Long awaited October 22 patch – Coh2 observer mode announced

In order to make it easier for players to opt-in to the Beta, we are going with a ‘side by side install. This is new to our beta process, and is an alternative to the slightly more complicated ‘opt in’ process that we have previously used. It is a small hit to hard drive space but will allow you to have both the Beta version and live version of the game installed at once, meaning that you can switch between the two versions without having to re-download something else.

Players will only have access to titles they already own – as an example, if you don’t own Western Front Armies you will not be able to access it in the Beta. Commanders and all other DLC are a different story, and we will be granting temporary full access to this content in order meet our testing requirements and collect more feedback. This beta does not include single player, Theatre of War or Workshop content. This may change in future Beta releases; however this one is solely focused on mutli-player content.

Observer Mode
We wanted to create a feature which enabled players to further engage with the game. The introduction of observer mode will facilitate both casters and players. It providing tools to better analyze and capture footage as well as spectate for the sake of entertainment and knowledge. We are extremely excited about this feature and hope that excitement is shared throughout the community. 

Goals

  • Design for casters to show off the game and for the average player to be able to spectate live matches
  • Allow users to view replays of others to facilitate the game learning and a sense of community by sharing game experience
  • Deliver on Relic’s ambition to implement this for COH2 and respond to popular demand from the community
  • To facilitate the forthcoming ESL tournament
  • Support the casting and competitive communities
  • Design for casters to show off the game and for the average player to be able to spectate live matches
  • Allow users to view replays of others to facilitate the game learning and a sense of community by sharing game experience
  • Protect the integrity of the playing experience by having enough of a delay between in-game actions and their observer mode results to prevent cheating (8 min currently)
  • Work both for Custom Games and Automatch games

Features

  • 512 concurrent viewers per live match with the ability to scale up to 10’s of thousands for special events like tournament finals
    • Up from 64 viewers in the early beta
    • This number can be scaled up
  • Customized UI
  • Ability to turn off UI for a cinematic mode
  • We worked to reduce the overall footprint of the UI to show off more the game
  • Player data is grouped into sections that allow observer to quickly get the information they seek
    • Team 1 on the left, Team 2 on the right
  • Observable On/Off
  • Delay slider (0 to 15 minutes)
  • Password option to bypass delay
  • Custom games allow players to set options
  • Data Displayed
    • Units
    • Production
    • Commander Trees
      • Commander abilities and cooldowns
    • Resources
  • Observing as a Party
  • You can invite other users to the party
  • Helps to keep casting teams together so that everyone is watching the game at the same time
  • Everyone will be kept in sync so if someone speeds up, slows down, or pauses the game
  • Toggle taskbar: Control+T
  • YAY HOT KEYS! Awe yissssssssssss.
  • Toggle Resources: Control+R
  • Toggle FoW: Control+F – coming soon!
  • Toggle UI: Control+U
  • Speed up simulation: Equals
  • Slow down simulation: Minus
  • Cycle next player RBracket
  • Cycle previous Player: LBracket
  • Ctrl + ] or {= to toggle unit decorators of players on the top right or left end of the screen
  • Hot Keys
  • The technology is integrated with other in progress initiatives like mod support which allows for future observing custom mods of COH2

In-Game Chat Moderation
To help ensure all players are having an enjoyable in-game experience, we have rolled out the first phase of an in-game chat moderation feature. This feature can potentially replace certain banned words with new text, remove a word entirely and/or send a ‘whisper’ coaching message to the offending party. This feature will see further roll-out as we receive new reports.

Units and Abilities
Allies are more difficult to play as a result of their high unit count and low power ratio per unit. For example, instead of heaving one super heavy Tiger, the USF have two or three Sherman Tanks. In theory, the USF player possesses a relatively similar army value; in practice the execution of this army requires greater coordination. Short term, our goal is to target a few problematic units or upgrades to better align the factional balance. Long term, we will be addressing faction scaling, how the power of a faction compounds into the late game, and difficulty of play related to Allied army composition. That said, other factors will likely be added to that list as we further investigate some of the challenges players are facing.

Stationary Howitzers

  • Our goal was to increase the durability of the howitzer without making the unit too resilient versus off-map abilities. Values greater than 400 meant howitzers could withstand attacks from off-maps such as the JU-87 Stuka dive bomber. We found this undesirable as it made destroying the unit too difficult given the fact that it is typically placed well behind enemy front lines. The slight increase to health will help in some scenarios, particularly in cases when off-maps such as the Light Artillery Barrage or tanks are used to counter this heavy weapon. We will monitor the performance of this unit post change and take action as needed.
    • Health from 350 to 400

AT Guns

  • AT guns were gaining veterancy significantly faster than any other unit in the game as a result of their high rate of fire and targets of choice. This diluted the value of their veterancy, making something that should be rare and powerful a bit too common.
    • Now require twice as much experience to level up at each respective veterancy level

Kubelwagen

  • Although we are pleased with the performance of this unit, we were unsatisfied with the effectiveness of available counters. The small target size of the Kubelwagen made hand-held anti-tank weapons, such as the Bazooka or PTRS, and dedicated AT guns less effective. By increasing its size, the reliability of these weapons will be increased. By increasing the fuel cost of the Kubelwagen, we have upped the risk of production and delayed future vehicle production. The 5 fuel increase can be retrieved by salvaging the destroyed Kubelwagen, or it can be denied by the opposing player through the destruction of the vehicle wreck.
    • Sized increased from 10 to 14
    • Fuel cost set to 5
    • Don’t forget to wagen some Kubels, folks.

