The Halo series, that has five released first person shooter titles under its belt and another one (i.e. Halo Wars 2) in the works, spawned a subseries in 2009 with Halo Wars. The real-time strategy spin-off was set in the Halo universe itself, and is generally considered to be a reworking of sorts. Halo Wars was set about twenty years before the events of the 2001 original Halo game and introduces the character of Captain James Cutter. The game went on to receive good reviews from critics, but fans of the Halo series were not convinced initially. However, the game soon became the best-selling RTS console game, showing that the creators had been able to deliver a title that blended RTS elements with a console platform. In 2015, Microsoft announced that Creative Assembly and 343 Industries were involved in working on a sequel- Halo Wars 2.
Microsoft had initially planned for a spring 2016 release for Halo Wars 2, but the game has been delayed significantly, resulting in the date being pushed back to 2017. But standing here right now, we aren’t too far away from the launch of Halo Wars 2. We felt like it was a good time to recount all that we know about the upcoming game.
Halo Wars 2 Features Wishlist
Halo Wars 2 brings back the crew aboard the Spirit of Fire- the ship that was thought to be lost at the ending of Halo Wars. From what we have heard so far, Halo Wars 2 will have closer ties with the main Halo franchise, and several characters are expected to cross over, though we don’t know which ones. What we do know is that the timeline of the upcoming game will be brought closer to where the main series stands right now- the story of Halo Wars 2 will commence shortly after those of Halo 5. That places it nearly three decades apart from the events of its prequel.
Up until now, the creators have showcased quite a few things from Halo Wars 2, including some cinematic trailers, a character demonstration video, and some bits of gameplay. Thanks to those, we have an idea about what to expect. In all honesty, though, the game looks really good and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Halo Wars 2 Story: The story of Halo Wars 2 opens 28 years after the crew aboard the Spirit of Fire entered cryosleep in the last game. It appears that the crew, along with its leader, Captain James Cutter, are alive and well. They are also on a mission, as they don’t quite know what happened with the war after their ship drifted away into space. The crew, now awake and totally clueless, find that they have arrived above the Ark. The Ark, as players acquainted with Halo 3 already know, is the greatest among the creations of the Forerunners and also the place of origin of the Halo rings. The people aboard the ship have no connections to speak of except for an emergency beacon emanating from the Ark. This leads them to venture down to the Ark and encounter the Banished.
Halo Wars 2 Characters: The creators of the game have already dropped a few hints about who we can expect to see in the new game, while introducing some entirely new ones. Dan Ayoub of 343 Industries has said that a good RT game needs great, solid characters, and that is what they are aiming at delivering. But as the story is a continuation after the events of Halo Wars, there are a few known faces that have been brought back. Captain James Cutter, of course, is one of them, who returns as the straight talking leader who prioritizes his crew over everything else. Accompanying him is Professor Ellen Anders from the earlier game, whose expertise in the Forerunners’ history makes her indispensable among the crew aboard the Spirit of Fire.
There is a new AI, however, who replaces the previous game’s super smart intelligence, Serina. This time, the characters will be assisted by Isabel, who the creators say is more of a logistics AI instead of a military AI. She is discovered by Cutter and his men on the Ark from among the ruins of a former UNSC base which was attacked by the Banished. Isabel is not like Serina or Cortana, and it is clear from the character introductions that she does not intend to be there.
Besides these characters, Kevin Grace of 343 Industries had teased in an interview that the new Halo Wars game will tie in more seriously with the main series, which marks the possibility of several popular characters from the Halo games to appear in the story. He didn’t say who they were going to be, but perhaps we might see the likes of Master Chief and Spartan Locke making an appearance. This would also pave the way for the new game to set the stage for the events of Halo 6, as the narrative designer had teased.
