Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies is a multiplayer only stand alone expansion for Company of Heroes 2. As the base game focused on the Eastern Front battle between the Soviet Union and the Nazis, the expansion brings two new armies to the battle. Sort of. Specifically it brings the United States Army into the war as a playable faction, while at the same time introducing Oberkommando West, which is the Nazis. Again. Whatever the reason, you now have two ways to goose step.
Each army plays in a different style. The Americans, for example, begin the game with a base completely built, while the Soviets must build their base piece by piece. The Western Nazis have pieces of their base delivered to them on APCs over time, and the Eastern Nazis commit to battle in phases. All of these different play styles allow the player to choose a method of fighting that best suits their style. Beyond that the game also lets you pick different battlefield commanders which will then let you further specialize your play style by giving you access to very specific weapons and troops. I, for example, prefer to have artillery on call and so I often choose the commander who gives me that option, while somebody else might prefer to be able to drop airborne troops behind enemy lines at any given time and so they will choose that option.
In addition to these options the game also rewards you with loot at the end of certain matches which enables you to diversify your forces even more. You might for example earn an accuracy boost for your machine gun teams, or you might be able to call in some tanks with superior guns to what you might normally deploy. Think of it like the burn cards in Titanfall and you’ll get the idea.
The Western Front is actually intended to be something of a gateway drug for new players who didn’t get the original COH2, possibly due to lack of Americans. Whatever the case, the standalone expansion file size is massive for a multiplayer only game. 13 gigs for multiplayer only is just obscene. The graphics look excellent and the audio is terrific, so the file size is put to good use at least, but I can’t help but think developers in general have just decided they don’t care about people with bandwidth caps, with this being just the latest example.
Each army adds a unique fighting force that gives your foes something to think about but I am disappointed that the developers didn’t add one of the other Allied armies like the Commonwealth forces, or even the Japanese. Or hell, even the Italians. Adding a second version of the Nazis doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you look at all of the other options available.
Short Attention Span Summary:
How much you get out of this standalone expansion will depend entirely on how much you enjoy playing Real Time Tactics games online, against other people. Without a campaign mode it’s just you and your army versus the other players online. Personally I don’t really enjoy playing RTS games online, as I’m not always fast enough to figure out what the enemy is doing, but don’t let that deter you. When the game is working (and read up on that if you’re looking to buy, as the original game has had its issues.) it’s a solid experience.