Relic Entertainment Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Relic Entertainment RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 4 Things We Want from Age of Empires 4 Mon, 28 Aug 2017 16:25:51 -0400 Skrain

In case you missed it, Microsoft recently confirmed the existence of Age of Empires IV, and that Relic Entertainment will be developing this long-awaited next installment of AoE. Relic has a long history of developing real-time strategy games, having made the late 90's smash hit Homeworld franchise and Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War, followed by two sequels. The studio also has Company of Heroes and its sequels are under its belt as well.

Microsoft would have been hard-pressed to find a company that could rival Relic in the RTS genre, so fans are excited that the company is working on this new Age of Empires experience. We don't have much information on exact features, eras, or gameplay mechanics that we can expect, but AoE fans definitely have a few things on their wishlists that they'd like to see when this next installment in the beloved franchise hits shelves. 

A Risk Style Campaign

Anyone who played Rise of Nations you would remember the campaign that loosely resembled Risk. You would pick your faction, and battle for territory throughout the ages. Some form of a sandbox style campaign over world would be quite interesting I believe, and I would have faith that Relic Interactive could handle it well, and make it unique to AoE

Stone Walls Only Destructible by Siege Engines

I can't speak to what every AoE player thinks about bashing stone walls with a mace or stabbing them with a pike until they catch fire and fall down. But I think it's safe to assume that a fair portion of the playerbase would enjoy seeing the gameplay mechanics changed so that only siege equipment can destroy walls.

Such a change would open up many more possibilities in how you could besiege and opponent's territory. For example, forcing defenders to sally forth in an attempt to destroy the enemies' engines would certainly add some flavor to AoE IV's battles.

Manning Walls

I would absolutely love the ability to place ranged units, or any units for that matter, on walls. Having the option to place slingers, archers, crossbowmen -- any ranged unit, really -- on top of a wall would add many gameplay choices for both defenders and besiegers.

This could also add the ability to scale walls with siege towers, giving the battlefield yet another potential layer of depth.


Mercenaries were a thing in Age of Empires III, and I really enjoyed their use. They certainly helped in a pinch and gave you a pool of units you felt were more expendable than your regular forces. Hopefully they decide to keep mercenaries in the next installment.

Small Changes

There are a couple of other small changes that could really make AoE IV feel like a fresh experience. On the battlefield, there are a few tweaks that can definitely be made. For example, an increased population cap for larger battles and the ability to select more units in a group would be a big improvement. More unit variation in terms of appearance would also be nice, as would an increased level of zoom to allow for a greater view of the game terrain. 

It would also be nice to see some serious changes to how ship transport works. In AoE III, you can't fit 21 archers on a fully upgraded vessel, but you can fit 20 war elephants. This obviously doesn't make sense and has undoubtedly been frustrating for many players, so overhauling the mechanics in this regard would go a long way in making for a more enjoyable experience.


I have high hopes for Age of Empires IV, if only because Relic Entertainment is going to be working on it. I have spent many hours over the past 18 years playing their games, and I hope this title is as good as the others in their repertoire. Here's hoping they can take the 12-year hiatus for AoE and usher it into a brand new age with a modern touch-up.

Can't Play Dawn of War 3? Here are 6 Games in the Warhammer Franchise to Keep You Busy Sat, 29 Apr 2017 20:00:02 -0400 Marc Hollinshead


From tactical strategy to crazy antics on a football field, Warhammer has plenty of games to keep both fans and newcomers alike busy. Dawn of War 3 is ready and waiting for eager hands to purchase and play, but if you still haven't got it yet, then by now you should hopefully have picked another title to get stuck into.


Games Workshop has created something remarkable in Warhammer due to the sheer amount of content on offer. We've gone through a number of video game options, but tabletop games are rife in the market right now. Why not get your buddies together around your dinner table and get to work?  Either way, however you like to experience Warhammer, be sure to smack those Orks extra hard.


Blood Bowl


The most ludicrous game of them all obviously had to be saved for last. While not your stereotypical Warhammer title, or even sports game for that matter, we have Blood Bowl.


