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The critically-acclaimed gameplay of Relic's Company of Heroes, a squad-based real time strategy game set near the end of World War Two, has entered a huge online phase. This new online edition comes packed with MMO-like elements such as the gamer's "Commander" persona which gains levels and abilities, as well as specialty hero units which retain their experience across matches.
Best of all, the game is entirely free. All that is required of the user is to register an account and download the client.
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About the Game
Players wage war in online matches with teams of up to four on each side.
Take control of two diverse armies: the Axis and the Allies.
As an Axis Commander, players are at the head of the German forces taking the fight to the encroaching Allies from one of three unique specializations. The Terror Commander's abilities allow him to force enemy units into involuntarily retreating while simultaneously granting buffs to the accuracy and efficiency of his own soldiers. The Blitzkrieg Commander's abilities focus on throwing as many squads at the enemy as possible, able to call in reinforcements and powerful rocket barrages. The Defensive Commander is the third and final specialization for Axis players. His abilities focus on fortifying his base by quickly recouping lost squads as well as defending his perimeter with devastating reactive artillery which engages as soon as enemy soldiers have entered its zone of destruction.
Allied players push into Europe leading the American army. They too have three distinct Commander choices. Infantry Commanders take the fight to the enemy with abilities that allow them to set up a Forward Headquarters which pumps out squads at an accelerated pace. Armor Commanders pound the Germans into submission by calling in groups of vehicle reinforcements as well as the Pershing tank, which can go toe-to-toe with anything thrown its way. The Airborne Commander is the final offering of the Allies. These commanders set up deadly bombing and strafing runs and may also parachute airborne infantry to the battlefield.
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More on Customization
While the game is entirely free to download and play, Relic has opted for an online store. This store contains upgrades for the various units which players may recruit as well as persistent Hero squads which the player can level up in matches. All of these buffs and units are purchased using either "COHO Cash" (COHO being short for Company of Heroes: Online) which the player may purchase through Relic, or with "Supply," which the player automatically accumulates by playing matches.
By opting for this dual approach, Relic ensures that those who do spend money on the game will only be ahead for a short while. Moreover, many of these buffs and Hero squads are given out randomly as rewards for playing matches. These measures will keep the playerbase on a relatively even field, with no particular group given an advantage which cannot be surmounted.
These various buffs and Heroes may be set up any way the player likes, providing even more depth so that no Commander is exactly the same as another.
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The State of the Game
Company of Heroes is currently in its open beta phase as of early September, with release likely in a few months' time. Commanders created in this phase will not be wiped for the official launch, so early adoption of the game is encouraged for anyone interested in playing.
Sign up for the beta and play for free by visiting http://www.companyofheroes.com/.