First Look: Company Of Heroes 2

By Adam Smith on May 22nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Looking back, I should have known it would be the Eastern Front. The entire world may well know by now that Company of Heroes 2 is in development at Relic, due for release sometime in 2013, and if they’ve paid any attention whatsoever they’ll also be aware that it’s set on the Eastern Front with a campaign beginning in 1941. What they don’t know is that we are among the few outside the studio who’ve already seen the game in action and right up until we entered the briefing room, we had no idea when or where it was set.

It’s the night before the reveal. I know I’m in Vancouver to see Company of Heroes 2 but that’s just about all I know. Outside there’s a frenzied roar building, not yet audible but it’s in the city’s throat, caught up in the webbed haze of the unseasonal warmth, ready to release through the scream of an airhorn, the gathering of a crowd.

Most people here aren’t thinking about Company of Heroes, they’re thinking about the hockey play-offs. If you own a bar or restaurant without a TV, tomorrow’s going to be a bad day for business. Everybody is going to be watching and I feel like I must be the only insomniac in town who’s not got pucks on the mind. Instead, I’m preparing lists of questions about the Pacific and the Soviets, along with scrawled backups that I hope not to use: ‘why go to Vietnam?’ and ‘what fresh aspect of modern warfare will this company of heroes be exploring?’

Now that everybody knows it was the Eastern Front I saw the next day, I feel as if it should never have been in doubt. It’s what I’d been hoping for and what I saw didn’t disappoint. In action, Company of Heroes 2 is a work of brutal beauty but as I haven’t actually played it yet, it’s the visual upgrades that I can comment on with most authority.

The original game still looks the part and the sequel has the same viewpoint and scale but with a host of additions. Here’s some of what I scribbled down before I saw the footage, as we were told what we were about to see: “on a par with Battlefield 3”, “HDR lighting”, “DX11”, “all new water renderer”. Here’s what I wrote while I was watching somebody play through a mission: “individual flakes settling on an infantryman’s sleeve”, “a tank desperately grips splintering ice”, “flames chew up the only shelter for miles around, the smoke like a living thing, the men who hid inside spilling out like dolls from an overturned playhouse.”

Admittedly, I didn’t quite write those things at the time but I did write approximations of them. Sort of. Flicking through my far more mundane notes taken at the event, one word crops up again and again: ‘details’. Not the individual screws on a gun or a vehicle that show the months of research and field trips that have gone into the game – that’s all there too but it’s not what my eye is drawn to – I’m fascinated by the detail of how each man dies, writhing with a bullet in his gut, creating warped snow angels with scarlet robes; the detail of how bad becomes worse, the weather and the orders from above as lethal as the burst of a mortar.

This is a game about the few, not the many, but in a theatre where up to eleven million Soviet soldiers are thought to have been killed, the bigger picture looms larger than ever before. “The Eastern Front is the epicentre of combat”, went the line, as well as the admission that Company of Heroes, including its expansions, has only touched on a minute portion of WWII, “four months of six years”. The complaint that we’ve seen this conflict too many times is pre-empted and cut down; nobody has seen these stories before, not only because we’re taking the blasted and frozen road less travelled, but because the aim is to let every player tell their own story.

A change in place and participant isn’t enough to achieve all of Relic’s aims, and all the graphical detail in the world doesn’t make a picture’s thousand words worth writing unless there’s meaning in it all. Part of that meaning comes from the focus on the stories of brave men in terrible situations. The mission shown incorporated horrific application of Stalin’s Order 227, the final desperate acceptance that the Soviet resistance had been pushed to its limits. No retreat was permitted, not even one step back, and for a time this was enforced by “blocking detachments” who were commanded to fire on their compatriots should they retreat or panic.

Ideologies aren’t anywhere to be seen in the waste and ruin, although Relic will be addressing the decisions of politicians and generals as well as the tactical choices of the men down in the thick of it. The campaign follows the Red Army as they push the Germans back and move from the brink of defeat, bogged down and wounded in the winter wilderness, to victory and the streets of Berlin. While individual missions follow history’s forgotten men, heroes by their actions in the horror of combat rather than due to their beliefs or the uniform they wear, the campaign itself will be told through the voice of a Soviet war correspondent exposing the truth of Communist ideology.

