Cold Soldier: What’s New In Company Of Heroes 2

By Nathan Grayson on December 7th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

This shot's taken straight from gameplay footage, but it looks so artsy!

According to the surprisingly sobering (and unsurprisingly incessant) Christmas jingles currently spewing out of every speaker-endowed device on Earth, the weather outside is frightful. And while a veritable barrage of slight breezes has indeed caused me tremendous hardship during my trips between warm places to buy $6 cups of coffee, I think perspective’s important. For instance, soldiers on World War II’s Eastern Front braved inclement weather that was nearly comparable to my own. Forecasters, I imagine, declared it snowy with a chance of bullet blizzards and mortar hail. Then they got run over by tanks. Company of Heroes 2, meanwhile, is aiming to recreate that particular horror of war, and it’s looking like a pretty miserable time (at least, for your tiny popsicle army men) indeed. I bet their coffee was cheaper, though.

So yeah, there goes my plan for Authentic Soviet Tanks on Ice: The Primetime Television Special. Oh well. CoH 2 looks great, though, doesn’t it? The cold certainly seems like it’ll open up some intriguing strategic possibilities – for instance, the aforementioned ice-busting, and also harassing troops just enough to let the elements finish the job – and the bone-chilling brutality’s definitely there.

Line of sight and vaulting, on the other hand, seem a bit more understated, but perhaps even more important in the grand scheme of things. Oh, and just imagine the devious possibilities line-of-sight-powered sneak attacks enable when frozen, huddled-together enemy troops are involved. Ah, war! In which effective strategy is defined as “being the biggest jerk.”

Aside from those things, though, it sure does look like a Company of Heroes game. Not that there’s anything terribly wrong with that – the original’s sort of one of the greatest RTSes ever – but I do worry that Relic might be playing things a bit too safe. We’ll see, though. And then we’ll pull no punches in letting you know, because RPS’ critical eye has no fog of war. Or something.

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54 Comments »

  1. P7uen says:

    I’ll thank you to call them ice-lolly army men!

    How does this, or just ‘does this’ franchise compare with Men of War? I love Men of War but I don’t have 6 hours every time I want to play for me to re-learn everything I’d forgotten since last time.

    • cliffski says:

      it’s better in every way. Especially the voice acting :D
      COH is a much smaller game, easier in many ways, and smaller scale in terms of battles. Also tanks are properly rock-hard, unlike the cardboard versions in men of war.
      COH is less simmy and else’s detailed, but a far better balanced and designed game. It’s also superb in co-op multiplayer against the AI.

      • Premium User Badge wengart says:

        COH’s tanks may seem more tanky, but MOW’s are more realistically portrayed.

      • Brother PaciFist says:

        @cliffsky The ballistics in men of war are somewhat realistic. But they forgot to scale them into the game engine, i think. All engagements betweens tanks take place in under 800 m. All main battle tanks or tank destroyers in World War2 were capable of destroying one another with one shot on such small distances. The tiger was capable of destroying sowjet tank on 2,5 kilometres. But the t34 could penetrate the tigers no sloped (aka usesless) front armor on 800 m. Thats why the tanks in Men of War feel like made of cartboard. But proberly used they can take a punch. hiding tigers in house ruins, or place them in 45 * to the enemy, improves their survival rates.

        @p7en In the game the tanks are shooting point black at another. That is a little flaw in the game mechanic. Men of war is more realistic, company of heroes is more arcade lastic. But both are good games. And you get more games to play in Company of Heroes.

      • P7uen says:

        Thanks Cliffski and BPF,

        I think I might give it a bash. I’ll miss MoW voice acting, who wouldn’t, but co-op against AI has sold it!

        I’m really missing a skirmish mode, I tried one of the mods for MoW but it was too finicky, and I’m too rubbish to play against humans. Might try and nab CoH1 on the cheap!

        • Hurion says:

          The latest humble indle bundle has the CoH + all of its expansion packs (plus some other games) for around $6.

          • Turk Anjaydee says:

            Well, you can get CoH and it’s expansion for as little as $1, but that’s somewhat frowned upon by the morally always so upright internets.

          • P7uen says:

            Superb, good service, this website, and only 2 quid a month!

