It hasn’t been easy to wait for with Company of Heroes 2. First, it’s been seven years since the original was released and achieved instant-classic status. It was a sharp change from almost everything else in real-time strategy, and cemented developer Relic’s reputation as one of the best strategy studios in PC gaming. An Eastern Front expansion or sequel seemed like a no-brainer, but Relic never got around to it, and Company of Heroes was set aside as Relic became a Warhammer 40K studio. With Relic finally returning to Company of Heroes in a sequel set against the bloody grandeur and brutality of the Eastern Front, greatness seemed preordained.
Which is probably why simple goodness feels slightly disappointing. Company of Heroes 2 just feels like More Company of Heroes. It’s still a great design, but most of its sequel’s innovations are fairly conservative, and along the way it’s also borrowing some dubious features from modern mainstream shooters, like a grindy progression system filled with perks and unlocks. Even the Eastern Front never quite comes alive. RTS games are partly powered by how well they communicate their theme, how well they connect the game you’re playing to the story it’s telling, and Company of Heroes 2 sometimes seems a little more like an Eastern Front skin than a fresh take on an old design.
Gallery: Company of Heroes 2 (6/28/13)