You know what’s been missing from RTS games? that’s right – its the ability to freeze to death! But now thanks to Relic Entertainment’Essence Engine 3.0 you too can freeze to death just like the Nazi’s did on the Russian front.

Company of Heroes Developer Relic announce new tech for the upcoming Company of Heroes 2 which begins with Operation Barbarossa within the embittered Russian winter of 1941. You will take possession of the defending Soviet forces in one of the most desolate battle fronts in military history. Snow will envelope forces, ice will damage equipment and troops will face the horror of freezing to death in minutes.

The recommended temperature of a freezer is -17°C, The Russian battlefield of 1941 saw temperatures of  -57° C.

This is all made possible thanks to a real time dynamic weather simulator called ColdTech built in to Relic‘s Essence Engine 3.0. The comprehensive technology calculates variable snow-fall and allows for dynamic manipulation of ice. Further more, temperature is affected by wind. On paper your troops may survive but wind-chill will see fatal frozen consequences. Relic Entertainment‘s lead designer Quinn Duffy states in a resent press release:

Company of Heroes 2 is all about authenticity and no game based on the Eastern Front would be complete without extreme weather conditions. Thanks to the enhanced technology offered by the new Essence Engine we are able to accurately portray the bitter Soviet winter which crippled the German army

Lead Campaign Designer Jason Tores adds:

Essence Engine 3 is the technology that makes all of this possible. When we knew what we wanted to make we knew we needed to build new technology in order to make it. We can make the visuals better, the animation better, things like the weather and the snow: it’s not just a white texture being put over things it has actual thickness and depth and affect units moving through it. 

Relic reveal the secret ‘English Summer’ bonus mission.

It is exciting to see a Real Time Strategy game that puts such a high emphasis on a wild variable such as the weather. And the concept of battling the elements as well as the military opposition does pose a wealth of gameplay potential.

Weather reports during the German/Soviet conflict vary significantly from a crisp but manageable -7° C to an almost certainly fatal -57° C. Vital supplies such as winter clothing never made it to the German front lines leading to amputations of frost bitten limbs to nearly 100,000 soldiers.

To put this in perspective: The coldest day in UK  recorded history is -27° C so imagine the coldest you have ever been, times it by two, then remove your coat and that’s what the Germans faced on the Eastern Front in 1941.

The rock/paper/scissors nature of RTS games looks to get a chilly twist with an emphasis on the horror of desperation and the loss of life. as Jason Tores explains:

“Ruthless truth of war” is a mandate for the project that leads into everything that we do [as designers]. We focused on things like Stalin’s order 227 which told officers: ‘no soldier is to take one step back’, they were expected to fight until they died. The [design philosophy] breaks down into campaign moments where we can showcase that.

The incredible following gained by the first Company of Heroes game will see deeper game-play and  attention to historical detail. Relic have also made clear that although the multi-player is what draws fans back to the WWII carnage they are not skimping on the single player campaign.

Relic looks to best their beloved RTS original in every way but is the focus on the suffering and despair of hundreds of thousands of men in the best possible taste? Is aiming at perfect realism of how quickly a man can freeze to death not considered even a little macabre? No? OK I guess its just me then.

Company of Heroes 2 is holding a TBA release slot in 2013. Stay frosty people

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