Porting any complex tactical game from PC to console is always a big ask. Not necessarily because of the mechanics themselves, but because the controls always feel much better suited to the mouse and keyboard. Company of Heroes 3 – Console Edition is no exception. While it contains all the content of the PC version, it lacks some of the visual polish and struggles with translating the more precise commands.
Although the PC version had its share of technical issues, the PS5 version is mostly stable. The concessions come in the form of some of the texture work, with notably less detail and crispness to environments when zoomed in. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something worth noting as you head into the two campaigns.
As stated in our PC review, both campaigns are pretty good, although it’s fair to say that the Africa campaign is just more interesting. This is partly down to the setting, as the brass tacks of both campaigns are largely the same. You split your time between controlling squabbling generals on the overmap and your soldiers in the mud, with the latter offering considerably more entertainment per minute. The overmap gameplay is OK, but you’ll spend more time choosing sides between your own commanders than engaging the enemy. And when you do engage, it rarely feels particularly difficult to move forward.
Much more involving are the strategic combat missions that put you in command of several squads of soldiers. Here you’ll advance in increments, capturing essential assets that allow you to create more unit, heal and reinforce your existing squads, or field vehicles to help turn the tide. These missions are the bread and butter of Company of Heroes 3 – Console Edition, and are responsible for every shred of genuine excitement and tension in the game.
You’ll need to keep squads in cover, lay down covering fire, deploy paratroopers and heavy artillery. Italy in particular has a couple of standout arenas along its fairly drab campaign where you’ll engage the enemy in urban areas, blasting snipers out of bell towers and taking cover behind ornate fountains.
Arguably there’s more fun to be had in either solo or multiplayer skirmishes than in the campaign. Following the story is entertaining enough, but there’s a childishness to it that feels at odds with the whole “theatre of war” thing, where your commanders sneer and jab at one another like school kids. Ultimately, it also doesn’t any matter much who you side with in the long term, as either path tends to be equally as tough or easy depending on your standpoint and the actual story isn’t nuanced enough to be affected.
You’re better off getting stuck in with your soldiers, who can be controlled in groups or individually, to flank the enemy, set up vantage points, or cover one another when needed. You will burn through men, but even when you are the dialogue is always genuinely chuckleworthy as the men trade barbs and words of tactless squaddie encouragement.
Unfortunately, translating the controls isn’t as smooth as it could be. We’ve yet to see a standardised version of gamepad controls for tactical squad games like this, and Company of Heroes 3 – Console Edition further highlights the need for it. It’s incredibly fiddly to select a single unit out of a group, and a lot of the commands are bogged down in menus and radial dials. It’s not helped by that loss of visual fidelity when zooming in, which compounds the issue.
One thing missing from the PS5 version in particular is haptic feedback. While it works best for fighters, racers, and FPS games, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity given the amount of explosions and heavy vehicles at play here. Ultimately this is a mostly competent port of a very good tactical WWII game. It’s nice that console gamers can get their hands on it, but it still feels like a series that very much belongs on PC.
Two decent campaigns
Skirmish and multiplayer modes
Some genuine humour
Not as good graphically
No haptic feedback
Controls can be fiddly