The amount of good strategy games released each year is astonishing. Most are turn-based variations coming from indies. Good, capable and fun. But as much as I enjoy such games, neither can capture the intensity and excitement CoH 2 has.

I will always remember the first time a Panzer tank went through a wall to surprise my infantry units or the time my mortars destroyed an entire building full of enemy units. CoH 2 battlefields feel more alive than any other strategy game I’ve ever played.

Set during WWII, CoH 2 is a beautiful real-time strategy game that focuses on the Eastern Front battles. The destructible environments, weather effects, cover mechanics, realistic physics, they all play a part, creating an exciting and realistic battlefield. CoH 2 is not only one of the finest strategy games on MacOS, it’s the most visually impressive.

But great looks and sophisticated effects always come at a price… This is a demanding game and some will have to sit this one out. And the real question is: Will you?

As always, we’ll attempt to answer that question by testing the game on as many Macs as possible. Let’s find out.

First things first, is the game any good?

We established CoH 2 looks great, but does it play great too?

The original Company of Heroes was a tough act to follow. When it was released over 10 years ago, it completely changed the perception of what a strategy game could be. It was unlike Civilization 4 or Starcraft, feeling more like an action game you could play as a top-down strategy game.

And Company of Heroes 2 manages to capture everything the first game did. It isn’t nearly as revolutionary as the original, but it’s more refined and balanced. This is why the game was met with very positive reviews, resulting in an impressive 80/100 Metascore and pretty good 75% positive user reviews on Steam:

Metascore

%

User Reviews

As Kotaku puts it, the game isn’t perfect, but still damn good:

In the end, then, think of Company of Heroes 2 as the embodiment of the thing it’s trying to recreate, namely the Soviet’s advance into Germany. Blunt, and wasteful in parts, but in the end an overwhelming success.

IGN gave the game an 8.4/10 and came to the same conclusion I did:

Viewed side by side, it might be tough to distinguish Company of Heroes 2 from its predecessor. (….) However, that comparison is to one of the finest real-time strategy games ever made, and being mostly as good as that makes this an excellent game on its own.

You’re probably eager to give this game a go now, but you may want to read on before you take out your credit card. Not all Macs will be able to handle it…

Company of Heroes 2 Mac

The test

On paper, CoH 2 should do fine because it’s just a strategy game. But in reality, real-time strategy games can be more demanding on your computer than you think…

We tested the game on six different machines, ranging from the high-end to 6-year old models:

iMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014)

3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)

iMac 27-Inch (5K, Mid-2017)

4.2 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 580 (8GB)

iMac 27-Inch (5K, Late 2014)

3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)

MacBook Pro 15-inch (Touch/Mid-2017)

2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 560 with (4GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013)

2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)

2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 400 (0.5GB)

Notice neither the 2013 nor the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pros are officially supported.

Why these machines? The purpose of these reviews is to help as many of you as we can which is why we test our games on machines as different from each other as possible. Hopefully, one of these Macs will be close enough to yours to provide results you can use really at home. These are the setups we will be covering:

  • High-end Macs (the 2017 and 2014 27-inch iMacs and the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro)
  • Recent entry-level Macs (the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro)
  • Older Macs (the 2012 and 2013 MacBook Pros)

These are the settings we used to test the game:

  • 1280x800 or equivalent resolution
  • Gameplay resolution: 100%
  • Image Quality, Texture Detail, Snow Detail, and Physics: Medium
  • V-Sync: Off

Using the in-game benchmark tool, we tested the game on all Macs using the same settings.

Why these settings? As we are testing completely different types of machines, we have to use settings that are acceptable to the modern gamer while keeping them relatively low to give the older models a chance.

The Results

I won’t lie to you, although I’m always impressed by CoH 2’s graphics and physics, I didn’t expect it to be so punishing on most of our test machines.

As you can see, most of the models we tested failed to reach Playable levels of performance:

As a reminder, this is how we describe the different levels of performance:

Below 20 FPSUnplayableLaggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
20-30 FPSBorderlineCan be Ok in slow paced games. Still, not optimal.
30-45 FPSPlayableAcceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
45-60 FPSSmoothFluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
60+ FPSVery SmoothFor hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.

But does it mean only those who have top-of-the-line Macs will be able to enjoy it? Not necessarily…

Do you have a high-end Mac?

As can be expected, if you have a high-end Mac (characterized by a top-of-the-line graphics card), you can rest assured.

