For a long time, real-time strategy has been a genre where the number of things you can physically do per second has a huge impact on how effectively you can play. And while there’s something to be said for that, Company of Heroes 3 is trying to expand the appeal of its tactical gameplay for those who prefer to sit back and think through every move carefully, perhaps with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a mouse in hand. the other. The tactical pause, as they call it, is no less a harrowing experience for your soldiers who are being sent to charge a machine gun emplacement. But it’s a much less chaotic and, dare I say, more luxurious experience for a commander.
When pausing a single player mission in Company of Heroes 3, an action queue will appear for each of your units, allowing you to issue a series of sequential commands that will be carried out when you pause the pause. He could then tell a squad of infantry to run for cover, throw a grenade, and then continue forward without missing a beat. Issuing a complex chain of commands to multiple units at once will make them march like a well-directed orchestra of destruction, making it possible to pull off some maneuvers that might previously only have been possible for an esports pro.
Company of Heroes 3 – North Africa Campaign Screenshots
I was a bit skeptical about this idea at first. In the past, playing against the AI in an RTS has always been a bit of an asymmetrical war situation. I, as a human, am much more intuitive and able to think in the abstract. In turn, the computer is capable of performing calculations in fractions of a second and can issue many more commands at once. With Tactical Pause, that second advantage is gone. But honestly, I haven’t found it to make things too easy. Sometimes I still go through entire missions without it, while other times it feels practically essential. But I usually take advantage of it as needed when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and need to understand the battle.
Setting up an assault or flank, or reacting to an enemy advance, are two of the most common times I’ll smash the space bar. But it’s also very useful for lining up skills like air attacks and, above all, avoiding enemies. The grenades in Company of Heroes 3 have a fairly short fuse, so unless you see them just as they come out of the enemy’s hand, you probably won’t have time to get out of the blast area. With the tactical pause, you might be able to get your guys out of there before it blows up.
There were two types of missions in particular where I found it particularly critical. The first is to defend a strategic point against an enemy capture attempt. We’ll use Salerno as an example here, as one of the first cities you’ll liberate in Italy and one of the first places you’re likely to face a counterattack. If you look at how much ground we have to hold here and how many different defensive options we have, from engineers setting up field jobs to aiming all our big guns the right way, we’d quickly run out of grace period sooner. the attack is coming if we were to do all of this in real time.
hold the line
However, with Tactical Pause, there’s a lot we can do before the assault hits us. I can also make sure everyone knows what they are doing. When I tried to play this mission without a tactical pause, there were always some stragglers somewhere that I had forgotten to give orders to. It’s too much to keep track of reasonably. And as the enemy advances, pausing can allow me to coordinate an orderly retreat, rather than just clicking spam to get everyone out of there.
Company of Heroes 3: Featured Unit – IGN First
The other mission where I found the feature to be a game changer was Tobruk, one of the largest and most complex battles of the North African campaign. Leading an assault like the Deutsches Afrikakorps, there are always several things going on on this large, open battlefield once the action begins. In previous RTSs, my solution would have been to try to create one or two strong defensive points that hopefully I wouldn’t have to take care of while moving forward with my main group. Now though, I don’t even have to have a parent group. Everyone can be on the attack and react to attacks at the same time.
The tactical pause is advertised as a way to make it easier for new players to get into the RTS, and that’s certainly one of the things it could do. But even as a veteran who’s been playing this genre since before I learned the times tables, I appreciate it as just a different way to play a WWII tactical game. It doesn’t even necessarily lower the skill requirement. It just puts the focus on a different set of skills.
And honestly, having that option available just makes every operation a little more enjoyable to play. At least as enjoyable as total war can be. Not having to feel like my brain has to be keeping track of so many different things from the moment I hit “go” is a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I crave chaos, but I don’t necessarily want to sit with it for an entire campaign.