Halo Wars 2 – Initial thoughts

Preface

Ok, so I love the halo universe, have done since Combat Evolved, and I’ve sunk hours of my life into these games.  I’ve read a few of the books, I’ve finished campaigns on every difficulty, and I love the depth of the lore that has been created.

I played the original Halo Wars, loved it, but never finished it. I am not good at RTS campaigns, I always start out well, but I just never seem to get to the end.

I hope that is about to change.

I’ve had a few hours over the weekend, playing campaign and skirmishes against my brother (Danny, you’ll never recover from such a massive defeat ; ) Scarab = Win!! ).

Thoughts

So, I started out playing skirmish against the AI, and lost……I like to build a base, and I just wasn’t moving fast enough.  Learning the ropes and trying to compete at the same time was a baptism of fire. I learned a lot, and it set me up for future games.

First thing: Power is a consumable that continually replenishes, like supplies.  This threw me for a start, I was building power plants to give myself enough scope for expansion (as one does in an RTS), but I was going about it the wrong way!  So, that blind-sided me for a start.  It’s actually a welcome change, and a nice way to keep the pace of a match going.

Anyway, I used a couple of different captains and had a play with the troops, leader abilities etc and had a great time.  Everything looks great, everything has specific purpose and the controls are wonderful.  Intuitive (R1 and R1 double click are you best friend!!), and straightforward.

So, after my defeat, I thought it best to do the tutorial and have a look at the campaign.

Tutorial: The tutorial was fine, gets you to grips with the basics, doesn’t take too long, and serves it’s purpose.

Campaign missions: Ok, so I only got to halfway through the second mission, but I had a really good time with it.  The cutscenes look incredible (as is the standard for the most recent Halo games), the characters seem great, and I really like the new AI that comes into it.  I like the premise of the story, and can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Truth be told, with cutscenes looking like they do, I’m more engaged with the story than some other games, already.

Blitz: Ok, so we tried a 2v2 blitz game, after opening a few packs of cards.  Neither of us really knew what to expect, and well…..it showed. We got wrecked pretty quickly, but started to understand the concept, hold points, use energy to produce units from the cards in your deck.

Then we thought we would take this knowledge and apply it to a “firefight”, which worked, kind of.  We cleared the first difficulty, and then got destroyed.

It was actually a pretty fun mode, and once we understood the gameplay it became more enjoyable.  Looking forward to playing a few more games of Blitz to see how it stands out as a gametype.  I think it’s perhaps a breath of fresh-air for the genre, however I’ve read a lot of complaints from people being matched up with high levels, that have much better decks.  So let’s hope matchmaking isn’t its downfall!

Gripes 

1 – I did have a total freeze-up and got disconnected from an online game (I didn’t forfeit the match, regardless of what my brother says!).

2 – The first Halo Wars had one big let down to myself and my brothers.  All we wanted was a 1v1v1 free-for-all skirmish-type game.  It did not allow for it at all. 2v1? fine, 2v2, 3v3? No problem.

Just a deathmatch for 3 different people? Nope!!  Again, this isn’t possible.  It used to be a staple of RTS games, a skirmish with multiple enemies that could be potential allies temporarily, whilst you got rid of someone else.  Why aren’t we able to do this now?!  The maps are big enough, there’s obviously no issue with matchmaking or connectivity, why oh why can’t we do this?  I know there would be much more life in the game for me if this was a possibility.

To come

So, I’ve got plenty to go at still, and I’ll post more thoughts, perhaps a review, in due course.

So far it’s a great sequel to a great game, with some nice graphical enhancement, some quality of life improvements, and a good start to the campaign.

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