Volksgrenadier

  • We wanted to better align the fuse timer of the Volksgrenadier grenade with other similarly classed grenades. Previously, its fuse timer was set to that of a cooked grenade, which is only used on elite infantry such as Shock Troopers and Paratroopers. This change also helps mitigate the overall strength of the Volksgrenadier squad, as it slightly reduces their anti-infantry capacity. Our concern is that this unit is over performing largely because it can fend off all target types. Even with a Panzershrek equipped, the potent grenade of the Volksgrenadier enabled them to engage other elite infantry.
    • Grenade fuse time from 0.75 to 1.25 seconds

Jagdtiger/ISU-152

  • This change increases the amount of attention these super heavy units require. This balances the relative effort needed to go up against these units.
    • No longer able to automatically engage targets
    • A manual fire ability was added to each unit
  • Jagdtiger ’12.8 cm Supporting Fire’ ability cost from 30 to 0 munitions
  • Jagdtiger ’12.8 cm Supporting Fire’ and ‘Designate Target’ ability now share a cooldown; recharge timer set to match the main gun’s reload timer of 8.55 seconds. Supporting fire triggers an increased recharge duration which is set to 30 seconds.
  • ISU-152 ‘Designate Target’ and ‘G-530 Concrete Piercing Round’ ability now share a cooldown; recharge timer set to match the main gun’s reload time of 11 seconds.

Pak 40

  • We felt that the Pak 40 was over performing. It provided the Wehrmacht with too much flexibility in terms of when and what anti-armor they choose to field. It also greatly marginalized light vehicles, in many cases taking out a T70 or Stuart faster than the opposing player could react to the first shot fired. The increased reload rate not only reduces the effective DPS of this AT gun, it opens up the use of light vehicles. Light vehicles can now be fielded to apply greater mid-game pressure, increasing the risk of delaying armor as Wehrmacht. As a result, this should encourage the Wehrmacht to diversify their strategies thereby relying less on their heavier units.
    • Reload time from 2.7-3.1 to 3.5-4.1

Dodge WC51

  • The effectiveness of this unit diminishes over time. By delaying its use to 1 command point, it became available at a point in the game where it no longer retained its advantage on the field. On the other hand, when it did become available at 0 command points, the risk associated with the use of this unit was too low. We were particularly concerned with the use of units within the Dodge, as they suffered very little risk in return for what they gained. To better balance this risk, we attached similar penalties to that of the M3A1 Scout Car, meaning units now received a combat penalty when firing out of the Dodge. Additionally, units in the Dodge at the time of destruction will now incur casualties.
    • Command point cost from 1 to 0
    • Units now receive a combat penalty when firing from inside the vehicle, similar to the Soviet M3A1
    • Units within a vehicle now have a chance to die if their vehicle is destroyed before they get out, similar to the Soviet M3A1.

BAR

  • We wanted the BAR to have more power at short and mid ranges. We did slightly scale up long range damage but overall it is short and mid-range where players will see the largest increase in performance. This will enable the BAR to more effectively counteract long range weapons, such as the LMG42, through better positioning.
    • Near accuracy from 0.56 to 0.65
    • Mid accuracy from 0.44 to 0.5
    • Far accuracy from 0.3 to 0.35
    • Mid cooldown modifier from 1.25 to 1
    • Far cooldown modifier from 1.5 to 1.25

Single Plane Off-maps
Single plane off-maps such as the IL-2 Precision bombing run or JU-87 Anti-tank Strafe are now directional, allowing the player to control the entry point and flight direction. Players now have more control over the payload delivery, the time-to-impact, and the placement of a strike relative to the environment. Overall, the change to directional placement will make these abilities stronger in smaller maps or when activated near a map edge, but weaker when used in larger maps or away from the map edge. As a result, a number of activation times were increased or decreased to better control how fast these abilities could deliver their payload to the designated target. If the ability time was set too low, the payload could be delivered in less than a second, giving the opposing player little time to react. In some instances it was necessary to modify the way the payload was delivered, this was done to increase the precision of the strafe relative to the information provided by the UI.

JU87 Anti-tank Strafe

  • In order to ensure the Strafe could effectiveness engage its targets, we tightened up the payload delivery. This removes scenarios where the shots would land to the left or right of the target rather than directly impact the unit. As a result, the lethality of this strafe has gone up considerably, although it does require a higher degree of execution to be effective. Additionally, shots are now dumb-fired, meaning the JU-87 fires off a number of shots within the designated zone without thought to what targets might be hit. This enables it to engage more targets types including structures, infantry, and other world objects.
    • Ability will now activate 2 second faster
    • Straightened flight path to reduce stray shots
    • Tightened firing path to increase accuracy of ability
    • Adjusted firing zone so shots would be more evenly distributed within the designated area.
    • Munition cost from 90 to 110
    • Cooldown from 0.125 to 0.25

JU87 Reconnaissance Pass

  • The reduced flight velocity is designed to provide sight on the ground for an extended period of time. This increased effectiveness resulted in a slight cost adjustment.
    • Ability will now activate 1 second faster
    • Munition cost from 30 to 35
    • Flight velocity from 160 to 80

JU87 Anti-Infantry Strafe

  • Ability will now activate 2 seconds faster

JU87 Fragmentation Bombing Run

  • This strafe would previously activate instantly, meaning units could be wiped out with nearly no warning. As noted above, this issue was exaggerated when the ability was used close to the map edge.
    • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower

JU87 Incendiary Bombing Run

  • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower
  • Straightened flight path to reduce stray shots