Acting as a fantasy-style parody of American Football, Blood Bowl takes the races of the Warhammer franchise and lets them battle it out in the field. The aim of the game is to either score the most touchdown, therefore recreating the world-renowned sport, or to violently kill every member of the opposing team. The way in which you ensure victory is up to you, but it can be done in either real-time or turn-based strategy gameplay.


Blood Bowl received a better reception on PC than on consoles but a sequel was released which fared a little better on consoles. Maybe they just weren't ready for Warhammer to whip this out of the bag, but it's a title that can provide some hilarious gameplay as well as a wildly different take on the universe.


Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide


The newest game on the list is probably the most different -- the reason being that Vermintide is a multiplayer only title. Upon hearing that you may be inclined to grumble and groan, and ask how this game is worthy to be on a list of Warhammer games we should revisit, but on the whole, it received a positive reception from critics and fans alike.


Anyone who is familiar with Valve's Left 4 Dead games will have a vague idea of what to expect from Vermintide. You and three other friends will be fighting off hordes of the Skaven, a hideous vermin-like race of monsters in first-person gameplay. An element is also put into play as the rolling of dice is available upon completion of a match, determining what types of weapons players will receive. 


Games Workshop allied themselves with Vermintide's developer to ensure it was faithful to the Warhammer universe, and this certainly helped the game to elevate its sales upon release. So for something a little more modernized than your classic RTS, give the latest entry in the series (well, after Dawn of War 3) a go.


Warhammer 40k: Armageddon 


Now jumping forward to 2014, Armageddon rekindles the love for RTS in the franchise. 


In an age where gamers are relentlessly searching for retro-style games, Armageddon fits unusually well in the current market. Its gameplay is influenced by the somewhat outdated Panzer General series but the turn-based strategy and hex-based gameplay that's on show here has been crafted almost to perfection. 


Leading the Imperial forces of the Armageddon Steel Legion, as well as Space Marines, players will need to learn a plethora of tactical mechanics in order to come out on top. Giving you access to thirty different scenarios, Armageddon's variety is something to behold.


It is another title that was well received by loyal fans, due to the very fact that it centralizes the core gameplay of the Games Workshop universe. A huge amount of units at your command means that there's always something worth defending or attacking in this one. 


Warhammer 40k: Space Marine


Jump forward a few years from Dawn of War and we have Space Marine


This title radically changes the formula and brings third-person action into the mix. While shooting plays a big part in Space Marine, melee is, in fact, a huge focus.


The game has a wide variety of weapons with which you can rip your opponents to shreds. The Thunder Hammer, for example, uses its energy on impact, making killing blows all the more sweeter. The Power Axe, on the other hand, is able to disrupt solid matter and tear through extremely strong armor. It's a Warhammer game that allows you to get a little close and personal in comparison to the RTS titles. 


Space Marine obviously feels slightly different to its counterparts, but it was still well received, which of course means that it's a game that is well worth revisiting. If you fancy scratching that Warhammer itch as a Marine who can obliterate enemy after enemy with some mighty fine weaponry, then this is your game. 


Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II


We may as well continue from where we left off and continue on with the sequel. And while it was seen as less of a smash hit in comparison to the first, that doesn't necessarily make it a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. 


The building of bases was completely removed in Dawn of War 2 and the focus on units was heightened. Cover became a primary mechanic so new weapon options were added to compliment this addition. It raised a few eyebrows initially, and it was more simplistic than the heavy RTS influences of the first, but the strategy element was still part and parcel of the Dawn of War name and Warhammer franchise as a whole. 


Perhaps a shiny coat of paint is all that this sequel needed to gain a positive reception, which on the whole it did, and if it acted as a passable RTS, which is also did, then it's worthy of a nostalgia trip if you're in need of a quick fix. 


Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War


What better way to jump back into the franchise by starting right here. It may be nearly 13 years old (still young by Warhammer standards) but the first Dawn of War is well worth the return trip.


The Space and Chaos Marines, Eldar and Orks all battle it out in order to capture and defend specific points in this very well received title. Dawn of War kept its fanbase alive for a good few years through its three expansions -- Winter AssaultDark Crusade and Soulstorm, and the base game itself nailed the type of content that Warhammer fans craved.