Both 27-inch iMacs did well. The 2014 model did Playable 31.5 FPS while the 2017 model did a Smooth 47.6 FPS. The 2017 15-inch MBP did an almost Playable 28.8 FPS. You could expect more from a high-end 15-inch MBP but in reality, these results match the ones we’ve seen before. Usually, the 15-inch MBP has very close results to our 2014 iMac.

Pro tip: If you’re planning on buying a new high-end Mac and don’t need a laptop, a 27-inch iMac will have the most bang for the buck.

Testing the game at higher settings resulted in exactly what we feared:

ModelMedium SettingsMax Settings
2014 27-inch iMac 31.5 FPS Playable 20.42 FPS Borderline

Very few machines will be able to play this game at the higher settings… That said, when looking at the difference of between the two settings, I can’t say the improvement is striking.

Even on medium settings, this is one beautiful game to play.

Takeaway: Your high-end Mac will be able to play this game, though you most likely won’t be able to use the maximum settings and enjoy Smooth (or even Playable) performance.

Do you have a recent entry-level Mac?

As soon as I had run the tests on the iMac, I knew the 2016 MBP results would be disappointing, and I was right. The 2016 MBP eked out an Unplayable 12.47 FPS. Not wanting to give up, I tried again with all settings set to the lowest possible. The results were still disappointing…

ModelLowest SettingsMedium Settings
2013 13-inch MBP17.67 FPS Unplayable12.47 FPS Unplayable

And before you ask, I also tried lowering gameplay resolution to 50%, which resulted in disturbingly ugly graphics and 17.47 FPS. Definitely not a worthy strategy.

Takeaway: It’s hard to recommend CoH 2 unless you have a high-end Mac, no matter how recent your machine is. If your machine has better graphics than the Intel Iris Graphics 540 from my 2016 MBP, it could be worth a shot. If not, don’t even try. This is a fast-paced game and it would a shame to play it at anything below 30 FPS.

But what if you have an older Mac?

If you’ve read so far, you can already guess what’s about to happen.

Our 2012 and 2013 MBPs did 5.6 and 6.9 FPS respectively. Completely Unplayable performance of course and no fiddling with the graphics or settings can save you…

Then again Feral did warn us from the get-go:

Takeaway: If you have an older Mac, you need to skip this one.

Still unsure?

Remember, you can always run the free Unigine Heaven Benchmark using the Basic Preset and compare your results with ours:

Company of Heroes 2 VS Heaven

If your machine had a better/worst Heaven score, expect a higher/lower FPS score.

The correlation between in-game performance and a standard benchmark is far from perfect, but it can still be a good comparison point.

You can also input your Heaven result into this form to estimate the FPS your Mac could score when running the game:

Keep in mind that this is an estimate and far from exact. If your estimated FPS are too close to 30 FPS, don’t risk it.

Always check those system requirements

You do not want to mess around with these settings. CoH 2 is demanding and anything slightly below these settings will not cut it.

These are Company of Heroes 2 minimum system requirements:

OS10.10.3
Processor1.8 GHz Intel
Memory4GB RAM
Video Memory512MB Video RAM
Video CardGraphics 512MB Nvidia 640M, 2GB AMD Radeon M290, Intel Iris Pro or better.
Hard Drive35GB of Hard Drive space

The game is supported on the following Macs:

  • Most 21’5” iMacs released since Late 2013
  • All 27” iMacs released since Late 2012
  • All 13” Retina MacBook Pros released since 2016
  • All 15” MacBook Pros & Retina MacBook Pros released since Mid 2012
  • All Mac Pros released since Late 2013

I may be missing something here but according to these, my 2016 MBP should be covered. From my experience, performance is much too low unless you play at lower settings and resolutions. This is a magnificent game and playing it that way would be a shame.

Final thoughts

For a strategy game that is a few years old now, CoH 2 is surprisingly demanding. Similar to Civ 6, we expected much better results, at least enough to give players with recent lower-end models a chance.

Clearly, if you don’t have a high-end Mac you probably need to skip this one, unless you’re ready to play it at the lowest settings and resolution. In any case, pay special attention to the system requirements and do not take any chances.

Sophisticated graphics and physics make it easy to understand the high requirements.

Performance levels on modern entry-level machines were surprisingly low.

Q

You will need a high-end Mac to truly enjoy it.

Demand level: ⛔ High