Company of Heroes 2 Single Player Campaign Review

Church in fire

As you may have already heard from some sources, during World War II on the Western Front of Germany it was quite noisy, but on the Eastern Front things were much more serious. In any case, this is the idea that Company of Heroes 2 will try to convey to you, relying on the support of a new luxurious engine and a rather flashy presentation of the conflict. But does this mean that the long-awaited sequel will add something more to the game than deep snowdrifts and frenzied military chaos? To find out, I put on felt boots, wrapped myself in a greatcoat, and went to war.

During the first hour of Company of Heroes 2, it fiercely roars with sound effects and threatens to kill any hint of strategy. Pure rage and not a drop of reflection – among other loud RTS games, it feels quite comfortable. The continuous “click-click” of the mouse is drowned out by the deadly roar of machine guns, and any random thought is immediately drowned in the deafening sounds of unrestrained violence – the meat grinder on the Eastern Front never stops for a minute.

The assault on the city

However, considering the setting and the constant barrage of various sounds in the game, it is quite justified. The number of people killed on both sides of the conflict is truly horrifying, and the battlefields on each map quickly become covered with dead bodies and smoldering wreckage of vehicles. Among the piles of dead and wounded, it is very difficult to make out the group of heroes that the game is named after. However, the cutscenes, which reflect the horror and guilt felt by the survivors in this slaughter, are unlikely to leave anyone indifferent. However, the visual beauty of the battles and the power of the game engine can turn war into a form of entertainment – players will surely be glued to the screen, like dogs peering through a butcher’s window. But it is a rather dirty spectacle. When the camera zooms in closer, the full horror of the events becomes evident – explosions turn soldiers into a real massacre. They crawl, stagger, and fight in terrible agony.

Many campaign maps are crowded with a continuous stream of allies and enemies, with planes and mortar shells screaming overhead, and every battle happening on the periphery contributes to the feeling that this is truly a large-scale conflict. The sense of being involved in a firefight or defensive actions, which are only a part of something vast, is perhaps the most convincing experience I have ever had. Sometimes it even becomes distracting. At times, the Company of Heroes 2 campaign is so eager to show the scale and individual pieces of war that the player is left with no choice but to take on the role of an observer, following random indicators and loud commands from the commander, who occasionally orders to pick up and use certain equipment.

Through a frozen stream

And now put it all together and try to understand my first impressions – they were not very pleasant. Following the next arrow to the next target and realizing, once again, that I am not in any danger because reinforcements will arrive again and again, I immediately wrote on a piece of paper: “Call of Duty RTS”. Just more people into the meat grinder and to hell with the consequences.

The menu only worsens the situation. You know, I was wondering whether to write a short paragraph about this damn menu. But here I am, look, writing a paragraph. The menu advertises its (cosmetic) items, events with double experience, and the ability to broadcast battles to the entire esports and not only community, which makes it look more like a digital showcase than a game. It’s noisy, loud, and wants me to upload my victories and defeats, or draw a tank, or pre-order some gadget, or who knows what else. It felt like it was screaming at me.

In addition, there are also DLCs and XP gadgets, but they don’t add much sparkle to the game. I decided not to buy anything, but unlocked some decorations and unit abilities to use them during the campaign or against AI in the Theatre of War mode. Like with the brain’s creaking, this mode is very easy to miss amidst the noise and chaos that is happening in the game menu. If you compare Theatre of War with single-player, cooperative, and competitive scenarios, it is a real gem. Choose a battle, a side (Soviet Union or Germany), create a map, and go into battle. It is a much more straightforward RTS model, where events, like in the original game, gradually gain momentum, and the additions are simply beyond praise. It’s tempting to say that Theatre of War managed to avoid the campaign’s meat grinder abuses, but that would not be entirely true. Events in the “Theatre of War” intensify with each passing minute – it all starts with base building, which is noticeably more flexible than in COH 1, and over time turns into a miniature arms race. You attack with tanks, and I lay mines, forcing you to slide on ice or blowing up your tracks to hell. You rush at me with infantry, and I wait for you with ready-to-fight machine gun nests.

