot. Most of those arrested were later returned to active duty. And that cut scene when one of the saviors of the protagonist is shot dead by a commissar? Just ridiculous

Avatar image for Pidr

I have to say m very disappointed at the user reviews... How can u give this kind of game a 1.0? as the worst game ever?? i understand its just ur opinion... seeems like ur taking ur sh!tty life out on a pretty decend game. fine dont like it give it a 5. but all the 1s i saw makes me wonder... the game is actually amazing. who gives a sh!t bout history... history as u learned in the books is written by its victors...dont be fooled.

Avatar image for Mocsk


Your nickname says it all.

Avatar image for Pidr

@Mocsk @Pidr Another Russian that can't spell in his own language.

Avatar image for ChaosUndivided

I liked the game. Not much different to the original but the formular works and it's one of the best you can get for an RTS. Next I would like to see the Asian front between China and Japan just to give us a whole new set of mission and to bring some attention to that brutal part of the war that is not known by many from the west.

Avatar image for NikeAugustus

I am thinking of building a RTS crossing the strategic depth of Rise of Nations with the tactical unit control of Company of Heroes.


I am open to your comments and suggestions...

Avatar image for toshineon

*sigh* Again, a game that looks fantastic that I'll miss out on because I really don't like playing online.

Avatar image for arcangelic

Supreme Commander 1 still the best RTS ever made for PC =/.

I want to play a RTS that gives me lots of options of builds, but the rts are becoming simplier and simplier and simplier so that even an 8 years old kid can play it.

Even the Company of Heroes Online was much better than this game :(.

Well I understand, generally speaking, people don't like to use their brains to play things. If it's too complicated, it's not for the general public.

Avatar image for tushwacker

@arcangelic nah.. supreme commander had combat on an impressive scale, but the build times were painfully long and the warfare itself wasn't very interesting.. it was cool for a while but got tedious fast.. I'd say Men of War: Assualt Squad is the best WW2 RTS and DOW: Dark Crusade is my fav overall RTS for PC

Avatar image for Budlust91

@arcangelic loved that game :)

Avatar image for JDFS

@arcangelic So you're saying Supreme Commander 1 (Starcraft's cousin) was complex? go on... I'll try not to laugh I swear.

Avatar image for c0mmanderKeen

@JDFS Supcom and starcraft have about as much in common as the sims and dungeon keeper mate

Avatar image for Morelen1

@arcangelic Totally true! Just played a game last night for old times sake and @#$% this game had it all !! There is so many avenues you can take to build your army, it's just insane! And the economy! Yes it's a bit intimidating at first, but when you grasp the mechanics behind it, it's the best, most realist and clever economy system of all the rts out there. It was such a shame what they did to Sup Com 2! Dumbing it down for Console Players....BUT there is still a glimpse of hope! Take a look at this kickstarter project! Yes, many members of the first Sup Com team are working on this one! :) Keep in mind what you see is Alpha:

Avatar image for ZOD777

@arcangelic At the same time, if you don't make a game for the general public, you don't make as much money. But your point is noted.

Avatar image for iknowthepiecesf

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. I'm a fan of first game, big time. I worshipped that game and watied for so long for a sequel. When it first came out that they've been developing a sequel and they have been working on it for a long time i thought "this is gonna be the best RTS of all time"

Why? Because they were experienced from the first game, they were richer than before, everyone was so excited about it and at last, better technology will make it better than the first one. That was my delusion.

Now just look at it guys. A clipped, shortened, dumbed down RTS. Did you expect more troop options? There's none. More strategic maps? There's less. More detailed war mechanics? Its worse! Eyecandy gphx? There's none. List goes on and on.

I just can't believe it. They have no reason, no excuses. This is unaccaptable. Just keep playing the first game, it's way more better than this sh*t.

Avatar image for ZOD777

@iknowthepiecesf Well, to be fair, THQ went out of business, and Sega only slapped their name on it. I am not sure that Relic did everything they wanted to with this game.

Avatar image for y3ivan

@iknowthepiecesf you are right about those points, if you look on positive side, Relic did improve/polish the gameplay experience. MG suppression feels much more authentic (it will cut down squads if they caught off guard). Vehicles can be decrewed and recrewed. Vehicle combat is greatly improved - with parts of vehicles could be disabled.

Avatar image for SniperWolf9090

Why a 6 min review for this shit (and I like CoH) and a 3 min for The Last of Us? GS WTF? Paid and bought? Just sayng.

Avatar image for willzihang

@SniperWolf9090 Just get lost; what the hell has The Last of Us, and its cannon fodder mindless fanboys, got the price of cod to do with this game.

Avatar image for Crush_Project

simply put, if you watch enough replays this game has too many loses that result from faulty mechanics then from gameplay or strategy and in an rts that is simply unacceptable.