If Relic succeed in this, allowing the player to have some control over the individual stories of the men under his/her command while providing context of a different sort to the cold and the carnage with the addition of a journalistic and political view, the game could offer something new in narrative terms to go with the fresh setting and technology. Speaking to the team and watching historical footage with them, both propaganda and battlefield, it’s clear that they’ve immersed themselves in the horror, the hardware and the detail to a sometimes obsessive degree.

To my mind, the attempt to present both the individual and the ideological is new to the series, although Relic are keen to communicate that they still wish to represent heroism on every side. It’s the Red Army who take centre stage, aggrieved and aggressive, a hammer striking back at a powerful but withering advance. “Quantity has a quality all its own” has the air of aphorism but Stalin’s armies are built around it, less professional and tactically astute than the Germans, but more numerous and with their backs not against a wall but against the bayonet of a brother in arms.

Given that the focus is still on the few rather than the many, one of Relic’s challenges will be convincing of the scale of conflict and loss with the camera zoomed in so tight. There are sounds of distant slaughter and the machinery of warfare, and reinforcements arrive from offscreen, not as if from a drop pod or the training ground, but almost as if stumbling from a neigbouring skirmish, their nerves frazzled, their uniforms wet and stained.

So, yes, it looks the part, it has the heritage and Relic are as well versed in the history as could be hoped, as well as conveying a sense that they wish to respect those who lost their lives. Being given what amounted to a lecture before seeing the game, covering the cruelties inflicted, the starvation and the desperate lack of shelter that the soldiers were faced with is a far cry from the slow motion kill cams that are often in place to convince of the ‘grim gritty grimness of war’. That the Brits in the room introduced members of Relic to Blackadder Goes Forth afterwards is something I shall always remember fondly.

It’s how the soldiers act, and react, that I’m primarily interested in though. Although there was a degree of scripting in the demo, particularly to draw attention to the ‘no surrender, no retreat’ policy, the claim that the same AI that powers the skirmish mode is now present throughout the campaign seemed accurate. What this should mean is that rather than knowing their way around a map because they are part of that map’s specific story, enemies react to the player’s tactics as and when they change. Attempt to flank and machine guns may be wheeled into place to block that flank. Soldiers react to smoke, not simply by freezing and becoming prone, but by searching for cover and a new angle from which to attack.

A great deal of the tactical advancement is thanks to what Relic call the True Sight system. While the original Company of Heroes used traditional line of sight, for the sequel not only does the world appear in three dimensions, every entity’s vision works across the space as it is represented. Anything from a branch to the smoke from a burning farmhouse can block sight, and as walls crumble, tanks grind to a screaming halt and trees splinter and collapse, every damaged element affects each individual’s view of the battlefield exactly as it should. You see what they see.

Fortunately, soldiers aren’t stupid. If their cover is destroyed, they’ll go prone and look for somewhere else to hide, and if a tree falls, blocking their view of a previously exposed enemy, they’ll shuffle into position and open fire. But because line of sight is no longer based around a radius of awareness, exploration and recon is hugely important. It’s possible to be within metres of a silent enemy, waiting in ambush, without being aware, unless you’re smart enough to have your company split into several groups, each with eyes trained on the blind spots of the others.

So while there is still scripting there will be far less of it. Relic admit that they had to ‘fudge’ ambushes in the original game, permitting the AI to know what it shouldn’t and couldn’t know in order to trigger dramatic events. Now, it’s capable of doing that within the rules of the engine and that means it can be more unpredictable and, dare I say, more human than ever. That’s us humans, you see, defined by our ability to be ballerinas in one moment and then to trip over our own shoelaces in the next.

What about vehicles? There will be loads of them, more of which in upcoming interviews. If you kill the crew, you’ll be able to commandeer enemy machines for your own use, which could be another method of making each battle more changeable. I saw tanks, including the Soviet T-34, which almost bounces through the snow, its suspension distinctly untanklike to my untrained eyes, although apparently that’s the way it was. That’s the thing; I think everything in the game is probably fairly close to the way it was, from the sound of each gun being fired to the sound of each shell casing hitting various types of surface, everything seems to be covered.

