Not so long ago, Relic sent me a survey to fill out, which was about the future of the Company of Heroes franchise. Outside of some to-be-expected questions about me—like whether I was a fan of both games or just one, and which features I liked most—there were some targeted questions and interesting selections that hint at the direction Relic Entertainment is heading in for the future of Company of Heroes.
As a fan, I’m mainly happy there’s talk of more for the series, especially after the recent announcement that Relic is making Age of Empires 4. I think that’s a great choice for the Age of Empires series, but I was also concerned it meant the Company of Heroes franchise was, at best, on the backburner or, at worst, dead. Relief aside, here’s what I learnt from the survey.
There was a question near the start about how often I use mods. For me, regrettably, I don’t have enough time to play as many hours of the core game as I’d like, so I haven’t delved too far into the mods (outside of the excellent Blitzkrieg mod for the original game). That said—and this is me reading between the lines here—it sounds like Relic is interested in either continuing or expanding mod support for future CoH entries.
A little further on in the survey, I was asked to rank my top three features from a list of about a dozen items. These features included vehicular/tank combat, terrain and building destruction, tactical map, base and defence building, unit veterancy system, modding tools, online events and seasonal activities, observer mode and replay options, custom game options, building garrisoning, customisable aesthetic, plus weather and atmospheric systems. So, nothing new there, but good to see all of the core features represented. The next section, though, was dedicated to looking ahead.
It started with a focus on campaign features: historical accuracy, rewriting history, story-driven campaign, playing the campaign with any available faction, campaign replayability, or dynamic campaign. Those last three points are of particular interest. I’ve finished every Company of Heroes campaign, across core games and expansions, but I’ve had no reason to return. I liked how the US Forces expansion for Company of Heroes 2 played with a tactical map and timed mission choices, which is something I hope to see expanded in the next Company of Heroes game.
Historical accuracy would likely clash with the option to play the campaign with any available faction, but if there was some kind of new-game-plus mode that let you play through the campaign again with whichever faction you like, that could be interesting (particularly if it’s co-op).
The survey shifted to the future of multiplayer, and the first question was a doozy. “How desirable would a new multiplayer mode be where you can create a custom army with a possible mix of Allied & Axis units that you take into battle?” I’m of two minds about this. The teenager in me who was obsessed with reading anything and everything about World War II wants Company of Heroes to remain historically authentic. But from a gameplay perspective—and assuming Relic can get the balancing right in terms of what units you can mix and match—this could be a fantastic custom mode, and a great addition to the franchise.
I was then asked to rank the top three theatres of war, in terms of interest. The list included the Mediterranean and Pacific Theatres, as well as the Eastern Front and Western Front. Those are pretty standard fare for inclusion, but it’d be great to see the Pacific Theatre (officially) make its way to Company of Heroes. More interesting, though, were the inclusion of World War I and modern warfare options.
I’d rather keep Company of Heroes in the past, so I could definitely see myself playing a World War I-themed entry. That said, I think the formula could work well in modern warfare, too, so I’d be curious to see what comes out of that in terms of new mechanics (given the technological advances), if that comes to be. More fascinating, though, was the inclusion of an Alternat[iv]e History choice, which specifically referenced Wolfenstein and Iron Harvest. I think this would make for a fun Company of Heroes experience, but think it’d be better suited to mod-like expansion packs, rather than a full-fledged release. That still didn’t stop me from picking it in my top three.
I was then asked to rank my top three armies from a list that included Germans, Americans, French, British, Italians, Japanese, Australians, Canadians, Soviet Union, Belgium and Netherlands, Polish, and Nordics. I’d obviously love to see the Australians in there, as well as some of the smaller nations, but they might have to fit into more of a support role (within an existing larger army) to make the cut, given a potential lack of variety in terms of specialised unit types (that differ sufficiently from the ones already seen in the series), equipment, and unique vehicles.
The next step was a bit simpler, and asked how many armies I expected there to be in a new potential Company of Heroes game, with options of two, three, or four. Similarly, I was asked about the expectations for how many maps there should be at launch, with options ranging from one to 15. It’s clear Relic has been paying attention to feedback, too, because the next section asked me to rank the top three existing features that needed improvement.
I chose unit pathfinding, terrain and building destruction, and the tactical map. Towards the end of the survey, there was a question about the mix of multiplayer experiences in single-player campaigns, which suggests that Relic is looking at something similar for Company of Heroes. The idea that you could drop-in to someone else’s campaign to help out, call for help, or simply see the wreckages of a battle fought by another player could help make the solo experience feel more memorable.
Ultimately, I’m just happy at the prospect of more Company of Heroes. It’d be great to see Relic do something bigger and bolder with the setting, but I’ll honestly settle for continued expansions to Company of Heroes 2 instead of a left-field Company of Heroes 3. Let me know in the comments section what you’d like to see in the next entry to the Company of Heroes franchise.