I’ve been plowing my way through the CoH campaign and so far I keep arriving at the same conclusion: It’s a pretty dull game. Since that’s heresy 'round these here parts, let me explain.
Almost every RTS I’ve played has the same arc of gameplay for the single-player campaign (and usually, but not always, the skirmish). You set up shop, gather resources, hold off the initial scripted assaults, then fortify your position. Slowly, you inch forward taking terrain and securing it until you (what I call) break the back of the AI, at which point it’s a done deal who’s going to win and it’s just grinding out the rest of the “mission”.
In CoH it’s even easier than most because you gain resources over time without any real danger of losing them - and as far as I can tell, the computer AI doesn’t get the same benefits out of this. So, I set up shop in the beginning of the mission, lay out crossfire killzones, and watch TV for an hour or two - when I come back I have tons of resources and lots of veteran snipers/vehicles/etc. and I proceed forwards with overwhelming assaults. Easy win over and over.
It’s true that there is clearly an amazing amount of detail and AI complexity in the tactical battles, and I’m suitably amazed, but I find that it’s a lot easier to just cheese my way through the game with massive assaults from unlimited resources than it is to pick my way through using the intricate dynamics CoH offers. The artillery strike + one stealth sniper has gotten me through many a mission.
I’ve also taken up building endless machinegun nests pointing everywhere to account for the occasional scripted “counter-attack” which at this point nearly always fails because my territory is always a god damn deathtrap for the enemy. So these momentary breaks from the monotony are defused by monotonous gun-emplacement.
I’ll be moving on to multiplayer soon, where I’m certain I’ll have a lot more fun (I loved the MP demo), but I can’t help but feel disappointed by the ambitious and beautiful SP campain.
You won’t do that in the fifth mission (Red Ball Express), where you have to first rescue a squad in trouble, and then clear the area for a convoy. If you just turtle, the squad you’re to rescue dies and the mission ends with a loss.
You can’t even turtle after that, because enemy HQs are generating units that are pretty good at searching out resource points and taking them.
And how do you plan on moving up the tech tree if you don’t capture fuel or ammo points?
That was one of the easiest, actually. I took over everything up to where dog company was, but not taking that little area where I rescued them, and secured it with AT guns and MG nests in a line across the map. Endless tanks and men walked bravely into that line of death, giving me lots of veteran units. I built 3 tanks with the resources I got from, what, 1/3rd of the map, and slowly inched forwards. The convoy doesn’t move forward until you get all the way to the end, and it was laughable to hear them yell the scripted “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!!” when in fact I had secured the entire map with countless mines, MG nests, and AT guns. No, they weren’t under attack, the road was pristine, and it was another easy victory.
I never said I turtled and stayed in place, I said that I take over the inital area and reap resources until I can max the pop limit - then I inch forwards with mass attacks. There is no need to use cover or special attacks or any of the neat intricacies of CoH.
Regular. Typically, higher difficulty settings mean the computer starts with more resources and sends more enemies at one time. This wouldn’t change what I’m talking about aside from making it take longer to break the AI’s back.
I hope you have a better MP experience. I’ve never been much of a fan of playing single-player modes in RTS games, which is why my list of great RTS’s is so off of what I see people raving about around here.
I’m one of those guys that likes microing and sees APM as being the analogue of “twitch” skills in FPS games. The experience I had with the CoH MP demo was that the AI does way too much for you. It’s like playing an FPS with really good auto-aim.
If this is the wave of the future for the RTS genre, we’ll eventually wind up with a game with 5 buttons - Gather Resources, Build Defenses, Build Offenses, Upgrade, and Fight, and the AI will handle all the details of what actually happens. Maybe to make the player feel like they are participating in the battles they’ll let you click on the map and make artillery rain down. I’m sure there are some people on this board that would think this was a fantastic game if the setting and graphics looked really good.
I love the campaign, and MP for the most part has been hyperactive “insert unit type” rushing but certainly adrenalized – in my experience.
There are plenty of people (judging from Relic News forums) who don’t even bother with the campaign play at all. And some who want to remain in campaign mode for pause and orders play and some semblance of tactics (generally in MP I don’t have time to worry about flanking and facing directions or anything else, it’s just sheer survival). And maybe a bit silly when I have a Ranger squad literally running frantically in circles around a Tiger tank, both of us unable to hit each other. :)
To me it’s like various shooters I’ve played where I liked the single player game but had little or no interest in the hyperactive frag-matching online (Call of Duty comes to mind).
Their stated goal with the campaign was to at least try to make things that didn’t seem like generic “build a base, defend a base, assault enemy base” skirmish maps. I like the variety and having just enough cutscenes for an emotional payoff on some missions.
I haven’t played many RTS’s in recent years but I usually give military ones a shot. I liked the first few missions of C&C: Generals’ various campaigns but I felt like the later ones in each campaign got too big and messy (for my tastes). Likewise, I liked about the first 3-4 missions in Direct Action, but the later ones became a mess (and with no pause 'n orders, a multitasking nightmare for me).
In the end, I just figure if you (original poster) like some mode of the game, then we’re both still fans of the game. :)
No, not at all. I think it’s a combination of the gameplay dynamic (strategic resource points) and the lack of detailed scripting that make for a fairly dull strategic game. The tactical game is awesome, if you bother with it, but part of my point is that there is no need to.
Limiting the amount of resources available to “spend” based on the number of Strategic Points you hold might solve the problem, as would an increased number of scripted events. A family of civilians trapped in a building, a fire rushing through the city, a rash of sickness making your troops sluggish, etc. Things that affect the strategic game.
However, I think the complaint isn’t particularly relevant to Company of Heroes. That’s just how single player campaigns almost always work. The upside of the COH campaign, and the thing that makes everyone here love it, is that you’re playing Company of Heroes while you’re going through it. And that’s quite a boon.
BTW, isn’t Relic doing a sort of dynamic Rise of Nations type thing with the Dawn of War expansion? Mmm! I want that.
Geo: I’m definitely a fan of the game and I think it deserves all the accolades it’s received. I think I’m just jaded, and to be honest a bit confused by why I seem to enjoy JTF more than CoH - at least in SP campaign.
I still think its of generally higher calibre than other RTS’s single player campaigns. I think there is somethign about the way Relic does them that just makes it more fun. Homeworld, Dawn of War, now Company of Heroes…
I think possibly what would have improved the game for some of you would have been more time pressure, since few of the missions really have any time pressure except for some bonus objectives.
Absolutely, although I hate timed missions. I think stuff like rescuing Dog Company is the kinda thing I like a lot. Give me an objective that has a time limit, but it’s not required. The first time I failed to rescue them, I started over and resolved to not let those men die. That was good stuff.