The bleakness and brutality are the main memories. If this is to be a game of details, of tragedies rather than statistics, then when the smoke settles in the air and the snow settles on the corpses, every battle’s aftermath should tell a story. The shattered barn where they attempted to hide; the field that they should never have risked crossing, pockmarked with craters now; the felled metal beast that became a coffin for its crew and cover to the men who found its weakness and brought it low.

It’s the research that’s gone into the game, the history that drives it and what the franchise means to Relic that we’ll explore in the first of two interviews. After that, some discussion of multiplayer and the philosophy of authenticity over balance, and, who knows, maybe even some perhaps surprising comments about another game that I definitely didn’t berate them for not making a sequel to.

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91 Comments »

  1. Hirmetrium says:

    I’m pretty sure this shouldn’t be up for another hour…

    Also I’m disappointed I didn’t meet you there Adam.

    Still, nice preview.

  2. deadstoned says:

    Awww. No trailer included :(

  3. Soulstrider says:

    I hope they changed the formula a bit, personally I am a bit tired of it after DoW: Ret.

    Though I don’t know if I will ever want to play a new CoH after Men of War

    • Deathmaster says:

      I don’t see how any of the two are related.

    • Hirmetrium says:

      Not sure what you mean by “formula”. COH and DOW are two completely different games. They are both tactical RTS’s, but that’s about where the similarity ends.

      • Mordsung says:

        I dunno about that, I think you can see a very strong line of progression that begins with DoW, then expands many of those concepts in CoH, those concepts being further tweaked in DoW2 and now, we assume, further tweaked again in CoH.

        They all have the idea that map control and economic control are linked, in that your resources are out on the map, not tucked away in your base.

        And all of them rely on a “capture and hold” mode as their primary MP match type.

        You also see a clear reduction in base building. DoW had pretty traditional bases, CoH had simply bases, DoW2 had just the one upgradable structure.

        It’s much like how Warcraft evolved into WC2, which evolved into SC1, which evolved into WC3… though then their was a devolution for SC2.

        • Arathain says:

          Agreed. CoH and DoW2 have a great many overlapping mechanics. Look at the way retreating and reinforcement is handled, or set-up teams and suppression.

          They’re very similar games mechanically, although I would argue that they feel quite different.

        • Iskariot says:

          @ Mordsung

          I would not call it a line of “progression” per se.

        • godwin says:

          So… it’ll turn into Men of War, basically?

    • Silver says:

      Men of War: Assault Squad still tops COH. I’m playing COH atm and having fun.

      CoH is and was really beatiful and easy to access, but MoW:AS is a whole different level. SERIOUS game! hard game. Coh allows you to make many mistakes, MoW kills you right off :)

      • Baboonanza says:

        I agree completely that the Men of War approach is infinitely more interesting than the more RTSy style of CoH. But it does sound like they are aiming to simulate things a bit more this time so perhaps they are taking a few leaves out of the MoW book.

        You won’t be able to steal other soldiers hats though :(

        • Khab says:

          Booo! We want hat-stealing in our RTS’s, Relic! WHY WONT YOU LISTEN TO THE FAAAAAAAAAANS????

  4. DK says:

    On the one hand – Another Company of Heroes, probably the best gameplay Relic has ever produced, and one of the best RTS games of all time.

    On the other hand – It’s not Homeworld 3.

  5. 0mer says:

    PLEASE

    PLEASE

    PLEASE balance and support the game properly. CoH was a great game, but the game was balanced and supported like crap. It had two of the worst expansion packs ever and balance patches were few and far between.

    I love Relic games, but hate their support (or rather THQ’s support). Hopefully they have more leverage with THQ tanking.

    • Joshua IX says:

      Are you actually saying that the inclusion of the Brits was a BAD idea!?

      You sir, are mad!