JU87 Smoke Bombing Run

  • This is a fairly significant improvement in the usability of this ability given players can now control the direction of the smoke. Use this ability to setup offensive maneuvers or cover a tactical retreat.
    • Aligned payload delivery
    • Munition cost from 50 to 40

IL-2 Precision Bombing Run

  • The bombs will now fall one after the other in a linear path. This extends the radius of damage, preventing a single concentrated attack from being executed. This is offset by the introduction of directional behavior which provides more control of how the bombs are distributed.
    • Ability will now activate 1 second faster
    • Straightened flight path to better align payload delivery
    • Plane velocity from 175 to 145
    • Increased plane flight height to better mimic bomber behavior
    • Far AOE distance from 5 to 7.5
    • Mid AOE distance from 3.75 to 5
    • Damage from 300 to 320
    • Angle scatter from 5 to 2.5

IL-2 Anti-Tank Bombing Run

  • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower

IL-2 Sturmovik Attack Advanced

  • Tightened up firing behavior, reducing stray shots
    • Angle scatter from 7.5 to 2.5

Ambient Buildings
Our goal is to improve the gameplay value of buildings and reduce the potential frustrations associated with their use. The first step towards achieving this goal is to increase the transparency of a building’s structural integrity. By doing so, players are better equipped to analyze the battle field and its potential assets. Future improvements will focus on gameplay and interaction. This might include improving the functionality of a weapon team within a garrison or providing the player with a better means of identifying each structure type. 

Improvements

  • Building “panels” now have a real health value, rather than rigid conditional destruction
  • Buildings can now have independent tuning for their “panel health”
  • Area of Effect weapons can now have independent tuning for how they damage panels over their AOE
  • Buildings are now destroyed when 50% of their total panel health is reached, rather than 50% of total panels destroyed

Panel Health

All ambient buildings are made up of a number of panels. Panels are meant to represent sections of walls, roofs, and floors and allow pieces of a building to be destroyed while leaving other pieces intact.
Previously, to destroy a panel you needed to meet one of two requirements:

  1. Deal X amount of damage to a panel in a single hit
  2. Deal X/2 damage twice to a panel

Additionally, panels could be immune to certain weapon types (ballistic, explosive, small arms, flame). As a rule, they were immune to small arms.
With this system, panels were either never damaged by certain weapons (Flak Halftrack, etc.) or always killed instantly by certain weapons (IS-2, etc.). Flimsy wooden structures being immune to 20mm weapons and castle-like structures being vaporized by mortars or other HE weapons did not fit within our design vision.
Now, panels have the following properties:

  • Panels have a maximum health value
  • Panels have a minimum damage value that must be exceeded before it takes damage
    • When a panel is dealt damage, it reduces the total health of the panel like other objects in the game
  • Panels can be immune to certain weapon types

We created three types of building profiles – very_weaknormal, and strong. Each ambient building is assigned one of these profiles and that profile defines their panel properties:

  • Very_weak buildings have the lowest panel health and the lowest minimum damage required. They are also no longer immune to small arms weapons.
    • Any building that appears weakly constructed is considered very_weak. A weakly constructed building might contain a thatched roof or poorly aligned wood panels.
  • Normal buildings are immune to small arms, have higher panel health, and higher minimum damage required.
  • Buildings that appear well constructed are considered normal. They will typically contain wood paneling and a proper roof structure.
  • Buildings made of bricks or concrete, big churches (but not wooden ones) are considered strong
  • Strong buildings are immune to small arms, have higher panel health, and the same minimum damage as Normal buildings
  • In the future, we intend to provide a means of easily identifying the structure type in-game.

The end result is that buildings will survive longer over the course of multiple combat engagements and be less prone to unexpectedly collapsing. Additionally, the health indicator on buildings will now be more accurate; better identifying the risk associated to its garrison.

AOE Weapons

The above changes initially resulted in AOE weapons becoming more lethal versus buildings. To address this, we gave each AOE weapon a “building damage profile”. This profile allows us to further tune the damage a weapon does over the range of its AOE when damaging a building panel. For example, it was undesirable to have a mortar deal no visible damage to a panel on the first two hits only to destroy a number of panels on the subsequent hit. This made it difficult to predict and analyze the state of the building. To resolve this, we adjusted the mortar AOE profile such that its closest AOE range applied more damage than its mid and far ranges. This caused each hit to destroy a panel instead of weakening the panels over multiple hits; leaving the building vulnerable to unexpectedly collapsing.
This tuning is ongoing; if we identify problem weapons we will adjust them accordingly. We do want to avoid creating unique weapon types, as this increases the complexity of the system and thereby required knowledge of its functionality from the players.

Gameplay Improvements
A large portion of the gameplay within Company of Heroes 2 focuses on execution of tactics. This requires units to be both responsive and easily maneuverable. As such, we have been focused on resolving and improving core gameplay to do just that. For clarification, an entity is the individual soldier within a squad; whereas, a squad is the combination of all entities within itself. 

Weapon Tracking

  • Weapons can now track their target while the unit is pivoting; previously the tracking would be delayed resulting in delayed targeting.
  • Pew Pew Pew

Entity Combat Behavior

  • Entities now respond to threats outside of their firing cone independent of other entities within the squad. Previously, entities would wait until all other entities were ready to fire before engaging. This will reduce the potential delay a squad may incur before firing on a given target.