            To the Bundlemobile!

        • rabidum says:

          Men of War: Assault Squard has coop/skirmish missions against the AI, right?

          • Dominic White says:

            Yeah, plus a singleplayer dynamic campaign mod, and several fan-made packs of defensive ‘hold the line’ type missions.

      • Premium User Badge FhnuZoag says:

        I think the two are different, that’s all.

        Men of War is Counter-strike to Company of Heroes’ Quake. Certainly, some of the tanks in Men of War are weak defensively, and most tanks will disappear in a flash if you expose their rear, but other tanks can basically take on infinite enemies without taking any damage, so long as they are positioned correctly. In comparison, even the best and best positioned tank in CoH can be chipped away by the weakest vehicles given sufficient numbers and time, and a king tiger, say, covering a field just isn’t as much a force of ‘everything it can see is DEAD’ terror as it is in Men of War. Also CoH’s reliance on build orders and over powered commander abilities annoys me.

        The co-op against the AI is far better in Men of War.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I think the delicate balance between the strengths and weaknesses of tanks in MoW is lovely. They are incredibly powerful and vital machines in that game if used intelligently but if relied on too heavily are open to varying vulnerabilities depending on the tank and the circumstances. Uniquely, most units in MoW are useful in unique ways and so its rare for one unit to make another completely irrelevant, unlike unlocking stronger tanks in CoH

      • subedii says:

        it’s better in every way. Especially the voice acting :D

        The voice acting in all of Relic’s RTS’s is always freaking phenomenal (I was surprised when Space Marine sounded so phoned in). The quality and the sheer volume (er, number of voicelines) of all the contextual dialogue is nutty, and really does add to the atmosphere of the games.

        I was actually really surprised when Starcraft 2 came out and they didn’t even progress that in the same way Relic did, considering that Blizzard has like 100x the resources to throw at their RTS development. An average unit in SC2 will have maybe 2-3 minutes of voiced dialogue. An average unit in Dawn of War 2 had something like 20 minutes.

        Now multiply that by five races (six if you count Tyranids). And the fact that when new races / factions came out, Relic actually went back and retrospectively added in all new contextual dialogue for the existing races in order to address the new units and situations they might encounter.

        Relic really do go well above and beyond on that one.

  2. Brother PaciFist says:

    Hello,

    truesight system was used in Men of War. Climbing over obstacles was used in Men of War. The only new thing is the Weather System. Breaking ice was used in Red Alert 2. Dont pretend you reinvented the wheel, when you actually did nothing. I prefer Men of War any day over Company of Heroes. Soldiers storming through machine gun fire without being hit is not my cup of tea in a realistic wargame. And company of heroes 1 had severe balance issues. Just look in the game forums for british artillery turtle tactics. Or the M6 Greyhound light tank slaughtering all german infantry squads in seconds.
    The good thing is the game has very nice and shiny grafics. I will definetely buy and play this title like i did with company of heroes1.

    Have a nice day

    • mondomau says:

      They never actually say they invented either of those things in the video, just that they are using them in new ways. This may be debatable, but we’d need to play it first to see.
      They don’t claim to have been the first people to use the weather effects either (rightly so), they just make a big deal of tying them together under an engine name.

      I’d suggest watching it again – I’m no staunch supporter of PR videos or a CoH fanboy (haven’t finished the first one yet :-/), but the only person making these outrageous claims is you.

      • Brother PaciFist says:

        I do not make something up.

        Video time 0:58 ‘The line of sight system introduces something that we don’t think has ever been done in this way in a rts.’ It has been done in the exact same way in nearly all good RTS. @Men of War, Commandos 2, Close Combat etc. But when i rewatched the video the line of sights seem to be artificial short for my taste. The new max sight range for the avarage infantry squad is 10 m. Very short sightet army men.

        The vaulting thing is nothing new but an essential gamefeature. Oh wait a little brick wall, we have to go around it. it is about time to introduce the crossing of obstacles. The video states it is a whole new astonishing thing. But they do not say it was done first by them, thats true.

        The breaking ice and weather system is new.

