Before the return of Age of Empires, Relic Entertainment’s flagship World War Two real-time strategy series, Company of Heroes, kept the well-known classic RTS subset of gaming afloat. Aside from the notable WW2 setting, Company of Heroes grips players with its unit-focused tactical gameplay, territory control mission objectives, and creative faction design. It effectively modifies the classic RTS formula by shifting the emphasis to troop movements over complex base-building and economy management, leading to a more action-oriented and tactics-centric experience.
While it may be at the forefront of real-time strategy gaming, there are still many games that have plenty to offer to real-strategy game fans. Here are ten games like Company of Heroes, limited to one entry per series, that can bulk up your strategy games library.
Games Like Age of Empires
10. Steel Division 2
Developer: Eugen Systems Publisher: Eugen Systems Platform(s): PC
Starting off this list is Steel Division 2, one of the most underrated games in modern strategy gaming. The obvious relation to Company of Heroes is the shared WW2 setting, though, on the whole, Steel Division 2’s take is far more authentic in the representation of historical events and combat on the Eastern Front, itself an underrepresented theater of the war.
Gameplay-wise, Steel Division 2 ditches the base-building altogether, though there are emplacements and fortifications in specific modes, and focuses solely on unit-oriented tactics and strategy. The sheer amount of units, stats, and troop types available is both tactically deep and overwhelming to players unfamiliar with the setting or not used to walls of intricate stats. Holistically, Steel Division 2 effectively recreates combined arms warfare with a greater degree of realism, giving players significant freedom in composing their own approach and strategy.
Eugen’s WW2 strategy game isn’t quite as accessible to newer players as Company of Heroes, but if you invest the time and effort to learn the game’s intricacies, you’ll find an incredibly rewarding experience. Steel Division 2 goes the extra mile to add a variety of fun modes, such as the solid Army General campaign mode, which overshadows anything Company of Heroes offers for its campaign. The incredible depth and replayability of Steel Division 2 alone make it worth checking out.
9. Wargame: Red Dragon
Developer: Eugen Systems Publisher: Eugen Systems, Focus Entertainment Platform(s): PC, macOS, Linux
Steel Division 2’s spiritual predecessor, Wargame: Red Dragon shares many features that make it a great alternative or companion piece to any of the Company of Heroes games. Although it does lack some of the quality-of-life features found in Eugen’s more recent strategy games, it easily makes up for it with its setting and excellent gameplay.
Red Dragon’s biggest standout feature is its criminally underrepresented Cold War setting, which lends itself to even greater tactical depth than even in Steel Division 2. The advent of jet aircraft, modern armor, infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank missiles, and helicopters make each fight and engagement highly dynamic, exciting, and tactically complex with a broader range of unique tools at the player’s disposal.
Unlike Company of Heroes, Red Dragon goes all the way in focusing its design on unit-oriented command and control, while doing away with base-building in favor of a more detailed logistics system and greater unit inveractivity. The Wargame series may be a bit dated at this point, but it’s still a great game, with plenty of strategy content to draw you in for hours of complex battles.
8. Men of War: Assault Squad 2
Developer: Digitalmindsoft Publisher: 1C Company Platform(s): PC
If Company of Heroes’ micro-intensive tactical unit command isn’t enough for you, then perhaps Men of War: Assault Squad 2 will satisfy your desire for even more detailed control. It also happens that Assault Squad is also set during WW2, so if you’re familiar with the equipment and capabilities found on Company of Heroes, then you’ll have an easier time getting into Men of War’s flow.
Where Company of Heroes combines its units into squads or singular vehicles, Assault Squad lets you command not only squads, but also each individual soldier to such an extent that you can turn the game into a kind of third-person shooter to zoom you straight into the action. In addition, Assault Squad prides itself on a realistic ballistics and armor system, so weapons behave authentically, which is sure to make history buffs happy. This does lead to some jankiness within matches though, since most maps don’t always accommodate realistic weapon performance completely, but these situations are uncommon.