Team Weapons

  • Team weapons will no longer automatically set up when issued a move order.
  • Team weapons will automatically setup when an enemy is nearby or the weapon team is attacked.
  • While moving to their target destination, team weapons will no longer suffer from movement delays when a team member is killed.
  • Retreating weapon teams will no longer suffer a delay in movement if an entity is killed during the retreat.
  • Weapon teams can no longer have their retreat broken once the order is issued.
  • Team weapons caught in suppressive fire will now try to setup and return fire
  • Team weapons are now allowed to reposition their weapon cone while suppressed
  • Resolved an issue with carried team weapons which caused the weapons firing arc to positioning the wrong way. This resolves an issue with weapon teams setting up in the wrong direction.
  • Team weapons no longer require all entities to be near the weapon in order for a setup order to be initiated. This will improve the responsiveness of team weapons in a number of scenarios.

Cover Preview

  • Default cover is now previewed similar to negative, light, and heavy cover. This provides transparency in regards to where each entity within a squad will go. It also helps players identify what cover types are available in a given area.

Squad Cover Behavior

  • Squads will now use a combination of their squad plans and a custom algorithm to align each entity in the relative cover positions. This improves the distribution of the entities in cover.
  • When hovering the cursor over terrain, squad cover placement in the form of yellow or green dots is shown based on a distance from the cursor’s origin. For example, a value of 5 would factor in all cover locations in a radius of 5 units from the cursors origin. This value was increased in size from 2 to 3 units. This was done to ensure all entities within a squad are able to get into cover, a lower value meant some entities would remain outside of cover when an order to enter cover was given. This does not apply to single entity squads such as snipers and team weapon.
  • Improved cover generation by increasing the number of cover slots a world object provides. Previously, a number of world objects had too few cover slots, resulting in some entities of a squad receiving no cover bonus.
  • Improved the direction a squad will choose to face when entering cover relative to the location of nearby enemy units. Given that a number of objects in the world provide directional cover, this improvement helps ensure the squad retains their cover bonus when in combat.
  • Directional cover is now analyzed on a 2D basis. This prevents scenarios from occurring where entities would not receive their cover bonus.

Input Delay

  • Optimized the way commands are managed and stored, reducing input delay by 180 ms on average. This will drastically improve unit responsiveness as a result.

Infantry Reactions

  • Squad reactions, such as ground dives as a result of explosive weapons, will no longer occur while the squad is moving. Reactions will only apply to stationary squads. This will improve the responsiveness of squads in a combat scenario.

Bug and Gameplay Fixes
These bug and gameplay fixes are aimed at improving usability and functionality within the game. In some cases, the below changes resolve incorrect data which unintentionally made it into the game.

AI

  • Number of optimizations and bug fixes were made to improve the performance and functionality of the AI

Map Optimizations

  • The following maps have seen a number of optimizations to pathing, balance, or general gameplay:
    • Trois Ponts
    • City 17
    • Ettelbruck Station
  • The follow maps have seen a number of bugs fixed implemented to address problematic areas:
  • City 17 Winter
  • Vaux Farmlands
  • La Gleize

Retreating

  • Strafing runs will no longer suppress or pin a squad while retreating

Vaulting

  • Squads can no longer be issued an order to vault on the same world object they are currently vaulting on. This prevents a back and forth behavior which was previously occurring.

Soviet AT Guns

  • Removed the +25% received accuracy modifier which was mistakenly applied to these units.

Combat Engineers

  • Now use a unique version of the Mosin Nagant rifle
  • Manpower cost from 180 to 170

Pioneer MP40

  • Moving accuracy from 1 to 0.6; this value was incorrectly set to 1 in a previous update.

AT Guns

  • Corrected the required experience for each level of veterancy such that it matches its base cost.
    • Pak 40 base value from 360 to 320
    • Pak 43 base value from 480 to 500
    • ZIS Field Gun base value from 360 to 320
  • AT guns no longer push around their own crew while turning

M2HB HMG

  • Now uses an infantry turning plan, this resolves odd pivots and turns which were previously made by the squad. This also means the squad will reposition quicker as a result of these changes.
  • Movement modifiers set to match the MG42
    • Acceleration/Deceleration disabled
    • Rotation rate set to 10000 (instant)

Units Forgetting Orders

  • Resolved a number of instances which caused units to not executed given orders.

Intel Bulletins

  • Resolved an issue with intelligence bulletin stacking if units crewed or decrewed a vehicle.

Event Cues

  • Resolved an issue with the event cue system which prevented ‘under fire’ queues from being issued. Cues of this type will now occur if units under fire are 60 units apart.

USF Major ‘Establish Retreat Point’

  • Major can now retreat to HQ while forward retreat is active
  • Deactivating forward retreat will cause retreating squads to retreat to the HQ now instead of the old forward retreat point

Ability Recharge

  • Squad abilities will now recharge while the squad is in a vehicle

Paratrooper Suppression Fire

  • No longer prevents the player from issuing other orders while the ability is active. For example, a retreat order can now be issued to the squad by the player.

Hull Down

  • Is no longer on a shared player cooldown, multiple vehicles can now be hulled down at once.

Infiltration GrenadesIn order to make it easier for players to opt-in to the Beta, we are going with a ‘side by side install. This is new to our beta process, and is an alternative to the slightly more complicated ‘opt in’ process that we have previously used. It is a small hit to hard drive space but will allow you to have both the Beta version and live version of the game installed at once, meaning that you can switch between the two versions without having to re-download something else.

Players will only have access to titles they already own – as an example, if you don’t own Western Front Armies you will not be able to access it in the Beta. Commanders and all other DLC are a different story, and we will be granting temporary full access to this content in order meet our testing requirements and collect more feedback. This beta does not include single player, Theatre of War or Workshop content. This may change in future Beta releases; however this one is solely focused on mutli-player content.