      *walks back to line of impenetrable fortifications*

    • Hug_dealer says:

      CoH has gotten the best support in the industry.

      The balance problem is because the game was so deep, and every unit in the game had their own armor, hitpoints, and other variables against every other single weapon out there.

      It also didnt help balance that the difference between 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3 and such were so drastically different from each other, that balance for 1vs1 would be fine but 3vs3 would be totally off.

      • Squirly says:

        That AND the fact that 3 different generals per “race” had to be balanced off each other, all with fairly different and unique powers.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      What leverage? Relic is a wholly-owned subsidiary of THQ. If anything, THQ’s financial problems will lead to more DLC(mostly skins, I’d hope, although “elite” units are as likely) in order to increase revenue. If THQ is forced into liquidation, do you honestly think that Activision, EA or whoever buys Relic on the cheap would be more likely to leave Relic to develop games with less interference?

    • BoZo says:

      The Brits were quite broken. I played in some tournaments and never once lost as Brits, but my Axis was lacking… I used to play Brits in a mobile way which was hard and weird because it kind of felt like you had to trick the game.

  6. Rovenkar says:

    This whole Western take on the reasons behind Russian resolve and morale on the Eastern Front is ridiculous. After all these years of McCarthyism-style brain-washing people just can’t imagine that Russians fought that stoically not for the “blocking detachments” aiming at them but for the virtue of saving their country.

    We were facing the threat of extermination, one the western countries haven’t seen applied to themselves in that war. Of 27 million dead only ~8 million were Soviet troops, the rest were civilians. It’s been genoside, plain and simple. The mortality rates of Russian POW were way way higher than Western ones. The list goes on and on. Our grandfathers fought for our survival, and Order 227 just reinforced that fought in the minds that couldn’t grasp it by themselves.

    Just watch some good films about the subject, like 2010′s “Brest fortress”. And please stop re-translating things that have zero relation to reality.

    On a side note, where goes this “saying” of “quality of quantity” comes from? I’m Russian, and I don’t know anything about it.

    • Baboonanza says:

      “Quantity has a quality all its own” is a phrase widely attributed to Joseph Stalin but without any specific source to back it up (well none that I could find in my exhaustive 30 seconds of googling anyway).

    • Reefpirate says:

      Often the phrase is ‘quality over quantity’, meaning a lower number of something that is of higher quality may be more useful than higher quantities of things with less quality. I think in terms of the War in Russia it’s often referenced because the German troops were better equipped and better trained, on average, than the Russian army but the Russian army outnumbered the Germans. I suppose the Stalin quote is trying to flip that phrase to say that yes maybe quality over quantity, unless you have a LOT of quantity which then becomes a sort of ‘quality’ of its own.

      I have little doubt that there was great passion amongst the Russians fighting in the war, and love of country and a righteous self-defence philosophy probably helped a lot with morale. However, even with those emotions, most people will not willingly throw their life away like so many did in those battles. Are you trying to say that the Soviet Army was a volunteer force?

      • FhnuZoag says:

        I think you’ll find that this is very dependent on the time period. Certainly it’s true of the initial, disastrous phases of the war. But by the end? When the Soviet Army had progressed to a level that is, according to many historians, probably far above that of the western forces in both equipment, experience, and at least strategic command, while the Germans had regressed to rag tag forces of old men and children, the classic view begins to far apart.

        Order 227 in reality only applied for a short period of the war. Indeed, later on even political officers disappeared from use, as the whole thing became much more professional. Reading the memoirs of soldiers of that time, and it seems pretty clear that participation in the war was very popular, and people did not generally regard, at least later on, that their command considered their lives worthless.

      • Werthead says:

        “However, even with those emotions, most people will not willingly throw their life away like so many did in those battles”

        In the case of this conflict, they had little choice. Hitler’s ideology placed Slavs and other Eastern European races only a notch above Jews and gypsies. Whilst the latter had to be exterminated, the former would be ‘permitted’ to be enslaved and worked to death for the benefit of the Reich beforehand. This was in stark contrast to Hitler’s attitude to say the British, whom he had no problem trying to make peace with after France’s defeat. British POWs were – broadly speaking – not shot out of hand by German soldiers. Russian POWs were brutalised, mistreated and sometimes killed en masse at the whim of German officers.