Turn-based strategy -- it's something that people either seem to love or hate. I'm strangely in the middle, but one thing is certain, Dawn of War does it right. Combat ability can be influenced by squad morale, and building specific research centers and the like will help to unlock even more advanced buildings. All of this ties together to create a timeless game. Remind yourself what made Dawn of War so brilliant in the first place and boot up this decade-old title.




Games Workshop have quite the thing going with Warhammer. Not all are adequately acquainted with the tabletop games and their creators, but combined with their video game counterparts, the lavish, but also brutish world has been entertaining many people for decades. With Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3 releasing, the franchise is being shot into the limelight once more. 


The beauty of a franchise like this is that there is no shortage of games, whether tabletop or otherwise, for its loyal fans. From Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay to the Dawn of War series, there is an abundance of titles, all with their own quirks.


Some of us may not be jumping onto the Dawn of War 3 bandwagon yet for a number of reasons, but if you're looking to delve back into the universe and haven't snapped up the most recent title, here are six that will whet your appetite.

Top Three Developers Making Real-Time Strategy Games in 2017 Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Rob Kershaw

Real-time strategy took something of a back seat in 2016, with only a few major releases outside the realm of expansion packs. Both Offworld Trading Company and Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak were fairly well received, but RTS games as a whole didn't seem to get the love of other genres. That looks set to change this year, as there are a number of potentially excellent releases on the horizon.

The developers involved range from veterans of the industry to studios working on their first project. Experience doesn't necessarily translate to success though, and similarly we shouldn't write off the first offering of a potentially exciting new team.

Either way, there will be some top-tier RTS goodness hitting the market this year -- here are a few of the gaming houses we've got our eye on.

Relic Entertainment (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III)

This Canadian outfit have produced arguably one of the most successful RTS franchises of recent years, by skillfully translating the complex Warhammer tabletop mechanics into a deep, yet accessible strategy game. Dawn of War complements its mechanics with crisp, colourful visuals and immersive sound, and the third title in the series looks to be no exception.

The biggest challenge Relic will have is in convincing its fan base to invest again. The switch up from the first to the second game was jarring, not least because the focus moved from traditional RTS tropes to squad-based management. Much grumbling ensued, and to this day you'll find players divided over their favorite entry in the series.

More upset is on the cards for the third entry, since Relic have dialled the gameplay back after their experimentation in Dawn of War II. We're once again in familiar RTS territory, albeit with a lot more happening on the battlefield. There are three factions to control (Eldar, Orks and Space Marines), and while the title graphically excels, our hands-on at EGX 2016 felt a little bewildering. It offered little in the way of tutorials and even hardened Dawn of War players were struggling to work out their objectives, let alone accurately control their units.

That said, this vertical slice was likely a proving ground for the gameplay, focusing on areas for improvement. The final product could go either way with fans, but we're cautiously optimistic that Relic know what they're doing.

Grimlore Games (Spellforce 3)

A studio opened by THQ Nordic back in 2013, Grimlore Games have been handed the reigns of the RTS/RPG hybrid Spellforce. With their first major release, the developer will no doubt want to prove itself in the field and the third iteration of the quirky franchise could be the perfect opportunity.

The Spellforce series has been around for well over a decade, and has established something of a cult following. Bridging two genres is never an easy task though, and the story elements of the previous games will take even more of a focus this time around, since this third chapter is a prequel.

Elves, Humans and Orcs may not make the most compelling units to play, but the RPG element of Spellforce places Heroes front and centre, allowing you to customise them with different skills. We're curious to see what Grimlore do with this series, but the nature of the prequel means they have free reign to carve their own backstory. A less restrictive environment will hopefully translate to a more creative end product. We'll find out if that's the case later this year.

Creative Assembly (Halo Wars 2)

The Horsham, UK-based crew are taking over the development duties of the sequel to the lauded Halo Wars from Ensemble Studios, and the franchise looks to be in safe hands. Not only does the studio have over 16 years' experience in the strategy arena, but the Total War series has also been consistently well-received by gamers and critics alike.

From what we've seen, the rock-paper-scissors system from the first installment of the space-based strategy will remain. These will be buffed by the addition of Commanders which are picked before each battle, and who have their own abilities to potentially swing victory your way. The addition of Blitz, a new RTS/card game mash-up mode for the sequel, shows that Creative Assembly aren't afraid of trying out something new either. A beta for the new game is coming on January 20th, which will give more people the chance to try this interesting spin-off. Promising signs, indeed.