        Have a nice day

        • luukdeman111 says:

          alright, pause the vid at 1:01 crank up the video resolution to 1080p, make the vid fullscreen and assume the soldiers on screen are 1,80m whatever amount of feet that may be…. That line of sight is probably closer to 50m…. And while from a realism standpoint that is still pretty short, from a gameplay perspective that is probably the amount of vision that played out best…. and 50m is far enough to make suspension of disbelief take care of the rest….

    • Simas says:

      Soldiers storming through machine gun fire without being hit is not my cup of tea in a realistic wargame

      Men of War has nothing to do with realism :) Sounds like you really need to try Combat Mission games..

      • Brother PaciFist says:

        More realistic then Company Heroes. Close Combat is nice, no question. But a little costly.

        • Mordsung says:

          Strict realism does not directly correspond to a game being good.

          Often times realism is counter to good game design philosophy.

          CoH is a game about bombast and movie style heroics. It is like playing Saving Private Ryan and while it is obviously not realistic, it is a very well designed RTS.

    • Premium User Badge wengart says:

      Going from COH to Starcraft II really makes me miss the constant balance problems that Relic had. Nearly every patched switched up the meta-game and forced you to use new units while semi-retiring old ones. They kept the game fresh.

    • mxu says:

      Breaking ice was also in Men of War! A tank sank to water pretty realistically by the way.

    • Haxavier says:

      They never said they invented them, all they were doing is discussing the tactical implications of such systems. Relic does not deserve your fanboy hatred.

      And as someone who has played way too much MOW and Assault Squad (about 700 hours total) I gotta say that Men of War is not a realistic wargame. It is essentially sandbox game with a crude RTS interface that relies heavily on very detailed systems working together, such as armor penetration, inventory, weapon type, and hitbox/physics interactions. This allows for very interesting tactical and gameplay situations, but it’s not realism. If it were realism you’d be engaging a M4A2 Sherman at 200 meters with a PaK 37 and getting almost guaranteed frontal penetration, but this is not the case even at point blank range in MOW/MOWAS. You also wouldn’t be able to fix a thrown track in under 45 seconds. At the end of the day it is still a game that has to take balance over actual realism and even that is very debatable when you consider stupid stuff like the IS-1 in MOWAS.

      Even though COH was never really my cup of tea, I applaud the devs for sticking to the solid gameplay they know while introducing features utilized by other games, because betterment always comes from the adaptation and assimilation of good ideas, even if some of them aren’t your own.

      On a more fun note regarding MOW, you know your game isn’t realistic when you have your little soldiers rushing about an urban map carrying powerful 380mm spigot mortar rounds and dropping them in buildings to detonate them manually via pinpoint AT grenade throw. Oh but it is hilariously fun to deny your foes precious cover.

      • Premium User Badge wengart says:

        MOW and COH live in a strange area in regards to realism. While they straight up aren’t realistic in the way Combat Mission is they manage to portray realism within the confines of the traditional RTS quite well.

      • Brother PaciFist says:

        Why, the weight of a 380 mm mortar bomb is only 330 lbs. Should be no problem for a proberly trained army men to run around packed with 330 lbs. Only joking.

    • antoniodamala says:

      WHY SO MUCH DRAMA OVER THIS? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

      Also men of war is utter shit. What’s the point of such micromanagement for christ sake?

      • El_Emmental says:

        Well, MoW is for people into micro-management, isn’t it ?

        I loved micro-ing my tanks, or using direct control on a flamethrower to clear some houses, refilling on disabled trucks/cars. Loved CoH too, for its smooth experience (as in, you want to do something, you click, it happens).

      • Low Life says:

        I haven’t played Men of War, but as far as I know it’s quite similar to Soldiers: Heroes of WWII. And that game was awesome – the moment you finally (after half an hour of sneaking around, taking enemies out one by one) got your guys in a tank, took direct control and started wrecking shit was so satisfying.

        I really should try Men of War.

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        I am not a micro person. In fact, I’ve had a lot of fun in games commanding no units, and just telling the human commanders under me what to do. Kinda wish there were more games that palmed off unit babysitting (to use a pejorative term).

        • mouton says:

          I hate most of the pointless micro in RTSes. The whole point of commanding humans instead of robots, is that humans will do a lot of small things by themselves, without the commander having to give express orders for every bodily function.