        The war between Germany and Russia was a war of genocide and extermination, not a war where the Geneva Convention was respected and rules of war adhered to. The Russians knew this from very early on and threw themselves into the fight as they knew that if they lost the war, they’d probably lose their lives. This was not just soldiers, but also civilians. To defend Leningrad, the civilian population of the city would work up to 14 hours a day in the factories and then do another 4-6 hours digging trenches and building fortifications around the city before collapsing into bed for a couple of hours sleep and doing the same thing the next day. And after the siege started, they did that on a few grams of bread a day (the net result being well over a third of the population of the city dying in the process). They did so partially because they were forced to by the Russian government, but also because they knew their fate if the Germans succeeded in taking the city would not be internment or capture, but probably mass slaughter.

        The scale of the war in the east defies easy comprehension. In two successive battles around Minsk and Kiev early in the war, the Russians had as many soldiers killed as the combined total-war, all-theatre military casualties of the USA and UK. In each battle (about 1.4 million killed in just those engagements). It is not surprising that over the years many Russian commentators have considered the entire war in Western Europe a minor sideshow and Normandy a skirmish at best.

    • Joshua IX says:

      ‘Our grandfathers fought for our survival, and Order 227 just reinforced that fought in the minds that couldn’t grasp it by themselves.’

      But that’s exactly the point! I don’t think anyone is denying that the men (and women for that matter) of the USSR weren’t fighting for the defence of the homeland. I think the point was made to emphasise the desperation that underlined that fight.

      Also, “quality of quantity” is quoting Stalin :]

    • Hirmetrium says:

      It doesn’t come across here, but I was there and Relic are REALLY passionate about making an authentic and accurate experience. They took a trip to Russia and Germany, traveling and meeting experts to ensure they could get things right. Relic are really going the distance you’d expect. They even commented themselves about how little the west knows or cares about the Russian war. The preview was filled with history clips from the history channel or something about the build up to the war. One was just that – that Stalin had to say words he had never said before to inspire people to fight tooth and claw for their country – and Order 227 was to that effect.

      • coldvvvave says:

        Edit: reply fail.

      • godwin says:

        It’s kind of something they’re expected to do though, in this day an age of game development, and also as a studio based in the US. Part of it is about capturing a fanbase, and another part is the fulfillment of their own fetishes as war enthusiasts, I’m sure.

        Also, History Channel? That bodes well.

        • kraken says:

          They are in Canada. Not in the US.

          • godwin says:

            Sorry and thanks, I stand corrected (how I managed to forget the part about Vancouver and ice hockey while penning my reply, I don’t know).

      • figvam says:

        History Channel?…
        If they really wanted to capture the feeling of the Russian side about the conflict, they’d watch some Russian-made documentary. Otherwise it’s just a rehash of the usual Western WWII stereotypes and propaganda – “quality of quantity” which is an urban legend fits here well.

    • coldvvvave says:

      Quote is attributed to Stalin. Not sure if there is an actual proof he said that. It may be just like the infamous “No man – no problem” quote that is from a novel by some dissident( Arbat’s children) but always gets quoted as something straight from Stalin’s speech.

    • Kollega says:

      The fact that Hitler’s guys were evil and tried to exterminate civilian population does not diminish the horrors of Stalinism, just like the horrors of Stalinism do not diminish the heroism of individual soldiers.

      I’m Russian, I FUCKING HATE STALIN, and i’m all but flaunting that hate because the man and his regime were just so despicable.

      If you’re such a hooray-patriot, why won’t you go and fight Nazis? The gangs of them are out there on our streets right now.

    • lamontagne says:

      “Order 227 just reinforced that fought [sic] in the minds that couldn’t grasp it by themselves.” Your logic that everyone fought stoically because if they did not they were executed is scary.

      Here’s an extract from the article:

      “Part of that meaning comes from the focus on the stories of brave men in terrible situations. The mission shown incorporated horrific application of Stalin’s Order 227, the final desperate acceptance that the Soviet resistance had been pushed to its limits.”

