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.
Ever had an argument and only realised what you should have said five minutes after you stormed out of the room, kicked over a chair, and broke your toe in the process? If only you could have paused time in the heat of the moment, and thought about what you actually wanted to say, rather than the garbled nonsense that emerged from your mouth because your brain seized up like a Panzer tank in a Saharan sandstorm.
In reality, pesky physics prevents such handy temporal interludes. But in Company of Heroes 3, time is much more accommodating. The latest entry in Relic's World War II strategy series adds a new feature called 'tactical pause'. When playing any of the game's single-player battles, a quick tap of the spacebar will instantly freeze the action, letting you survey the battlefield, issue new orders, and plan your next move.
It's a simple but incredibly useful feature, with a surprisingly wide array of applications. Here are four ways tactical pause can help give you the upper hand in Company of Heroes 3.
Any general worth his stars knows that reconnaissance is a crucial component of military strategy. Defeating the enemy is that much easier when you can accurately predict their next move. But analysing your opponent's plans can be difficult when you're also recruiting new troops, directing squad movements, and fending off enemy skirmishes.
That's where tactical pause comes in. Slamming that spacebar lets you put all the busywork of army management to one side, allowing to hunch over the map table and survey the battlefield while rolling an imaginary cigar around your mouth. Tactical pause can be combined with specific unit abilities for greater insight into your current missions. Certain units like American Pathfinders and Indian heavy mortar crews can shoot flares into the sky, lighting up areas of the map obscured by fog of war to reveal enemy positions. These flares last only a few seconds, but hitting tactical pause lets you assess revealed positions for as long as you like, identifying every unit in the area so you know exactly what your troops are up against.
Alongside helping you get a lay of the land, tactical pause also makes instructing your squads easier. When tactical pause is enabled, any orders you give a squad are added to a queue, meaning you can issue multiple orders to be carried out in sequence once play is resumed. This is useful for giving more specific commands, like directing a squad to move to a location between cover, so they don't get shredded by some hidden machinegun nest as they approach some picturesque Italian village. Tactical pause can also be used to order units to attack, and deploy specific abilities like throwing grenades.
One of the most crucial functions of tactical pause is how it helps you organise the movements of your units. If you want to assault a position from multiple angles, you can hit the spacebar, issue individual movement orders to your squads, then bask in the satisfaction of a perfect flanking manoeuvre. Tactical pause also lets you move units simultaneously without forcing you to group them together as an amorphous blob. You can tell each squad exactly where you want them to go, when you want them to go there.
No matter how meticulous your plans in Company of Heroes 3, things won't always go your way. Whether through canny counterattacks by enemy AI, or random side-objectives like a convoy of tanks passing through the map, the game will frequently force you to think on your feet. Thanks to tactical pause, you can temporarily put your feet back up, halting the action to chew over developing situations, and checking your available units and abilities to mitigate unpleasant surprises.
Whether you're new to Company of Heroes, or a veteran returning for their third tour, you'll find tactical pause an essential boon in battle. Now we need to wait for scientists to stop picking their teeth and invent tactical pause in real life. Surely it can't be that hard.