The amount of good strategy games released this 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 Company of Heroes 2 (CoH2) 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 enemies. 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 for Mac, 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?

Last updated: August 26, 2018

In July 2018, Feral Interactive updated the game to support Apple’s Metal API helping the game run much faster. As a result, our tests were run again to take into account these improvements.

First things first, is the game any good?

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

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)

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)

Be aware that the 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro is not 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 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. This allows us to have results that can be compared but in some cases, we had to use settings that were higher than what the developer recommends.

The Results

Initially, our results were much lower. In fact, the game was unplayable on everything except our high-end iMac (and even then, it only scored 31 FPS).

As you can see below, updating the game to us Metal paid off:

Company of Heroes 2 Mac results Metal update

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

Below 20 FPS Unplayable Laggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
20-30 FPS Borderline Can be Ok in slow paced games. Still, not optimal.
30-45 FPS Playable Acceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
45-60 FPS Smooth Fluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
60+ FPS Very Smooth For hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.

Do you have a high-end Mac?

When we first ran these tests a few months ago, our 2014 27-inch iMac was the only one that could run the game at a Playable 31.5 FPS. Now that Company of Heroes 2 supports Metal, the same machine runs the game at a Smooth 48 FPS. That’s a 52% increase in performance.

Needless to say, that’s a spectacular improvement and proof that on MacOS, Metal is much better than OpenGL. 

Takeaway: A high-end Mac was the only way to properly enjoy this game before. Now that the game supports Metal, the game is no longer barely Playable but Smooth.

Do you have a recent entry-level Mac?

Before the Metal update, the game was Unplayable at 12.5 FPS on our 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro. Now it can run it at 15.8 FPS. That’s still low but still 26% faster than before.

But that was on Medium settings, which are much higher than what the developer recommends for this machine. Running the same tests on Minimum settings, the game becomes Borderline Playable:

Model Before the update After the Update
2016 13-inch MBP 17.67 FPS Unplayable 24.7  FPS Borderline

That’s a 42% increase if you’re keeping track of the improvements. Also, as you can see below, Minimum settings don’t look as bad as one would imagine:

Takeaway: It was hard to recommend CoH 2 unless you had a high-end iMac. But now that the game supports Metal, all gamers with modern MacBook Pros should be able to enjoy the game.

But what if you have an older Mac?

Unfortunately Metal won’t do any miracles if you have an older, unsupported Mac. The game was Unplayable on our 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro at 6.9 FPS. With Metal, the game runs slighly faster at 7.2 FPS. Better but still unplayable.

And it doesn’t get any better using Minimum settings. The game manages less than 15 FPS which is still in Unplayable territory…

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

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

Always check those system requirements

These are Company of Heroes 2 Mac minimum requirements:

  • OS 10.13.5
  • 1.8Ghz CPU
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 1GB Nvidia 650M, 2GB AMD Radeon M290, Intel Iris Pro or better
  • 35 GB 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

As you can see, CoH 2 is demanding. A machine with even specs even slightly below these will not cut it.

Final thoughts

For a strategy game that is a few years old now, CoH 2 is surprisingly demanding. Similar to Civ 6, we expected better results.

Luckily, Feral Interactive put in the work to support Metal instead of the aging OpenGL graphics API and as a result, we get a game that can be more confortably handled by 13-inch MacBook Pros.

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

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

Demand level: ⛔ High

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