Company Of Heroes 3 Offers Loads Of Units And Fun Combat

I’ve been a fan of Real-Time Strategy games since I played my very first game of Dune II: The building of a dynasty back on my Intel 486-33. While the genre has seen many changes over the years, ditching traditional resource gathering for control points and objectives, the keys to what make a fantastic RTS have stayed pretty much the same. Company of Heroes as a franchise debuted all the way back in 2006, with its sequel released in 2013. With almost a decade between launches, is Company of Heroes 3 more of the same with a shiny new coat of paint or does it take a nod from previous iterations to flesh out an entirely new experience?

Company of Heroes 3 once again sets its sights on World War II. Featuring two distinctive campaigns, the smaller of which taking place in Northern Africa, and it’s large, more bold campaign in the liberation of Italy from German occupation. Two regions largely ignored in other WWII games, in favor of the larger battles of Germany and Russia.

The North Africa campaign plays out very similarly to Company of Heroes 1 and 2, featuring large maps with various objectives (capturing and holding specific areas on the map, preventing reinforcements, etc.). playing from the German perspective led by Erwin Rommel. You start out with a set of units that you can grant upgrades to and call in reinforcements to help turn the tide of battle your way. It very much feels like Company of Heroes 2, but bigger and grander.

One of the biggest changes to the Company of Heroes franchise however is entirely part of the Italian campaign setting. This is where the new Overworld Map gets its grand reveal and lends itself to comparisons to other similar games like the Total War series. In this campaign you take control of the Allied forces and their liberation of Italy. Utilizing the overhead map, you move specific units to capture territories and cities. Battles can then be auto resolved (to speed up the game) or you can enter into the skirmish RTS mode to manage the battle yourself. While auto resolve does indeed speed up the gameplay, in many cases resolving the battle yourself can mean the difference between victory and defeat, even when the odds are stacked against you. You are also given options of bombarding units and cities with naval ships or utilizing captured airfields to scout out portions of the map that have not been revealed yet.

While I’ve read many other reviews that felt this could have been implemented better (and I agree to some extent with what the consensus has been), I still feel it’s a step in the right direction for the franchise. Is it as in-depth and evolved as the Total War series? Absolutely not, but then the Total War Series has had a significant amount of time to work out all the kinks that go along with this type of gameplay. I still applaud the team behind Company of Heroes for trying to expand on the base game and bring a grander sense to the game overall, even if there is still work to be done.

The skirmishes and individual scripted campaign battles is still where Company of Heroes shine the most. As you’d expect it has received an immense graphical update, and runs absolutely incredible on my Intel I9 13900K and RTX 4090. That being said, these games have traditionally run well on lower tier systems and there is no reason to believe this one would be any different. The character models are well designed, the vehicles are true to their historical inspirations and overall, it looks amazing.

Troops can be outfitted with various upgrades that are earned by completing objectives, you can direct them to take cover behind walls and trenches, and even enter buildings. Terrain plays a pivotal role in how the game plays out, and the game utilizes a sense of verticality, where positions on the high ground maintain their advantage as they would in real life. Troops can also be pinned down and suppressed, necessitating the need to make a hasty retreat. Overall, it takes the best of an RTS and adds elements of tactical wargames to create as authentic an experience as is possible.

The story is the one area where I feel the game lacks any real motivation. It’s told through numerous vantage points from different individuals, and I honestly didn’t feel that it expanded the game in any meaningful way. To be honest though, the story wasn’t a prime interest of mine heading into the game so I could honestly take it or leave it.

If you are looking for a Real-time strategy game that checks all the boxes, then Company of Heroes 3 deserves a look. The Italy campaign is roughly 20-30 hours’ worth of gameplay along with another 6 or so hours playing through the Africa campaign. While it may not be the grand strategy game in the likes of the Total War and Hearts of Iron series, it’s still an approachable and fun game in its own right.


What I liked: Fun RTS combat, lots of units to deploy

What I liked less: The story didn’t grab me

4 out of 5 stars