8 years after the first Halo Wars in 2009, fans will finally get a sequel to one of the most popular real-time strategy games on 21 February 2017 – Halo Wars 2 on the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Developed by 343 Industries and Creative Assembly, and published by Microsoft Studios, Halo Wars 2 is set 28 years after the events of Halo Wars – which was set before the main timeline of the franchise. The Spirit of Fire crew wake up from cryo-sleep to face a brand new adversary in the form of Atriox and The Banished. Halo Wars 2 joins the timeline, right after the events of Halo 5: Guardians, and brings the franchise’s RTS line right along the rest of Halo and will basically unravel the story of what’s happened over the last years to both fans and the Spirit of Fire.

With the success of the original Halo Wars, you’d think that a sequel would have been on the cards much sooner. Why did it take so long though? A chat with Clay Jensen, Design Director, 343 Industries revealed that while there were always plans for a sequel, it was all about looking for the right partner – and he feels they have found one in Creative Assembly, the people behind the Total War series. (See more of the interview in the video below)

Is it any good though? First impressions, Halo Wars 2 has just bout everything there is to love about Halo and RTS. Round up your Spartans and send out your Warthogs and Scorpions as you co-ordinate precise strikes through enemy defenses… before you bring in the big guns and rain fire on those poor sods.

The character builds look really crisp and nice and the build system is quite intuitive. What I do like about it though is that it seems that they’ve actually taken the time to flesh out the plot for the campaign mode. While at this point I haven’t had much time with the game, it’s left a positive feel.

On the multiplayer front, while the standard fare is there – Deathmatch and the such, it is the new Blitz mode that’s got me pretty interested. Combining deck building with RTS, Blitz mode takes the longer multiplayer modes and compresses the game time into much shorter, quick-fire matches. The cards, which allow you to deploy inits and special abilities can be combined to upgrade your forces and kick face. But cards can be bought as much as you can earn them from completing quests. I’m curious what that will to to the balance of play. While I understand the need to use a pay model to bring in more cash… I feel that it should be left to aesthetic features and nothing that can give you a gaming advantage. I’m waiting to see where this goes.

I’m looking forward to see how Halo Wars 2 fares on full release. From what I’ve seen so far, i think it’s going to be fun at the very least.

Halo Wars 2 will be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. Fans can also join the Halo Wars 2 Blitz beta for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC starting January 20. The Blitz Beta will take place on the map “Proving Grounds,” and will offer 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 gameplay via matchmaking.

 

Here are a some of the features of Halo Wars 2 that you can look forward to as presented by the people behind the game:

 

The Return of the Spirit of Fire: Experience a riveting campaign which reintroduces the Spirit of Fire to the current Halo timeline, as Captain Cutter and his crew fight a dangerous new enemy intent on conquering everything in their path. Brought to life through detailed in-game graphics and the cinematic artistry of Blur Studio, the story of Halo Wars 2 dives straight into the chaotic state of the Halo universe directly after the events of Halo 5: Guardians.

The Dawn of Atriox: Halo Wars 2 introduces a new menacing villain to the Halo universe – Atriox, the leader of a violent, mercenary force known as The Banished. The Banished bring many classic Halo alien weapons of war to the battlefield with an explosive new redesign, making them as brutal and deadly as anything the UNSC has ever encountered in their battles with the Covenant.

The Biggest Halo Battlefield Ever:  Halo Wars 2 takes place on the mythical Ark, an incredibly powerful and mysterious alien installation created by the Forerunners millennia ago. The Ark was first introduced in Halo 3, and is the literal birthplace of the series’ eponymous Halo rings. Now players will have a chance to fight to control that power for themselves.

A New Kind of Strategy: Halo Wars redefined the real-time strategy (RTS) genre on consoles and Halo Wars 2 is set to take that evolution even further with a hybrid of action-oriented and classic tactical gameplay modes. Veteran developer Creative Assembly (Total War: Rome II, Total War: Shogun 2) brings decades of RTS experience to the Halo universe and delivers a game which will be action-packed fun for players new to strategy games and deeply challenging and rewarding for RTS experts.

Multiplayer

Skirmish: Test your battle strategies against a range of AI difficulty levels. Fight across all the environments and multiplayer game modes with as many AI and co-op friends (or enemies!) as each mode will allow.

Strongholds: Strongholds is a fast-paced, timed game mode where the objective is to control more bases than your opponent when the timer stops.

Domination: Domination offers the classic RTS gameplay of Halo Wars, now with all the new units, leaders, special abilities, and depth of Halo Wars 2. Build your base, build your army, and battle for control of the map and supremacy of the Ark!

Deathmatch: In Deathmatch you’ll plan and build your base and army, but instead of fighting for map control you’ll fight until only one player remains standing. Outthink and outflank your opponents, then have a celebratory barbecue on the smoking remains of their home bases.

Blitz: An all-new multiplayer mode that is an exciting addition to the Halo Wars series with a unique approach to RTS gameplay

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