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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

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

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                                     Company 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
 1NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
53.7
43.6
20.7
 2AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
57.52
49.12
23.22
 7AMD Radeon R9 280X
56.4
56.3
55.5
36.2
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
56.1
53.7
54.2
28.5
 9AMD Radeon HD 7970
31.9
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
55.9
51.5
46.8
25.3
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
57.5
57.2
47.13
22.83
 19AMD Radeon HD 8970M
54.5
53.7
34.82
20.752
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
52.5
50
37.4
18.4
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
50.2
42
28
12.3
 24AMD Radeon HD 7970M
52.3
50.7
45.1
22.1
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
54.63
47.254
315
155
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
46.8
39.5
25.9
12.4
 37*NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
27.1
17.7
8.2
 41AMD Radeon HD 6870
51
47.3
29.2
12.3
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470
55.3
48.7
34.2
12.5
 48NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
46.1
39.4
23.5
11.2
 51AMD Radeon HD 7770
57.1
50.8
30.3
10.5
 59NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
40.974
34.56
25.27
11.487
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
42.7
35.8
23.2
11
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
35.2
29.2
21.5
 64NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
40.6
33.8
19.9
9
 66AMD Radeon HD 8870M
37.4
33.6
23.14
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
31.7
25.9
16.2
7
 79*AMD Radeon HD 8850M
31.8
28.8
17.9
 81*AMD Radeon HD 8790M
38.9
30.67
17.2
12.52
 86NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
25.9
20.7
13.3
4.8
 87NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
27.784
22.914
15.634
7.074
 89*NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
28.3
22.8
15.2
 92Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
25.9
21.5
12.3
5.8
 94NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
26.754
20.574
12.114
5
 96NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
33.4
27.8
15.9
6.3
 107NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
23
14
8
 115NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
23.6
19.3
10.5
3.7
 117*AMD Radeon HD 8750M
30
24
13.9
 118*NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
26.1
20
 134AMD Radeon HD 8670D
27.2
22.1
11.8
5.9
 154AMD Radeon HD 8570D
22.9
17.2
9
3.7
 155*AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
17.5
14.9
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 156*AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
7.7
7.2
5.9
3.4
 158*AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
21.4
18.1
9.3
 160AMD Radeon HD 7660D
24.7
20.2
10.9
5.5
 178*AMD Radeon HD 8650G
7.7
6.7
5.3
 183NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
16.1
13.2
7.2
3
 187*NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
18.3
 189Intel Iris Graphics 5100
19.452
15.82
9.4
4.6
 192*AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
7.8
 200Intel HD Graphics 4600
14.7
11.4
6.6
2.9
 204*NVIDIA GeForce 710M
18.7
14.7
8.1
 205AMD Radeon HD 7660G
16.4
12.2
5.4
3
 231AMD Radeon HD 7610M
15
12
7
3
 233AMD Radeon HD 8470D
15.6
12.6
6.7
3.4
 235Intel HD Graphics 4400
12.73
9.63
 247Intel HD Graphics 4200
8.3
7
4.3
 272AMD Radeon HD 7480D
12.1
9.2
5.2
2.3
 273Intel HD Graphics 4000
14.93
11.53
6.252
2.92
 275AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
12.8
10.1
5.5
 282*AMD Radeon HD 8450G
7.73
 297AMD Radeon HD 8330
8.4
5.7
2.8
Pos      Model                                     Company of Heroes 2
lowmed.highultra
 349AMD Radeon HD 8240
5
 356Intel HD Graphics 3000
8.9
6.6
3.9
 374*AMD Radeon HD 8210
3.25
* Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Company of Heroes 2 Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-07-11 (Update: 2013-07-12)