Developer: 343 Industries, Creative Assembly
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game that is a sequel to 2009’s Xbox 360 Halo Wars. The game is available for XBox One, and Windows 10. There are single player, online co-op, and online multiplayer PvP modes. I spent most of my time playing the campaign, but I also played some of the multiplayer, and blitz as well.
Much like in Starcraft 2, the single player, and co-op campaign in Halo Wars 2 tells the story through a series of cinematics, and voiced dialog before and during the missions. I liked the story, but I wish I had played the first Halo Wars to really understand the backstory before playing the sequel. I plan to go back and play Halo Wars as well, now that I’ve finished Halo Wars 2.
As you invade enemy outposts to complete your missions, you will encounter resistance and a lot of combat. The combat system uses a rock-paper-scissors format. Infantry is usually better at killing air units, air units are better at killing ground vehicles, and ground vehicles are better at taking out infantry. There are a few units that are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part it holds true. The units aren’t usually hard counters to one another, more like soft counters, so the game is a bit forgiving in that sense, and you can use other types of units, but they may be sub-optimal.
Along with the campaign, there are the traditional multiplayer modes. They are usually slower paced matches where you to build up a base and economy from scratch. The macro plays a large role to maintain your army’s efficiency with upgrades, and training the most optimal units at any given time. These are fun modes, but I like the faster paced blitz mode even better.
In blitz mode, all you have is your army with no base to worry about. It’s a lot more micro intensive, with more action. You call in troops or use abilities by playing cards that cost energy. The energy gain is passive, but you can increase the rate of the energy gain by gathering energy drops before your opponent does.
- good campaign that does a great job of introducing you to all of the game’s mechanics and controls in steady learning curve as you progress; the unique campaign missions that require you to complete different tasks (such as powering up control towers, rescuing prisoners, holding off attacks, or just straight up destroying the enemy bases)
- you can focus more on establishing and defending your base, and fighting the enemy, instead of having to manage workers to harvest resources for you (the supply and energy depots both gather resources automatically once they are built, and they never run out)
- fun multiplayer that is playable in 1v1, 2v2 or 3v3 with different rule sets (deathmatch mode is similar to other RTS games, and requires you to destroy all of your enemy’s base; domination is a capture point map where you need to score enough points first to win)
- blitz mode is fun, fast-paced action that combines a card game with RTS, and being able to customize your decks is great
- cinematics look absolutely fantastic; the environments and characters during gameplay look great as well
- sound effects and music are done very well; the voice acting is excellent
- some of the announcer dialog is too frequent (for example: hearing “all units” and “local units” is bound to get on your nerves after a while)
- even though you can obtain card packs through gameplay, they are also purchasable with microtransactions, and the blitz format may become more pay2win, or pay-to-get-ahead at the very least (similar to Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone)
- (nitpick) season pass with day one DLC may create imbalanced PvP and/or content paywalls
- (nitpick) while the units look unique from one another, it can sometimes be hard to tell the infantry apart when they are clustered together
The single player campaign took me roughly 7 hours. As far as the campaign goes, I can see players wanting to get all the achievements, and even just practice against the AI on harder difficulties. The vast majority of the replay value is going to come from playing the different multiplayer and blitz modes.
Halo Wars 2 is a very solid RTS game. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire time I played it. If you’re a fan of real-time strategies, and are interested in playing one set in the Halo universe, then you will probably enjoy the Halo Wars series.
Press copy was provided for this review.