I’ve seen a German call in that destroys basically everything. I don’t even really recall it having a warning flare, but I assume it does given the absolute devastation it does (ie instantly deleting everything in like a 20 meter circle). I assume it’s a Gustav.
But generally speaking the issues that I’ve seen are that infantry can just run at anything that doesn’t suppress and take nearly no damage in the process. Also flamethrowers are broken, especially when combined with the above (because they actually DO kill things). And then the Afrika Corps can recruit double flamethrowers squads. German MGs also suppress much faster. And their infantry is generally stronger (AT kills Shermans easily, Bazookas barely scratch Panzer 4s). Also Tigers that are call-ins and take no fuel (along with maybe even Panzer 4s? not sure).
Add in that the allies have next to no anti-blob abilities (compared to the Gustav annihilator) or they’re easily avoided. From the Steam forums it seems like good people (ie even pro players) are reporting a roughly 80%+ WR with Axis and a 10%ish WR with Allies.
Anyone who thinks Company of Heroes 1 and 2 were “basically…the same” probably didn’t play much of either. But for folks who played them both, seems to me the third game is a course correction after the crap they pulled in the second game.
But calling Company of Heroes 1 and 2 “basically…the same” is certainly a hot take. Not one I share, but good luck with it. /shrug
CoH 2 did apparently improve a lot in the years after release, or at least it managed to cultivate a very active and passionate community (that mostly seems to hate CoH 3). I tried to jump back in a few times, especially with Ardennes Assault, but I always found myself going back to CoH 1.
I know that the rest of your review gets into all the reasons why they messed up the CoH1 experience, but it still seems like it’s a nuanced take to say they aren’t basically the same. You led off with exactly that point.
Multiplayer is very fun. Compstomps still fun. The AI can be a reasonable opponent (though usually falls apart in the late game due to an inability to defend).
I have played lots of skirmishes against (and with) the AI at this point and it’s shocking how bad they are at defending. They will very occasionally occupy buildings with an MG and deploy an AT gun directly on a capture point every now and then, but they don’t seem to build sandbags, lay barbed wire, or utilize tank obstacles; I have had infantry/vehicles die to mines twice total. When I have AI teammates, I let them do the attacking while I manage the defense. Human-built defensive positions are a solid rock around which the AI fights, taking and surrendering points back and forth.
The AI takes “the best defense is a good offense” to an extreme. If you don’t have a solid front line with obstacles and units, it will drive its vehicles and infantry right past the front line and into the middle of controlled territory to start capping points. While they do launch some combined arms assaults with vehicles supported by multiple infantry squads, they usually just practice infiltration tactics with solo infantry squads or run up on your points with a tank or two. They are vulnerable to the same infiltration because they rarely fortify resource points with caches or set up defenses. The AI just throws infantry and vehicles at your points as fast as it can.
The lack of suppression from things that are not machine guns is annoying. Rifle fire should suppress most infantry, and most infantry for sure shouldn’t advance under fire past fortified positions without smoke, artillery, vehicles, or support from machine guns/flamethrowers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen AI squads walk past my squads (firing from behind sandbags I built) to try and cap a point behind my defensive positions. I started setting up two squads one behind the other, so that when the enemy squad inevitably walks past the first line to take cover beside the rubble of some building or behind a wreck, they get caught by the second squad and trapped between two fires. It’s satisfying to kill them - but frustrating because the AI behavior is suicidal.
It cares enough about its units to retreat them when they’re getting shot up, but it isn’t smart enough to execute a good attack, or prepare a good defense. It can swarm you with units, but it’s never going to suppress your defenses, cover its advance with smoke, and then advance its infantry. Perhaps that’s not the design Relic wanted to make.