Enemy: Halo Wars 2 will pitch the humans against a daunting enemy known as the Banished. This is a faction that broke away from the Covenant and is led by the formidable Brute, Atriox. In one of the videos that the creators have revealed, Atriox is seen taking down three of the toughest Spartans single-handedly, and he is able to surprise them with his attack. Atriox is different from the other Brutes that we have seen before- not only is he significantly stronger than the others but is also able to outsmart his enemies. Alongside that, he is also a master strategist who can lead an army of the Banished that attacks to kill.
Enemy Weapons and Armour: The crew aboard the Spirit of Fire awakens with the same set of tools and weapons that they had nearly thirty years back, but in the meantime, the enemy has evolved. The Brutes in Halo Wars 2 will come with some seriously upgraded weapons and armours. The creators have shown us that the new enemy loadout will be absolutely stellar, with a number of details making it into the armour.
Halo Wars 2 Gameplay
Halo Wars 2, like its predecessor, is a real time strategy title, and players will be able to control the situation not from the ground level, but from a bird’s eye point of view. Both the UNSC characters and the alien faction will be offered as playable characters. The vehicular combat in Halo Wars 2 follows a hierarchy of sorts in attacks and counter attacks, where airborne vehicles can take down ground vehicles, ground vehicles can take down foot soldiers, and foot soldiers will be effective in combat against airborne vehicles. The campaign has several different missions to play out and will also support co-op play.
Multiplayer Mode: Halo Wars 2 multiplayer will consist of a number of modes that include Skirmish, Strongholds, Domination, Deathmatch, and Blitz. The first of these will let players test out or practise their skills while playing against the game’s AI, for which they can team up for co-op or choose to play solo. The second one, Strongholds, is a timed mode where players must take control over as many bases as they can over their enemies. Domination mode will require the players to build their army and base from the ground up and the objective is to gain control over the Ark. Deathmatch will have players fight it out until only one player remains undefeated. Finally, Blitz, the newest addition to this roster, is a combination of card games and RTS. The cards needed to play the mode can be earned by playing the Halo Wars 2 campaign, and the player needs to create decks out of the cards, each of which can deploy a unit on the battlefield.
Halo Wars 2 Trailers
Thanks to the creators, we have got a number of story and character trailers that range from being cinematic to demonstrative. The announcement trailer did not reveal much, but it showed us a glimpse of some UNSC soldiers getting beaten up by a large enemy, later shown to be a Brute. The E3 trailer that was unveiled in 2016 showed off much more, in particular the formidable enemy leader of the Banished, Atriox. Watch them below.
In the video below, you can watch the creators talk about the characterisation in the game, the challenges they’re about to face, the enemy, and the overall technical upgrades that have been achieved in Halo Wars 2.
Finally, you can watch 10 minutes of gameplay in the footage below that the creators showcased at PAX West 2016. The courtesy for this particular video goes to Polygon.
Halo Wars 2 Release Date and Platforms
Halo Wars 2 is currently scheduled for release on February 21, 2017. The game will be launched on the Windows 10 PC and the Xbox. It will also be part of the Xbox Play Anywhere campaign, which will enable those who buy a digital copy for either platform to play it across both. Those who buy Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition for PC will get early access to the game on February 17. It will also come with a few extra stuff, which include the Halo Wars 2 game for Windows 10 and Xbox One (as part of the Play Anywhere), Halo Wars Definitive Edition, and an exclusive season pass that comes with new Blitz cards and additional campaign missions among others.
Halo Wars 2 Price
The standard edition of Halo Wars for PC and Xbox will retail for $59.99 in the US, while the Ultimate Edition will set players back by $79.99.
We’re looking forward to the game for two reasons mainly- one is that the story sounds pretty damn intriguing and the trailers look intense, and we can tell that it’s going to be a satisfactory experience. But the other reason is that we have been promised that Halo Wars 2 will have a really big impact on the happenings to come in the Halo 6. Since we don’t have to wait too long to find out what the game plays like, we’ll add more about how we think the main series and the spinoff could tie up. Let us know why you are a fan of the Halo Wars games.