It’s an open secret that the RTS, or real-time strategy, genre is a tough nut to crack. Unless you grew up with your fingers on the big red nuke buttons of Command & Conquer, or with your head firmly up the Emperor's arse in Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War, you might not know some of the intricacies and quirks of this hardcore video game genre.
You might not know, for example, how to manage a base, gather resources, train units, or even how to wedge yourself between the defenses of an enemy that’s been ‘turtling’ for 12 turns and is building a siege-ready army the likes of which the world has never seen before.
There’s a lot to learn in these games, so we wouldn’t send two or our inexperienced, wide-eyed recruits into the middle of an epic, World War II combat simulation armed only with their (lacking) general knowledge and the vague desire to survive… would we?
As you can see in the video above, even some clueless British recruits can eke out a campaign of survival in Company of Heroes 3. The real-time strategy game developed by Relic Entertainment, and published by Sega for Windows and PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, is understandable and readable – even for two rookies with very little understanding of the genre.
Maybe it's how the game has been mapped out on pad to play on console, maybe it's the great work Sega and Relic has done in presenting the famously-console unfriendly genre well on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, but something happened to allow our unlucky pair to (sort-of) overcome the challenge in the end.
It’s a credit to the design and the UI and the control scheme, really, that two privates with little combat experience can figure out how to shell enemy units out of cover with their bazookas and claim oil deposits for their forward bases within just minutes of play.
As doomed as the initial effort may have seemed, Jim and Connor’s foray into the Mediterranean theatre of World War II went… fairly well. Yes, it was a disaster to begin with, and if they were in any sort of actual military service they would have been stripped of any honour and dishonorably discharged. But, in the end, Connor – at least – managed to rally and push forward to show the Axis forces what British courage is truly made of.
Company of Heroes 3 is out now for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC – and it might just make a general out of you, if you’re a quicker learner than our pair of idiots (and that isn’t a big ask, really).