I just got back from the front. I have spent days, weeks in a dirty trench, full of corpses and many bullets raining on my head. Yes, it may have been too dramatic for me, but the experience I’ve had with Company of Heroes 3 is one to live it; so blissfully epic and electrifying that it was hard for me to break away from the monitor even to write the lines of this analysis. And it is that —I cannot say “against all odds”—, Relic Entertainment has come to close to perfection. Although almost like that grumpy teacher at school, I have to say that he can’t reach it, and not because he doesn’t want to, but because on PC it’s hard to function well.
Change of decade, change of playable perspective
It is not worth pulling out of the muddy trench a saga that has not shown any signs of life for a decade, at least as far as new installments as such are concerned. For this reason, far from replicating the same RTS approach guided by a linear campaign, Canadians adopt other genres for themselves in a almost perfect cocktail of real time strategy, tactic and to big scale.
Let me explain, and it is that the COH experience has not been “tainted”. It presents the same “classic” campaign involved in long missions to complete and, in this case, set in Africa, more specifically in Libya. The fighting and the constant tug of war between the British-American troops and the powerful African Korpsmake COH3 flirt with being a war documentary that rescues experiences of Libyan locals during the Nazi conquest -yes, we played with the bad guys of the game. Nothing to criticize in this regard. It’s what you can expect from Company of Heroes.
So far what is known, but COH3 is more than that, it is a all-out war experience with a campaign in Italy —the true protagonist here— that mixes large-scale strategy “a la Total War”, and RTS combat. Honestly, let me tell you, once I clicked on this campaign, I did it thinking it was going to be “more of the same”, and I ended up dazzled.
Relic knows its limits, and Company of Heroes is a brand that veers toward epic combat rather than brainy strategy. It does not have the freedom of a Total War. The movement for “the boot of Europe” is limited to the history of conquest of the troops garrisoned in the south, and everything is encapsulated in the warlike realism. Even so, we are left free to play in a wide playground full of random eventscities to conquer, others to defend, and lots and lots of turn-based strategy.
The shift to a non-linear gaming experience with a campaign that truly comes to life in front of your eyes is sublime.
Again, there is a limit. A cap imposed on movement around the stage. However, the shift to an experience of non linear game with a campaign that really comes alive in front of your eyes is sublime. They seem like words that I have taken out of my hat to accompany a vague speech, but no. In fact, as the Normandy Landing or the Defense of Stalingrad occupy a prominent place in the public imagination, COH3’s approach is almost perfect. Living an event somewhat further away from the “protagonist” radio of the war in the old continent, offers a higher degree of involvement in an Italy that seems oblivious to the Nazi shadow.
Graphically and mechanically as classic as it is modern
Of course, COH3 is not only the excuse to rescue a classic saga now that Age of Empires 4 has triumphed, there are also changes that attack the aesthetic and mechanical. The “Tactical Break”, for example, is a change in the rules of the game for the most classic real-time strategy, something essential. In other games, you can pause the experience. The game world itself. Everything that surrounds you to have an overview and that’s it. The Tactical Pause, although it is a pause in the current action, supposes something like “the commander’s table”, perfect for deciding the immediate future of units with up to 8 movements or actions to be programmed.
The “Tactical Pause” is a change in the rules of the game for the most classic real-time strategy, a must-have
Likewise, the idea of continuing to move on PC with the mouse exclusively is so classic, “old man“, like traditional and beautiful. In Total War, for example, the keyboard+mouse movement is essential for the good development of the experience, especially in combat. Here, Company of Heroes 3 continues to shun this peripheral almost with fear. Everything remains relegated to the mouse, something so simple and direct that although it can be replicated on consoles, it is part of that “fishbowl tradition”.
Having said this, I have the urgent need to comment that relic is a beasta company crazy to get loyalty in the sound and the visual effects that make any of the competition blush. We speak of a level typical of any shooter AAA that crosses the battlefield and permeates even on the strategic map, something, as a general rule, much more bland. If I had to venture into the comparisons, the quality is typical of the best Battlefield, making COH3 one of those projects that so desperately want to be tasted with the eyes, which makes you fall in love.
Performance on PC suffered somewhat
That said, I want to end here suddenly with the praise. The Company of Heroes 3 experience is somewhat painfulno matter how pretty it is. It is true, it is beautiful, but it lasts with our PC; and it is that playing in high qualities is torture for our poor frames. I have not managed, in the 2 weeks that I have had the game, that the frame rate of Jesus inconsistencies aside to really revel in the gaming experience.
Although as of February 20 the game has received an update that improves the situation seen so far, the GPU load is still noticeable
no DLSS either FSR, at least in the version that we have been able to test prior to the premiere. Although as of February 20 the game has received an update that improves the situation seen so far, the GPU load remains conspicuous. This problem becomes a wrecking ball for somewhat more restrained systems. With an RTX 3060 Ti, and greatly exceeding the technical requirements, we are talking about a hard nut to crack that does not leave our graphics card alone and uses it at 99% of its capacity. The world map, for example, continues to give the worst result with 40 FPS drops at the worst times.
There is not much to tinker with either, and it is that barely have 6 graphic options —very basic, on top of that— ranging from image quality, physics or shadows; to the detail of the textures, geometry, and ends in the Antialiasing. Therefore, I want to advance a series of details based on experience:
- the option of Physics Quality is a fps eater.
- the mean of RAM consumption is 12 GB at 1440p resolution.
- There isn’t that much of a difference between the higher segments of the graphics settings.
- I recommend its installation in a ssdbecause the loading times on an HDD far exceed the 3 minute wait.
- Moving the camera closer to the ground greatly reduces FPS because it has to charge the entire surrounding area.
This is certainly worrying. When at the beginning I mentioned that Relic was born with the PC in mind, I mean that from Canadians you expect a version to match the platform. COH3 will come to consoles, but it does not launch. I was encouraged to think that the native version would be the one we are discussing, but I have found the wrong choice.
I really do not have enough hands to applaud the work of the Canadians, but that does not mean that it does not pull the ears; quite even, because it is the most suffered PC experience in a while. If you want to stay with the positive, I assure you that since Total War: Warhammer 2—especially that Mortal Empires that took so many hours from me—, no game has made me stay until the wee hours of the morning without paying attention to the clock.