Notebookcheck

Company of Heroes 2 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 07/11/2013

War is taxing. With their new title Company of Heroes, the Canadian developer Relic wants to reach the top of the real-time strategy game charts. Alongside the pure gameplay, the title's visuals are also supposed to enchant the senses. Has the developer stepped up the hardware demands too?

Company of Heroes 2 Logo

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Description

For the original German article, see here.

It's been just under seven years now since the real-time strategy experts at Relic (Warhammer 40k) released their first installment of Company of Heroes, highly praised by the press and gamers alike. Now at long last the wait for the next title is over. While the first part took place in the west (France, etc.), part two is set in the east, in the land of the Soviets.

As soon as you see the main menu, you know Company of Heroes 2 offers a whole lot of variety. Campaign, Multiplayer, Skirmish, Challenges, Co-op, Army Customizer, Broadcasting: It seems like an inexhaustible range of possibilities. Due to time constraints, we're going to stick to the single-player mode in this article. In this mode we tested four missions.

For an RTS game, Company of Heroes 2 is very heavy on the narrative. Unlike some of their rivals, the developers try to tell a genuine story. The initial situation can be easily summarized - Company of Heroes 2 revolves around a Soviet army lieutenant named Isakovich, who is being held captive and interrogated by some of his fellow countrymen in a Siberian internment camp (did someone say Black Ops?). Through flashbacks the player can take part in past deployments.

Though the story isn't mind-blowing, you always feel motivated to fight the next battle. Based on our experience, the narrative quality falls somewhere between Command & Conquer and a Blizzard production (StarCraft, Warcraft). Unfortunately, the figures in the video sequences are somewhat stiff and long-legged.

The short intro video is skillfully staged.
The short intro video is skillfully staged.
The missions are introduced through film sequences.
The missions are introduced through film sequences.
The game doesn't reach the level of StarCraft II in that area.
The game doesn't reach the level of StarCraft II in that area.
The main character remembers his past.
The main character remembers his past.
The engine isn't optimal for close-ups.
The engine isn't optimal for close-ups.
All the briefings are set to music.
All the briefings are set to music.

On the battlefield, Company of Heroes makes a very good impression. The first mission already scores points for its high "ka-boom" factor, which sets the stage for the rest of the production. Everywhere you look things are booming and banging, much like in Call of Duty.

Still, anyone dreading a brainless brouhaha of an action game can breathe freely. At its core, Company of Heroes 2 is surprisingly tactical and challenging. While many competing titles just bring out one tank after another, eventually enabling the gamer to simply roll over opponents, in Company of Heroes 2 you'll have to pay attention to every little detail. Of course the Russians are notorious for their cannon fodder tactics (quantity before quality), but blindly storming forward often turns out to be a mistake.

As is fitting for a good RTS title, a brutal rock-paper-scissors principle permeates the game. For example: 08/15 soldiers, who aren't within range of grenades or Molotov cocktails, are torn to pieces by an MG nest in the blink of an eye. Fortified units have to protect themselves from engineers, who are equipped with flame-throwers. The cover system, which is useful for flanking purposes, plays an especially important roll. The quality of a cover is represented by points and indicators in various colors.

The game often revolves around capturing points.
The game often revolves around capturing points.
The explosion effects are terrific.
The explosion effects are terrific.
There are several night-time operations.
There are several night-time operations.
Bonfires serve as sources of warmth for the soldiers.
Bonfires serve as sources of warmth for the soldiers.
The graphics are great across the board.
The graphics are great across the board.
At high settings you see real tracks in the snow.
At high settings you see real tracks in the snow.

Combined with the nerve-wracking mission design, all of this makes for an intense gaming experience. Relic obviously put effort into designing the missions to move at a good speed. Thanks to the changing and/or secondary mission goals (sometimes with time constraints and on various fronts), the player is never allowed the opportunity to take a breather. Nice details like freezing soldiers who have to warm up by a campfire, or tanks that break through ice, enrich the game even more.

The sound is also incontestably magnificent. Such a powerful, realistic and complex sound is a rare find (ex. in Battlefield 3). The explosions and gunshots sound extremely realistic. Add to that decent AI and well thought out controls.