          Unless you ARE commanding robots, obviously.

    • Vraptor117 says:

      Point of order: tanks breaking the ice was a mechanic used even earlier in Tiberian Sun. God help you if Nod artillery fired on you while you were crossing.

  3. jumblesale says:

    The eastern front is something nobody really knows about? What?

    • Premium User Badge wengart says:

      Using a broad brush, the American viewpoint of the war is of G.I.s liberating Western Europe and crushing Nazi Germany. People know about the Eastern Front, they just think the war was won on the Western side.

      • Davie says:

        This is absolutely true. In my high school history class it was all Normandy and Bowling Green. A little bit of the occupation of France and one single brief mention of Stalingrad as an important battle and that was it.

        It’s pretty ridiculous how general history is taught here. It basically goes cavemen, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, skip 500 years, Medieval Western Europe, Renaissance Italy, American colonization (probably with a brief mention of the Aztecs but little else) American Revolution, maybe Napoleon if you’re lucky, American expansion, maybe Victorian Britain if you’re lucky, WWI (Western Front) WWII (Pearl Harbor then D-Day then Hiroshima), Vietnam, and then whatever falls into the “modern era”. The only comprehensive focus on non-white people takes place only when all the white people were still banging rocks together at the time, and later the only focus on non-Americans is when we weren’t doing anything particularly interesting.

        My point being that in most cases, if a high-school educated American wants to learn about the history of the Soviets (Or China or India or Zimbabwe or the Inca) in any depth, they’ll have to do their own research.

        • Premium User Badge Dunbine says:

          Should your high school history class give you a PhD understanding of history? :)

          Anyway, having lived in Russia for some time, I can tell you that, while Russians are generally more aware of other theatres of WW2 than people in North America, it is mainly because of media and not schooling. And of course, generally speaking again, Russians think that the only thing that mattered in WW2 was the Eastern Front.

          Which is understandable, of course, given the scale of that theatre and the sacrifices made. They’re just sometimes a bit too insistent on telling you. :)

        • Geen says:

          I could not agree more. Honestly, history class in America is a piece of shit. Our textbooks had no less than a whole chapter on the texan revolution. WW1? Half a page.

      • Premium User Badge xao says:

        America’s a big place. Trying to sum up her citizenry’s views on history with a broad brush is folly. Trying to do so with personal anecdotes is hilarious.

        • theleif says:

          You can say the same thing about anything that has ever been said about any country. It goes without saying that you are generalizing when speaking about a nation.

    • Bhazor says:

      To paraphrase Dan Carlin
      “In the national geographic official remembrance photo book we have full colour photos of the Pacific war and the west European front. Dozens of pages detailing the Normandy invasion. We only have paintings of the eastern front. A paragraph for the battle of Stalingrad.”

      The eastern front on it’s own was worse than any war in human history yet we know amazingly little. All we really have our the war journals, there’s very little official history we know. of with most being lost or doctored by Stalin’s regime.

      • sonson says:

        Depends what you mean by “we”.

        I’d argue that the example cited is proof of Western bias rather than lack of knowledge. Stalingrad is very well covered in English, let alone Russian and German.

        Archives are being released by the Russian government all the time and there is still an enormous quantity of sources in a variety of Eastern European languages available.

        It dosen’t matter how “official” or otherwise it is, good history is about taking all the sources and recognising patterns, and there is more than enough information to be able to do this for the major themes at the very least.

        • sonson says:

          Not too excited really. I love COH but it was for the revolutionary changes it brought to the genre, not it’s Wartime setting. This looks like COH or DOWII in Russia, so unless the aesthetic and narrative elements are truly supeior to either of those games it just feels like a re-skin with a few new features. Expansion pack more than a sequel I’d say.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      Relatively speaking, the Eastern front is something most people from the West do not know much about. Probably because after WW2 the Soviets decided to become the “bad guys” by occupying half of Europe and starting a Cold War. Then they lost that war, and as you know, “history is written by the victors”. Hence, most people from the West only know about the Western front and how the Americans saved the day.

      But I guess modern Western culture also has something to do with it. How many movies have you seen about the Eastern front? One? Maybe Two? How many about the Western front? Too many to count.

