What just happened? Relic Entertainment has announced the third installment in the long-running Company of Heroes franchise. The latest entry in the classic RTS series aims to take players across massive battles in the Mediterranean theater with a dynamic campaign featuring American, British and German forces, next-gen destructible environments brought on by air, ground and naval armies, and new gameplay elements like breaching infantry and tactical pauses. CoH 3 is currently in development, with a developer preview out now on Steam and an official release expected sometime next year.
The original Company of Heroes from 2006 is still one of the best RTS games around, arguably better in execution than the more detailed and complex sequel that arrived in 2013. Relic’s third entry looks to capture the magic of the original, albeit on a much bigger scale with upgraded visuals, AI, and gameplay for intense campaign and multiplayer action.
Following the lukewarm reception of 2017’s Dawn of War III, Relic Entertainment says it focused heavily on player feedback for developing CoH 3. The game’s Mediterranean and North African setting was chosen following a unanimous vote by the CoH community, as the location allowed for much fairer armies to battle across varied terrain.
Like its USSR-focused predecessor, CoH 3 will feature a dynamic campaign but with new gameplay elements like turn-based combat and tactical pauses, allowing players to freeze the action for when things get too hairy, explore the map and issue commands to their units before resuming. PVP battles, however, will only take place in real time.
To counter players that quickly garrison infantry in buildings, a new “Breaching” mechanic will let opponents drive them out with grenades, flamethrowers and other weaponry for challenging skirmishes. Tank battles, which usually happen late in the game, will also get more intense by accounting for side armor damage, with added terrain verticality providing new opportunities for gaining tactical advantage.
CoH 3 currently has a limited-time preview demo showcasing part of the Italy campaign that players can try out with the CoH Development Program until the start of August.
On its Steam page, Relic notes the game will “delight even the most ardent WW2 enthusiasts,” featuring the series’ largest number of launch factions to date and new engine technology for Hollywood blockbuster-levels of cinematic action.