The main menu offers dozens of options.
The main menu offers dozens of options.
Beginners will be pleased to find a number of video tutorials.
Beginners will be pleased to find a number of video tutorials.
You can theoretically spend hours training yourself in the mechanics of the game.
You can theoretically spend hours training yourself in the mechanics of the game.
Each commander has special abilities.
Each commander has special abilities.
Relic has definitely seen to it that players are motivated for the long-term.
Relic has definitely seen to it that players are motivated for the long-term.
You can even change the camouflage colors.
You can even change the camouflage colors.

Benchmark

Company of Heroes 2 has its own integrated benchmark. Although the sequence only lasts a little under 40 seconds, the benchmark is highly suitable for determining the game's performance demands. Since we're talking about a title played from an aerial perspective, unlike ego-shooter games, Company of Heroes 2 doesn't necessarily need to run at more than 30-35 fps. At an average refresh rate of 25 fps the game should be reasonably playable. Relic included in their benchmark an extra pair of computationally intensive scenes that demand a lot from the hardware.

Graphics

In terms of graphics, there's little to complain about. Aside from the ground textures, Company of Heroes 2 performs very well. Thanks to modern DirectX 11 features like tessellation, depending on the quality level, you get a banquet of options to control the game's visuals. Included in that list is the option to show deep tracks that sink into the surface of the white snow. The developers also deserve respect for their excellent effects. Whether snow, ice, water, fire, smoke or any other particle: Company of Heroes 2 definitely meets our expectations for graphics quality in 2013.

It should be noted that you'll need a DirectX 11 GPU to get the most out of the game's visual atmosphere. Not all graphics improvements can be implemented with an antiquated DirectX 10 GPU. We should also mention the good physics simulation (Havok), which does a spectacular job of showing houses collapse and soldiers skidding around.

 

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

A disadvantage of the great visuals is the huge hardware demands. Even powerful gaming machines (whether notebook or PC) can buckle under the pressure. As our benchmarks show, in some places Company of Heroes 2 requires more hardware performance than Crysis 3.

We also consider it a bit of a shame that you can only change the settings in the main menu. The "Graphics" tab only offers a handful of settings options. There Relic permits the player to tweak the brightness, resolution, image quality, anti-aliasing, vertical synchronization (prevents unpleasant staircase effects), physics and snow/texture details. Provided the system isn't too slow, the ominous "Gameplay Resolution" should always be set to 100%, otherwise the picture will be visibly distorted.

Nice: All changes are adopted without needing to restart the game. At the medium detail setting, Company of Heroes 2 looks quite respectable, though the graphics only reach their full potential at the highest settings. The image quality is far worse at low or minimum details (no shadows, weak textures, dropped frames, etc.)

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings
Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Results

As we've already indicated, Company of Heroes 2 demands a lot from a computer's hardware. While the processor is sometimes the limiting factor in desktop systems, the performance in notebooks is primarily dependent on the graphics card. Intel's processor chips hit their ceiling even at low settings. Even the brand new Haswell HD Graphics 4600 doesn't exceed an average of 15 fps in the integrated benchmark. Users of older mid-range GPUs like the GeForce GT 630M are likely to be unhappy with Company of Heroes 2 (unless they reduce the "Gameplay Resolution").

To play the title somewhat fluidly, you'll need to have at least a GeForce GT 650M installed in your notebook. For normal details and 1366x768 pixels, we recommend a graphics card that crosses the border into the high-end arena (GeForce GTX 660M). For high details and activated anti-aliasing, you'll need a full-blown top-class card like the GeForce GTX 675MX.

A mixture of maximum details, high anti-aliasing and 1920x1080 pixels overtaxes all current notebook GPUs. Only today's top models from AMD and Nvidia (Radeon HD 7970M and GeForce GTX 780M) approach the 25 fps mark. Speaking of manufacturers: Overall, AMD is in the lead.

Benchmark-Tabelle: Company of Heroes 2
Discussion

Verdict

Real-time strategists will have difficulty keeping themselves away from Company of Heroes 2 this year. Despite minor weaknesses, like the unimpressive story presentation and general lack of innovation, CoH 2 is a high-class RTS game that deserves to be played. Provided you have a potent gaming system, of course, as the hardware demands are rather steep.

 

The water effects are also great.
The water effects are also great.
Things are a lot easier with tanks.
Things are a lot easier with tanks.
The size of the troops varies greatly.
The size of the troops varies greatly.

