the Andrew Bailey

Halo Wars 2

When I heard that Halo Wars got a sequel, I wondered who wanted it. The first one didn't set the world on fire, and it wasn't sophisticated enough to get a sizeable cult following. Since Ensemble shut down, Microsoft chose Creative Assembly, the people behind the Total War series, to create this. By and large, Halo Wars 2 received the same mediocre welcome. It wasn't until Halo Infinite that anyone realized that this was meant to be a prequel of sorts.

Screenshot of Halo Wars 2, showing a Banished army attacking a Banished base

Gameplay-wise, nothing much has changed between this and the original. The specific unit types and names have almost completely changed, and new super units have been added. However, each unit's role is analogous to most units in the original. The descriptions remain, along with icons to quickly determine which units are good or bad against other unit types remain. Even I, a somewhat familiar RTS player, might not know which units are good against others merely by virtue of experience with other RTSes.

The campaign feels longer. It follows the Spirit of Fire from the previous game, which has inexplicably ended up at the Ark from Halo 3. In the time since it all went down there, the Banished have made their home here. An AI found on the first mission fills you in on the Banished's origins, and who Atriox is. Like Infinite, Atriox doesn't fight you directly, but unlike Infinite, his subordinates are mostly not elaborated on. There is a DLC that might, but Game Pass doesn't include it. What a ripoff!

The presentation has improved. The visuals and art direction are good, and campaign cinematics were lovingly done by Blur. The Banished have a distinct heavily armored appearance, which was further refined by Infinite. There were 2 ads for this that I particularly enjoy. (That animatronic is real, and stands in 343's offices.)

This game has purchasable card packs, which drags the whole thing down. Blitz, a new game type, centers around cards. Just like other video card games, I am disinterested. I suppose that you can date games to the mid-2010s if they have modes or minigames based around cards. Not to be outdone, the skirmish mode has selectable leaders, most of which are DLC addons.

From my superficial observations, this is about as good as the original and doesn't break new ground. My 3 months free of Game Pass is ending, but I would buy this if it was on Steam. Unfortunately, support was discontinued recently as Infinite was coming out.

Posted under Gaming. 0 complaints.