  4. Vraptor117 says:

    I loved Company of Heroes and I’m very, very excited for this game, but some of these features are pretty ridiculous. Vaulting as a bullet point? Really? How many times are my troops going to get themselves killed by vaulting over something that i instead told them to take cover behind?

    “Cold Tech” aka units take damage and move slower in maps that are scripted to be “cold”. Unless snow is dynamically piling up on the map and I can stage an ambush from a snow fort, this stuff is pretty uninteresting.

    And I don’t see how “truesight” is any different from LOS+Fog of War.

    • Premium User Badge wengart says:

      “And I don’t see how “truesight” is any different from LOS+Fog of War.”

      In Company of Heroes your men could be behind a tall wall and still see their full view on the other side of that wall. Not their view will be blocked and you must send someone to the otherside of the wall to get LOS.

      This video seems to be more for people who already played COH than newbies. These are all things that are different than the original and would be new to that playerbase.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      Well, vaulting and true sight are a big deal to existing players because they can imagine how big of a difference those two things will make. In COH1, a low wooden fence could block your advance, forcing you to move all the way around the map or setup a satchel charge to blow it up. Such scenarios are pretty annoying. Hiding was virtually impossible because units could see through buildings, through hedge lines, through walls, etc.. The video tells us that COH2 will be different.

      I don’t see it as a bad thing. They are trying to improve the gameplay in a meaningful way. Sure, maybe it will be buggy and therefore the game might suck. But that’s just speculation. Maybe it won’t be buggy and the game won’t suck. We won’t know until we see actual gameplay.

      Tthe cold mechanic is still a big unknown. Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one has actually seen it work ingame. So no one knows how it will play out.

      Seeing as how this game is being developed by Relic, who have created excellent games in the past, I choose to be optimistic.

    • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

      TrueSight is by far the most important change in the entire gameplay, IMO. Trees, buildings, even tanks can hide enemy units. You can actually infiltrate enemy lines without having to resort to cheap “stealth” aka invisibility cloak. Clever players will be able to make their army appear much smaller (or much larger) than they actually are. It adds a whole heap of depth and possibilities to the engine.

  5. Mirqy says:

    The coffee might have been cheaper but it would have been instant. The horror…

  6. TimMc says:

    Truesight never been done in an RTS before? You best be joking.

    http://www.gog.com/gamecard/original_war

    Its a good system though and I have no idea why more don’t do it.

    • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

      I think Total Annihilation also had it as an option. I miss spamming scout planes to act as spotters for my defences (although this was possibly only as automatic radar targetting mostly didn’t happen).

      • subedii says:

        It did.

        As for radar targeting IIRC, there was a structure they added in in Core Contingency which allowed for it. So all your long-range artillery structures and weapons would start bombarding stuff when it came into radar view.

        TA was well and truly ahead of its time when it came to things like interface design.

    • reggiep says:

      “Truesight is something that we don’t think has ever been done quite this way before”. Don’t take things out of context. For one, they aren’t claiming anything with absolute certainty, and 2, they may have added certain nuances to the system that people haven’t seen before.

  7. Redd says:

    Looks like they’re unashamedly taking direction from Men of War. No doubt it’ll be more polished, but it’ll always lack the depth. Not that that’s a bad thing. I play CoH and MoW for different reasons and both games are excellent in their respective fields.

  8. Hunchback says:

    Looking at that made me wonder about something – The truesight system probably allows for somewhat more realistic situation and feeling, but what about hearing? I mean, soldiers did hear things on the battlefield, even though they didn’t see them… I hope they made it so that even if you have no LOS over a tank and it’s hidden, you can somewhat hear it moving and predict it’s location. Same with infantry running, shooting etc. I’d be good if you don’t get an exact location but more like some prompt in the fog of war indicating that somewhere there something made a sound and you heard it. Then if it actually got really close to your soldiers you got some more precise “ghost” version or something like that, which shouldn’t display direction and exact position but still a general whereabouts.

    Anyways, this game will be epic, if one can judge by the first. I know that this is a completely personal opinion, but to me CoH 1 is the best RTS ever made. No offense to SC/WC/WH fans.

    • theleif says:

      Sound cues where pretty important in COH 1, so I doubt they’ve removed them.