      I believe all of the following statements are true, how about you?

      a. the soldiers were brave men in terrible situations
      b. Stalin Order 227 was horrific
      c. Soviet resistance had been pushed to its limit

      If you agree then I really don’t see what your problem is.

    • dsch says:

      Mostly agree with OP.

      ‘… the campaign itself will be told through the voice of a Soviet war correspondent exposing the truth of Communist ideology.’

      I hope that is just careless writing and not as preachy as it sounds.

      • rivalin says:

        Communism killed five times as many people as Nazism, and beggared and viciously oppressed those it didn’t, but it’s not okay to be preachy about it?

        Imagine the quote was “expose the evils of Nazism” and someone said that they hoped the developers weren’t too “preachy” about it, what sort of reaction do you think that person would get.

        Double standards make my blood boil; now I’m going to go put on my Mussolini t-shirt and then tell people that it’s ok to wear it because it’s such an iconic image.

        • dsch says:

          (Examine your statements. Think about them a bit. Come up with a more nuanced argument.)

      • Lytinwheedle says:

        Yeah, that sounds like horrible preachy western propaganda rather than an astute political analysis of Communist ideology and that Stalinism has nothing to do with Communism whatsoever.

        • kaiserbob says:

          Please cut this crap out. You are splitting hairs between “Stalinism” and “Communism” in some vain attempt to defend Marxist theory, but it was the communist system which allowed Stalin to condemn millions of Russian citizens to die before/during/after the war.

          I personally see no difference between what you are doing and someone saying that “Fascism is great, too bad Hitler ruined it for everybody”.

          • theleif says:

            I think you are either very misinformed about either Communism or the term splitting hairs.

          • dsch says:

            (kaiserbob failed to read the comment he was replying to.)

            This is the same lowest-common-denominator argument that the New Atheism trots out about how religion is evil. It’s a lowest-common-denominator argument in more ways than one.

            In any case, Socrates will tell you very nicely that you should have knowledge about something if you want to discuss it.

        • beekay says:

          Not sure if serious. There’s more to communism than just Stalin, you know. It would be really disappointing if they came over all American and just went “oh look at this, communists doing BAD THINGS, well I guess all communists are just evil and wrong and bastards.”

          I’m quite sure they won’t, though, unless Relic’ve taken a really sharp nosedive recently.

          • Reefpirate says:

            You know, Communism isn’t just American propaganda… It’s a form of propaganda itself that has been used to kill, impoverish and enslave billions of people in the last 100 years. Am I as worried as some other commenters here that we’re drifting back into an age where communism is still a noble experiment, and we’re just waiting to see if it actually works or not?

    • Monkey says:

      Sorry i know you have a serious point but “brest fortress” made me laugh

    • wodin says:

      I agree to a point but quoting the film about The Brest fortress as a piece of historical accuracy is quite frankly silly. It was a Russian film filled with as much propaganda as anything Hollywood would make. The Germans as usual where all inept soldiers and sadistic murderers. It was a great film but in no way should it be cited as being propaganda free.

      Block detachments where around during Operation Blue and after, but they had little impact in the willingness for the Russian to fight. The Germans had their chain dogs doing the same when they where in retreat.

      • coldvvvave says:

        Brest Fortress is a Belorussian movie. Modern Russian WW2 movies are exact opposite of Brest Fortress.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Neither the Germans nor the Russians at that point were particularly horrific, by later standards at least.

        I thought the Russians were portrayed as being equally brave, stupid, horrible. It seemed to let you interpret it a bit which I liked. It didn’t really say anything about the Germans, apart from them executing a few characters, which was true.

      • wodin says:

        The trouble with Russian WW2 war movies is that they portray the Germans as cannon fodder who don’t even know basic tactics they just walk in spraying MP40′s then get mown down all snarling but dumb.

    • Barman1942 says:

      Same, I was pretty excited while reading the article in PC Gamer, but when I got to the part about Order 227 and saw how terribly inaccurate that was, it was a bit disgusting.