Tanks cross the village

Overall, the rhythm of the game is conveyed very well – there is room for both action and thought, but the game does not suffer from a lack of tension. Even against AI, in battles with which I spent most of my game time, the most ideal move is to read as many enemy actions on the battlefield as possible. Often it is impossible to predict the best strategy, whether it is the choice of perks in the development tree of structures/technology or the route through the map, without at least trying to anticipate where the new attack will come from and what form it will take. At one level, the war resembles a tug-of-war, a “back and forth” confrontation for control of resources and checkpoints, while at another level it is similar to a game with an amazing set of interactive soldiers. Every little boy’s dream.

The simplicity of unit movement is a major part of the game’s tactical appeal. Yes, sometimes the soldiers entrusted to you create a strange mess around cover, but often they follow your instructions precisely – crouching under fire while the enemy tries to flank them, or using heavier weapons. Brilliant! This means that over time, allied units will not require player actions – only during turns and enemy attacks. However, this is only the case if the weather does not interfere with the game, as immobility can result in death.

During a blizzard, mobility and visibility decrease, and the crew members must simply open fire to keep other soldiers alive. The weather conditions, plus the fact that a tank or soldier can fall through the ice, may not seem like a major addition, but they are implemented flawlessly. So much so that it seemed to me as if I could feel the cold that penetrates the bones of my soldiers, trudging through the blizzard – the snow-covered maps have greatly influenced tactics. In a game that depends largely on its rhythm, changes in unit speed, as well as the need to react to changes in positioning and construction approaches, have a very strong impact on the final strategy.

Maskhalates in winter

The campaign tells its story quite well, but still leaves a bitter aftertaste. Ironically, partly because it tells a story. You have excellent visual effects at your disposal, as well as dynamic territorial battles and changing seasons. In the later stages, you even get to participate in long and mind-boggling battles, so it would have been great if the campaign wasn’t historical. In multiplayer, technical improvements like an enhanced line of sight calculation method and the ability to destroy the surrounding landscape allow for alternative tactics.

Ambushes are the most effective way to engage in combat, especially when your troops encounter enemy vehicles. When they take damage, they react in a wonderful way: they stop working and realistically shake according to the laws of physics. Additionally, the Soviet Union is a true champion in requisitioning abandoned vehicles and weapons, which creates some tension when deploying units. When facing a dagger (rifle) with a gun (tank), be prepared for your own wonder weapon to turn its barrel against you.

RTS games usually build up tension right after the map loads, as if you were trapped in a compactor that squeezes tighter with each passing minute. But Company of Heroes is more like fencing or chess than bench pressing. And that’s why this long-awaited sequel, even though you don’t immediately grasp its true highlight, can be considered a real success. Yes, almost everything remains the same, but COH still feels completely different from other RTS games. I would have liked this game to focus more on individual soldiers – in my imagination, as often happens, something like Men of War emerges – but COH 2 has its own approach, which successfully combines small-scale tactical positioning with broad strategic moves and decisions.

Blind Katyush

I suspect that some people will be put off by the excessive similarity of the new game to the original, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel fresh or lively at all. However, Company of Heroes has not lost its merits over time and continues to proudly march in the war-torn corner of the spacious and packed room that is the RTS genre. The new engine is very impressive, but the highlight of COH 2 may not stand out from the pile of dead bodies and heaps of twisted metal generated by its incomparable visual splendor – especially in the most explosive moments of the game. However, once the smoke and snow clear, some important elements will also be lost – adding subtle gameplay nuances, the technology makes the decision-making process more elegant than one might expect. Company of Heroes 2 is a deceptively noisy and brutal game that is actually designed for those who cannot boast quick reactions, but calls upon resourcefulness and a flexible mind. Freezing, hungry, and loyal to duty.

Company of Heroes 2
Co-op, Multiplayer, Strategy
Relic Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



More Reviews