We've partnered up with Sega to create Boot Camp, a series of articles and videos that showcase the new features and tactical considerations of Company of Heroes 3.
It's interesting times for the Axis forces in Company of Heroes 3. Having successfully occupied most of Europe in the early years of World War 2, the tide had decidedly turned against the Nazis and their allies by 1943. In its representation of the battle for the Mediterranean, Company of Heroes 3 shows us both the might of Hitler's war machine, and the mistakes that led to its downfall. You'll fight with and against two different strands of the German Army, and their units, abilities, and tactics reflect the positions the European Axis Forces found themselves during this period of the war.
Known for their grey-green uniforms, Blitzkrieg tactics, and being prime video game cannon fodder, the soldiers of the Wehrmacht are your main opponent in Company of Heroes 3's Italian campaign, and a playable army in multiplayer. Like the allied forces, the Wehrmacht deploys a combination of infantry, tanks, and aircraft in its defence of the Italian peninsula, but the German army places heavier emphasis on its armoured units.
Indeed, tanks and armoured vehicles are the Wehrmacht's greatest strength and weakness. Units like the Panzer IV and the Panther Heavy Tank are impressively engineered machines that can dominate the battlefield, but they're also vulnerable to the Allies' extensive anti-tank capabilities. To keep its armour on track, the Wehrmacht needs support from the likes of grenadiers, Jager squads, and Stosstruppen soldiers. These elite units can suppress enemy infantry on the move with heavy MG42 machineguns, and eliminate entire squads with deadly red phosphorous grenades.
Among the Wehrmacht's extensive vehicle roster are some of the most intriguing units in Company of Heroes 3. These include the Wibelwind Flakpanzer, a mobile anti-air gun that's equally effective at shredding enemy infantry squads. The 8 Rad armoured car, meanwhile, is another powerful anti-infantry vehicle that resembles a submarine on wheels. One of the Wehrmacht's most unique weapons is the Nebelwerfer, a short-range, six-chambered rocket-launcher that fires shrieking munitions. The sound of a Nebelwerfer launching a salvo is guaranteed to make you quake in your boots (shortly before the rockets blow you out of them.)
But the Wehrmacht only account for half of the Axis forces in Company of Heroes 3. In the game's North African Operation, you'll assume control of the Deutsches Afrika Korps. The Afrika Korps are the elite of Germany's mechanised forces able to field units like the Flammpanzer, which can torch nearby infantry squads with its attached flamethrower. The Afrika Korps can also rely on artillery cover from the Flak 88. You'll need a truck to tow this hulking cannon into position, but once it's set up, you'll be all set to give the British troops a military grade headache.
Germany's African forces further distinguish themselves from the Wehrmacht in their tactics. With supplies limited in the desert, resourcefulness is key. All Afrika Korps infantry are capable mechanics, able to repair vehicles on the fly. But their secret weapon is the 18-ton repair half-track, which can restore any wrecked vehicle on the map into fighting form, including enemy vehicles salvaged from the battlefield. Nothing like bringing a little irony to a battle by defeating your enemy with their own weapons.
The Axis forces in Company of Heroes 3 are primarily German, but their campaign in North Africa is supported by several Italian detachments. The Afrika Korps can recruit Bersaglieri sharpshooters to aid them on the frontline, as well as "Guastatori" Squads. These soldiers wear gasmasks and specialise in surprise assaults, using smoke grenades to cover their advance before bursting forward to catch enemies off-guard. And if the Panzers and Tigers of the Afrika Korps aren't enough tanks for you, you can also field a selection of Italian armour, like the compact L6/40 Light Tank, and the Semovente Assault Gun.
One area where the Axis are notably weaker than the Allies is in the air. At this point in the war, the Luftwaffe had largely had its day. But both the Wehrmacht and the Afrika Korps can still hope for a little assistance from above, mainly in the form of Stuka strafing runs and divebombing attacks.
The war may have turned against the Axis by the end of 1942, but they remained a formidable fighting force. You're sure to find this out in Company of Heroes 3, whether by battling them in Italy or directing their advance through North Africa.