Company of Heroes: Back to Basics v4.0
Version 4.0 has finally been released! This update brings massive improvements to both the AI and the core gameplay, including countless rebalances, major redesigns, and many visual improvements. To give an impression, our final changelog counts well over 900 lines of individual changes, though the actual amount lies far beyond that.
To list some highlights of this update:
- Upon many requests, all the single player campaigns were fixed and improved to work with the mod.
- An ever-improving balance of the mod has been worked on more than ever, while preserving the realistic feel of combat and impactful feel of weaponry. PvP matches and a whole lot of shots-to-kill, time-to-kill, aura modifier, veterancy modifier, fuel cost timing and unit DPS sheets help us get to where we are, to the point of a very complex hierarchy of tech decisions, counters and unit tactics, bring the strategic aspect of the game to the next level.
- Infantry combat mechanics were once again enhanced significantly. Cover is now an even more integral part of combat, a lot weapons received updated cover profiles to perform against cover in specific ways. Overall long range time to kill is increased, allowing for additional time to react and combat mobility but the lethality of close range remains high and unforgiving. Infantry hitpoints are chosen carefully to create a fluid tactical spectrum for the infantry combat and a profound feeling of constantly trying to force your squads into a favorable combat position but feeling the risks involved with it. HMG initial burst damage is increased, making them a true force to be reckoned with, assault troops maintain their role of being fragile but incredibly potent flanking unit, unit synergies have been made even more pronounced. Base infantry weapon damage was generally increased while preserving their overall damage output, thus decreasing the amount of bullets to kill without altering the desired time to kill. Weapon clip sizes were reworked to closer match their real life counterparts. Squad behavior has been improved and infantry anti-tank weaponry roles have been enhanced and rebalanced to improve overall unit roles and player interaction.
- Vehicular combat mechanics were overhauled nearly entirely. A lot of tank roles have been defined much better, their costs refocused, timings improved. A definitive fix has been made to the remaining infamous 5% health bugs on some weapons where it was still present. Scatter and area of effect changes make tank shots feel more realistic and impactful, accuracy changes make tanks shoot close to the enemy soldiers instead of either directly impacting them through cover or missing entirely. Tank shots will now ‘scatter’ towards their targets, hitting debris on the way, and destroying any nearby cover. This also increases the importance of movement, making movement a viable gamble when engaging threats with lighter vehicles.
- The anti-blob mechanic (stacking penalties to infantry squads moving very close to each other) has seen some rebalances and a much needed increase in readability. Units inside of Halftracks and Buildings are no longer affected by this feature and the radius of the aura has been decreased. Additionally, squads with only a few members remaining will no longer cast the antiblob aura. This effect was also previously entity-based, not squad based, which made a large impact on ingame performance and had unintentionally large modifiers applied to just two squads standing next to each other. An anti-blob penalty level icon has also been added to all squads, clearly indicating when they are being penalized and penalties updated to work as intended.
- The Commonwealth and Panzer Elite have seen significant redesigns to many of their units, abilities, upgrades and commander trees. In many cases, previous changes and additions didn’t correspond with their core design, resulting in uncomfortable gameplay. This has been addressed considerably, especially with regards to the impact of commander tree choices.
- An update pass has been made on ground, grass, crater and tracer textures, as well as crater size and depth. Grass blades should look much smoother, craters should blend much better together while utilizing normal maps to a much better degree, making them react to light better and feel deep. Crater depth has been worked on to look much better through prolonged games. Custom ground textures have mostly been toned down in favor of making them look better for all the maps instead of providing large amount of detail that sometimes wouldn’t properly interact with mapper initial vision.
- The AI has been enhanced immensely. Upwards of 20 new systems have been added to a script that now takes complete control of AI combat situations. New behaviors have been added to snipers, AT guns, mortars, vehicles and mobile artillery. AI will now take cover much better than before, finding directional cover instead of simply running up to walls but standing on the wrong side. AI will also be able to assault positions and get to the optimal engagement distance with its assault troops. This system also includes behavior which forces it to spread out its units when they are too clumped together. Furthermore, it’ll assault positions with any unit that is affected by this system if it thinks it has an overwhelming advantage, giving the player an even shorter time to stall the game and pin it with machine guns. All ability usage of infantry is transferred to this system as well, making AI utilize abilities more efficiently. Additionally, AI will now be able to cancel unfinished structures if there aren’t any engineers constructing them, will now be able to use smoke barrages on mortars, it will also be able to utilize units such as the Priest, nebelwerfer, or stuka to a much better degree, without suiciding them but targeting the barrages much more precisely, and without cheating nearly as much when targeting those barrages. Capture bug has been fixed entirely by catching the capturing squads and controlling their capture process manually. Custom, even more precise and efficient squad reinforcing and retreat functionality has been added.
- The core AI functionality has been worked on continuously, with multiple complete overhauls to the core features such as defensive structure purchasing, build orders and "targets". Unit prioritization is polished better than ever before, ensuring that AI will utilize its resources better and produce unique compositions every game, while still attempting to counter player’s composition. Large improvements have been made to the way AI rushes tech and purchases upgrades. In a similar vein, British and Panzer Elite AI have been overhauled completely, to finally become competitive and fun to play against.
- A large amount of improvements have been made to the way AI creates frontlines, allowing it to stay in friendly territory, respond to threats in friendly territory sooner, capture territory that isn’t necessarily connected.
- A much better randomization to a lot of AI elements has been implemented, which should make it switch its plans in a much more interesting manner than previously.
- Due to the amount of overall combat improvements to the AI, the resource bonuses have been significantly reduced, making for a much less "spammy" AI that feels like it is being smart rather than cheating its way to victory. Expert AI still has large bonuses, making it truly challenging to beat.
- A large amount of work has been done on optimizing the mod’s scripts and improving overall game performance when using the mod. Players should notice a considerable reduction in stutter and a large increase in overall frame rate. A lot of script and AI operations have been shifted towards being performed more often and more optimally but on smaller amount of items at a time. A lot of update sequences have been split up to be executed over several "ticks" instead of once every once in a while, which provides a much smoother framerate. Some very expensive systems have been either scrapped or debugged and reworked to prevent stutter and CPU load for every time they are used. Despite all this, the scripts that govern AI behaviors have actually gotten faster in terms of how often they update every unit. There were some situations where units in the late game would not update fast enough, leading to AI losing its units much faster than it should be, or in other words simply "forgetting" about them and letting them engage without "looking" at them, which should now feel much better.
For more details, we encourage you to read our full changelog.
We would like to thank everybody for the provided feedback and apologize for endlessly delaying this update. Hopefully the time we took has allowed us to create the most polished version of the mod that is fun to play and has few bugs. Nevertheless, there is always a chance we have overlooked something, we encourage you to provide feedback about your gameplay experiences, we read and reply to all the comments. We truly hope you enjoy the culmination of over 2 years of our work as much as we do, thank you again!