    • CRSE says:

      “On a side note, where goes this “saying” of “quality of quantity” comes from? I’m Russian, and I don’t know anything about it.”

      Most people here seem to regard it having been worded by Stalin which at the least seem _possible_ and even more so given that he has written on the idea of it in his “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” which touches upon “dialectics” in the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin whom all in turn were influenced by Hegel (which is in the context I’ve heard of it from).

      What I guess he meant is that a whole bunch of soldiers take on an aggregated quality that is not to be found within them in their singularity, nor to be understood as singular qualities aggregated, but that in fact they take themselves a complete new quality.

      Made simple, it ought not be understood as a type of schism as in EITHER quality OR quantity, as in “Quality over quantity”, but rather (if I’ve understood it correctly) that quality is in fact a type of quantity and, even more striking, that quantity has (maybe even “is”?) a quality.

      As Stalin quoted Engels in the previously mentioned work: “This is precisely the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations in which at certain definite nodal points, the purely quantitative increase or decrease gives rise to a qualitative leap, for example, in the case of water which is heated or cooled, where boiling point and freezing point are the nodes at which — under normal pressure — the leap to a new aggregate state takes place, and where consequently quantity is transformed into quality.”

      For more on this see:

      http://marx2mao.net/Stalin/DHM38.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic

      Hope it helps! Cheers.

  7. Everyone says:

    Fortunately, soldiers aren’t stupid. If their cover is destroyed, they’ll go prone and look for somewhere else to hide

    Well if I don’t have to put their helmets back on and reload their rifles individually then I’m happy …

    Still I was hoping for something with a better sense of scale; I didn’t really like the DoW 2 focus on just a few troops, I rather like the sense of commanding a battalion or two of troops in the field. Oh well.

    • wodin says:

      I prefer small scale as it’s less of a hectic click fest in RTS games.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Actually small scale tends to mean just that. WC3 and COH are both excellent examples of that. If you’ve only got a few units, micromanaging them gives you much higher return for effort. If you’ve got thousands (TA, Sup Com) you can’t and won’t micromanage them, just send them out with basic orders and look for flanking opportunities and weaknesses to exploit.

  8. Doctor_Hellsturm says:

    Please be good. And please do not implement any mechanics from DoW 2.

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed. Very disapointed in DoW the ARPG.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Am I the only one who wants to see MORE DoW ARPG Strategy games?

        • Icarus says:

          You’re not. I enjoyed the DoW2 approach hugely.

        • TormDK says:

          I would hugely prefer DoW3 to CoH2.

          But thats mostly due to the setting, CoH is not a bad game at all.

          *EDIT* Also, I would say that they can leave the base building to StarCraft 2, and instead focus on real combat strategy.

        • theleif says:

          You’re not. But I don’t think that kind of gameplay fits the eastern front. Wouldn’t mind if they ditched base building though.

        • DrGonzo says:

          The last CoH add on was very much DoW2 in WW2, and I quite enjoyed it.

  9. Bhazor says:

    Visual details are great but its the audio details that made the original so immersive.

    Company of Heroes the First has probably the best sound design in any game I’ve played. Troops resond not just when they’re attacked but by who and whether they’ll win the subsequent fight or not. Smug panzers shrugging off infantry, infantry screaming for help when the MG turns on them, snipers calmly calling their shots and then suddenly panicking when a jeep rolls. But it’s not just these contextual vocal cues but the way explosions and sound effects changed depending on your perspective.

    From the default isometric perspective artillery explosions sound like their straight from the movies but if you scroll right down to the man level and look to the horizon artillery sounds and flashes like distant thunder. It goes from an action movie to The World at War.

    Judging by DoW 2 they still put a lot of value into sound work so I’m optimistic this won’t dissapoint.

    • Monkey says:

      “Johnson! No stealing doilies this time!” Loved the sound in COH, soooo looking forward to this

    • Arona Daal says:

      Dow 1 had a similar situational Sound Design, for example with Guardsmen saying “Greenskins … i thought i smelled something” when sighting Orkz for the very first Time.