Observer Mode
We wanted to create a feature which enabled players to further engage with the game. The introduction of observer mode will facilitate both casters and players. It providing tools to better analyze and capture footage as well as spectate for the sake of entertainment and knowledge. We are extremely excited about this feature and hope that excitement is shared throughout the community. 

Goals

  • Design for casters to show off the game and for the average player to be able to spectate live matches
  • Allow users to view replays of others to facilitate the game learning and a sense of community by sharing game experience
  • Deliver on Relic’s ambition to implement this for COH2 and respond to popular demand from the community
  • To facilitate the forthcoming ESL tournament
  • Support the casting and competitive communities
  • Design for casters to show off the game and for the average player to be able to spectate live matches
  • Allow users to view replays of others to facilitate the game learning and a sense of community by sharing game experience
  • Protect the integrity of the playing experience by having enough of a delay between in-game actions and their observer mode results to prevent cheating (8 min currently)
  • Work both for Custom Games and Automatch games

Features

  • 512 concurrent viewers per live match with the ability to scale up to 10’s of thousands for special events like tournament finals
    • Up from 64 viewers in the early beta
    • This number can be scaled up
  • Customized UI
  • Ability to turn off UI for a cinematic mode
  • We worked to reduce the overall footprint of the UI to show off more the game
  • Player data is grouped into sections that allow observer to quickly get the information they seek
    • Team 1 on the left, Team 2 on the right
  • Observable On/Off
  • Delay slider (0 to 15 minutes)
  • Password option to bypass delay
  • Custom games allow players to set options
  • Data Displayed
    • Units
    • Production
    • Commander Trees
      • Commander abilities and cooldowns
    • Resources
  • Observing as a Party
  • You can invite other users to the party
  • Helps to keep casting teams together so that everyone is watching the game at the same time
  • Everyone will be kept in sync so if someone speeds up, slows down, or pauses the game
  • Toggle taskbar: Control+T
  • YAY HOT KEYS! Awe yissssssssssss.
  • Toggle Resources: Control+R
  • Toggle FoW: Control+F – coming soon!
  • Toggle UI: Control+U
  • Speed up simulation: Equals
  • Slow down simulation: Minus
  • Cycle next player RBracket
  • Cycle previous Player: LBracket
  • Ctrl + ] or {= to toggle unit decorators of players on the top right or left end of the screen
  • Hot Keys
  • The technology is integrated with other in progress initiatives like mod support which allows for future observing custom mods of COH2

In-Game Chat Moderation
To help ensure all players are having an enjoyable in-game experience, we have rolled out the first phase of an in-game chat moderation feature. This feature can potentially replace certain banned words with new text, remove a word entirely and/or send a ‘whisper’ coaching message to the offending party. This feature will see further roll-out as we receive new reports.

Units and Abilities
Allies are more difficult to play as a result of their high unit count and low power ratio per unit. For example, instead of heaving one super heavy Tiger, the USF have two or three Sherman Tanks. In theory, the USF player possesses a relatively similar army value; in practice the execution of this army requires greater coordination. Short term, our goal is to target a few problematic units or upgrades to better align the factional balance. Long term, we will be addressing faction scaling, how the power of a faction compounds into the late game, and difficulty of play related to Allied army composition. That said, other factors will likely be added to that list as we further investigate some of the challenges players are facing.

Stationary Howitzers

  • Our goal was to increase the durability of the howitzer without making the unit too resilient versus off-map abilities. Values greater than 400 meant howitzers could withstand attacks from off-maps such as the JU-87 Stuka dive bomber. We found this undesirable as it made destroying the unit too difficult given the fact that it is typically placed well behind enemy front lines. The slight increase to health will help in some scenarios, particularly in cases when off-maps such as the Light Artillery Barrage or tanks are used to counter this heavy weapon. We will monitor the performance of this unit post change and take action as needed.
    • Health from 350 to 400

AT Guns

  • AT guns were gaining veterancy significantly faster than any other unit in the game as a result of their high rate of fire and targets of choice. This diluted the value of their veterancy, making something that should be rare and powerful a bit too common.
    • Now require twice as much experience to level up at each respective veterancy level

Kubelwagen

  • Although we are pleased with the performance of this unit, we were unsatisfied with the effectiveness of available counters. The small target size of the Kubelwagen made hand-held anti-tank weapons, such as the Bazooka or PTRS, and dedicated AT guns less effective. By increasing its size, the reliability of these weapons will be increased. By increasing the fuel cost of the Kubelwagen, we have upped the risk of production and delayed future vehicle production. The 5 fuel increase can be retrieved by salvaging the destroyed Kubelwagen, or it can be denied by the opposing player through the destruction of the vehicle wreck.
    • Sized increased from 10 to 14
    • Fuel cost set to 5
    • Don’t forget to wagen some Kubels, folks.

