Image: Relic Entertainment

It has been a little over six months since Sega and Relic Entertainment have announced Company of Heroes 3. Now the developers have been at work showing off how modern graphics cards enable a much greater level of realism with the destruction of buildings and other objects in the upcoming game.

One of the lead environment artists on Company of Heroes 3 has taken the time to release a series of test videos while explaining the new methods used along with a brief synopsis of what was done in the first two games.

Company of Heroes 1 and 2, despite their age, were ahead of their time in regard to destruction. A lot of what we were able to accomplish with today’s video cards was simply impossible at the time of CoH1 and 2. However, many of the aspects of what you see today were in previous CoH games. We couldn’t afford the power needed for physics, so we used a lot of smoke and mirrors to accomplish a similar look. Instead of fracturing an entire building we would use transparency maps to punch holes into buildings. Another example would be the debris, which we simulated using camera based FX.

A New Age of Destruction

One could almost envision the Hulk sitting down to play the new game while excitedly yelling his famous catchphrase “Hulk Smash!” The developer goes on to explain how debris has a greater level of real physics applied to them. Debris created from exploding objects now uses real geometry instead of the previously mentioned visual FX methods. Textures from the original buildings are also used in the debris. Players can explode and destroy, shoot, or smash things to their heart’s content and witness buildings fracture and fly apart with a more realistic feel.

The first thing people will notice about CoH 3 destruction is how real it feels. Although CoH 1 and CoH 2 included destruction ahead of their time, they didn’t have the benefit of real physics debris. In CoH 3 we fracture the entire building which results in real geometry pieces of debris as opposed to FX debris used in the past. What makes our debris pieces look even more realistic is that they retain the same textures from the healthy mesh. But we didn’t stop there. Physics are applied which not only give things weight but a satisfying feeling of destruction.

Buildings are now created with multiple layers of textures that include plaster, bricks, and other materials. As they take damage, the layers will become exposed. The damaged layers will also create debris unique to their construction and textures. When a mortar shell explodes, it too will trigger its own physics-based fragments. The culmination of all this damage will lead to animations of the building collapsing or perhaps nothing but an empty, desolated, structure. Soldiers who happen to have the misfortune of being near, or under, the falling debris will be killed as well.

Once the building has taken as much damage as it can handle you will be gifted with a wonderful building collapse and a husk-like building in its place.

Company of Heroes 3 is planned to launch on Steam in 2022.

Source: Company of Heroes (via DSOG), COH Development

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Peter Brosdahl

As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my...

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