THQ announced that Company of Heroes Online
, a free-to-play online edition of Relic Entertainment's popular real-time strategy PC game Company of Heroes
, will debut in North America this fall.
Already available with an open beta in South Korea and China -- the latter version co-developed with Shanghai-based firm Shanda -- the game is similar to the original Company of Heroes
, allowing players to command armies in the battlefields of World War II-era Europe, and choose from six Allies/Axis divisions with unique combat styles and Commander Abilities.
While the original single-player game is included with Company of Heroes Online
's free download, this new release will place an emphasis on persistence and multiplayer matches (with up to eight players), offering hero units, unlockable special abilities, "army specialization, commander customization, and persistent progression".
Players earn points with each victory, which they can spend on special units and upgrades. And if gamers don't have time to earn points, the free-to-play game allows them to purchase those items with real money. Relic assures its fans, though, that microtransactions will not give some players an advantage.
"The purchases you make are about making the game more convenient for players who want to level up faster," said Relic Entertainment's senior producer Tim Holman, according to a report
from VentureBeat. "It doesn’t give you an unfair advantage in a match."
"We are delighted to bring this award-winning franchise to gamers in a whole new way with the online version of the Company of Heroes experience," says THQ's Global Brand Management VP Travis Plane. "Players will benefit from the persistent upgrades and the ability to tailor their armies to really suit their play style making this a unique experience for everyone."