Volksgrenadier

  • We wanted to better align the fuse timer of the Volksgrenadier grenade with other similarly classed grenades. Previously, its fuse timer was set to that of a cooked grenade, which is only used on elite infantry such as Shock Troopers and Paratroopers. This change also helps mitigate the overall strength of the Volksgrenadier squad, as it slightly reduces their anti-infantry capacity. Our concern is that this unit is over performing largely because it can fend off all target types. Even with a Panzershrek equipped, the potent grenade of the Volksgrenadier enabled them to engage other elite infantry.
    • Grenade fuse time from 0.75 to 1.25 seconds

Jagdtiger/ISU-152

  • This change increases the amount of attention these super heavy units require. This balances the relative effort needed to go up against these units.
    • No longer able to automatically engage targets
    • A manual fire ability was added to each unit
  • Jagdtiger ’12.8 cm Supporting Fire’ ability cost from 30 to 0 munitions
  • Jagdtiger ’12.8 cm Supporting Fire’ and ‘Designate Target’ ability now share a cooldown; recharge timer set to match the main gun’s reload timer of 8.55 seconds. Supporting fire triggers an increased recharge duration which is set to 30 seconds.
  • ISU-152 ‘Designate Target’ and ‘G-530 Concrete Piercing Round’ ability now share a cooldown; recharge timer set to match the main gun’s reload time of 11 seconds.

Pak 40

  • We felt that the Pak 40 was over performing. It provided the Wehrmacht with too much flexibility in terms of when and what anti-armor they choose to field. It also greatly marginalized light vehicles, in many cases taking out a T70 or Stuart faster than the opposing player could react to the first shot fired. The increased reload rate not only reduces the effective DPS of this AT gun, it opens up the use of light vehicles. Light vehicles can now be fielded to apply greater mid-game pressure, increasing the risk of delaying armor as Wehrmacht. As a result, this should encourage the Wehrmacht to diversify their strategies thereby relying less on their heavier units.
    • Reload time from 2.7-3.1 to 3.5-4.1

Dodge WC51

  • The effectiveness of this unit diminishes over time. By delaying its use to 1 command point, it became available at a point in the game where it no longer retained its advantage on the field. On the other hand, when it did become available at 0 command points, the risk associated with the use of this unit was too low. We were particularly concerned with the use of units within the Dodge, as they suffered very little risk in return for what they gained. To better balance this risk, we attached similar penalties to that of the M3A1 Scout Car, meaning units now received a combat penalty when firing out of the Dodge. Additionally, units in the Dodge at the time of destruction will now incur casualties.
    • Command point cost from 1 to 0
    • Units now receive a combat penalty when firing from inside the vehicle, similar to the Soviet M3A1
    • Units within a vehicle now have a chance to die if their vehicle is destroyed before they get out, similar to the Soviet M3A1.

BAR

  • We wanted the BAR to have more power at short and mid ranges. We did slightly scale up long range damage but overall it is short and mid-range where players will see the largest increase in performance. This will enable the BAR to more effectively counteract long range weapons, such as the LMG42, through better positioning.
    • Near accuracy from 0.56 to 0.65
    • Mid accuracy from 0.44 to 0.5
    • Far accuracy from 0.3 to 0.35
    • Mid cooldown modifier from 1.25 to 1
    • Far cooldown modifier from 1.5 to 1.25

Single Plane Off-maps
Single plane off-maps such as the IL-2 Precision bombing run or JU-87 Anti-tank Strafe are now directional, allowing the player to control the entry point and flight direction. Players now have more control over the payload delivery, the time-to-impact, and the placement of a strike relative to the environment. Overall, the change to directional placement will make these abilities stronger in smaller maps or when activated near a map edge, but weaker when used in larger maps or away from the map edge. As a result, a number of activation times were increased or decreased to better control how fast these abilities could deliver their payload to the designated target. If the ability time was set too low, the payload could be delivered in less than a second, giving the opposing player little time to react. In some instances it was necessary to modify the way the payload was delivered, this was done to increase the precision of the strafe relative to the information provided by the UI.

JU87 Anti-tank Strafe

  • In order to ensure the Strafe could effectiveness engage its targets, we tightened up the payload delivery. This removes scenarios where the shots would land to the left or right of the target rather than directly impact the unit. As a result, the lethality of this strafe has gone up considerably, although it does require a higher degree of execution to be effective. Additionally, shots are now dumb-fired, meaning the JU-87 fires off a number of shots within the designated zone without thought to what targets might be hit. This enables it to engage more targets types including structures, infantry, and other world objects.
    • Ability will now activate 2 second faster
    • Straightened flight path to reduce stray shots
    • Tightened firing path to increase accuracy of ability
    • Adjusted firing zone so shots would be more evenly distributed within the designated area.
    • Munition cost from 90 to 110
    • Cooldown from 0.125 to 0.25

JU87 Reconnaissance Pass

  • The reduced flight velocity is designed to provide sight on the ground for an extended period of time. This increased effectiveness resulted in a slight cost adjustment.
    • Ability will now activate 1 second faster
    • Munition cost from 30 to 35
    • Flight velocity from 160 to 80

JU87 Anti-Infantry Strafe

  • Ability will now activate 2 seconds faster

JU87 Fragmentation Bombing Run

  • This strafe would previously activate instantly, meaning units could be wiped out with nearly no warning. As noted above, this issue was exaggerated when the ability was used close to the map edge.
    • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower

JU87 Incendiary Bombing Run

  • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower
  • Straightened flight path to reduce stray shots

JU87 Smoke Bombing Run

  • This is a fairly significant improvement in the usability of this ability given players can now control the direction of the smoke. Use this ability to setup offensive maneuvers or cover a tactical retreat.
    • Aligned payload delivery
    • Munition cost from 50 to 40

IL-2 Precision Bombing Run

  • The bombs will now fall one after the other in a linear path. This extends the radius of damage, preventing a single concentrated attack from being executed. This is offset by the introduction of directional behavior which provides more control of how the bombs are distributed.
    • Ability will now activate 1 second faster
    • Straightened flight path to better align payload delivery
    • Plane velocity from 175 to 145
    • Increased plane flight height to better mimic bomber behavior
    • Far AOE distance from 5 to 7.5
    • Mid AOE distance from 3.75 to 5
    • Damage from 300 to 320
    • Angle scatter from 5 to 2.5

