Company of Heroes 3 Review
After nearly a decade since the release of the hugely popular second installment, Relic Entertainment and SEGA have finally decided to continue the franchise with Company of Heroes 3, bringing its signature gameplay with updated graphics, features, and, most importantly, official mod support. Many of us have been waiting for a more than decent RTS game to cleanse our palates from saturated genres like FPS and open-world adventures.
The Company of Heroes franchise is one of the classics that we all grew up with alongside the likes of Command & Conquer, StarCraft, Battle Realms, and Age of Empires. These games have similar gameplay mechanics, with the only difference being the “era” of these games – from the early period to modern war conflicts all the way to sci-fi. While Company of Heroes shares these characteristics, it makes itself stand out by emphasizing the “strategy” aspect more with its loadout implementation, turn-based gameplay, and dynamic campaign.
Company of Heroes 3 features a dynamic campaign that lets you choose the direction of the campaign operation to suit your style. Similar to RPGs, the choices that you will commonly face are between being all-out aggressive with bombardments, para-drops, straight-up invasion, or going for a slow and steady stealth approach by going through mountains for an ambush or slowly building your base.
Your decision will mostly affect how long the campaign mission will take to finish. The game will also reward and penalize you for your decisions as you gain rapport with the generals in your operations. You gain perks as you lean towards the suggestions made by a specific general, but you may also lose them as you shift your decisions toward another general.
Tank Riding and Terrain
New mechanics are introduced in Company of Heroes 3 that make the game more strategic, which will make you think first before doing something in more ways than one.
Tank Riding allows for faster gameplay, as units can now hitch a ride on vehicles for easier skirmishes rewarding players with fast reaction times and better resource management. Terrain verticality adds a whole new layer of experience as positioning will now play a bigger role in conflicts, especially in sieges. Using the high ground to your advantage will be a key factor in winning fights, especially in parts of the campaign where you have much fewer units to work with compared to the enemy faction.
Side Armor Profiles bring balance to the whole game mechanic as smart positional plays with the terrain will render tanks almost useless when faced head-on or through flanks.
Game Performance Benchmarks
Company of Heroes 3 System Requirements
|Processor||Intel i5 6th Gen or AMD Ryzen desktop CPU with 4 cores @ 3GHz or equivalent||Intel i7 8th Gen or AMD Ryzen desktop CPU with 8 cores @ 3GHz or equivalent|
|Memory||8GB RAM||16GB RAM|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 950 | AMD R9 370||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 | RX 5600|
|Storage||40GB available space||40GB available space|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64bit||Windows 10 64bit|
Company of Heroes 3 is a relatively easy game to run based on its minimum and recommended PC specifications. A five-year-old PC can easily run the game with mixed settings at 60 FPS. Playing the game at 30 FPS is also tolerable since the game’s nature doesn’t heavily rely on fast response time and input for a rounded gaming experience.
TestBench Setup and Methodology
|Company of Heroes 3 Review Test Bench Specs|
|CPU||Intel Core i9 13900K|
|COOLER||ASUS ROG RYUJIN II 360mm V2 – Noctua NT-H2 Thermal Paste|
|MOTHERBOARD||ASUS ROG Z790-E Gaming Motherboard|
|MEMORY||Kingston Fury Beast RGB 32GB DDR5 6000|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 4090 Founders Edition(528.49 driver)|
|STORAGE||WD Black SN850 2TB SSD|
|POWERSUPPLY||FSP Hydro GT Pro 1000W Gold|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Windows 11 Pro 22H2|
We have decided to use Company of Heroes 3’s in-game benchmark test to measure how different settings and resolutions would affect the framerates. The COH 3 in-game benchmark sequence has a one-minute and thirty-second duration. We will only capture 60 seconds of the run for our benchmarks starting from 00:20 to 1:20. FPS capture is done via CapframeX v1.7.1 benchmark capture and analysis tool.
Settings Preset Benchmark
Low settings yield the highest frame rates with nearly 350 FPS average on our 13900K and RTX 4090. Bumping the settings from low to medium reduces the frame rates by 12 percent which is very impressive. Increasing the settings to high yields another 10 percent drop in frame rates from medium while switching from high to max settings drops frame rates to only about 3 percent.
1080p max settings result in an average frame rate of 273.3 which is considerably high for an AAA title as other games at max settings would easily cap the i9 13900K and RTX 4090 at around 200FPS.
