Dominate the battlefield from the sea and the sky in Company of Heroes 3

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.

Ahoy there, sailors! Permission to step aboard the good ship Boot Camp. While Company of Heroes 3 may focus on the land campaigns of Italy and North Africa, World War 2 was fought as much on the seas and in the air as it was on the ground. Ships and planes were a vital part of military strategy for both the Allies and the Axis, and Company of Heroes 3 reflects the importance of naval and air supremacy in the middle act of the war. Not only will boats and aircraft be vital in transporting and supporting your armies in Relic's RTS, they'll also bring with them some truly ferocious firepower.

As we leave port on this journey through seas and skies, let's talk about ships first. The Navy makes its presence most felt in Company of Heroes 3's Italian campaign. As you coordinate the Allied invasion via the turn-based campaign map, you'll construct and launch different kinds of naval vessel from captured Italian ports, sending destroyers, battleships, and aircraft carriers into the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean.

Company of Heroes 3

(Image credit: Sega)

Although these ships patrol miles offshore, they can play a direct role in the campaign's real-time battles. Say your special forces encounter a German armoured brigade a few miles inland. They might not have the equipment to fight off German tanks on their own. But if one of your battleships is stationed within range of the fight, you can order offshore artillery bombardments from the ship's naval guns, reducing all that shiny German armour to slag in a matter of moments.

Ships play an equally important role on the campaign map. Battleships can bombard enemy fortifications, like machine gun nests and howitzer batteries that will harass your companies as they advance through Italy. Alternatively, you can use them to blast enemy towns and companies, decimating their forces and making it easier for your soldiers to mop up afterward.

The power Company of Heroes 3 provides from the sea is formidable, but air support is even more versatile. Capturing an airfield on the campaign map will let you construct a variety of aircraft, each of which specialises in a different function. Reconnaissance planes can be deployed to illuminate areas of the map shrouded by fog of war, letting you see any defences or ambushes the Germans have kindly prepared for you before your companies run into them. Once you have a clear picture of what lies ahead, you can deploy fighters and bombers to disrupt the Wehrmacht's plans.

And just like ships, aircraft can get directly involved in real-time battles. If you're fighting in range of an airport with stationed fighters, you can call in strafing runs and bomb drops to make mincemeat of enemy infantry. And if your frontlines are being pushed back by a detachment of enemy armour, a carpet bombing run or P-47 rocket-strike will make short work of those tanks.

Company of Heroes 3

(Image credit: Sega)

Naval and air can also be combined, both with each other and infantry companies, for additional strategies. Companies stationed at ports can hop into landing craft and execute beach landings at coastal towns, while soldiers dispatched to airfields can jump into a C-47 and paradropped behind enemy lines. Aircraft carriers, meanwhile, function as mobile airfields, letting you deploy planes from any location off the coast.

But remember, anything you can do in the Italian campaign, the Wehrmacht can do too. The Germans can deploy seacraft of their own to patrol the oceans and sink your battleships. On land, meanwhile, you'll need to watch for enemy recon planes scouting out your positions, and construct anti-air defences to prevent enemy fighters from harassing your troops.

The Axis can also make limited use of air power in the North African campaign. As you march Rommel's Afrika Korps around Libya and Egypt, certain missions will let you call in Stuka dive-bombers for additional support. Both sides can deploy aircraft in single-player skirmishes and multiplayer too, with air-related abilities available for players who pick the right battlegroup.

Whether you're dropping naval artillery on Naples or bombs on Tobruk, ships and aircraft will be instrumental in your fight against the enemy in Company of Heroes 3. And if that little mention of multiplayer has got you curious about what else you can do with friends, next week we've got one final video that'll guide you through the many ways you can blow up your mate's Panzer platoon.