Company of Heroes 2 Preview
Using tanks to crush campfires isn't as easy as it might seem however because, just as infantry are affected by the threat of snow, so too are vehicles vulnerable to the threat of...wait for it...ICE
Frozen lakes are the most obvious manifestation of this and the one which Relic spent the most time showing as a result due to the unusual challenges they represent. While they're sturdy enough to support tanks most of the time, they're of course vulnerable to damage and can be stressed too much. Send a few too many tanks out on the ice and it'll collapse underneath them, while well-time missile barrages can be used to the same effect.
In other words: in a landscape made only out of snow and ice, you must be careful to avoid going on to either the snow or the ice unless you absolutely have to. You can even block off routes to your base in advance by launching strikes against frozen rivers, breaking the ice for a few minutes until it re-freezes.
Careful on the ice
Company of Heroes 2 will have a greater focus on certain types of vehicles too, said Quinn Duffy. Abandoned trucks and APCs litter the battlefields, ready to be captured and repurposed by whichever army can seize hold of them first. Capturing these will net you a handy advantage over your enemies (until you go on the ice), which naturally means they'll become hotspots for violence.
And the violence is beautiful, by the way - sometimes ludicrously so. In the demonstration we saw Quinn devastated an opponent's force by using long-range, truck-mounted missiles to destroy a frozen lake as the enemy advanced across it. The resulting bombardment was both cacophonous and visually impressive, especially as the smoke cleared in time to see the tanks sink below the water.
Abandoned vehicles can be quickly salvaged
In fact, graphics across the board seem to have been improved - though that's not saying much considering how old Company of Heroes is now. If it was due for an overhaul though then the new Essence 3.0 engine looks more than up to the task, with Relic promising a bunch of technical features to be unveiled in the future - including DirectX 11 support. The weather systems, meanwhile, are provided dynamically through a new engine feature Relic is calling ColdTech.
Despite all this good news though, there is still one big concern we have - that Relic still hasn't shown off much of the game that's really grabbed us by the short and curlies. Sure, the new weather system will add new tactical challenges and the graphics are good and so on...but there's not yet a killer feature or hook which has us desperate to see more.
That's not to say that we won't be seeing more, however. We'll be watching Company of Heroes 2 very closely in the coming months, especially with a new beta on the way. Hopefully there we'll find something that demands our attention and shows for certain that Relic isn't just retreading old ground in new clothes.
Company of Heroes 2 will be released in 2013, exclusively on PC. It's being developed by Relic entertainment and will be published by THQ.