      Dow 2 Sounds were not as diverse and usually way less funny/fitting. So i guess there´s a good Chance the Sound Design in CoH 2 will be more on the Level of DoW 2.

  10. Casimir Effect says:

    the same AI that powers the skirmish mode is now present throughout the campaign

    If this is true then this could be a wonderful thing.

  11. Farsearcher says:

    That was a gorgeously written article Adam.

    I haven’t played the other COH games but I do hunger for something with this kind of tactical depth. I just hope somone makes a near future/ far future wargame in this style, I generally prefer sci fi or fantasy to real settings.
    That said a medieval/renaisance game on this scale would be interesting.
    Oh and the obvious Warhammer 40k version as well.

    • TormDK says:

      Yes please. While I enjoyed CoH, and look forward to CoH 2 I mostly see it as the means to an end in regards with getting DoW3 to see daylight.

  12. Shakermaker says:

    Sounds truly awesome. Considering CoH is one of my most played games of the last decade this can’t come soon enough.

  13. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Nice, nice. Looks remarkably close to the CoH Eastern Front mod. I’m curious to hear more about possible design changes this side of the all aesthetic and Soviet content glory.

    • Hirmetrium says:

      It won’t be much like it – the improvements made to the essence engine are very, very powerful and the graphical fideality of the explosions is even more impressive than that of the original.

      The new vehicle effects and… other planned changes will mean that it will play very differently.

  14. Shadrach says:

    The big stopper for me in games like this is map size, and seeing screenshot of tanks and men firing at each other in clusters 20m apart something in my old grognard bones just scream “SILLY RTS FOR 14-YEAR OLDS!”.

    And don’t get me started on the “order 227″ thing, seems that one scene in Enemy At The Gates is what most of these things are based off of anyway.. pish. Sure there were NKVD blocking units and they were behind the frontlines catching deserters (and yes shooting them on the spot, at times) but not sitting there with a Maxim waiting to mow down their own retreating men. Plenty of time for them to die in a later suicidal attack anyway…

    • Iskariot says:

      “The big stopper for me in games like this is map size, and seeing screenshot of tanks and men firing at each other in clusters 20m apart something in my old grognard bones just scream “SILLY RTS FOR 14-YEAR OLDS!”.”

      THIS!!!!!

  15. Infhare says:

    Oh. My. God. Has anyone of you, guys, really read this Order 227? Give it a shot. http://www.stalingrad-info.com/order227.htm

  16. Iskariot says:

    Will this sequel feature an acceptable skirmish AI? Unlike DoW2 for example.
    If not… I will ignore it.

    • Werthead says:

      If it’s anything like CoH’s after a few patches, then yes. The skirmish AI was unforgivingly brutal on the hardest difficulty levels, though it took a few updates to get there.

  17. LordCraigus says:

    Being the Eastern Front means it already has my interest and it does look pretty. I didn’t play a huge amount of CoH and haven’t played any of DoW2 but nevertheless I’m interested to see whether this can break any new ground in terms of the setting.

    Though I feel compelled to say that if it is set exclusively in 1941 it’s a bit annoying to see the SU-76 and Model 1943 T-34 in those screenshots.

  18. Fumarole says:

    That would be the Christie suspension you experienced.

  19. Ateius says:

    Ohmigosh, CoH2! I legitimately had not heard about this because I barely pay attention to the industry (basically I occasionally read RPS and that’s it). I’m so excited. I loved CoH to death and still sometimes go on a skirmish binge with it.

    I like that they seem to be adopting some ideas from Men of War (unit line-of-sight affected by map obstructions, stealing enemy tanks etc), which I also love, although it hates me. :(

    I also hope they have persistent corpses this time. That was always a little thing that bothered me in CoH. I want to see the bloody aftermath of my terrible tactical decisions strewn messily across the map, please.

  20. Bweahns says:

    My friends all stopped playing the original once I put a heap of time into getting good at it. Maybe I can lure them back to the slaughter/fun with the second…

  21. javabyte says:

    but the question everyone wants to know is … is the AI still mindbogglingly stupid.