Developer: Relic Entertainment / Publisher: Sega / Platform: PC / Release Date: June 25, 2013 / ESRB: Rating Pending
Earlier this year, strategy fans got great news when Sega, home of the Total War series, picked up Company of Heroes 2 from fleeing publisher THQ. Fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. With just two months to launch, Sega and Relic Entertainment are showing off a brand new feature in the game called Theater of War.
Theater of War has three different game modes. Simon Watts, Global Brand & Communications Manager for Sega, best sums it up by saying “They act as a unique bridge between single-player and multiplayer.” Each mode offers you something different; in Co-op Scenarios you’re able to play with a friend battling against overwhelming forces, Solo Challenges drop you into a difficult situation with very limited resources, and the final mode is AI Battles that drop you in a skirmish against an opponent with a particular set of skills.
Powered by the Essence 3.0 Engine, Relic Entertainment was able to incorporate ColdTech and TrueSight technology into the game. ColdTech is the weather technology system that can affect visibility and temperatures on the battle field, meaning soldiers can die of hypothermia if exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. TrueSight is the new dynamic line of sight system that changes as the lines of sight change in the environment.
I got an extended look at two separate missions in Theater of War, the first, Blitzkrieg, was a solo mission where victory could be obtained after capturing ten different points on the map. Starting with a very limited force of mechanized troops and infantry soldiers, it was my decision how to proceed throughout the map. Key resources can make all the difference, so crippling the enemy supply lines first is always a good start. Also, keeping your infantry soldiers alive is a must since you’ll need them to capture points.
But watch out for counter attacks once a point is captured. The computer always has a plan, thanks to the Skirmish AI that gives the computer a task; in this case, defend the map by any means necessary. While you might be capturing points rather quickly and easily, the AI might be gearing up for a huge battle by salvaging abandon vehicles and plotting revenge via a tank rush of twenty.
The other mission I saw was called Cold Weather. Similar to the previous mission, points need to be taken, vehicles destroyed, but this time with only two squads of Soviet infantry soldiers. As the title implies, it’s cold on the battlefield and that’s where ColdTech comes into play. While the objective was to capture points and destroy vehicles, you must also keep squads alive and not let them be overcome by the elements. The easiest way to do that is to have the soldiers warm up by campfires. Each solider has a life bar and slowly it will decrease as the soldier gets colder. Finding the right combination of fighting and campfires is crucial in the early stages, but becomes less necessary as you level-up your Commander Abilities and are able to create your own campfires.
Available at launch, the 1941 Theater of War pack offers an additional eighteen missions to the already lengthy single-player and multiplayer components. Look for Company of Heroes 2 on June 25th for PC.