Halo Wars 2 Review (Xbox One)

Jari Välimäki

Halo Wars 2 – the RTS that delivers.

It’s been a while since I have been exicted about an RTS title, I would personally have to go back all the way to the Command & Conquer day’s, so what has 343 studios and Creative Assembly managed to cook up?

Let’s begin by exploring the Story

28 Years later from the original Halo Wars, the sequel pits Captain James Cutter and his crew of The Spirit of Fire against a Covenant faction named the Banished, led by an brute called Atriox. Atriox has managed to seize control of an ancient structure called The Ark after wiping brutally out all the human scientists studying the artificial world.

What is his plans you ask? well, he seeks vengeance/revenge on everything/everyone whom is not part of the Banished, and plans to use the structures secret powers to do this. All that stands in Atriox’s way right now is you; Captain James Cutter, your UNSC forces and the last AI on The Ark whom survived Atriox’s brutal assault on the human Scientists.

Starting up.

Now that you have listened to the beautiful music in the main menu for a while and managed to jump into the Campaign portion of the game, as per Halo standard there are various difficulty levels to suit You from easy/normal to the harder levels of Heroic and Legendary,

The game caters both to beginners and seasoned players whom want an challenge. I wont go further into the story part to avoid spoilers of the game but what you can expect is 12 missions in the campaign and about 10-12 hours of fun gameplay from the Campaign alone.

The 12 missions consist of various types of tasks within missions, this can be from building an overwhelming force for offence, tasks as holding out for a certain time amount, to recon of enemy forces, even Hijacking things (not going to spoil). All above with the JAW dropping cutscenes make this the fun package it is, and hard to put down the controller before the next and the next and next mission is completed.

Now that you have listened to the beautiful music in the main menu for a while and managed to jump into the Campaign portion of the game, as per Halo standard there are various difficulty levels to suit You from easy/normal to the harder levels of Heroic and Legendary,

The game caters both to beginners and seasoned players whom want an challenge. I wont go further into the story part to avoid spoilers of the game but what you can expect is 12 missions in the campaign and about 10-12 hours of fun gameplay from the Campaign alone.

The 12 missions consist of various types of tasks within missions, this can be from building an overwhelming force for offence, tasks as holding out for a certain time amount, to recon of enemy forces, even Hijacking things (not going to spoil). All above with the JAW dropping cutscenes make this the fun package it is, and hard to put down the controller before the next and the next and next mission is completed.

How does it control you ask?

I have to confess; I went right onto the tutorial mode to familiarize myself with the control scheme and quick actions, the tutorial mode consists of two portions basic and advanced.

Basic being camera, troop control/movement. Advanced controlling multiple troops and base building.

It is a quick tutorial and explains well how to do the job. Now that you have done that, how does it work on the battlefield?

It works, and it works well.

Quickly moving from one end of the map to the other side by holding LB helps alot during hectic combat. To selecting multiple units by holding A and assigning them into a fireteam on the D-PAD whilst holding RT, to jumping back to your flag rally point or base by pressing left on the D-PAD and selecting all visible units on a simple press of RB.

343 and Creative Assembly have done a good job to logically bind controller functions.

But, what about Multiplayer?

There is the traditional multiplayer game modes in the game such as Deathmatch, Strongholds, Rumble and then there is Blitz.

Blitz mode is not your typical build and destroy bases kind of game type,
Blitz is all about controlling the points allocated on the map by using cards pulled from your leaders deck.

Blitz focuses on fast paced combat, with matches lasting 10-15 minutes max, the trick here is to
know when to use the right card, as cards pulled use energy from your pool, luckily you can find more energy around the map. It is a game mode that is quick, fun, feels fresh and addictive.

Card packs for Blitz can be earned by completing challenges and primary/secondary objectives in the main game, but also be purchased in store.

Building and upgrading your card decks for each leader in game is quite tempting, as who would not want the best deck possible to dominate in Blitz?

Let’s explore what is included in the season pass, details from news.xbox.com

The Halo Wars 2 Season Pass delivers regular content updates that span more than six months,
including: new leaders with abilities that change the course of multiplayer battles,
new units that add to your multiplayer arsenal, and a new campaign expansion featuring exclusive missions.
Available as part of the Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition, or available separately, the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass will offer incredible value for fans, extending long after launch.

This should indeed expand the amount of fun to be had with the game for many months to come.

In conclusion;

From beautiful music to JAW dropping cutscenes (wishing for an hour long movie!)
the battlefield banter, to an campaign that’s just perfect length with 12 missions,
Multiplayer with modes like Blitz that will extend the fun for months to come and succesful RTS control on a console.

Halo Wars 2 captures the Halo universe nicely,
and is well recommended by me to anyone as a beginner or veteran of RTS games.

Review copy provided by Microsoft.

Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition includes early access to the full game (Launches 21st of February 2017), Halo Wars: Definitive Edition and Halo Wars 2: Season Pass.
Xbox Play Anywhere: Pre-order the digital game, and it’s yours to play on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

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