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Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies
Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies

PC
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Relic Entertainment Official Site: http://www.companyofheroes.com
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date:
June 2014
Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies Review
Review By @ 11:18am 24/06/14
PC
Considering the core Company of Heroes 2 game was released this time last year, it’s been a long time waiting for the first significant expansion pack. I deliberately use this term instead of ‘DLC’ because what this standalone multiplayer adds to the Company of Heroes 2 experience feels more like an old-school PC expansion, rather than the current zeitgeist of DLC cash grabs that empty wallets without perceivable value for money.

Players can jump in as one of two new armies—US Forces or Oberkommando West—and it will be rather overwhelming if you haven’t played Company of Heroes 2. If you don’t own the core game, you can still use these two factions to play against players that own Company of Heroes 2 and/or the expansion, which is great. There are a lot of tweaks across the board that improve the experience, too. For instance, ‘Public Games List’ option means the long-requested server browser is in, while it’s a much cleaner interface for configuring matches.



In game, there are some key optimisations at play that make the game look prettier on high-end PCs and play better on low-end rigs. Little touches such as the addition of blast radiuses for grenades remove guesswork and afford meaningful visual information when managing micro. Controversially, the progression system has been eliminated in favour of randomised ‘War Spoils’ Bulletin rewards for players at the end of certain matches. While this may feel like a kick in the teeth for veterans that’ve gone through the grind of unlocking specific Bulletin perks, it makes perfect sense for encouraging new players into the often complicated online foray.

What’s less encouraging is the lack of specific training for the new armies, and with only AI skirmishes on offer before heading online, the learning curve will be steep for newcomers. The two new armies are the real shining stars, though, whose design continues to embrace the asymmetrical trend of the series. When playing as US Forces, players aren’t required to construct core manufacturing buildings, instead, spending a similar level of fuel and manpower on calling in officer squads that unlock a particular structure’s units, all of which takes place from a centralised base.

While the inclusion of paratroopers and para-dropped items—that can be deployed anywhere on the map—are the most obvious new feature via specific US Commanders, there’s also a balanced emphasis on regular infantry and armour, too. That being said, infantry is the main emphasis here, with fast access to anti-armour capabilities and an ambulance unit that can replenish/heal troops closer to the frontline in friendly territory. Combine an ambulance with a Major command squad’s frontline retreat ability, and you’ll find super-aggressive hit-and-run tactics rewarded, without the lengthy downtime between retreat and reinforcement.



Oberkommando West favours end-game players, with a strong out-of-the-box emphasis on heavy armour, including the King Tiger and Sturmtiger tanks that dominate the battlefield. The lack of the option to lock down control points for additional munitions/fuel is initially jarring, but it encourages Oberkommando players to dominate land faster. This army plays like a cross between the British 2nd Army and German Panzer Elite forces of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, with the ability to convert generic construction vehicles into any of the four manufacturing structures in any controlled territory.

Considering the Schwerer Panzer Headquarters (the structure that builds the heavier tanks) has a flak cannon attached to it, it’s perfect for placement in hotly contested zones. A half-track with infrared searchlight makes reconnaissance a breeze, while five levels of veterancy further incentivises players to keep their units alive for as long as possible. Both armies encourage the use of different tactics to the standard Soviet and Wehrmacht factions and can definitely give as good as they get in a fight.

AI armies are now thankfully closer to their listed difficulty, which means newbies can ease their way in against Easy opponents, but the real test of how well Relic has balanced the new armies will come when the game is released today. The infrared half-track, for instance, presents a potential over-powered defensive option for players that like to bunker down, but they are relatively easy to kill, particularly if you have access to paratroopers.



Regardless of whether it’s perfectly balanced at launch, Relic has shown its dedication to listening to the community with subsequent updates, and The Western Front Armies is a worthy addition to any multiplayer-loving Company of Heroes 2 player’s war chest.



Nathan Lawrence can be found fragging n00bs in a variety of digital battlefields, but most commonly the ones from the franchise with a capital ‘B’. He loves games with a strong narrative component, and believes in a gaming world where cutscenes are no longer necessary. In his lack of spare time, Nathan can be found working on a variety of wacky script ideas, and dreams of freeing cinemagoers from unnecessary sequels and pointless remakes by writing films with never-before-seen twists and turns. But mostly he’s all about the fragging of n00bs.

Recent articles by Nathan:
Find him on Twitter - @nachosjustic PSN - SaintRasputin XBL – NachosJustice and Steam - uber_chimera
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What we liked
  • Prettier graphics; better optimisation
  • Incredible sound design continues
  • New asymmetrical armies rock
  • Removal of the progression system makes sense
  • AI commanders match their difficulty
  • UI improvements
What we didn't like
  • Unit path-finding woes persist
  • Untimely instances of nonresponsive/stuck units
  • No training for new armies = trial by fire
More
We gave it:
9.1
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
d^
Posted 02:06pm 24/6/14
Sick man, can't wait.
infi
Posted 02:09pm 24/6/14
playing right now
nachosjustice
Posted 06:38pm 24/6/14
See you both online!
Trex0321
Posted 06:52pm 24/6/14
is COH2 any good?
Trex0321
Posted 07:00pm 24/6/14
i just checked meta critic, critical acclaim is mostly positive, but ive never seen so many negative user reviews! so the campaign is rubbish, the mp is a lag fest and the game feels like a step backward? guess ill avoid.
midunno
Posted 07:28pm 24/6/14
Well most of those negative reviews come from russians a bit pissed off at the way theyre portrayed.
TiT
Posted 08:15pm 24/6/14
add me on steam: _TiT_ i love this game but i really suck at it!
infi
Posted 08:27pm 24/6/14
I am FartingLoudly on steam if you want a teammate
Viper119
Posted 08:34pm 24/6/14
I really need to get round to playing these.
TiT
Posted 08:52pm 24/6/14
i got your steam infi but i really suck so you probably dont want to play with me
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:21pm 24/6/14
So how is the matchmaking, does it have short waits and close level matches? or is it full of low vs high level s***?
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:28pm 24/6/14
Hmm it's a good price for $25 on steam now, but the 2 extra armies are another $20.

