When I heard that one of the kings of real-time strategy games Creative Assembly were going to be heading up the team to create the sequel to the amazing Halo Wars, I knew that it would be fantastic. Now that I have had a chance to play it, boy was I right. Halo Wars 2 really is a worthy successor to the Halo Wars franchise that, not only plays very like the original which worked so well but also continues the epic story from the original game.
Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy video game, in which you command your troops from a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield. Like the original Halo Wars, the game features two playable factions: humanity’s main military arm, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), who return from the first game, and a new alien faction known as the Banished, who serve as a replacement for the Covenant. Each faction has different leader units. The campaign mode is composed of thirteen missions that you can play both solo and cooperatively. The combat in Halo Wars 2 is balanced by a “rock–paper–scissors” counter-attack system, in which ground vehicles beat infantry, infantry beat aircraft, and aircraft beat vehicles.
The start of Halo Wars 2 begins 28 years after the events of Halo Wars and only a few years after the events of Halo 5: Guardians. The crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire wake up from cryosleep adrift in unknown space, unbeknownst to the crew they are above Installation 00 AKA the Ark form in Halo 3.
Unaware of how the Human-Covenant war concluded during their absence, the Spirit of Fire’s forces travel down to the surface of the Ark following a signal from an emergency UNSC beacon. They encounter and battle with an alien faction known as the Banished, a group that broke away from the Covenant and became a major power. The Banished are led by the Brute warlord Atriox, who defied the Covenant and lived to talk about it. On the Ark, an artificial intelligence, Isabel, is recovered from the ruins of a UNSC base destroyed by the Banished. She informs the Spirit of Fire of recent events and seeks retribution against the Banished.
The Story in Halo Wars 2 is really engaging and continues to build upon the characters from the previous game. This gives some powerful moments that both new and old players can appreciate.
The game features several multiplayer modes that can be played online with up to six players. Skirmish is a game mode that pits players against AI opponents. Deathmatch involves fighting until only one player remains. Stronghold and Domination are centred around controlling bases or nodes on the map.
The new mode Blitz combines elements from both collectable card games and traditional RTS games. The mode replaces the base building and resource management with a card-and-deck mechanic for unit deployment. In Blitz, players create decks from card packs that are earned by playing the campaign mode and completing daily challenges. Each card features a unit that is deployed on the battlefield after gaining energy from controlling nodes on the map. These cards can be upgraded by collecting multiple versions of that card, this ensures that no matter what cards you get in a pack you’ll always get something useful.
The graphics of Halo Wars 2 are lovely to look at, the amount of detail that has been put into each model is outstanding and really brings each squad to life. I also really love how the squads will do some ambient chatter in the campaign and talk about their surroundings or what is going on.
One thing that I am very anxious to check out is how Halo Wars 2 plays on PC. For a game that is built around a controller, I am not sure how they will modify it to suit PC players. Some of the radial menus only really work on a controller and using them with a keyboard and mouse would be very tricky. Sadly, I must wait until launch to truly get an answer to this question as I am only able to experience the game on the Xbox One.
Ultimately to conclude Halo Wars 2 is a unique game that really has no equal on the market, with its predecessor getting a remake and it also being available on PC, this game really has nothing to compare it too. If we look at the facts and strip the game down to its core, this game is fun, tactical and something completely different that I would recommend fans of both the Halo series and fans of RTS’s should get.