Third time around, and the details of the latest Company of Heroes 2 expansion pack are all beginning to blend into everything we've heard before. New commanders, new units, new strategies, eight new maps—everything we've heard before, everything you'd expect from an expansion. So what does the British Forces bring that's particularly unique? Regional accents, people saying 'cor blimey guv'nor!', lots of mention of Winston Churchill... well, yes. But it also brings back more Company of Heroes 2, and that's a good thing.
I played through three hour-long, four-on-four multiplayer matches pitting the titular Brits against the Axis forces. It was more than enough to get a handle on what makes the new forces of Blighty stand out - namely how damn resilient the troops are when they're in cover. While the Germans might have been relying on their array of tanks and other such high-impact war machines, I was happy to keep things simpler, smaller, nimbler and able to soak up a surprising amount of damage. I forgot, however, about dealing damage. My team lost all three matches.
Even so, I've already found a lot to like about the British Forces—a new selection of commanders to choose from opens up more tactical approaches (including strengthening your ground troops, which I probably should have done) and there's the undeniable joy that comes with unlocking your team's best tank and watching it roll onto the battlefield, unaware of just how quickly it's going to explode because you forgot to cover your flanks and oh god it's another Tiger on the horizon...
It's testament to my—admittedly brief—time with the game that I came away from the British Forces wanting more. I'm already a fan of Company of Heroes 2, which helps, and more of that good RTS stuff is always welcome, even when your forces are getting pounded by artillery strikes and your lone sniper dies because you didn't pay attention to where he was going. It's just so damn exciting.
The British Forces will be another standalone, multiplayer-only expansion to Company of Heroes 2, meaning you won't have to have bought anything else from the game to play it. You'll also be welcome to battle online against players using other, existing factions and armies on maps you don't actually own - though you won't be able to specifically choose them. Frankly, I wish Relic would just hurry up and make the whole thing a modular free-to-play 'service', because that's the way it's oh-so-slowly heading. The framework is solid, it's just waiting for someone to pull the trigger. For now, though, we'll get by with what's shaping up to be another great expansion for an RTS of ever-increasing appeal.