Halo Wars 2 will be hitting both PC and Xbox One markets this year, and if the developer can retain the fluidity and accessibility -- especially on console -- which made the original game such a delight to play, there's every chance that this could be a tremendous success.

Are there any developers making RTS games that you're looking forward to in 2017? Let us know in the comments!

EGX 2016: Day 3 - Do Something You Have Never Done Before Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:15:08 -0400 ESpalding

Today was a day of firsts. Whether it was the first experience of something or being part of the first to try something new (as with many of the indie games there this weekend), it was a day that I will remember for... well... forever, possibly.

My Mom is a Witch

This game was my first demo of the day, and it was a really enjoyable game. Hailing from Novi Sad in Serbia, developers Bigosaur presented the visitors at EGX with an action adventure multiplayer game based in a medieval setting but done using very cartoony graphics. My Mom is a Witch has a lot of roguelike elements in it as well as drawing inspiration from titles such as Castle Crushers.

The game is not ready to release just yet but, from what the developer told me, the end product will give players the chance to choose from 7 different classes to play, about 20 different bosses, hundreds of items and weapons to pick up, and will play along six distinctly different themed levels. The game uses procedural generation, so no game will ever have the same appearance.

I really enjoyed playing the game and the multiplayer demo with the developer. I do see some great things for this game. It isn't overly straightforward though -- it's easy to learn, but difficult to truly get the hang of.


Oh yeah! I did it! I played Yooka-Laylee, and it was marvelous! This is a game that I, like so many others, have been waiting for for such a long time. Ever since the last installment Banjo-Kazooie, fans have wanted another game in the same style. So when a bunch of key personnel from Rare decided to form their own studio, Playtonic Games, and create a new game, there was immediately a lot of excitement among followers.

The game uses a lot of imagery and ideas from previous games, but sees a new character duo attempting to stop two new nasty enemies -- Capital B and Dr. Quack -- from consuming the world's literature to turn into profit. Players control a chameleon called Yooka and his female bat friend, Laylee, as they have to go through a series of puzzles, and they must collect many different items from around their 3D platform world as the game goes on.

As of yet, there are no details on a release date but what we do know is that it is going to be available on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U, and the estimated date for release will be sometime in Spring 2017.

Dawn of War III

Yeah, I was so pleased I got to play Dawn of War III. I am a massive Warhammer 40k fan and have played Dawn of War since day one so a new installment of the series always fills me with glee. Relic Entertainment, the developers, have done it again!

The main premise for DoW III is a three-way conflict between the Space Marines, the Orks and the Eldar, who have all made their way to a planet called Acheron when a mysterious "mega" weapon has been discovered. The Space Marines are led by the Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens, Gabriel Angelos, who has been part of the DoW series since the first game so has the leader of the Ork army, the Warlord Gorgutz (or rather his full name Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter). The Eldar are led by the Farseer Macha from the Biel-Tan craftworld, who has, so far, only appeared in the first DoW game.

There isn't much to say about the gameplay in DoW III if you already know about the previous games. They are your normal real-time strategy game in which you control and build an army to aid you in completing the missions. There is currently no definite 2017 date for the release of Dawn of War III, but we will let you know as soon as we know.


This stand was always occupied whenever I walked past it. This animal themed fighter is bright, colorful, and very reminiscent of the Smash Bros games -- so no wonder it was drawing in the crowds! It is being developed by Angry Mob Games who have predominately been responsible for developing mobile games, such as Alien vs. Predator: Evolution and Predators, but are now heading out into the land of consoles with Brawlout.

The game can be played by 2 - 8 people, either online or locally, and sees players taking the role of a representative from a particular race. As of writing this, there have been five characters announced -- Chief Feathers (Native American), Sephi'ra (Egyptian), Olaf Tyson (Scandinavian) Gancho Puncho (Mexican), and King Apu (Hindu).

"We're all fighting game fans, so we've built our dream platform fighter. We've heard what players miss from classic fighters and what they love about new ones, and Brawlout is designed to give people the best of both worlds, whether that's ruining friendships around the TV or going online to anger strangers in tournaments."

