Company of Heroes 2 is a game that focuses on progress. Aside from the campaign and the Theatre of War, you may notice a large banner in the upper right corner of your screen. This is your level, and it increases as you complete virtually any match. New to the series is the army customizer, which is also a huge unlock system in and of itself. As you progress in the game, you will earn new ranks, ribbons, and awards. These accolades will translate into tangible rewards for you to take advantage of. Generals are a new concept, and you may choose up to three of them in your army customizer. As you progress, more are unlocked. During gameplay, as you capture and defend strategic points, ability points will be useable based upon the generals you have selected. They are typically unit boosts or special commands like air strikes. Bulletins are another unlock, and by completing specific challenges in the game, you will unlock slight boosts for units. Finally, there are a myriad of skins for your units that can be unlocked for cosmetic appeal. Ultimately, it is a very satisfying way to add replay value to an already massive game.
Multiplayer is a satisfying component of Company of Heroes 2. This is mostly due to the fact that the game is so dependent upon tactical knowledge and superiority. What separates the co-op of Company of Heroes 2 apart from other games are the ways in which communication comes into play. Voice communication is strongly encouraged, as coordination is paramount to success. Are you facing a difficult division of Panzers in the middle of the map? Perhaps one player can bait them into a forward advance while the other sneaks around the back with anti-tank personnel for a flanking maneuver. Overall, because of the inherent strategic nature of the game as a whole, the game is quite satisfying to play with a friend. You will enjoy countless hours of co-op scenarios, custom games, and comp stomps. There are multiple challenge levels that add replay to scenarios. The best part is that your commander level will also increase, and rewards will be unlocked. This is great for the co-op crowd, as you receive rewards for your games.
Of course, no self-respecting RTS would be complete without an active online ranking system. Company of Heroes 2 features a very competitive ladder mode. Of course, there are also games you can play with random people against the computer. Relic seems to want to create a culture of competitive play and streaming, as they offer a portion of the main menu dedicated to Twitch TV. There is already an active community of streamers on Twitch who have been streaming, and this number will surely grow in time.
Company of Heroes 2 is a resounding success. It is an extremely deep, robust, and ultimately satisfying game. While the story isn't quite engaging enough, the missions are fantastic and the wealth of other gameplay options more than make up for the shortcomings. The overall complexity of the game fosters a wonderful cooperative experience that is best played to be believed. This game is highly recommended, assuming you have the rig to pull it off. It is important to note that my somewhat decent computer had trouble keeping a steady 30 frames per second, although this was no doubt due to my processor. Be sure to abide by the minimum and recommended settings prior to purchasing. Otherwise, enjoy the game.
The Co-Op Experience: The game's Theater of War mode allows players to team up across 18 missions that can be played cooperatively.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.