Maybe I'll wait until they have a bundled version for maybe $35.
ctd
Posted 09:44pm 24/6/14
purchased. will play tomorrow night or weekend

steam acct = alexctd
IVY_MiKe
Posted 08:08am 25/6/14
Hmm it's a good price for $25 on steam now, but the 2 extra armies are another $20.

Maybe I'll wait until they have a bundled version for maybe $35


If you want to jump in to MP you don't need to buy the original game.
That's the 'real big thing' about this expansion pack release. If you JUST buy Western Front Armies, you can do all the Skirmish/comp-stomp/MP you want (using all of the workshops maps etc).

You won't have access to the original [COH2] teams, nor any of the SP content from the original game.

COH2 is REALLY POORLY pieced together as a purchase (read: Sega got a tight grip on it after Ubi died and almost took the franchise with it). I've bought all the mini-DLC's and commanders (not faceplates or skins or other crap which doesn't influence gameplay) based sheerly on the number of hours I've sunk into it.

For me, the $20 in this expansion was a 'no brainer' as I've already got 200+ hours in the original product (so I figure even at full price for this purchase, it's cheap as chips for the number of extra hours I'll get out of it)
nachosjustice
Posted 09:30am 25/6/14
It's a really steep learning curve, y'all, but I disagree on the naff comments about the campaign. Yes, in retrospect, it did portray the Soviets in a negative/politically bias light, but it works really well as training for the ultimate battle: multiplayer. Then you can go through Theater of War to hone specific tactics, as scenarios range between offensive and defensive, with some situations where you're forced to use units you might not otherwise use. I'd say I'm an average player, but I still won two out of three games with my mate over the weekend.

Communication is paramount, so jump on your favourite voice-chat program and play alongside your mates. It's worth watching those tutorial videos, too (even though it's s*** that they're all videos and not actual training gameplay), to ensure you understand everything. The TrueSight system, for instance, is unbelievably useful and changes the way you approach combat. Couple that with the ability to vault over low cover, and flanking is made so much easier. Micro is paramount, though, so train fighting on multiple fronts against (at least) Hard AI opponents in Skirmish mode.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 10:01am 25/6/14
So if I just buy the 'expansion' armies I can play with them without the other armies (but I can play against them).

What about all these commander DLC's and stuff are they actually gameplay changing DLC?
infi
Posted 10:39am 25/6/14
dont just buy the expansion armies, that's silly.
TiT
Posted 01:37pm 25/6/14
Tollaz0r!
Posted 05:34pm 25/6/14
Well I just bought it from CJS. $17 pretty good price. Maybe I'll wait and see of the extra army DLC comes on special eventually.
TiT
Posted 06:45pm 25/6/14
yeah i am going to try and get more gameplay into this game, i do love it but really suck
Tollaz0r!
Posted 06:47pm 25/6/14
You can join me, we can be like those Commanders that get sent to some remote region to look after leeks because no-one wants to follow our command.
TiT
Posted 06:50pm 25/6/14
You can join me, we can be like those Commanders that get sent to some remote region to look after leeks because no-one wants to follow our command.


sounds good add me on steam posted my username above if i dont already have you
Meddek
Posted 07:52am 26/6/14
CoH2 is $13.00 on steam today I might pick it up looks f***en awesome and infi has racked up 350 hours so it must be good!
Tollaz0r!
Posted 08:24am 26/6/14
Son of a b****! I paid $17 just yesterday. $4 down the drain!
Tollaz0r!
Posted 08:34am 26/6/14
I must say, I'm impressed with the integrated features such as streaming. They really did well with that. Many 'competitive' games could take a lesson or 5 from this game.
nachosjustice
Posted 09:00am 26/6/14
Feel free to add me on Steam, gents, if you want to play online.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:27am 26/6/14
I do, however, thoroughly disagree with DLC commanders. I understand DLC armies, that is somewhat fair, but upgrades to purchased armies should not be DLC unless they are cosmetic only.
TiT
Posted 09:52am 26/6/14
whats the digital upgrade?
d^
Posted 03:33pm 27/6/14
So I bought this and yet in the game it shows a buy now option?
ctd
Posted 05:19pm 27/6/14
Yeah probably ignore that.

So can someone give me the cliffnotes on how the mechanics have changed? apparently significantly
plsu they have changed all the gaylord progression systems

AND added a noob lobby match system yay.
infi
Posted 07:00pm 27/6/14
Coh2 all night long tonight.

AusGamers TS lounge 5
Jabroney
Posted 10:59pm 27/6/14
Just when I thought I was out, they drew me back in

But can I still turtle in trenches!!!??!
ctd
Posted 10:59am 28/6/14
trenches...zzzzz
Tollaz0r!
Posted 03:52pm 28/6/14
Played my first online 1v1 battle today, won them both. Playing as Ruskies. 1 truck with a squad of conscription soldiers in the back does well for quick caps and blocking enemy supply.

I killed my enegineers a few times by laying mines at a star capture point, getting attacks and my motor landing on the mine and blowing up everything...
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