Finally there’s Stonewall, perhaps the most interesting of the new game modes, as it's solely built around the defence of a town, either alone or along side up to three other players. Co-op defence maps have existed in Company of Heroes
for a while as third party mods and the fact that Relic has decided to officially adopt them is a testament to how much fun and just how challenging they can be.
Each player starts with a single unit factory used to build everything, and slowly advances up the tech tree while producing enough units to stave off the continued threat coming from all directions. The trick is that your supply of resources is so slim that in a team game you'll need to focus on specific unit types to afford the teching costs, leading to each player specialising in a set type of unit, be it infantry, armour or weapon teams.
It's frantic, engaging stuff with your troops needing to combine with those of your allies to see off the seemingly insurmountable numbers of enemies, and it's genuinely tough for even hardened veterans of the game. Of the three new game modes, it's Stonewall that's the clear highlight, although the inclusion of just one compatible map is a little discouraging.
Relic has also included a handful of new replacement units to add to the existing four armies for use in the classic game modes, allowing you to customise your forces dependant on favoured strategies. It’s an interesting approach to injecting a bit of freshness into the standard multiplayer gameplay, with the possibility of different unit combinations dependant on the player, although none of the new units are enormously different from those they replace and even then are entirely optional.
Frankly, we’ve been a little disappointed by what’s available here as part of Tales of Valor
. Perhaps the previous Company of Heroes
expansion Opposing Fronts
has spoiled us with its two extra armies and two full campaigns, but Tales of Valor
comes across as painfully light on content with a few new ideas that haven’t really come to fruition.
The fact that you can’t manually control the movement as well as the aim of a Direct Controlled unit makes what could have been a welcome gameplay inclusion, especially with CoH’s
unit pathing, which has always been a bit dodgy, practically useless. Unlike in Men of War
, which has much more sophisticated unit damage models, it doesn’t matter where you shoot a tank in Company of Heroes
, it’ll explode all the same, reducing the direct fire feature to an unnecessary hindrance in the vast majority of situations.
For the £20 price of an expansion pack and an eye watering £30 if bought via Steam there simply isn’t enough here to entice any but the most diehard of Company of Heroes
fans, with the three mini-campaigns, while certainly up to the usual Company of Heroes
standard, over all too quickly and the new multiplayer modes of extremely variable quality, with Assault a particular let down.
If this is indeed the final expansion for Company of Heroes
before we get a full sequel (Dear Father Christmas...) then it’s a bit of a disappointment and a rare sour note from developer Relic. It’s still Company of Heroes
at its heart, so can still offer those moments of brilliance when everything clicks together in a glorious orchestra of explosions, tanks and flying body parts, but such moments are over all to quickly to make Tales of Valor
a necessary purchase.