Like in our settings preset, upping the resolution from 1080p to 1440p will cost you about 12% of your frames. 1440p gaming seems to be a very tempting resolution to game on as the 12 percent tradeoff over getting better graphics is well worth it. 4K resolution is taxing to our test system as it finally drops our framerates below 200FPS but it’s still without a doubt playable.
Ultrawide Resolution Benchmark
Yes, Company of Heroes 3 supports the 21:9 aspect ratio which makes the game much more enjoyable as you get to see more of the battlefield. More on that later.
Returning to the numbers, the framerates at both 2560x1080p and 3440x1440p drop by 10 percent and 18 percent respectively. Both are still playable however do note that the ultrawide resolution will require more VRAM as our average VRAM usage at 3440x1440p is at 8.45GB.
Gameplay Experience and Graphics Quality
Our benchmarks have established that Company of Heroes 3 possesses no performance or frame rate issues in various settings and resolutions. With that out of the way, let’s change our focus to the overall gameplay experience and graphics quality.
Low settings make the game feel like the old Company of Heroes 2 but with better particle effects and unit animation. The Low graphics quality is comparable to PUBG’s infamous textures back when it still was in Early Access. Changing from low to medium settings and the game will look more like a modern AAA title with much more detailed textures, softer shadows.
If you’re on a lower-end PC we’d suggest sticking to medium settings as the 10% FPS gain is not worth it for the graphics quality that you’ll be sacrificing.
High settings bring much more detail, especially the trees, grass, rocks, and other small items like fences and debris. The high settings will bring you a much more chaotic look at the battlefield.
Max settings show no immediate noticeable changes coming from high settings. For most gamers, High settings provide the best experience, especially at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. The difference between High and Max will be much more noticeable at 4K as there are more pixels and a larger screen.
Playing at Ultrawide makes the game more enjoyable thanks to the wider view which gives you more information to work with. Moreover, the UI scaling makes it feel natural to play it in the 21:9 aspect ratio. Ultrawide lets you see more especially on the bottom half of the screen and allows you to see the icons of your troops better, unlike the 16:9’s “cramped feel.” That said, going back to the regular aspect ratio made me notice how the UI eats a lot of space especially when there are multiple prompts on the upper left side.
Steam Deck Experience
Out of curiosity, we decided to try out Company of Heroes 3 with our Steam Deck and it ran perfectly fine out of the box with no additional steps whatsoever. and no proton compatibility layer change is required. By default, it uses the standard right trackpad mouse configuration, which is not the most enjoyable experience. We recommend waiting for community layouts for a much more enjoyable gaming experience.
Speaking of performance, the game aggressively locks the framerate at 31 FPS despite removing limiters and lowering the settings. The game forces a 30 FPS frame rate as the custom Zen 2 CPU on the Steam Deck only has four cores. Hopefully, this gets fixed at a future patch alongside a better controller layout for a well-rounded gaming experience.
What We Liked:
- Two campaigns: One of which is a Dynamic decision-based campaign
- Map Terrain and Positioning play a much bigger role in skirmishes
- Low system requirements to run the game
- Mod support
- Ultrawide support
- Steam Deck compatibility
What We Didn’t Like:
- Bland AI
- 30 FPS lock on quad-core CPUs
- No latest-gen feature support such as Ray Tracing and Resolution Upscaling
Verdict: Buy it!
Company of Heroes 3 brings everything we love about RTS games and more with its ambitious dynamic campaign and terrain mechanics that most RTS games failed to incorporate. All of these systems and mechanics add up to what is supposed to be crunching warfare but the AI in the campaign fails to provide a scary challenge.
Switching between the difficulty only makes the enemy troops shoot better but doesn’t show any variance in positioning and target prioritization. These factors make the campaign less rewarding despite the unique scenarios, terrain layouts, and skirmishes that are stretched out in a large battlefield that takes place in WW2 Italy.
That said, the campaign is only a part of the whole Company of Heroes 3 package, as you can play skirmishes in single-player mode or play with friends either in co-op or multiplayer. The latter game modes will make the game shine as you are faced with better opponents who will surely take advantage of the newly added game mechanics in their play style. Moreover, mods will surely bring new life to the game as it grows older making your purchase more than worth it.
*Company of Heroes 3 was reviewed on both a PC and the Steam Deck with a review code provided by the publisher.