I was a massive Halo Wars fan when it launched. Sure, it existed beyond the standard boundaries of the shooter only series, but I loved all things Halo and solid RTS efforts. Ensemble managed to reduce the often complicated RTS control system on PCs down to an Xbox 360 controller masterfully, and gamers wound up with a tight, succinct RTS in the Halo universe.
It was great.
I played a single multiplayer match in Halo Wars 2 last night at an Xbox preview event. The match was 3-on-3, and we were required to capture bases and score points before time ran out.
Halo Wars 2 is being developed by Creative Assembly, a studio with tons of RTS experience, and 343 Industries. A lot of the stuff I remember from the original Halo Wars remains in place. The radial construction menu is back, heroes are back with their hero powers, the game looks and feels the same (albeit much prettier with modern machines).
On the PC, which was running at the kiosk behind me, Halo Wars 2 looked smooth as butter. The radial control menu remains, suggesting that parity will be maintained between platforms regardless of the fact that PCs support keyboard and mouse. The Xbox One version of the game, which I played, admittedly stuttered and tore during intense moments or while zooming about the map. I’m reminding you as much as I’m reminding myself, here: the game is in development still. It won’t release until early next year, and oftentimes performance comes together in that window before launch.
What I didn’t see during the demo was what I cared about most: single player. The campaign for Halo Wars was actually really interesting, and I distinctly remember the cut scenes offering some of my favorite moments in Halo lore during the 360 generation. That’s the stuff I’m eager to see from Halo Wars 2. If the game carries that same satisfying control scheme and fun bouts of combat, it should be a blast.
Halo Wars 2 will sell for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs on February 21, 2017. You can snag the beta on Xbox One this week for free.