--Bogdan Iliesiu, CEO of Angry Mob Games

Brawlout is due for release sometime in Q1 of 2017.


Shu is your typical platform adventure. The graphics of the game have been lovingly hand-drawn, and the gameplay is just as lovely. You play a character called Shu who is trying to escape a world which is being torn apart by a monstrous storm. He is helped along the way by some friends -- and the beauty of it is that you control all of the friends running away with Shu at the same time.

Shu himself has a cloak which can catch on the wind and propel you forward. He has a friend who can smash rocks, and another friend who controls the blossoming of flowers. The characters are holding hands as they run, which kind of makes one whole character as you utilize their gifts whenever you need them.

It is being developed by Sunderland-based studio Coatsink and is scheduled to release on October 4th. It will be available on PS4 and PC (via Steam) and is due also to be available on PS Vita in Q4 2016.


When I said at the beginning of this piece that it would contain some firsts well... Windlands was my first ever try at a VR game. I loved it! I have to give some serious kudos to the boss of Psytec Games. He took a great deal of time talking to me about VR, what to expect, and the ways the game can be altered to make the experience kinder on my body. He even stopped a few people, with me stood next to him, to ask questions about their experience just to put me at ease. This helped me immensely, and as a result, I will always remember the first time I tried VR and which game it was.

So, Windlands is a first person grappling hook VR exploration game. You must use your hooks to hold onto things to make you swing through the world, á la Tarzan. There is zero combat involved, and you can either play at a leisurely pace, just swinging around and exploring the world or you can indulge your competitive side and start doing speed runs and time trials.

The game is available now on Steam for PC and Mac OS.

Snake Pass

When I hear about a game that allows you to play a snake, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be there. I love snakes! Snake Pass definitely did not let me down. This game, developed and published by Sumo Digital, is visually stunning, and great detail has been taken to develop a control system, which really makes you think like a snake. It was the brainchild of a guy called Seb Liese, who originally joined the team to work on Little Big Planet but ended up developing this little gem.

You play a snake called Noodle, and it is your job to collect the gems around your world by completely physical puzzles which require you to use all your snakey movements to overcome them. As you slither, coil, and squeeze your way to victory, you are helped along by a friendly hummingbird who will aid you in your time of need by picking up your tail to stop it from weighing you down over obstacles.

There is currently no information about a possible release date or which platforms it will be playable on.

So, that's it for what I got done on day three at EGX. Just one more day to report on!

Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces releases launch trailer Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:27:53 -0400 Marshall Jenkins

Company of Heroes 2 has slid under the radar for most gamers as the RTS genre has funneled most interested parties into the Starcraft arena. While the World War II strategy game has its dedicated fans, those that inhabit the games multiplayer still intend on remaining. Their perseverance has paid off with the launch of the games third multiplayer expansion pack Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces. 

Featuring 8 news maps, 15 new units, and an array of balance changes to already existing mechanics, British Forces hopes to give the franchise traction in the dwindling age of the WWII RTS genre. A slew of new character animations and changes to the five factions are also included in the $12.99 price tag.

What is important to note is that this is a standalone multiplayer expansion. Anyone can purchase The British Forces and receive all the original multiplayer maps from the base game as well as everything that comes in the expansion. For those uninterested in RTS story components, this is great news. 

The expansion releases today, so RTS fans should check it out! Let us know in the comments how you like the new changes or if you are a newcomer enjoying it for the first time. 

Is Phantasy Star Online 2 Finally Getting a Western Localization? Fri, 14 Feb 2014 18:23:42 -0500 Stephanie Tang

(An update to the discussion first started in this article: Phantasy Star Online 2 Ignores Western Audience In Favor of 2014 Asia Release?)

It's been awhile since July 2012 when Phantasy Star Online 2 made it to the Windows platform in Japan. It's felt like even longer waiting for the free-to-play MMO to land in North America.

Since the release of the first Phantasy Star game back in 1988, PS titles have featured on every single new Sega console, and remakes and new releases have made it onto pretty much every other console in existence. So it's no wonder that when Sega originally broke the news that PSO2 would be released in "early 2013" for those of us in North America, fans were ecstatic.

