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Company of Heroes 3

Company of Heroes 3: Going hands-on in the Sahara

We've experienced scorching sands, hot lead and hell in the African desert.

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While it's still a closely guarded secret when Company of Heroes 3 is out, we can make a assumptive guess as it is fully playable in its current state, sort of. We know as we recently attended a preview where we got our hands on the game.

The "fully playable" phrasing is rather important as it was smooth sailing until a certain point, and then it crashed, again and again. However, this is not unusual due to the technical way that preview games are made available to game journalists, and it always seems to be a problem which is why I am not particularly bothered by it. It has however limited how much of the game I got to check out, but at least I managed to try out more or less all the features of the preview playthrough.

Company of Heroes 3

The preview takes place in the North African part of the campaign, and for once, we got a preview that lets you play as the bad guys, as for some reason, previews often only focus on the good/neutral side of the game, which tends to be rather boring, as being evil in video games is as always the most fun. I will assume that any readers are familiar with the Company of Heroes series, otherwise it's very straightforward, it's a classic historical RTS game, where you, the General, have to make a variety of decisions to win a war/battle.

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Relic Entertainment is working on an already successful series here, and has added improved destruction of terrain and buildings, with what can be argued as better animations and mechanics, although this is hard to appreciate when playing in restricted 1080p on a 4K monitor.

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There will be British, American, German and Italians to command, but instead of the latter being some sort of partisan mechanic as initially thought, they were in this playthrough a part of the Wehrmacht. We didn't try the campaign part, but only the battle scenario, which I had hoped to try out as it is rumoured to resemble Total War, and with this being the case, I had hoped for Total War-style WASD control of the camera on the battlefield, which wasn't present.

The use of a mixed combination of troops is as always needed, and likewise, strategy is of the utmost importance, something I learned when I accidently ordered my repair truck into the line of fire, meaning that I was stuck with far more expensive manufacturing costs of new armoured vehicles, and way less efficient use of engineers. The importance of strategy is especially apparent when you only have one AA gun and one tank with mortars, and soon face the fury of aerial units. Needless to say, a pistol won't do much good against planes, as my opponent found out after I ordered a Stuka raid against his exposed machine gun nest.

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Company of Heroes 3

For less experienced players, and those that like to overthink the tactical situation, a pause option is also available of which I am a big fan, however if you prefer the hectic moment of the battle, simply don't use it. But don't come crying when you find out the hard way that this game takes things pretty seriously, and that tank armour isn't the same, resulting in devastation when your armoured column is destroyed in a flanking attack.

The infantry units are versatile, depending on what they are. Being able to take over tanks, mortars and machine guns from the enemy - which you of course countered with the right type of units or grenades, as they will otherwise make short work of your troops - is a hugely important part of the gameplay.

Despite the restriction of 1080p and the crashing, Company of Heroes 3 did seem to be a very pretty and detailed title, with no lagging or other performance-related hiccups. There is a lot of the game that wasn't included in this preview, and naval combat, direct aerial combat, and the dynamic campaign map was missing this time around.

Company of Heroes 3

I like how the terrain and the buildings, trenches and fortifications have a lot more realistic influence on the battle and on the route your armour has to take, often to the point where they cannot fully support your ground troops. So, as you can see, this game has a lot of potential, but I would prefer to take a closer look at the final product before anything definitive can be said, despite the fact that this looks pretty impressive so far.

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