Company of Heroes 3 will be released next year, but you can play a sample today.

After several years in development, Company of Heroes 3 was revealed today, and you can join up to play what developer Relic Entertainment refers to as a pre-Alpha sample copy of the game here.

This is the third installment of one of the most prestigious RTS series of all time. Company of Heroes launched in 2006 to near-universal acclaim and many accolades, including PC Gamer’s 2006 Game of the Year, and got two expansions—Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor—before a full sequel, Company of Heroes 2, was released in 2013.

Company of Heroes 3 is set in Italy and North Africa, and it includes a dynamic turn-based narrative interspersed with customized real-time missions and battles. It appears to be massive—web PCG’s editor Fraser Brown couldn’t get enough of it during his hands-on time and explains why it’s a World War II RTS on the scale of a Total War game in his thorough essay.

In multiplayer, you’ll be able to play as the German, British, and American armies, but in the campaign, you’ll only be able to play as the Allies. The campaign is turn-based and takes place in a large area with separate goals that you may explore and conquer in whatever order you choose.

The game’s main selling point is a “holistic loop,” which keeps the whole campaign feeling intimately tied to the RTS combat. Everything you can accomplish in real-time combat is possible on the turn-based map: you may possibly wipe out opposing troops before the main fight even begins.

The acceptance of a Total War-style framework is the main draw, but other features, such as the tactical halt, may have an even greater influence. You may pause a singleplayer fight at any time and freely explore the map. The ability to order troops and queue up instructions while paused is useful in and of itself, but the true benefit is the ability to organize units and queue up commands while paused. With the motion frozen, you can do anything regularly (though multiplayer will remain exclusively real-time).

Here’s a look at the gameplay trailer.

As seen by the preceding, Company of Heroes 3 has more than quadrupled the series’ usual destructive power. All props, from buildings to vegetation, may be damaged and have more than two states. Buildings may be chipped away, vehicle components can be blasted off, and maps can be rendered unrecognizable after battles.

The best part is that you can play it right now. Relic is utilizing Amplitude’s Games2Gether service, and signing up for it entitles you to sneak peeks updates and playable builds. A pre-alpha demo is now available on Steam, and you may use flamethrowers to blow up tanks and assault buildings until 7 p.m. PDT on August 2/3 a.m. BST on August 3.

There’s a reason why Company of Heroes is still on our list of the greatest strategy games on PC, and expectations for this one are high.

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