Finally, Men of War expands on Company of Heroes’ cover system and destructible terrain with a far greater level of interactivity, opening up more flexible tactical options for positioning and stealth. If you fancy yourself a micromanager, then Men of War: Assault Squad 2 easily has you covered.
7. Age of Empires 4
Developer: Relic Entertainment, World’s Edge Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC
If you’re more into the classics of strategy gaming, then Relic Entertainment, the developers of Company of Heroes, have you covered with the most recent Age of Empires 4. With two of the biggest strategy series under their belt, Relic has solidified its position as the leader of classic RTS games.
Age of Empires leans more heavily into the base-building and economy sides of the gameplay loop, where the positioning of fortifications and a healthy flow of resources dictate the pace of match as much, if not more so than the movement armies and troop formations. Just like in Company of Heroes, Relic has also shown a knack for creative faction design and this can be clearly seen in Age of Empires’ roster of factions, their unique buildings, and features that put a twist on the basic gameplay loop.
Age of Empires also happens to be the only medieval-set strategy game to make the list, which inadvertently changes the makeup of combat significantly. Compared to WW2’s lethal battlefields, Age of Empires 4 combat comes with a greater emphasis on melee troops, siege weapons, and blocky formations. If you want your battles enriched with castle-building and a more deliberate pace in your strategy experience, then Age of Empires 4 is a great choice.
If Age of Empires and Company of Heroes were a spectrum in regard to how much the gameplay focuses on units, then Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak would be squarely in the middle. It finds a balance between simplifying the economy down, so as not to take up too much of the player’s attention, while unit interactions and behavior isn’t quite so complex and overwhelming that it forces players to spend hours just to figure out how everything operates.
Deserts of Kharak cleverly uses its sci-fi strategy premise to create an interesting world with unique terrain features that inevitably have a significant impact on how and where skirmishes and engagements take place. Also Blackbird Interactive, which happens to be comprised of many ex-Relic developers, flipped the idea of base-building on its head, even more so than the original Homeworld, by having the central base act as a giant mobile unit. Where the base usually ends up turning into a passive economy engine or a rudimentary technology system, the mobile carrier in Deserts of Kharak ensures that commanders can actively get involved with their command centers with direct fire, cruise missiles, and even stationed aircraft.
Blackbird Interactive further enriches the game with a fun campaign system that thematically fits perfectly into the Homeworld universe and builds a great sense of wonder and mystery, especially with the various cultures of the titular planet of Kharak. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is an excellent strategy venture into a completely different universe with its own rules and will surely freshen up your library.
5. Iron Harvest
Developer: King Art Games
Publisher: King Art Games, Deep Silver, Prime Matter, Koch Media
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
If there’s any game that is essentially Company of Heroes, but with a fancy reskin, it is Iron Harvest. While we weren’t exactly impressed with the game at launch, as it seemed to take too much from its clear source of inspiration without really offering much on its own, over the past couple of years it’s found more of a footing with additional factions and new unit types that freshen up the experience.
Undoubtedly Iron Harvest’s greatest strength is the visual design of its incredible alternate history post-World War One dieselpunk setting, which is based on the artwork of Polish artist Jakub Różalski and the board game Scythe by Stonemaier Games. It’s absolutely breathtaking to see mechs of various kinds in action from the nimble and spindly scouts to sturdy and towering behemoths that can stomp through most terrain.
Gameplay-wise, Iron Harvest operates almost exactly like Company of Heroes down to the economy system tied to territory control and equipment pickups. So if you really like how Company of Heroes plays, but just want a fresh coat of paint and a few bells and whistles, then definitely check out Iron Harvest.
4. Close Combat: Invasion: Normandy
Developer: Atomic Games Publisher: Mattel Interactive Platform(s): PC
Company of Heroes is definitely not the most realistic of WW2 strategy games. This is where the Close Combat series comes in, a venerable simulation wargame franchise that’s still going strong to this day. While there may be a great number of Close Combat games to choose from, Close Combat: Invasion: Normandy is the best representative of the franchise.