IL-2 Anti-Tank Bombing Run

  • Ability will now activate 1.99 seconds slower

IL-2 Sturmovik Attack Advanced

  • Tightened up firing behavior, reducing stray shots
    • Angle scatter from 7.5 to 2.5

Ambient Buildings
Our goal is to improve the gameplay value of buildings and reduce the potential frustrations associated with their use. The first step towards achieving this goal is to increase the transparency of a building’s structural integrity. By doing so, players are better equipped to analyze the battle field and its potential assets. Future improvements will focus on gameplay and interaction. This might include improving the functionality of a weapon team within a garrison or providing the player with a better means of identifying each structure type. 

Improvements

  • Building “panels” now have a real health value, rather than rigid conditional destruction
  • Buildings can now have independent tuning for their “panel health”
  • Area of Effect weapons can now have independent tuning for how they damage panels over their AOE
  • Buildings are now destroyed when 50% of their total panel health is reached, rather than 50% of total panels destroyed

Panel Health

All ambient buildings are made up of a number of panels. Panels are meant to represent sections of walls, roofs, and floors and allow pieces of a building to be destroyed while leaving other pieces intact.
Previously, to destroy a panel you needed to meet one of two requirements:

  1. Deal X amount of damage to a panel in a single hit
  2. Deal X/2 damage twice to a panel

Additionally, panels could be immune to certain weapon types (ballistic, explosive, small arms, flame). As a rule, they were immune to small arms.
With this system, panels were either never damaged by certain weapons (Flak Halftrack, etc.) or always killed instantly by certain weapons (IS-2, etc.). Flimsy wooden structures being immune to 20mm weapons and castle-like structures being vaporized by mortars or other HE weapons did not fit within our design vision.
Now, panels have the following properties:

  • Panels have a maximum health value
  • Panels have a minimum damage value that must be exceeded before it takes damage
    • When a panel is dealt damage, it reduces the total health of the panel like other objects in the game
  • Panels can be immune to certain weapon types

We created three types of building profiles – very_weaknormal, and strong. Each ambient building is assigned one of these profiles and that profile defines their panel properties:

  • Very_weak buildings have the lowest panel health and the lowest minimum damage required. They are also no longer immune to small arms weapons.
    • Any building that appears weakly constructed is considered very_weak. A weakly constructed building might contain a thatched roof or poorly aligned wood panels.
  • Normal buildings are immune to small arms, have higher panel health, and higher minimum damage required.
  • Buildings that appear well constructed are considered normal. They will typically contain wood paneling and a proper roof structure.
  • Buildings made of bricks or concrete, big churches (but not wooden ones) are considered strong
  • Strong buildings are immune to small arms, have higher panel health, and the same minimum damage as Normal buildings
  • In the future, we intend to provide a means of easily identifying the structure type in-game.

The end result is that buildings will survive longer over the course of multiple combat engagements and be less prone to unexpectedly collapsing. Additionally, the health indicator on buildings will now be more accurate; better identifying the risk associated to its garrison.

AOE Weapons

The above changes initially resulted in AOE weapons becoming more lethal versus buildings. To address this, we gave each AOE weapon a “building damage profile”. This profile allows us to further tune the damage a weapon does over the range of its AOE when damaging a building panel. For example, it was undesirable to have a mortar deal no visible damage to a panel on the first two hits only to destroy a number of panels on the subsequent hit. This made it difficult to predict and analyze the state of the building. To resolve this, we adjusted the mortar AOE profile such that its closest AOE range applied more damage than its mid and far ranges. This caused each hit to destroy a panel instead of weakening the panels over multiple hits; leaving the building vulnerable to unexpectedly collapsing.
This tuning is ongoing; if we identify problem weapons we will adjust them accordingly. We do want to avoid creating unique weapon types, as this increases the complexity of the system and thereby required knowledge of its functionality from the players.

Gameplay Improvements
A large portion of the gameplay within Company of Heroes 2 focuses on execution of tactics. This requires units to be both responsive and easily maneuverable. As such, we have been focused on resolving and improving core gameplay to do just that. For clarification, an entity is the individual soldier within a squad; whereas, a squad is the combination of all entities within itself. 

Weapon Tracking

  • Weapons can now track their target while the unit is pivoting; previously the tracking would be delayed resulting in delayed targeting.
  • Pew Pew Pew

Entity Combat Behavior

  • Entities now respond to threats outside of their firing cone independent of other entities within the squad. Previously, entities would wait until all other entities were ready to fire before engaging. This will reduce the potential delay a squad may incur before firing on a given target.

Team Weapons

  • Team weapons will no longer automatically set up when issued a move order.
  • Team weapons will automatically setup when an enemy is nearby or the weapon team is attacked.
  • While moving to their target destination, team weapons will no longer suffer from movement delays when a team member is killed.
  • Retreating weapon teams will no longer suffer a delay in movement if an entity is killed during the retreat.
  • Weapon teams can no longer have their retreat broken once the order is issued.
  • Team weapons caught in suppressive fire will now try to setup and return fire
  • Team weapons are now allowed to reposition their weapon cone while suppressed
  • Resolved an issue with carried team weapons which caused the weapons firing arc to positioning the wrong way. This resolves an issue with weapon teams setting up in the wrong direction.
  • Team weapons no longer require all entities to be near the weapon in order for a setup order to be initiated. This will improve the responsiveness of team weapons in a number of scenarios.

