Company of Heroes 3 beginner tips and tricks

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Need some Company of Heroes 3 tips? It’s been quite a while since we had a new Company of Heroes game, and so the launch of Company of Heroes 3 may mean it’s time to re-learn some basic skills and RTS game know-how that’s grown rusty since Ardennes Assault.

The main single-player component of Company of Heroes 3 is really two RTS games: there are the real-time tactics battles you’ll be fighting against the German Wehrmacht, and there’s the high-level campaign map that tracks your progress through the campaign. By advancing your forces across Italy in the campaign map, you’ll unlock new missions, resources, and skills for your soldiers. If you’re about to head into the wilds of Italy and feel a bit bowled over by everything Relic’s new strategy game is throwing at you, we’ve got some Company of Heroes 3 beginner tips and tricks assembled to make your journey to Rome a bit smoother.

Italy Campaign tips

These are our Company of Heroes 3 tips for the Italy campaign:

Paint the map

Going into the Italy campaign, an important thing to know is that, as we noted in our Company of Heroes 3 review, the Germans will do almost nothing to try to recapture the territory you take. This means there’s no downside to capturing as much territory as quickly as possible, once you’ve completed the initial tutorial and landed in Salerno.

Ports are key

During the campaign, the number of units you can field is limited by your population cap, which can only be raised by capturing ports. You can get much more done on each turn if you have more companies in the field, so prioritise capturing port cities (marked with an anchor icon). Planes, ships, and defensive emplacements all contribute to your total population, so keep these to a minimum – you’ll want to use most of your population on companies until you’ve reached the Adriatic Sea and the valuable port cities there.

Once you’ve made it to Bari and linked up with Allied forces there, you’ll have more breathing room to start building howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, aircraft, and naval vessels.

Use your navy to clear the way

While the Germans won’t try to recapture territory, they will construct a lot of annoying machine gun nests and howitzers along roads to whittle away at your companies’ health. When you run into a knot of these, your navy ships’ ability to bombard will be handy. Keep a battleship parallel to your front-line companies and use its guns to wipe out German guns – but save it for when you can get two or three emplacements (and potentially an enemy company) in the blast zone.

Bombardment can also be used to lower the defences in fortified towns, indicated by shield icons. Each of those shields requires an action from an infantry company to remove, so softening up cities with naval bombardments can mean the difference between waiting for three turns to capture them and waltzing in unopposed.

When you’re out of range of any of your ships, consider bringing an Indian Artillery company in support – they can bombard, too. However, be aware that each bombardment draws from your ammo stockpile, and when that’s running low, you won’t be able to use it during real-time battles. Make sure you’re capturing lots of towns marked with the ammunition icon, and you’ll be good to go.

Maintain units in the field

Another thing you’ll want to be spending resources on is unit maintenance. Inevitably, your companies will come under fire from German pillboxes and anti-tank guns placed on the map and take damage from attacks by German companies. Fortunately, each unit can heal itself at will – provided you have some resources. Make frequent use of this ability: infantry companies can be healed and mechanised companies repaired simply by clicking the appropriate button in the bottom-right panel and selecting the unit on the map. Don’t risk sending a damaged unit into unexplored territory without doing this. Some unseen machine guns could be enough to wipe the unit off the map, which means losing all of its experience and unlocks.

Use those skill points

On that note, be sure to use the skill points you’re winning in each battle. Completing secondary objectives during missions will add even more points, and these can be spent improving your company in several ways. Depending on your playstyle, you may want to add perks like automatic veterancy for certain units or unlock more advanced vehicles and squads. The highest-tier vehicles and tanks in the campaign can only be unlocked in this way, so check all three tabs in the skill point menu whenever you have some to spend.

Combat tips

You’ll spend a lot of time in real-time battles during the Italy campaign, whether they’re main missions or incidental skirmishes with German companies you encounter. While in the latter case, you’ll always have the option to auto-resolve, it’s almost always a better idea to fight it yourself – you stand to gain more skill points that way, and there’s a good chance of winning even against what the computer considers to be a ‘stronger’ opponent.

Land grab

Skirmishes in Company of Heroes 3 take several forms, but your first move should almost always be to go out and grab as many resource nodes as possible. This accomplishes a couple of things: first, each one will give you resources to use in recruiting a more powerful army, and you’ll be able to see when the enemy moves in to try to take it from you. Rush your first few units out to control points right away, and while they’re on the way, begin recruiting more squads.

Use the minimap

As pretty as Company of Heroes 3’s maps all are, they can give you tunnel vision – you can’t pull your camera back very far. Fortunately, you can – and should – issue commands using the minimap in the corner of the screen. You can select units using the row of icons that appears along the bottom of your screen and right-click the minimap to send them to capture control points or to back up squads in contact with the enemy, all while micromanaging the troops you’re concentrating on at the moment.

Run away!

Infantry squads can all be directed to return to their current rally point by selecting them and clicking the retreat button (the one furthest right on their command panel, marked with an arrow pointing down) or pressing the R key. Even squads pinned down by machine gun fire will pop up and run back to safety, where you’ll be able to heal them and bring them back up to full strength. Use this ability frequently: you want to send fresh squads up to the front lines as often as you can, and reinforcing squads you already have is faster and more cost effective than letting them get wiped out and recruiting new ones.

Vehicles can’t retreat but can be repaired in the field by engineers and certain recovery vehicles. This can take a while, but it’s usually better than letting them get destroyed and recruiting new ones from the motor pool or tank depot.

Reduce, reuse, bazooka

Each faction has a bread-and-butter infantry squad that should form the backbone of your forces. They don’t excel at anything, but they’re generally cheaper than specialists and can get the job done. They’re also very adaptable: they can pick up and use abandoned machine guns, mortar tubes, and anti-tank weapons left on the battlefield.

Keep an eye out for these at all times, particularly anti-tank weapons. While most infantry squads have some form of anti-vehicle grenade available, these aren’t usually capable of taking a tank out in one shot, and they tend to have lengthy cooldowns. However, a hand-me-down Panzerschreck or bazooka can turn any infantry squad into a real problem for enemy armour, so they’re worth picking up whenever you see them.

Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em

Don’t underestimate the importance of infantry smoke grenades because they can be the key to cracking enemy strongpoints. Machine gun fire will pin your squads down, making it impossible for them even to shoot back to defend themselves. If you don’t have artillery or mortars available to knock them out from a distance, a well-placed smoke grenade can blind the gun crew and allow your infantry to get into the grenade range. Smoke can also be used to manoeuvre around enemy tanks, so be sure to use it liberally to cover your assaults.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be fully prepared to begin your march to Rome in Company of Heroes 3. You may also want to give our Company of Heroes 3 system requirements guide a quick look to see if your rig is up to spec. We also have a list of the best war games if you’re starting to get sick of WWII. And if you’re looking for a critically acclaimed game, head over to our best PC games list.

Original guide by Ian Boudreau.

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