Halo Wars 2 is not like your regular Halo, it is a real-time strategy game. You build bases, command armies, and manage resources to play. This game scratches my Halo itch and has fun and engaging gameplay to boot.
I came in hoping that the campaign would be 10 or more hours; I beat it in five and a half. I did this playthrough on normal difficulty and did not go for all the optional objectives in each level. Making optional objectives a priority and bumping the difficulty to heroic would push the game to about seven hours.
Even though the campaign was short, it was thoroughly enjoyable. There was a wide range of gameplay styles throughout the campaign, my favorite being a level similar to a tower defense game. There was also a boss fight, huge battles with the game’s legendary units going at each other, covert operations, and of course your regular base building and resource management style. A couple of levels included some throwbacks to levels in Halo Wars that I appreciated.
I don’t want to go into the story too much as it should really be played and not read, but I liked it. There were grand moments, cool-as-hell moments, and even humbling moments. It has a bit of a cliffhanger akin to Halo 2, but it is set up to tie into the Halo 6 story. Now, will 343 Industries incorporate the Halo Wars 2 story into Halo 6? It remains to be seen, but I hope they do.
Halo Wars 2 is very much an enhanced version of the original Halo Wars. The same base mechanics are there, but more depth has been added to improve the game as compared to its predecessor. There is a second resource now, which is used for research upgrades and advanced units. I was at first worried about this change, but I had no issues with it while playing, and I think it was a good design choice. There are new turrets, new units—that I hope we get to fight against in Halo 6—a new stealth mechanic, and a vastly different new game mode called Blitz. Leader powers were also updated and they make the leaders unique from one another as compared to the first Halo Wars.
Blitz is a new fast-paced multiplayer game mode where the goal is to hold areas to gain points. There is no base building in this mode; instead, units are called in from a deck. This deck is player chosen and contains a set of 10 cards. The cards can be troops, vehicles, aircraft, or leader powers. Each leader has different cards unique to them, so it can be quite a strategic game mode. Games take about seven to eight minutes, so it is there to be an option if you do not have time for a 40-plus minute game of death match.
The Blitz cards are how Halo Wars 2 has micro transactions. From my initial impressions, these do not seem pay to win. Playing through the campaign earned me over 20 packs to open, and I am currently only missing 13 cards out of 94 available. Getting the same card over again levels up the card, so the unit will have more health or a stronger attack. In comparison to Halo 5, I like that I am already much closer to card completion in Halo Wars 2. I’ve put over 450 hours into Halo 5 and I still have not completed the collection. It remains to be seen how much of an advantage the leveled up cards will give, but signs so far seem promising.
My favorite multiplayer mode has to be Rumble. It is a 3v3 mode with unlimited resources and the tech level increases as the match goes on. The goal is to capture mini-bases across the map, and whoever holds the most at the end of the game wins. The unlimited resources leads to really large battles really quickly. In the beginning it is limited to mainly infantry units due to the tech level, but once everything is unlocked it gets insane. I’ve had matches where multiple Scarabs on both teams have been battling it out for control of a base while Pelican airstrikes, orbital assaults, and Sentinel swarms rain down carnage from the skies.
This is a good to great game, and I will be playing it for a good amount of time to come. If you want to join me, just add Foehammer189; I play the Xbox One version. If you are a fan of Halo or RTS games, I would definitely recommend picking up Halo Wars 2.