Cover Preview

  • Default cover is now previewed similar to negative, light, and heavy cover. This provides transparency in regards to where each entity within a squad will go. It also helps players identify what cover types are available in a given area.

Squad Cover Behavior

  • Squads will now use a combination of their squad plans and a custom algorithm to align each entity in the relative cover positions. This improves the distribution of the entities in cover.
  • When hovering the cursor over terrain, squad cover placement in the form of yellow or green dots is shown based on a distance from the cursor’s origin. For example, a value of 5 would factor in all cover locations in a radius of 5 units from the cursors origin. This value was increased in size from 2 to 3 units. This was done to ensure all entities within a squad are able to get into cover, a lower value meant some entities would remain outside of cover when an order to enter cover was given. This does not apply to single entity squads such as snipers and team weapon.
  • Improved cover generation by increasing the number of cover slots a world object provides. Previously, a number of world objects had too few cover slots, resulting in some entities of a squad receiving no cover bonus.
  • Improved the direction a squad will choose to face when entering cover relative to the location of nearby enemy units. Given that a number of objects in the world provide directional cover, this improvement helps ensure the squad retains their cover bonus when in combat.
  • Directional cover is now analyzed on a 2D basis. This prevents scenarios from occurring where entities would not receive their cover bonus.

Input Delay

  • Optimized the way commands are managed and stored, reducing input delay by 180 ms on average. This will drastically improve unit responsiveness as a result.

Infantry Reactions

  • Squad reactions, such as ground dives as a result of explosive weapons, will no longer occur while the squad is moving. Reactions will only apply to stationary squads. This will improve the responsiveness of squads in a combat scenario.

Bug and Gameplay Fixes
These bug and gameplay fixes are aimed at improving usability and functionality within the game. In some cases, the below changes resolve incorrect data which unintentionally made it into the game.

AI

  • Number of optimizations and bug fixes were made to improve the performance and functionality of the AI

Map Optimizations

  • The following maps have seen a number of optimizations to pathing, balance, or general gameplay:
    • Trois Ponts
    • City 17
    • Ettelbruck Station
  • The follow maps have seen a number of bugs fixed implemented to address problematic areas:
  • City 17 Winter
  • Vaux Farmlands
  • La Gleize

Retreating

  • Strafing runs will no longer suppress or pin a squad while retreating

Vaulting

  • Squads can no longer be issued an order to vault on the same world object they are currently vaulting on. This prevents a back and forth behavior which was previously occurring.

Soviet AT Guns

  • Removed the +25% received accuracy modifier which was mistakenly applied to these units.

Combat Engineers

  • Now use a unique version of the Mosin Nagant rifle
  • Manpower cost from 180 to 170

Pioneer MP40

  • Moving accuracy from 1 to 0.6; this value was incorrectly set to 1 in a previous update.

AT Guns

  • Corrected the required experience for each level of veterancy such that it matches its base cost.
    • Pak 40 base value from 360 to 320
    • Pak 43 base value from 480 to 500
    • ZIS Field Gun base value from 360 to 320
  • AT guns no longer push around their own crew while turning

M2HB HMG

  • Now uses an infantry turning plan, this resolves odd pivots and turns which were previously made by the squad. This also means the squad will reposition quicker as a result of these changes.
  • Movement modifiers set to match the MG42
    • Acceleration/Deceleration disabled
    • Rotation rate set to 10000 (instant)

Units Forgetting Orders

  • Resolved a number of instances which caused units to not executed given orders.

Intel Bulletins

  • Resolved an issue with intelligence bulletin stacking if units crewed or decrewed a vehicle.

Event Cues

  • Resolved an issue with the event cue system which prevented ‘under fire’ queues from being issued. Cues of this type will now occur if units under fire are 60 units apart.

USF Major ‘Establish Retreat Point’

  • Major can now retreat to HQ while forward retreat is active
  • Deactivating forward retreat will cause retreating squads to retreat to the HQ now instead of the old forward retreat point

Ability Recharge

  • Squad abilities will now recharge while the squad is in a vehicle

Paratrooper Suppression Fire

  • No longer prevents the player from issuing other orders while the ability is active. For example, a retreat order can now be issued to the squad by the player.

Hull Down

  • Is no longer on a shared player cooldown, multiple vehicles can now be hulled down at once.

Infiltration Grenades

  • Can no longer be refunded if the ability is canceled abruptly. This prevents players from subverting the cost and recharge time by canceling the ability before the last grenade has been thrown.

Soviet Defensive Tactics Commander

  • PMD-6 Anti-Personnel Mines and Tank Traps now properly list as passive abilities

MG34 Icon

  • MG34 now uses the correct icon.

Command Panzer IV Icon

  • Now uses the correct short-barrel vehicle icon.

Luftwaffe Incendiary Bombing Run Icon

  • Now uses the correct JU-87 incendiary barrage icon.

 

  • Can no longer be refunded if the ability is canceled abruptly. This prevents players from subverting the cost and recharge time by canceling the ability before the last grenade has been thrown.

Soviet Defensive Tactics Commander

  • PMD-6 Anti-Personnel Mines and Tank Traps now properly list as passive abilities

MG34 Icon

  • MG34 now uses the correct icon.

Command Panzer IV Icon

  • Now uses the correct short-barrel vehicle icon.

Luftwaffe Incendiary Bombing Run Icon

  • Now uses the correct JU-87 incendiary barrage icon.

Company of Heroes 2 is available now at Amazon and on Steam.


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