Avatar image for wezkilla

Just wait for Blitzkreig mod on CoH 2 and be happy

Avatar image for madgame23

My issue with the game, I don't own it but played the demo, is that its pretty much just another expansion of the first title. There is nothing really new, minor game affecting elements but over all this company is literally hooked on WW2 themed strategy games, when not making DOW themed ones, and to me its gotten boring. I thought the changes would have been good but it was boring playing the demo and I immediately uninstalled it. I never bought the other expansions because the original pretty much summed up the eastern front of the war and while the expansions played on other sides of it but it was all the same. I had hoped that COH would have made the jump to modern tech with all the equipment and such being used but again nope. There are plenty of factions today to create a convincing single player game and plenty of action in mp but I guess not. Plus since many on here don't like the game, Im foreseeing the developer going through rearranging and downsizing from this, as is the usual thing that happens with failure.

Avatar image for wavelength121

@madgame23 What are you, an industry analyst? Shove off nerd. If you don't like the great standby graphics engine of COH go play with some aluminum foil. The original expansions are great and you missed out for no reason other than your own lazy dismissiveness. I'm going to completely ignore your comment about the developer downsizing since it is irrelevant to anything and you certainly aren't in a position to tell anyone what they want.

Avatar image for madgame23

I just love how angry some people get over this stuff! I was only stating an opinion and its actually proven that low customer ratings on a game always result in these types of things. Even game spot noted in the expansions that its all basically the same gameplay. I liked the game, don't get me wrong, but its all the same theme! Someone could use the COD metaphor but at least the settings change and gameplay elements if not the other gripes players have. I like relic, but their games after a time get boring!

Avatar image for stev69

@ragnar320 Or most likely they understand their fanbase and cater to them, there are plenty of modern RTS game out there already, why change and do exactly the same.

Avatar image for ragnar320

@madgame23 okay dude its not the game devs fault I think it was corperate excs trying to find the cheapest best way to make a game that would sell which is ruining the gaming world but real orginallity is coming back cause I agree this basically was just an extragent expansion but the eastern front was an entirely new frontier of combat that hasn't really been explored outside of Call of Duty World at War and it deserves to be reprented I would love a modern day COH or a Modern TOTAL WAR but that wont come any day soon because they dont understand who we are as gamers I guess. you shouldn't say they failed cause they didn't they created a new game with an entirely new faction and a front to fight from but it was an expansion which is why I didn't buy it in the first place but don't hate on it just appreciate that this is one of the last good RTS games around since C&C has gone down the drain this and hopefully dawn of war comes back and total war rome II which looks awsome are the only ones left so come on just let people be positive about it I guess and don't support it with your money like I did idk just don't hate on it I guess

Avatar image for stev69

@madgame23 Nobody rages like a blinkered fanboy.

Avatar image for electro57

CoH 2: 7.5

The Last of Us: 8.0

Every Call of Duty game ever made: 9.0+

Gamespotting indeed.

Avatar image for Goyoshi12

@electro57 Except for Black Ops 2, Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty 2, Black Ops 2: Declassified, United Offensive, Finest Hour....need I go on?

Avatar image for Twist_of_Cain87

I never understood the complaint of a weak story in a RTS/TBS title. You are a commander either defending your homeland or looking to expand your empire. The point is the strategy and mechanics. At this point I think we all understand who was on who's side during WWII and the backdrop. I have always bought strategy titles for its competitive play (much like the Battlefield series) and tactical depth. I guess I am just confused as to why it warranted a 7.5 if that was the only real complaint.

Avatar image for KZ80

I have to say the campaign story sucks big time.

About 75% of total German casualties in World War II are caused by Russian on the eastern front.

And in this game we are following the story of a pansy.

Avatar image for theBeorn

i can't go back to base building after playing DOW2, i think it's best to focus on the fights and ramp the tension up from the beginning than start slow.

no more base building!

Avatar image for Morphine_OD

I love to see all the Russian "patriots" screaming and crying because they've been once again shown the ugly truth of the WW2, not some propaganda induced pipe dream of Stalin's great victory.

Avatar image for willzihang

@Morphine_OD No, I think most Russians will happily talk about the atrocities under Stalin. The problem is the game completely focuses on the bad things, and never for a second acknowledges all the positives the Soviets added to the war (and they were significant indeed).

Avatar image for Morphine_OD

@willzihang have you even played the game? Or do you judge it only by that stupid video by Bad Comedian? There is a ton of heroic events in the game.

Avatar image for Morphine_OD

@willzihang you'd be surprised by how many Russians of this generation are nostalgic for Stalin's times. This games portrays only Stalin and NKVD as a necessary evil, but it juxtaposes it with the common Red Army soldiers, who demonstrate heroic and humane traits and don't always like the orders they have to carry out.

But even then, after each mission it is explained why all the controversial things were necessary for the victory of the Allied Forces.

Russians who are rattled by it either didn't play the game themselves, or just actively trolling.

Avatar image for willzihang

@Morphine_OD @willzihang But does it not portray the Red Army an almost wholly evil force? I'm not on anyone's side; but when a large amount of people from one country seem rattled: it is telling, especially as I don't think many Russians of our generation are positive about the Soviet times, so they have nothing to gain by defending it.

Oddly enough I've just bought it this morning.

Company of Heroes 2 More Info

  • First Released Jun 25, 2013
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    Company of Heroes 2 focuses on some of history's most brutal and devastating conflicts on the eastern front.
    Average Rating593 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Company of Heroes 2
    Developed by:
    Feral Interactive, Relic
    Published by:
    Feral Interactive, Sega
    Real-Time, Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence