Company of Heroes 3, interview with Bàirbre Bent and Matt Philip

Company of Heroes 3, interview with Bàirbre Bent and Matt Philip

Company of Heroes 3

Company of Heroes 3 is reality. One of the greatest RTS series ever has returned eight years after the second chapter with the intention of presenting the definitive strategic experience to the public: the announcement precedes the game's release by at least a year but it was a specific choice aimed at gathering, over time, the feedback of the entire community by expanding the CoH Development Program opened by Relic Entertainment itself at the beginning of the project. In our test you can read the very first impressions of a game built on solid foundations, although a handful of hours is obviously not enough to confirm the premises and promises.

Below you can read a little insight, a behind the scenes if we want, with the interview with Bàirbre Bent and Matt Philip, respectively lead narrative designer and lead gameplay designer: a very interesting chat, which has dug in particular in the narrative sector and in that supporting pillar that is the humanization of the battlefield . We had to come to terms with the tyrant time, when it comes to interviewing any developer, but we hope that the questions and above all the answers will satisfy you overall. Happy reading!

Voices to listen to and stories to tell

Matt Philip: I'm Matt Philip, I'm the lead gameplay designer of Company of Heroes 3. I work at Relic for the past twelve years, I have been working on Company of Heroes 2 from start to finish and have been back to work with my team for this third installment. I take care of everything related to the RTS component.

Bàirbre Bent: I'm Bairbre Bent, lead narrative designer of Company of Heroes 3. As my role suggests, I worked with my team to introduce the narrative component into the game, bringing content and solutions that allowed the story to start and run. I also took care of all those aspects useful to give life, or personality if you prefer, to the game: from music to character design, in terms of look and feel. During the presentation it was said that one of your pillars is telling stories, humanizing the battlefield. What inspired you for your stories? How is a battlefield humanized?

Bàirbre Bent: During the development of Company of Heroes 3 we were very excited to be able to exploit a wide range of knowledge, both external and internal to our studio. We worked hand in hand with our community through the CoH Development Program and it was one of our sources of inspiration, as well as a way to get direct feedback, on the kind of stories we were going to tell and how we were going to do it. At the beginning of the project I interacted with the players to find out from them what they would like to see in the game and above all how it would be told. We presented our narrative pillars to the Coh Dev community, we aligned and we got feedback on more general aspects, such as tones and topics, but also on more detailed elements such as who would have taken the floor and what would have said during the missions - me I refer to the dialogues of the individual units.

This is one of the steps. However, we have carried out numerous researches on our own regarding this theater of war often left aside: Italy, in the grand scheme, has never been very represented in popular culture as regards the staging of the Western front. We saw it as an excellent opportunity to dig deep into this cross-section of the Second World War and understand what had happened in its time, how the situation was experienced. Always keeping us historically faithful. Our research has allowed us to discover numerous stories, but we have also chosen to rely on external experts to find those voices that demanded representation. The Mediterranean theater turned out to be an incredibly interesting place and part of our work focused on putting the Resistance, the Partisans at the center, making them an important element in the narrative. We did a lot of research, it was an interesting experience that prompted us to want to do justice to their stories and those of other allied forces by developing the complex dynamics through which they collaborated with each other, analyzing real life stories that have been our greatest source of inspiration.

Company of Heroes 3, presented as the ultimate strategic experience What is the element that you and your team give priority to in writing this kind of story?

Bàirbre Bent: The important thing for us is to correctly represent the tone of our narrative pillars. As I mentioned before, we interacted with the community to find out from them what to see, how and above all what kind of experience they would like. It is therefore essential to grasp the tone through which we intend to tell heroic moments but we are also aware of our responsibilities, as people honored to be able to use history as the background of our games. We aim to seek balance in revisiting the past. We make sure we get the right tone, staging the kind of classic heroism that the players of the original Company of Heroes know, but at the same time we are aware of how tragic those years were and how fundamental it is to build a narrative in this sense plausible, communicating it. in the most correct way possible.

For this reason relationships count and are another important aspect: your every action, during the single player campaign, will have an impact on the characters around you, because you are playing the role of a strategist. People who historically did not operate alone but were joined by veteran generals and commanders, and whom you will need to convince with your decisions, making sure you listen to each other, establishing the right connection between you - a situation that is conveyed through the implementation of a dynamic narrative. We have worked hard to bring this dynamism into the story, an aspect which also aligns with the general dynamism of the entire campaign. Always during the presentation, but you can also understand from your answer Bàirbre , you stressed that community support was essential in laying the foundation for the game and will be throughout development. Have there been any changes to the game so far based on player feedback?

Bàirbre Bent: From my point of view, we have collected and accepted all the feedback on how we could have offered the game the right tone, respecting those narrative pillars that have been consolidated thanks to the support of the players involved from the beginning. It was very important in order not to lose sight of the goal: grasping and maintaining the right direction from the beginning allowed us to always remain aligned with the project, avoiding wasting time getting back on track. The importance of feedback was felt, as I explained before, both on a general level and in detail as regards, for example, the dialogues between the units: who would have spoken, what would have said and how, all details were revisited following community opinions. A support that we will continue to look for until the end. I think Matt also has something to say about the relationship between his team and the community.

Matt Philip: Yes, absolutely. The community has been involved and has been a valuable help, with its observations and criticisms, in every aspect of the gameplay starting from the design of the factions. We emphasized a lot the introduction of the reconnaissance units based on the feedback of the players but in general, being able to share with them the documents related to the project, we received very timely comments that allowed us to revisit many aspects before these were introduced in the game. It was a fantastic experience.

Company of Heroes 3, no match will ever be the same thanks to the Dynamic Campaign Map You said Company of Heroes 3 is closer to the original Company of Heroes instead of Company of Heroes 2. Why this choice?

Matt Philip: We tried to capture the spirit of the first Company of Heroes and from a gameplay point of view it means several things. Lethality, tone, presentation and gameplay. For example, CoH was very focused on the use of infantry, whereas CoH 2 preferred the use of vehicles a little more. With Company of Heroes 3 we decided to go back to the origins precisely because the setting particularly enhances the use of infantry, due to the territory and the strong verticality. We believe CoH is the maximum point reached by the series and that is why we are trying to convey its qualities in Company of Heroes 3. How many factions will be included in the full game? Will Italy be among them?

Matt Philip: In the pre-alpha version you played, one of the best aspects was the ability to play both the American and British factions, or combine them together to face the German army. The charm of this setting, however, lies in having, within the same war scenario, allied factions of different nationalities. To answer your question directly, the theater of the battles is Italy: so yes, there will be Italian soldiers on both sides of the board, the Partisans on one side and the Axis allies on the other - since historically it has gone so. We are also striving to bring many other factions into play such as the Poles, Indians and French. Personally I think it is one of the best news of this chapter. Last question. So far, the most important feature you have introduced or refined in Company of Heroes 3?

Bàirbre Bent: The first that comes to mind is the Dynamic Campaign Map. It features a level of dynamism never seen before in the series and will make every game different from the last. After all, replayability is one of our key points and all our systems have been designed to support this aspect in particular. As you have seen yourself playing the pre-alpha, it is the element that stands out most in Company of Heroes 3 precisely because nothing like it has ever been done. It was exciting to deliver the narrative with this in mind and dynamism in general is one of the biggest new features of the game.

Matt Philip: The Dynamic Campaign Map is definitely the most prominent element in the whole experience. but to relate to your previous question about factions, we're going to make an effort to offer more of them than ever before on launch day. This is also very important to me, something that I'm sure the community will appreciate very much.

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