Company of Heroes 2 Beta – (Mixed) Impressions

I am usually wary of sequels. I almost always have a flow of convoluted emotions when a sequel to a hugely popular, blockbuster game is announced. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to say that I dislike sequel announcements. Why? Because, more often than not, sequels are heartbreaks. They bring new hopes that send you soaring through the sky, and then shatter them with an evil grin. They fail on their promise to deliver something as good as the original and they are weighed down to the underworld by the demons of expectations.

And, no points for guessing this, I felt the same when Company of Heroes 2 was announced. The sequel to the best RTS of all times, according to popular opinion? Yep, I was wary. Now, after fiddling around with the Company of Heroes 2 Beta, I can say that not all my high hopes were shattered. Only most.

Initial Impression – Not So Good

The first and strongest feeling that I had after powering up the game was that of familiarity. The game is almost identical to its predecessor in terms of look and feel. While it might sound good for to the veterans, it also kills any novelty that you would expect in a reboot about half a decade later. It does not feel something belonging to this decade, at least not as good as SC2. As compared to RTS games of this generation, you might feel a lack of lots of features in this installment from Relic.

Such a Boring UI

I found the AI to be way too strong, thus killing a whole lot of fun in the beginning of the game. AI will drag your troops out of cover, send untraceable mortar fire from anywhere across the map, and become a pain in the ass and a lot more than a fair challenge. The imbalance in the game does not end here. The German side is a little overpowered as the Panzers become a force to be reckoned with in the game. The game relies too much on tanks to save the campaign and day, thus killing any scope of fantastic upsets and exciting finishes.

Useless machine, do something!

The AV guns and machines are no match for incoming Panzers and my only hope was to attack those tanks from the sides or the rear, which, naturally, wasn’t always possible. With time, these Panzer tactics became quite common in the multiplayer and started killing the online fun for me. If Relic wants to see a fan following identical to the first installment of CoH, it definitely needs to put more thought into balancing the game out.

What Shines?

Surprisingly, Company of Heroes 2 has managed to muster some moments of glory amidst these debacles. One feature that I totally loved was the impact of weather mechanics on the entire game. The ice and snow mechanics added another dimension to the game for me as I had to worry about the terrain as much as the opposition army. I had to ensure that my faction did not die because of extreme weather conditions in Russian terrain. I had to ensure sufficient heat sources were built for my minions so that they did not freeze to death. I had to bring down the heat sources of the opposition so that they had to worry about another force, weather. So much to do.

I aamm.. fr..free..freezzinngggg..

On the other hand, the ice and snow mechanics definitely helped me take out tanks by destroying ice with artillery, thereby plunging the opposition tanks into icy water and destroying them instantly. While this might be another reason for imbalance, as results of some maps are determined by the placement of fire sources, I am sure this is something that can be easily ironed out for giving a flawless experience.

Innccommiinngggg!

And, not to forget, the game features another beauty by Relic, the Blizzard (Relic’s Blizzard, heh!). A random event, blizzard makes it tougher to observe the surroundings, estimate the action and partake in it. It stopped me from making certain structures and brought my infantry to its knees with the sheer cold. Since the blizzard technically prevents any infantry based assaults and any major action from fruition, it practically seals the fate of the map. So, it practically had me praying and calling it once I had more victory points in the game, thus preserving my position in the game and practically announcing me the winner. A little imbalanced, again, but nothing that can’t be fixed.

Overall

Well, there is a lot of scope for improvement, especially with the balance issues. Company of Heroes 2 comes out on 25th June and if Relic heeds to the feedback of the community, it can definitely shape another stellar title in this series. To summarize, I would say that CoH 2 Beta is treading a thin line between good and bad. If the developers are listening, which I hope they are, we will have another winner in our hands shortly.

Until then, keep watching Windows.Appstorm for more updates on Company of Heroes 2 and other upcoming titles. This is Jitesh, signing out. Happy gaming!


Summary

Second installment in the Company of Heroes franchise by Relic Entertainment

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