Test Systems

A big thanks to Schenker Technologies (mysn.de) for the following test devices:

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M(X), GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • Each with 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MB @ 1.600 MHz), 160 GB SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

GPU drivers: Nvidia 320.18, AMD 13.6 Beta 2 & Intel 9.17.10.3062 and 9.18.10.3165. The Beta-ForceWare 320.49 unfortunately arrived a few hours too late (besides the GT 640M and GTX 680).

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Perf. RatingCompany of Heroes 2
 Company of Heroes 2 (2013)
low
1024x768
Minimum / Low / Off
Off AA
med.
1366x768
Medium
Off AA
high
1366x768
High
Medium AA
ultra
1920x1080
Maximum / Higher / High
High AA
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
~80.550%
68
38
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
~59.275%
53.7
43.6
20.7
 17AMD Radeon R9 290X
~9225%
47.852
 21AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
~65.175%
57.52
49.12
23.22
 24NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
~82.775%
61.48
63.383
383
 25NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
80.5
59.72
592
58.22
34.72
 26AMD Radeon R9 280X
78
56.4
56.3
55.5
36.2
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
78.2
58
60.4
57.8
30.4
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
72.8
56.1
53.7
54.2
28.5
 33AMD Radeon HD 7970
~61.325%
31.9
 40*AMD FirePro W7170M
74.1
57
56
55
28
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
68.3
56.082
53.542
46.262
24.532
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
68
55.9
51.5
46.8
25.3
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
69.6
57.5
57.2
47.13
22.83
 50NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
70.9
61.84
58.512
48.912
19.742
 52AMD Radeon HD 7870
50.7
37.8
35.8
35.3
23.8
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
69
62
55.1
45.4
20.7
 54*NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
80.5
66
66
57
25
 55NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
65.5
55.3
51.4
44.8
22
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 57AMD Radeon HD 8970M
62.2
54.5
53.7
34.82
20.752
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
59.8
52.5
50
37.4
18.4
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
49.9
50.2
42
28
12.3
 64AMD FirePro M6100
58.5
57
48
34
16
 65AMD Radeon HD 7970M
64.2
52.3
50.7
45.1
22.1
 71NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
64.7
58.5
57.8
39.7
16.2
 74NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
55.5
54
47
31
15
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
55.9
54.34
47.55
31.256
156
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
57
50.8
522
34.883
14.083
 82NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
47
46.8
39.5
25.9
12.4
 83NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
~26.675%
27.1
17.7
8.2
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
43.1
38.7
36.092
28.252
11.692
 86NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
55.4
54
48
34
12
 90AMD Radeon HD 6870
52.6
51
47.3
29.2
12.3
 91NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
56.5
55.3
48.7
34.2
12.5
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
40.6
38.25
33.37
24.88
11.448
 101NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
45.4
46.1
39.4
23.5
11.2
 109AMD Radeon HD 7770
55.7
57.1
50.8
30.3
10.5
 120NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
42.5
42.7
35.8
23.2
11
 122NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
~41.875%
35.2
29.2
21.5
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 123AMD Radeon R9 M275
40.4
39.2
34.9
23.7
9.7
 124NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
38.9
40.6
33.8
19.9
9
 130AMD Radeon HD 8870M
~45.875%
37.4
33.6
23.14
 135AMD FirePro M5100
46.6
49
42
24
9
 136NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
24
22.262
19.52
15.172
6.832
 141AMD Radeon R7 250
42.2
45.4
37.3
21.7
8.1
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
30.4
31.7
25.9
16.2
7
 145AMD Radeon HD 8850M
~38.375%
31.8
28.8
17.9
 147AMD Radeon R9 M265X
~49.975%
42.6
37.6
21.7
 150AMD Radeon HD 8790M
37.9
38.9
30.67
17.2
12.52
 151AMD FirePro W4170M
36.3
38.8
31.2
19.47
7.3
 158NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
