Steam’s “Company of Heroes 3″ will once again bring strategic battles of World War II to life, with missions this time around exploring Italy and North Africa.
While many WWII games have centered on Pacific and European fronts, less attention has been given to some of the major military campaigns that took place along and across the Mediterranean Sea.
Steve Mele, executive producer at Relic, told Military Times that game creators were inspired to iterate on the first two Company of Heroes games with something more granular that he hopes history buffs will appreciate.
“When we picked the Mediterranean theater, that was one of the ways that we found we could give players variety,” he said. “So you’ve got the deserts of North Africa that have the wide open spaces, you have Italy, which comes with coastal regions, urban regions, farmland, rural regions, and mountainous regions.”
In the process of development, adherence to historical accuracy remained a primary component for game designers.
“For the maps, the world, and the rendering we use archival footage — we’ve done a lot of that,” Mele said. “We had people who were sending us drone footage of Italy, we had a colleague of ours, who was from Italy, who brought drone footage just so you get the vegetation and the feel of the mountains and all that.”
As far as the characters, technology and world-building, research was incredibly involved.
“We were looking at color photographs of the time, and we were trying to make our palette look like the color — the Kodachrome color palette — so that we could get that the vibrancy of some of those colors,” Mele added. “Internally, our team is studying books — or online — or going to places, but we also visit war museums. We’ve also partnered up with a few of experts that can tell us if these are the accurate weapons [and] where they appeared.”
Still, not everything in a strategy game can be entirely accurate all the time, Mele notes. Engaging gameplay isn’t always the result if keeping things precise in accordance with the historical framework.
“We do our best to find that balance between accuracy and authenticity, and for storytelling reasons, we want players to feel immersed and feel like everything is as authentic as can be,” Mele said. “But we’re not restricted or beholden to 100% accuracy.”
There are four factions in the game: U.S. Forces, British Forces, Wehrmacht, and Deutsches Afrikakorps.
The game will feature not only captivating history and geographical settings, but will allow for several different modes of play, including campaign, multiplayer and co-op versus AI.
Company of Heroes 3 is available on Feb. 23, 2023.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.