Sega fanned the flames by debuting a playable demo at PAX Prime 2012, and then proceeded to crush fan hopes when Sega announced in March 2013 that the US version would be delayed. No real reason was ever given for the delay, and the last word we ever heard on the subject was from a Sega spokesperson who told Polygon, "We don't have any specifics but will update everyone as soon as there are more details to share."

No new word has been forthcoming since then, and the US PSO2 blog has not been updated since 2012.

And now?

While there has still been no official word regarding a western localization, a career opportunity ad from Sega and Relic Entertainment posted back in December has generated some recent buzz and some tentative hopes that the idea has not been completely abandoned. 

Discovered by NeoGAF user Nirolak, the ad is for a server engineer at Relic Entertainment:

Server Engineer

Programming/Engineering | Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | 12/23/2013

Relic Entertainment, a wholly owned studio of SEGA, is the award winning RTS developer of Homeworld, Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, among other games. Relic was founded on the premise that it is entirely possible to ship first class, genre altering, AAA titles, and have a life. Relic is based out of beautiful Vancouver, Canada, a city that has breath-taking mountain and ocean views, along with snowboarding and skiing, golfing year-round and amazing hiking trails. If you love games, enjoy working collaboratively with smart, creative people, and have diverse personal interests outside of work – you’ll enjoy our culture.

What you will be doing

  • Ramp up and perform due diligence on an existing live MMO project in development in Japan, embedded with the live team
  • Gain full understanding of the game and code architecture, content authoring pipelines, build and deployment process, engineering process, and current code status
  • Establish working relationships with key members of Japanese development team
  • Participate in and contribute to minor/peripheral engineering tasks on the project, as well as in daily project planning, code reviews, release process, etc.
  • Create/translate documentation of existing code modules, tools, processes and work flows
  • Prepare regular status and activity reports to Producer
  • Prepare a full written project evaluation 

What you should have 

  • 5+ years’ engineering experience from PC client/server based MMO development
  • Ability to spend extended (3+ months) periods of time on-site in Tokyo
  • Ideally fluent in Japanese and English languages
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

As it stands, the only Japanese MMORPG currently live from Sega is Phantasy Star Online 2. Sega has remained mum on the subject, but fans continue to insist that this can only mean some progress is finally being made.

What do you think?

Earlier last year, it was reported that an English release for PSO2 was to be released in Asia in 2014, where the localizations would be split between Gamania Digital Entertainment and AsiaSoft. Since then, no release date has been announced. 

The Asia release was expected, since those regions promised the highest demand and the highest likelihood of profitability in their cash shop venture. But if there's no news of the more pressing Asia release, can we really be looking forward to a true blue North American one?

In fact, many North American fans have already given up on the prospect and have chosen instead to play an English-translated version of the Japanese PSO2 on either PC or PS Vita. At this point, even if they did release a North American release, many of these players, already firmly entrenched with their (technically ToS-violating) Japanese accounts, won't even consider switching. Then who's left?

To me it sounds like Sega has dropped the ball... everywhere. After all, there's only so much Sonic we can take - and they just don't seem to realize that.

(Many thanks to user Dead_1424 for first bringing this to my attention in the other article. Comments weren't getting through to my inbox so it took a while for me to receive the update.)
Closed Beta of Heroes 2 Thu, 28 Mar 2013 17:16:41 -0400 Wokendreamer

Company of Heroes 2 has some ambitious ideas for combat, most notably weather and winter storms having a more major impact on gameplay than is normally considered desirable or plausible in a real-time strategy.  How well that kind of system works and balances is a big question brought up in response, as well as how random these weather effects actually are.

Soon those questions will start to get answers.  A press release for the game states it will enter a closed multiplayer beta starting on April 2, 2013.  There will maps for 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 gameplay, allowing players to play against AI-controlled enemies if they so choose.  The players in this beta test phase will be able to sample the first 40 levels of progression and load-out customization, so this beta will be giving quite a bit of meat for those on the fence to chew over.

The beta will initially be restricted to pre-order customers but should be opening up to a wider pool of Company of Heroes 2 players later.

Interview on CoH2's Multiplayer Changes Wed, 02 Jan 2013 19:12:26 -0500 Wokendreamer

Company of Heroes 2 is already positioned to make waves with the changes in gameplay based on the in-game season.  Now we have some more detailed information available from Simon Watts, Relic's global communications manager.

