As a major Halo fanboy, I have been looking forward to the release of Halo Wars 2 since it was first hinted, now that it is here – my mind is blown away! From the moment my Warthogs jump over cliffs and drive how they always did in the main series, to the classic Scorpion vs Wraith fights, this game gets me straight back into the Halo universe.
Just yesterday I completed the 12-mission long campaign, and found myself satisfied but also a little underwhelmed as the ending links the game with the main Halo series whilst leaving it very open. This is a mixed bag, as it would have been nice to have a fully rounded off game, but also, who would turn down a Halo Wars 3? If it is anything like this game – I am in!
One of my main problems with Halo Wars 1 was the lack of storytelling, it seemed a little rushed and the cutscenes were way to short, but I will let that slide as it is hard to get across a good story in RTS games regardless. However, Halo Wars 2 hit’s it on the head, from the first mission to last, the story is compelling and interesting – even filled with loads of bits and pieces for players to collect and read. The animations are spectacular within the cutscenes, and the introduction of an enemy whom managed to convey strong fear, a brute known as Atriox, he manages to scare even the new Cortana type character, Isabel, was executed well and even managed to make me think twice before engaging him.
The mission designs are nothing special, with the standard campaign missions you’d expect from any RTS campaign. However, adding the Banished into the Halo franchise – a group separated from the Covenant, who have their own unique vehicles and support vehicles – is a welcome addition, adding a extra breath of life into the series.
The graphics overall are stunning, I played through the game on Xbox, but also took a stab at the PC version – through Xbox Play Anywhere – and there was minimal difference, with PC coming out above Xbox but it was still gorgeous. Alongside the campaign, the new Blitz mode, which mixes RTS tactics with that of a card game, is a welcome addition to the franchise and mixes up the tradition base-building game modes expected from an RTS.
Even on controller, the game works, and is clear that Creative Assembly know what they are doing – which you’d expect from the Total War franchise developer! That being said, a key issue with Halo Wars 2 is the controls and its lack of micro-management, whilst this is expected from a RTS based on console, it still removes one of the key elements necessary in an RTS game which the most seasoned strategy players would expect.
With additional units, game modes, storytelling and generally a great looking game – Halo Wars 2 is a sequel that improves on the base game, and provides you with a dose of the Halo-universe in a different light, whilst still being a good game if you aren’t a Halo fanboy, you may be underwhelmed. Let me know where you have played it and what your thoughts were overall!