Company of Heroes 3: Coral Viper and Separation from SEGA

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(The above video is quite lengthy and covers everything the Devs have planned moving forward)

Company of Heroes has had a long history of dealing with balance troubles, with a discordant community having plenty to complain about ever since CoH2’s battlegroups had a clear meta that was heavily leaned towards the Axis factions. Company of Heroes 3 was starting to slide slowly into the same issue, on the inverse as Allies became heavily pumped up. Though, with the recent update of Coral Viper (1.6.0) and news that Company of Heroes as an IP has separated from SEGA, Company of Heroes has a chance at taking the crown of the RTS genre. Let’s start with SEGA.

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SEGA Out of The Way

Publishers aren’t necessarily bad for smaller studios. They provide the means to reach larger audiences with marketing, fund projects throughout their development, and apply their reputation to a game or project. However, these things do also come with some drawbacks for devs. Such as; deadlines, the need for approvals on certain things, and quotas. SEGA is a large company, and projects under its wing are expected to perform a certain way. This is pretty universal amongst all large-scale publishers.

On March 28th, Relic Entertainment released an official statement that Relic will be returning to a fully independent studio as it had started out nearly 27 years ago. This decision has already resulted in layoffs so the studio can survive, though they’re treating their laid-off employees with care and ensuring that the uproot isn’t too drastic or sudden. So what’s this got to do with Company of Heroes? Well, the new update, Coral Viper, was able to release sooner rather than later, hinting at the fact that SEGA executives may have had something to do with its lack of release. In fact, most of Coral Viper was already in the game files for CoH3, but wasn’t being added to the game for one reason or another. Likely, due to a desire to monetize so they can appease their quotas for SEGA.

The Update that Saved COH

Since Coral Viper was released on April 2, reviews on Steam have started to slowly become more positive. Balance changes have made the game feel much more like a strategy game, rather than a game where units with better stats win every time. Both factions finally feel as though they are on perfectly even footing, leaving only the players strategic thinking, macro, and micro plays to determine the victor. No longer will a single unit that some factions or battlegroups don’t have access to be the reason you surrender early. Surrendering wasn’t even a feature that was added until Coral Viper, which seemed odd, considering it was present in the other games of the series on launch.

There will always be the need to continue updating, fixing, and adding new things. Relic has always been active in their communities, especially with Company of Heroes. They know the issues, but for the longest time it has felt like something has prevented them from pushing and just adding stuff or dealing with clear exploits. The longevity of these games has always been with its multiplayer. While the single-player content is still very good, there comes a point where the AI becomes predictable and the next step forward is to jump into multiplayer. It was terribly disappointing for thousands of players to be incapable of picking certain factions or battlegroups, and even more cutting when new, more powerful battlegroups came out as paid DLC.

The Scorn of Hammer and Shield.

Hammer and Shield is the name of the paid DLC that currently holds a “Mostly negative” review score on steam. An understandable reaction for an “expansion” that added a handful of skins and a little content to the Italian campaign, but namely it added two new battlegroups. Battlegroups change the way you play in Company of Heroes, offering new abilities and units to the faction you play. On launch, the game felt fairly balanced amongst the 3 battlegroups that each of the 4 factions had access to. However, it left the players with very little decision-making and uniqueness. Everyone would always pick from the 3, and had no further options to express their desired gameplay.

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With the addition of the Hammer and Shield battlegroups, things got a little hairy. The two new battlegroups felt very “Pay to win” to a majority of players, as they were essentially the meta. Picking these paid battlegroups gave the player an immediate advantage, with units that could be used with less strategy. The American faction, for example, got Rangers, a unit with so much strength that they could bulldozer any strategy employed against them. Pool a handful of rangers together and you could pretty much walk them anywhere and take anything. These units broke essential rules of the game. Storming heavy cover with little tact and firing heavy weaponry while being able to move made them an absolute unit against every target imaginable.

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As of Coral Viper, 2 more battlegroups were added that had a much more balanced feeling to them. All of the bonuses these battlegroups posses get you play into the strategy of the game, allowing for much more skill expression. Might it be noted, that they were released for free.

The Perfect Launching Point

Whether or not your experience has been similar to mine when it comes to the balances, the amount of changes and improvements that came with Coral Viper shows that the franchise is in good hands. If you’ve ever wanted to get into Company of Heroes, now is the time. The game is in a state where every update moving forward can only improve the title. Every match feels like there are clear reasons why you won or lost now. With SEGA not involved in the development cycle, Relic will only have more freedom to implement and change whenever necessary. Not to mention, add more content. Give this one a few more months, it’ll be something special. Give it another year, it will be breathtaking.



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Desert Fox

I love this game. 🙂

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