Close Combat is similar in scale to Company of Heroes, as players will command relatively small company-sized formations of roughly up to 15 or 20 squads or individual units. However, in terms of gameplay pace, this is where these two diverge. Unlike Men of War: Assault Squad 2, Close Combat’s ballistic and firearms system works incredibly well with little or no jank and the in-depth squad morale system means captains will need to be deliberate, precise, and careful in their use of terrain and lines of sight.
Close Combat is definitely not a looker and is quite an old game by now, but its map design based on real photography, excellent gameplay, and high level of authenticity easily give this game an ageless status. For the history buffs out there not quite satisfied with Company of Heroes’ treatment of the source material, look no further than Close Combat: Invasion: Normandy.
3. Halo Wars 2
Developer: Creative Assembly, 343 Industries Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
From the battlefields of France and back to the stars, Halo Wars 2 is arguably the most accessible and easy game on this list to get into due to its more action-oriented take on strategy gaming and simplified systems, making it great for strategy beginners.
Players will command squads, vehicles, and aircraft from the Halo universe and develop bases to establish a churning economy to overcome their opponents. Unlike even Company of Heroes, Halo Wars 2 puts less emphasis on the impact of terrain and far more on the abilities and functionality of units. How well you compose your force of troops and how well you can maximize their strength in any given engagement will carry the day, rather than the unlucky position of some sandbags or a crater that mitigate some damage due to cover.
Complexity of systems isn’t always a necessity for a strategy game to find success and for Halo Wars, its simpler and direct approach to combat reflects the visceral fast-paced action of Halo’s first-person shooter installments. If you’re intimidated by Company of Heroes’ tactical complexity and steep learning curve, Halo Wars 2 is a great entry point.
2. World in Conflict
Developer: Massive Entertainment Publisher: Sierra Entertainment, Vivendi Games, Ubisoft Platform(s): PC, PS3
Another Cold War game to make the list, World in Conflict was one of the best multiplayer strategy games in its heyday while the servers were still maintained, but now has become a fond memory in the canon of gaming history. Despite that, it’s still a great game to come back to occasionally and it shares a number of features with Company of Heroes that should intrigue veterans of that franchise to give this one a look.
Company of Heroes is primarily known for its multiplayer and World in Conflict has that in spades. Each player chooses a specific unit type to specialize, which incentivizes synergetic unit control and teamwork, leading to incredibly rewarding and spectacular matches when teammates really work together. This reflects a similar dynamic in Company of Heroes where players can specialize on particular force compositions or abilities to better support the team.
In addition, World in Conflict has a distinct tactical strike call-in system that lets players bring in air strikes, artillery bombardment, and even nukes to deny territory or straight up eliminate unaware units, which leads to incredibly dynamic and fluid combat with a distinctly fun ebb-and-flow. Finally, World in Conflict sports a legitimately solid and lengthy campaign that easily puts Company of Heroes to shame. If you’re looking to expand your horizons and check out hidden gems, World in Conflict is a perfect first choice.
1. Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail
Developer: Game-Labs Publisher: Game-Labs Platform(s): PC
Rounding off the list is one of the best strategy games of 2021, Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail. While the 18-19th century setting and focus on ships may be odd in comparison to a WWII game with tanks, automatic weapons, and aircraft, Age of Sail is far more similar to Company of Heroes when you look inside the hood.
First, Age of Sail sports a lengthy campaign system with a great variety of missions that’s reminiscent of the Ardennes Offensive expansion campaign, albeit not quite as open-ended. More importantly, Game-labs’ take on combat of the high seas, as well as amphibious operations focuses heavily on unit performance, squad control, positioning, and use of equipment to gain an advantage in combat. You can almost replace Company of Heroes’ tanks with Age of Sail’s mammoth ships-of-the-line.
Where Age of Sail really has a leg up on Company of Heroes is in the customization, as there’s a huge amount of equipment to consider, including ship types, musket and rifle models, cannon weights, officer stats, and other miscellaneous equipment. It may be somewhat unconventional in its relationship to Company of Heroes, but it embodies many of the same gameplay principles and can act as a great launchpad to try new types of strategy games.
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