Multiplayer in General

With the rise of League of Legends and DotA 2, online strategy gaming has gained millions of players in the past couple of years.  That said, it's a very different kind of strategy, and the RTS genre, specifically, has not had a major competitive revolution in a long time.

One example given by Simon came when he was asked if having a luck-based random element (winter's blizzards) would turn off competitive players from the game.

It's not so much luck really. Tactical RTS is about being a smart commander and making smart decisions on the fly. If they're a great player, it shouldn't be just about having one build order. If a blizzard blows in, they should be ready to adapt to that. If they don't have a contingency, they aren't a great player. That's what strategy is all about. You're making those decisions during the battle, not before the battle. The weather elements also aren't completely unpredictable. If a blizzard blows in, you know how to stop the infantry, how to move the troops across the ground in those conditions. The only random factor is not knowing when the blizzard will blow in.

Whether or not serious competitive players would be put off by the blizzard effects is a serious question, but it also points out a way in which the genre has gotten stagnant.  The very idea that the in-game circumstances could change from moment to moment in ways that are not controlled by one of the players has people worried that people won't consider it a competitive arena.

The argument here isn't about one faction or another being stronger in winter as opposed to summer, that's an entirely different discussion.  This is about the viability of having random gameplay-effecting events at all in a game that pits two players against each other.  Is it possible that will give a player who is otherwise losing a chance to turn things around?  Yes.  Is that a bad thing?  Not necessarily, it's just something else for skilled players to look for.

For Balance

Simon acknowledged that vehicles would take on a greater importance and relative power in winter maps because they will be less effected by the inclement weather, but pointed out that they would still require infantry support.  It will be a shift in viability, not a complete change.  Different units will have different advantages and weaknesses in winter.

One example given on the infantry side was Company of Heroes 2's snipers.  Since they are less effected by the weather than many other units, they become more valuable where that weather is a possibility by virtue of that reliability.

Another example was the Russian Katyusha rockets.  If an enemy hunkers down for a blizzard, having a unit that can blanket an area in explosives becomes extremely powerful, but in other circumstances the weapon is extremely vulnerable.

Ultimately most RTS games come down to a highly complicated rock-paper-scissors act when it comes to balance.  Certain units are stronger against certain targets, and managing to find a balance of different threats is one of the primary skills that a player must develop to become competitively knowledgeable about any game in the genre.

For Company of Heroes

Another concern in the interview was whether or not the Russian force's numerical superiority would give them an early-game advantage.  There is a certain strategy involved in any game with a force that can hit its opponent very quickly with overwhelming force.  There is, after all, a reason that attacking someone all out from the very beginning with no thought to defense is often referred to among gamers as 'zerging' the enemy.

Simon was clear that while Russian forces will have numerical superiority from the beginning the German forces will have a notable firepower advantage from that same beginning.  How well this actually balances out will be something that only time can tell for certain.

For the Future

The final message we're left with is the promise that Relic does not want Company of Heroes 2 to be a completely different game.  They want it to maintain the feeling, the "essence" of the original game that their fans came to love so much.  Hopefully, they will succeed.


Winter Actually Matters in Company of Heroes 2 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 15:33:09 -0500 Wokendreamer

Real-Time Strategy games have always had a couple of inherent limitations on their actual strategy.  In most cases these games come down to a set strategy based on the comparison of what the two forces are.  Once you know what force you are playing and what force your opponent is, you have your build order.  Certain skew strategies might mix it up a bit, but by and large there tends to be a definite best order in which to do things.

Company of Heroes 2 aims to change that with its winters.  The game will have different mechanics based on whether the battle takes place in winter or summer.  The idea seems too obvious to have not been implemented to such a degree, but it also adds enough complexity to the balancing act that RTS games have to manage anyway that it becomes more than just a headache.

Winter will make different units have different effects than the summer battles, and will be prone to things like blizzards that will also have drastic effects on the battlefield.  As communication manager Simon Watts said, 

One blizzard could also be your savior because it forces an opponent to kind of hunker down and wait for it to end. We think that it could be something really exciting for the competitive game.

I'm inclined to agree that it sounds like an exciting possibility, but time will tell how effective the execution in Company of Heroes 2 actually is.