There aren’t many franchises that can branch out into different genres without feeling like the skin has been stapled onto something else entirely. So it’s a testament to Microsoft and Bungie (and now 343 Industries) that they’ve built such a captivating universe that stories can be told, and whole-new genres can be explored and still feel like a natural fit. Halo Wars 2 proves that the Halo IP still has a lot of strength and brings another fun RTS to the usual FPS-filled world. As a Real-Time Strategy game it’s fun but lacks depth. What it lacks in depth however is made up by the sheer amount of content on display here.
Halo Wars 2 has all the staples you may expect from an RTS game like a campaign, scenarios, and multiplayer. The game also features a truly unique mode in the form of Blitz which speeds up the usually methodical and sometimes slow pace of an RTS match and makes it all about dropping units in the battlefield.
The Campaign takes around 6-7 hours to complete are for the most part are your standard fare of RTS missions. A lot of the time, you will be tasked with controlling heroes and moving from point A to B while defeating enemies. There’s not a huge sense of strategizing here and nothing feels particular exciting. However, seeing well-recognisable vehicles and unites from a different genre still brings an air of excitement for fans of the series.
Even if the campaign missions do little to think outside the box, each mission is broken up by mesmirising cut-scenes that tell a distinct and interesting story. Despite the big bad guy Atriox not being featured as much as I was expecting, his intimidation is felt throughout the campaign in the form on the AI Isabel’s fear of him. It does the job well and completing the sometimes dull mission was worth it for the stunning cut-scenes that followed.
Control-wise, Halo Wars 2 is stuck between a rock and a Hunter. As the game is available on PC and consoles, compromises had to be made to make everything feel a little more streamlined. While the console version of the game fares surprisingly well given the control scheme, the PC version suffers from its contemporaries’ ability to allow you to do so much more at any one time. Even when comparing to older RTS games, Halo Wars 2 feels simplistic and sometimes slow.
That doesn’t mean the game isn’t incredibly fun to play with its own tricks up its sleeve. The supports available can really ratchet up the excitement and when deployed right can be really turn the tide in a battle or take out attacking forces that have pushed too far on, allowing yourself some breathing room to regroup.
For PvP, Halo Wars 2 has your standard Deathmatch as well as a few territory control styled modes like Domination and Strongholds. Strongholds is unique in the sense that everyone has unlimited sources so things can feel quite frantic and fun. It doesn’t feel like a serious mode however and ultimately feels more casual.
This Blitz Mode may be the highlight for players that may not normally play RTS games but enjoy the Halo world. Gone is micromanagement and base-building and it’s all dealing with the luck of the draw you get when a battle starts and improvising your strategies as you go.
The most interesting mode however could be the Blitz Firefight mode that pits you against waves of AI enemies and can be done in co-op creating some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a an RTS game.
Halo Wars 2 is a really fun RTS game that doesn’t ask you to get too invested. With a myriad of modes, and Commanders to choose from each with their own support powers, there’s definitely a
lot to try out. However, the more shallow structure to RTS may means fans of the genre will lose interest rather quickly. Either way, Halo Wars 2 contains a good story with stunning cut-scenes, great variety of modes. And some unique approaches to the genre. It may never be anyone’s definitive RTS game but it certainly does a lot of good for short-term fun and expands the Halo Universe in a great way