It’s odd replaying an real-time strategy title on home console, rather than its intended platform on PC. The structure flows differently, and the imperative ingredient in keyboard and mouse becomes a dichotomy of regardless to essential in ways indescribable unless experiencing this transition. There are a litany of RTS titles on the market that do extremely well on home console, with Diablo being the most popular of the lot, but Company of Heroes 3 Console Edition proves itself to be a worthy prospect in what remains a debate between the devout of its ilk, where the genre prominently seats itself firmly in the camp of the PC Gamer. Despite its natural platform, the title bodes well for console enthusiasts and those looking to dive deep within its lofty European, World War II setting amongst its high-octane, globally perpetual canvas.
Company of Heroes 3 Console Edition gives that of its titular owners the chance to revel in this world via a streamlined course of controls that lifts the fundamentals of a coercive, meticulous camera-controlled construct and delivers a dissected pace that tempers the flow a little, but is aided by its endless destruction and tactical offense that encourages the player to think before they act. While its execution is replicated, the outlier being how you perceive the world around you comes into play with major implications that go beyond the expeditious rush that had PC Gamers teeter in anticipation. Rather, with the Console Edition, it’s about keeping a keen eye on all of your troops in each environment while manipulating an on-board camera that can be sometimes easy and frustrating to use. This is one of the key differences that sets it apart from its home base.
For the uninitiated, Company of Heroes’ third instalment takes place during the invasion of Italy during World War 2 as you assume control of the Allied Forces, and the Axis forces during the North African portion of its story. Much like any real-time strategy title, the game forms an existential swell of chain reaction events that initiate World War II, play out on a global timer. This essentially continuous play while maintaining the arduous task of keeping your troops alive. However, there are some aids and sacrifices that torque the real-time category in its home console iteration that can make it an arguable stance against it being an RTS altogether. This of course being a major addition in the Tactical Pause feature, that allows you to halt all action on screen, as you lay a string of actions across the battlefield.
The feature itself can be a debatable onslaught giving you the advantage over the CPU, however it has some drawbacks in its real-time execution. While you may be preparing your invasion, with a plan of going in guns blazing against your rivals, the CPU may devise a rebuttal that’s destined to take our your entire fleet in one foul swoop. While the feature may strip some monotony of tedious offense, coming through ill advised and unprepared will only speak of early demise and failure, to which is all but common in using this feature to which I only found myself executing scarcely. Dealing directions toward your mission objective is delegated through traditional means, but has been simplified for a remote control scheme to initialise at the press of an action or directional button.
Hovering over a highlighted troop will signal an action menu for you to choose from. This coinciding the new radio command menu that visualised as a pinwheel menu for quick action, your able to quickly direct team members to execute your plan, whether it be to storm a certain section, take down a wall of a building or flank a battalion of armed enemies. An on-screen crosshair will act as your main gauge or cursor in landing blows successfully. Now for those that are familiar with COH3 already, there aren’t many dividends that rule one version over the other, if anything the experience is mostly equal despite some features made exclusive to the console version. This is mainly to streamline access for players using a limited peripheral in plain disparity to the diversity of the PC Gamer’s utilities.
While real-time titles carry great role-playing elements toward a niche audience that caters a gaming market that's dominated one primary group for decades, Company of Heroes 3 Console Edition deploys its troops into the bunkers with great ambition to ultimately become the victor of its parlay.
The dual-backed campaign while not tied over, does give you a unique experience within each episode that delivers a lofty sense of content spread through each respective expedition. Starting units, that grow with each company having a set mission objective with each member entailing their own stats and experience. Bazooka Squads pile out the mammoth explosions, while the six pounder anti-tank gun team will fend off the large vehicles with barrow-like weaponry causing ultimate destruction. It’s all tactical strife that’s laid out through mindless anarchy, although co-ordinated. Albeit, no matter how laid out your initial action plans are, there’s always a spanner in the works that turns these objectives awry with territory slowly overrun, losing party members or simply the unexpected counter-attack from the opposition rolls through as your campaign progresses.
Three's a crowd...
✔️ Streamlined control scheme for home console.
✔️ RTS with dual-sided campaign gives the player choice.
✔️ A different feel to an established title that’s translated well from PC.
❌ Some bugs that a quick patch can fix.
Multiple chapters of fixed timeline events do play out within each campaign, despite having the freedom to play the game your way. There are some plot points that call for your attention, such as the infiltration of a Prisoner’s of War camp, to which you may need to liberate and free those captured or handling the duty of salvaging a disaster zone that entails a vehicular or air-raid crash – ever seen M*A*S*H? Well, think that.
Now, despite its frenzy that will keep some busy, there is some immersion breaking bugs that while did not break the game, had me dispelled from my time sink. I’ve never seen a tankard vanish so fast before, leaving my troops stranded with zero defence other than their arms on hand. This only happened less than a handful of times but it was enough to frustrate me in having to restart from checkpoints over an hour ago. Ultimately heart-wrenching to repeat an entire sector of an objective, and then some.
Exemplary amounts of texture pop-in is apparent as you traverse across each map, but this withstanding the size of each zone you set course through, it’s understandable as to why, but it shouldn’t get a pass. Aesthetically however, the game is nicely detailed for a top-down real-time strategy title, and runs at a smooth 60FPS without any staggering. If there were any extra features outside anything noted here, it’s not that useful, such as Company Skills, and inventory management, it’s all for show rather than anything worth its weight. Sure the skill-tree based system does deliver a variety of offense to use during strategic onsets, but a majority of it is kept here for simply extrapolating on what already exists in your unit’s arsenal. Speaking of, skirmish mode exposes some of COH3’s rough mechanics, with some undesired physics and questionable aesthetics demonstrated. While its freeform practice does an outstanding job of giving the player the canvas to paint red, it doesn’t really do anything to expand COH3’s overall experience overall.
With all that said, Company of Heroes 3 Console Edition is a solid RTS experience for console gamers and quite possibly a great gateway entry to those looking to explore the genre at a steady pace before diving into the deep end of its arguably taxing tenacity that controls its genre’s gameplay. While it carries its own blemishes, it understands its outlining objective in distilling and dissecting the extensive combat system it pertains to on PC platforms, and exercises a casual approach for those looking to either transition from the aforementioned systematics, to a laid back, streamlined control scheme and action plan. While real-time titles carry great role-playing elements toward a niche audience that caters a gaming market that’s dominated one primary group for decades, Company of Heroes 3 Console Edition deploys its troops into the bunkers with great ambition to ultimately become the victor of its parlay.
Company of Heroes 3 is a real-time strategy game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sega for Windows. A sequel to Company of Heroes 2, the game features new mechanics and modes and is set in World War II.