Before any battle plans were even drawn up for Company of Heroes 3, Relic flew a small group of series veterans into Vancouver to get their feedback on what the next installment should be. Thus, this long-awaited sequel has been a sort of collaboration between the devs and fans since basically the very beginning. It was players they selected who voted overwhelmingly for the Mediterranean theater as the setting, and gave them detailed feedback on the playable armies to make sure they were fun on the field and felt the way both history and RTS enthusiasts felt they should.
Starting today, you can be a part of that process. Even I was raising an eyebrow when I heard Company of Heroes 3 was being announced in summer 2021 for a late 2022 release. But all that lead time is so Relic can put some unfinished slices of the campaign, skirmish, and PvP modes on our plates and collect our feedback on everything from the strategic layer to the match pacing.
Company of Heroes 3 – First Screenshots
This isn’t your typical Early Access situation. You’re not going to be charged for it. Relic has kept an eye on what their sister studio Amplitude has been up to with Humankind, and we can expect something similar to their OpenDev scenarios. Each preview will be a self-contained slice focusing on a particular aspect or aspects of the final product that will be available for a limited time. The devs didn’t give us a specific roadmap, but they did say future slices might focus more on PvP than the one you can play right now.
And what does this slice consist of? Well, it’s a fairly sizable portion of the Italian campaign that begins with capturing an airport to stop the Axis from bombing the city of Naples, and builds up to a climactic and iconic battle at the ancient abbey of Monte Cassino. In between, you’ll be sending elite sniper teams to assassinate a Nazi officer, rescuing Italian resistance fighters under siege by the Wehrmacht, and planning your campaign across a strategic map that rivals Total War in detail.
The American and British forces will be playable. You can actually hire a mix of divisions from both nations in the same campaign, though you’ll have to pick a specific company to lead the charge in each RTS mission. Each nation has two divisions to pick from, including the U.S. Airborne – who can now actually drop behind enemy lines on the campaign map if you have air superiority – and the Indian Artillery fighting for the British, bringing some new cultures and nationalities to the fight.
GOING IN HOT
It’s a pretty sizable chunk. I had a hard time completing it in a single day the first time through, and there are enough different ways to make your way up the Road to Rome that it’s worth repeating a few times. There are some planned features that haven’t made it in yet, like the partisan units and the full integration of the character-driven story. But Relic wants our feedback on basically everything they’ve put on display so far. The campaign map, unit balancing, new features like tactical pause and breaching – check out our preview for more – you name it.
All you need to do to get started is to head over to CompanyofHeroes.com and sign up. Optimization and graphics settings are usually one of the last things to get nailed down before a game releases, so this preview doesn’t necessarily reflect how the final game will perform on your rig of choice. As such, Relic recommends at least an Intel/AMD 4 core/8 thread CPU running at 4.00 GHz or higher, 16 GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1070 or equivalent with 8GB VRAM for the ideal experience.
For more on Company of Heroes 3, check out all the ways it’s taking after Company of Heroes 1 instead of the sequel.