When Should I Start?
Many players wonder when they’re “ready” to play against other players. The answer is that you are never really ready; playing Company of Heroes against other human beings is a unique enough experience that no amount of playing against the AI will truly prepare you.
Because of the matchmaking element, I would advise minimally learning the basics. Play some games against the AI; understand at least one faction’s roster and get enough practice with the game’s basic systems that you can sometimes beat the AI. After that, trust in the matchmaker to place you with players who are a good match for you.
This is all, of course, predicated on the idea that you want to play against other players. I would encourage anyone to give it a shot; in my opinion, playing against other thinking humans is a deeper and more exhilarating experience. However, Company of Heroes has always had a substantial single player and Coop vs AI community, and so you will be in good company if you decide to ignore this part of the game.
Many players assume that the PVP matchmaker will treat first-time PVP players as new players, and match them against other new players. However, it doesn’t – and cannot really – work like that.
New players to Company of Heroes 3 can come in with widely varying levels of skill. Some players might have thousands of hours in earlier Company of Heroes games, or in other RTSes. Some players might just have more or less innate talent. Some players may have learned the different factions inside and out over hundreds of hours of single player/co-op, whereas others may be booting it up almost for the first time.
When you play your first PVP games, the matchmaker simply has no idea how good you are, and so it will throw you into games semi-arbitrarily. This means that your first few PVP games are likely to be very hit or miss in terms of skill parity with your opponents; if you are very new to the Company of Heroes franchise, this means you are likely to get stomped a bit.
Don’t despair. Company of Heroes has a very broad community and almost certainly has other players around your skill level. Over time, most players will have a win rate close to 50%. If you get stomped on in your first couple games, keep going. Eventually the matchmaker will understand your true skill level and match you up against more suitable opponents.
*Release note – because so many people are playing for the first time, matchmaking is likely to be a bit of a mess during the technical test and first week or so of launch. After that, most folks will be ranked and even matches will be made.
Am I Letting Down My Teammates?
A common refrain among new players is concern that they cannot play in team games because they will be a drain on their team. However, as described in the previous section, the matchmaker will do a fairly good job of matching you with allies and opponents of similar skill.
However, sometimes, bad games happen. No one is the best on their team all the time. Remember this: you do not owe your teammates victory. You do not even owe them a specific level of performance. What you owe your teammates is a positive attitude and a good faith effort to win.
Relic maintains a rather stringent code of conduct that demands each player treat others with respect, empathy, and kindness. At its best, Company of Heroes can be, aside from a fun game, a social experience where you can share your hobby with others around the world.
Like any online game, Company of Heroes 3 will have toxic players – bullies, bigots, and other people who will try to make your day worse when they get upset.
I strongly encourage you to participate in making the community the best it can be by both maintaining a friendly and positive attitude yourself, and studiously reporting toxic players who violate the code of conduct. You’ll both have more fun yourself (who wants to be that angry?) and get to participate in making the community better for everyone else.