Company of Heroes 3's multiplayer lets you fight with or against your friends in dramatic, emergent battles

Boot Camp

Company of Heroes 3 HQ

(Image credit: Sega)

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.

With two entirely different campaigns and a skirmish mode for custom battles, Company of Heroes 3 doesn't exactly skimp on single-player action. But if that still isn't enough World War 2 strategy for you, the game's multiplayer modes let you keep the fight going indefinitely. Relic's RTS lets you fight both with and against other players, in battles that range from one-on-one duels to massive eight-player onslaughts.

Company of Heroes 3's multiplayer is divided into two modes. Competitive multiplayer allows up to eight players to throw tanks at one another in two teams of four, playing capture-and-hold scenarios where you'll need to defend key victory points scattered across the battlefield. If the idea of fighting other humans fills you with dread, "Co-op versus AI" keeps the organic brains on your side, letting you team up with up to three other players to fight computer-controlled opponents.

Whichever mode you choose, you'll all have access to the same four factions, two on the Allied side, two on the Axis. Allied players can pick between the Americans and the Brits, while the Axis get to choose from the Wehrmacht and the Deutsche Afrika Korps. Each faction has its own specialisations and unique units. The Afrika Korps has some of the best armoured units in the game, including the fire-spitting flammpanzer and the Stug III anti-infantry gun. The British, meanwhile, trade a strong line in artillery, able to field Indian heavy Mortar crews and mobile artillery platforms.

But your choice of army only broader influences your playstyle. Within each army are three "Battlegroups" containing unlockable abilities that further refine your tactical approach to fighting. Players who select the Americans, for example, can choose between the Airborne, Armoured, and Special Operations Battlegroups. Airborne specialists will unlock abilities like paradrops for faster reinforcement, and bombing runs that can turn the enemy line into a more of a smear. The Armoured Battlegroup, meanwhile, lets players produce a wider range of tanks faster than other players. Finally, the Special Operations Battlegroup combines speedy vehicles with light-air support to facilitate hit-and-run tactics.

(Image credit: Sega)

It's worth noting your chosen Battlegroup doesn't just drop these abilities on top of you like a passing Lancaster bomber. Battlegroup abilities are unlocked with Command Points. These generate automatically over time, but can be gained faster by killing enemy units. Once you've gained enough Command Points, you'll be able to select different various abilities within your battlegroup. Some of these will require you to make a choice. Do you supplement your firepower with spectacular artillery barrages, or opt for the subtler approach of allowing your vehicles to auto-repair over time?

Either way, you'll need to make these decisions quickly. There's no tactical pause in multiplayer, and your opponent isn't going to sit around waiting for you to decide. At the same time, you mustn't be reckless in your deployment of units, because if a fight goes badly, their equipment could end up in enemy hands. Weapons like flamethrowers, machineguns, mortars and anti-tank guns will be left behind by soldiers killed or wounded in battle. Even wrecked vehicles can be restored thanks to newly added utility vehicles, which can be directed around the battlefield turning vehicle carcasses back into Crusader tanks.

As for where you'll be fighting, Company of Heroes 3 lets players trade bullets and bomb across maps themed around Italy and North Africa, with different maps catering to different numbers of players. These range from tight 1v1 arenas like Road to Tunis and Taranto Coastline, to sprawling 4v4 battlefields such as the ominously named Winter Line. As you'd expect from Company of Heroes, these maps are highly destructible. As players flatten villages with rocket strikes and churn up terrain with artillery, new tactical opportunities will emerge that could turn the tide of battle in your favour.

All these systems are designed to create an experience that is dynamic and emergent, where the battlefield evolves alongside your armies, and there's always an opportunity to get back in the fight. Company of Heroes 3's multiplayer aims not only to provide precisely balanced armies and spectacular competitive battles, but to generate stories every bit as dramatic as those you'll find in single-player.