The single-player campaign of Company of Heroes 2 promises to explore the oft-ignored battles of World War II's Eastern Front, but there are plenty of engagements that fall outside its timeline. That's where its new Theater of War mode comes in.
Here you'll find three distinct types of missions--co-op scenarios, solo challenges, and rule-driven AI skirmishes.The co-op scenarios will pit you and your friends against intelligent AI opponents, while the AI battles will allow you to hone your skills against common playstyles you'll face in the competitive scene.
We didn't get a chance to see either of these two modes in action, but we did get hands-on time with a solo challenge called Blitzkrieg, in which our small team of German troops and tanks was tasked with capturing 10 control points from the Russians. Sounds easy enough--except for we only had a few tanks and infantry squads with which to do so. Oh, plus there was no base building, troop manufacturing, or respawns, and losing all infantry meant game over. Blitzkrieg's demanding win conditions forced us to think hard about every move. Being too aggressive meant our vehicles sustained heavy damage; we could repair them with our two engineer squads, but deploying them from the safety of Halftrack transports left them vulnerable to enemy mortar strikes and snipers.
This lengthy battle was just one of the dozens of additional missions available in the Theater of War mode. While we're not sure how story heavy they'll be, they're a great way to learn the ins and outs of CoH 2's more complex tactical systems. And with the game's June 25 release date rapidly approaching, we'll need all the help we can get.
Check out the following slides for additional images and more information.
Tanks can cross through water, but doing so slows movement speed--bad news in this situation.
Nothing is safe from the wrath of a Katyusha multiple rocket launcher.
Holing up your infantry in nearby structures is a good way to keep them safe--until enemies set them ablaze, that is.
The HUD in Company of Heroes 2 is a bit cleaner than that of the original.
Upon selecting Theater of War mode, you'll have to choose the mission type you'd like to play: Co-op Scenarios, Solo Challenges, or AI Battles.
Here's where you'll select missions in the Theater of War mode.
Here's the stats screen you'll see after completing each mission.
Here's the overview tab for end-of-mission stats.
This stats screen provides detailed information on your infantry squads.
Planning a night assault? Prepare for reduced visibility.
You can earn various awards and ribbons as you play to build up your personal profile.
Winter plays just as big a role in Company of Heroes 2 as it did in the Eastern Front. Tanks can fall through iced-over water, while soldiers can die from the cold.