27.8
28.138
23.368
15.288
6.97
 160NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
22.6
24.052
19.52
11.62
4.952
 161NVIDIA GeForce 940M
31.4
34.7
26.4
16.1
6.3
 167NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
24.3
25.9
20.7
13.3
4.8
 168NVIDIA Quadro K620M
35.2
35
31
21
7
 169NVIDIA GeForce 840M
29.4
31.75
25.75
154
5.922
 170AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
19.8
19.2
17.9
9.8
5.3
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
~32.475%
28.3
22.8
15.2
 174AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
29.9
29.5
26.7
16.7
6.6
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 175Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
24.7
25.9
21.5
12.3
5.8
 177AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
26.7
26.952
23.92
14.32
5.952
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
24.5
26.665
215
12.585
5
 181NVIDIA GeForce 830M
~30.475%
26.9
22.6
12.6
 185NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
31.4
33.4
27.8
15.9
6.3
 187NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
~33.750%
25.642
18.862
 189NVIDIA GeForce 825M
~32.150%
21.6
20.8
 200AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
~27.275%
21.8
20.1
13.9
 202NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
~24.875%
242
172
9.52
 205AMD FirePro M4100
~31.825%
21
 206AMD Radeon HD 8750M
24.9
292
23.052
12.952
2.1
 209AMD Radeon R7 M265
~36.275%
30.09
24.04
13.8
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
21.4
23.6
19.3
10.5
3.7
 214AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
~19.250%
13.4
12
 234AMD Radeon R7 M260
~33.275%
31.11
23.33
13.33
 243AMD Radeon HD 8670D
25.3
27.2
22.1
11.8
5.9
 267AMD Radeon HD 8570D
19.9
22.9
17.2
9
3.7
 268AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
~24.550%
17.5
14.9
 269AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
9.2
7.7
7.2
5.9
3.4
 271AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
~2475%
21.4
18.1
9.3
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 272AMD Radeon HD 8670M
~34.825%
23
 273AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
16.3
15.22
15.052
9.452
3.8
 274AMD Radeon HD 7660D
23.2
24.7
20.2
10.9
5.5
 292AMD Radeon HD 8650G
12.9
12.552
10.752
6.82
4
 297NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
14.9
16.1
13.2
7.2
3
 303AMD Radeon R5 M255
~41.150%
29.67
24.61
 305NVIDIA GeForce 820M
18.8
20.72
16
9.3
3.9
 307Intel Iris Graphics 6100
~33.925%
22.4
 308NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
18.5
19.72
16.3
9
4.1
 310AMD Radeon R5 M240
~20.875%
16.4
16.3
9.9
 312AMD Radeon R5 M230
20.8
24
17.4
9.4
4.3
 316AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
~11.825%
7.8
 318Intel HD Graphics 6000
~34.825%
23
 321Intel Iris Graphics 5100
18.6
19.452
15.82
9.4
4.6
 326Intel HD Graphics 4600
13.3
14.852
11.22
6.32
2.9
 328Intel HD Graphics 5500
17
19.454
15.254
7.62
2.92
 333NVIDIA GeForce 710M
~20.475%
18.7
14.7
8.1
 334AMD Radeon HD 7660G
15.2
16.82
13.452
6.552
3.352
 337Intel HD Graphics 5000
~14.675%
13.3
10.4
6
 353AMD Radeon HD 8550G
~25.925%
17.1
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 360AMD Radeon HD 7610M
13.9
15
12
7
3
 362AMD Radeon HD 8470D
14.5
15.6
12.6
6.7
3.4
 370Intel HD Graphics 4400
11.4
12.616
9.65
5.52
2.52
 400Intel HD Graphics 5300
~12.625%
8.3
 408AMD Radeon HD 7480D
10.9
12.1
9.2
5.2
2.3
 409Intel HD Graphics 4000
11.5
9.954
11.53
6.252
2.92
 415AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
9.2
11
8.5
4.2
1
 416AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
8.5
9.8
6.7
4.2
1.8
 417Intel HD Graphics 4200
~9.675%
8.3
7
4.3
 419AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
~13.975%
12.8
10.1
5.5
 426AMD Radeon HD 8450G
~16.950%
10.722
11.6
 430AMD Radeon HD 8400
~11.225%
7.4
 442AMD Radeon HD 8350G
~14.950%
10.7
9
 443AMD Radeon HD 8330
~8.375%
8.4
5.7
2.8
 446AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
~12.950%
9.7
7.3
 467AMD Radeon HD 7420G
~12.425%
8.2
 472Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
~10.925%
7.2
 494AMD Radeon HD 8280
~11.125%
7.3
 503AMD Radeon HD 8240
~7.625%
5
 511Intel HD Graphics 3000
~9.575%
8.9
6.6
3.9
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 529AMD Radeon HD 8210
~3.875%
3.282
2.7
1.8
 572Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
~6.725%