The Average Gamer

Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies Hands-On

From the East to West, Company of Heroes 2 soldiers on. Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies brings two new factions to the multiplayer battlefield, the US Forces and the German OberKommando West, eight new maps designed around the western frontlines of World War II, and an expanded and updated progress system to bring out the ultimate General in you.

While that’s all terrific stuff, the biggest reason to pay attention to this expansion is it’s a standalone product, but is compatible with all of Company of Heroes 2’s multiplayer. This means that for £14.99 (or your regional equivalent) you can battle online with anybody who plays COH2. However, you are limited to playing as the two factions in TWFA.

It’s a good, low-cost, jumping off point for new players – which I think is smart of Relic to bring new players into the fold. As a bonus; if you already own COH2 and only want one of the two factions available, they’re purchasable separately for £9.99 each.

For those who already play Company Of Heroes 2, because I know this is important information, these are the army combinations that are available in competitive Automatch (new players, don’t worry about this part): US Forces Allied With the Soviets, Oberkommando West Allied With the Wehrmacht, US Forces Fighting Against the Wehrmacht, US Forces Fighting Against the Oberkommando West, and Oberkommando West Fighting Against the Soviets. Of course in custom game you’re welcome to warp history however you please with any combination.

There is no singleplayer content included at all, though Relic has not ruled out that possibility for future expansions, but Skirmish mode is included if you fancy honing you skills against AI or doing some whacky custom games.

A few issues you may wish to consider: Whether playing skirmish or online you will need a constant Internet connection, previous Commanders and Skins bought will not transfer over to the new factions, and the standalone version is a hefty 30GB install.

All that information out of the way, now to talk about my time with TWFA! I was focussed on playing as the US Forces, because there’s no way I’m missing my chance to go full “’murrica!”, in Skirmish mode. It was 2v2, because my micro needs work, and I made sure one of my enemies was the OberKommando to gain as much intel on TWFA as I could – with the added bonus of kicking their ass.

Straight away I noticed a far, far greater emphasis on pushing forward than ever before. COH2 has always been a very aggressive focussed game, especially in the multiplayer, but I found establishing a base outpost near any less than two capture points pretty much meant game over. Which is quite a high ratio when you consider you’re limited to three. It’s a welcome pace, however.

The maps that I was able to play were quite small, by Relic standards, and this meant far more intense tug-of-war fighting going on for the main capture points along the centre. This also meant that my armies spent a lot more time moving than my standard COH2 games.

Normally I like the entrenched warfare, strategically burying my units in crucial areas and using roaming parties to scout the map and capture new points. TWFA isn’t played that way, at least not in my experience. You push or you die, simple as. At any given point I likely had 2-3 control groups moving to new positions while another 2-3 groups held down my outposts. Incredibly micro-intensive gameplay, but that’s definitively not a criticism in Company of Heroes.

TWFA - Tank Battle

There are some definite similarities in the factions for anybody who played the original Company of heroes when it comes to specific unit types – though admittedly more so on the US Forces side as they were also featured in COH1 as the Allies. Pleasingly they do not feel nor play the same. They’re recognisable by name alone, as their special abilities, skins, one-liners, and control field are all built around the COH2 system. Something I, having played umpteen hours of COH1, was immensely grateful for.

Progression has also had a fair bit of tweaking, with the primary focus now leaning more towards strategy than before. As is standard with Company of Heroes 2 your Commander choice is essential to ensure their specific abilities match your play-style, but now you need to craft your perfect loadout of buffs beforehand. Now you gain extra XP from utilising those buffs and Commander abilities, meaning you’ll want to plan your strategy as far ahead as possible if you’re one of those levelling addicts (no judgement, I’m guilty of it myself).

Ultimately, is Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies enough? For new or interested players: absolutely! If multiplayer RTS is what you’re craving then you can’t argue with that price tag, especially as online you’ll be able to play against standard players on the 23 maps that comes with the vanilla Company of Heroes 2.

For existing players: yes, I’d say so. Considering your average Commander DLC will set you back £2, this package for two brand new factions AND eight new maps is pretty excellent value. Personally though I don’t know why anybody would spend £9.99 for only a single faction compared to the full package on offer.

Company of Heroes 2: The Western front Armies will be available on June 24th, 2014 for £14.99.