Can a video game change what you think about war?
“Real-time strategy games, in general, are a little hard to start with because there is deep learning… That initial experience can be very hard to get over. There are some things we’re doing.”
“On the one hand, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to our tutorial organization and the onboarding process into the game itself, which honestly, we’re going to continue to work on. We’re going to be looking at the data and seeing how players respond and we’ll continue to update that to make sure that we are providing the best experience that we can. We have released several tutorials on our YouTube channel ranging from beginner tips to more advanced stuff.”
They have also added a feature called “tactical pause”, whereby players can pause the game to issue orders to their units. This feature is designed to help new players familiarize themselves with the experience and give them a chance to think through their decisions.
Another World War II video game?
How to tell an interesting story about World War II when we live in a world where Call of Duty, Battlefield and Wolfenstein exist? David highlighted the selection of two settings that have not been used as much in other titles: Italy and North Africa.
Each scenario offers different strategy experiences, partly because of the design of the terrain (mountains and deserts affect your movements and plans), but also because of the openness of the world. In North Africa, players will find a more traditional experience, with tighter missions, while in Italy the battlefield is gigantic and open.
But perhaps most important to tell a peculiar perspective of this war, is that they give players the ability to make decisions that affect events.
“In the Italian campaign, you play as the Italians and you’re caught between these two opposing forces, the Germans and the Allies, and you have to make decisions about who to ally with and what to do, and that’s how we’re conveying the story to the player.”
One of the unique features of Company of Heroes 3 is how it handles war as a theme. The game presents war as a complex event that affects everyone, not just the soldiers on the front lines.
The game’s developers, according to David, tried to be as accurate and respectful as possible in their portrayal of historical events. For example, the unit encyclopedia provides information about the role of different units in the war, giving players the opportunity to learn while they play.
Did the conflict between Russia and Ukraine affect the development or release of the game?
No, not really, but David told us that they have always focused on including civilians and the impact of war on them. He hopes Company of Heroes 3 will spark people’s interest in the history and reality of war, because that’s what this game did for him when he was younger.
“For me personally, yes, it’s a horrible thing that’s happening in Europe right now…I’ve always hoped that Company of Heroes would make people interested in history and reality, and that it would spark people’s interest. because that’s what he did for me.”
“I played Company of Heroes and I really found it fascinating, and that’s one of the reasons I ended up going to college and getting a history degree. So, that’s because, you know, games like Company of Heroes sparked my interest in learning the true story of these battles and what really happened.”
“It’s not just nations fighting, it’s people on the ground who are affected by this. And that’s a lot of what’s happening in Ukraine right now. So, yeah, I hope that what our game does, I want people to have fun with it and enjoy it as a means of entertainment, and I hope it will draw some people’s eyes to what war can be and understand history.”
Company of Heroes 3 appeals to both veteran and new players. At the end of 2023 it will reach PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series, being the first in the saga to reach console players.
The attention to detail in game mechanics and animations creates a realistic experience that will appeal to many, while the tutorial system and tactical pause feature make the game more accessible to new players, and finally, the storytelling. it provides players with historical context and agency in a way rarely seen.
Company of Heroes 3 is a game that not only entertains but also educates, and is a great example of how video games can be used to teach people about history, strategy, and warfare.