The Dawn of Atriox: A Look at Halo Wars 2

The Dawn of Atriox: A Look at Halo Wars 2

Halo Wars is a series that managed the impossible: taking the lore and concept of Halo and blending it with the RTS Genre. Hitting the Xbox 360 in 2009, it was met with critical and audience success. Now, seven years later, 343 Industries, with the help of Creative Assembly, are bringing the series back. Bigger and more advanced than the previous game, Halo Wars 2 is bringing the Halo Wars franchise into the modern realm of RTS games, and this time it is hitting the PC as well as the Xbox One.

The Dawn of Atriox: A Look at Halo Wars 2 5Taking place in the modern Halo universe, Halo Wars 2 brings back the iconic Spirit of Fire starship along with its commander Captain Cutter as they discover the mythical Ark that was first introduced in Halo 3. The power structure is no longer as it was in previous games, and the crew of the Spirit of Fire find themselves facing a new enemy, one more ruthless than anything the covenant had on offer: the Banished and their leader Atriox.

Atriox is a new breed of villain that you as the player must face. Brilliant and brutal, Atriox will stop at nothing to achieve his goals by crushing the opposition and forcibly pushing to gain power in the galaxy. Utilizing covenant-modified technology, the Banished, with Atriox at the helm, are a force unlike anything the UNSC have ever faced.

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Now that these two factions are locked in a battle neither will back away from, Halo Wars 2 takes players to the varied terrain the Ark allows. Crafted by the Forerunners, the Ark is the seat of power and literal birthplace of Halo Rings. This is a trophy that neither side will give up easily. It is also a setting that offers countless terrains and areas for combat.

Now with the help from the team at Creative Assembly, the team behind the Total War series, Halo Wars 2 is in capable hands. The developer brings with it years of experience in the RTS genre and a skill for making tactical and fun strategy games. Few studios currently working today know the genre as well as these people. Combine that pedigree with 343 Industries, a studio that lives and breathes Halo, and you get the perfect combination for building a memorable experience in the Halo universe.

From the first minute I picked up the game and jumped into a mission, this history was clearly on display. The teams have managed to build a game that feels like a modern RTS. The controls were easy to master, and anyone who has been playing StarCraft or even Dota will feel right at home playing Halo Wars 2. It feels as if you are taking the reigns on a living, breathing world; one that reacts, in real time, to the situations presented.

The sound will change as combat ramps up, from the dynamic musical store to the way units react, and everything works to create an immersive experience, one that you quickly get lost within. There is clearly a level of care and craftsmanship on display that few games can achieve. Even four months out from release, the level of polish in the mission I played was second to none.

The Dawn of Atriox: A Look at Halo Wars 2 4No matter how polished a game looks and feels, if it is not enjoyable to play it ultimately fails at its task. This is why it was so refreshing to see Halo Wars 2 surpass the previous installment in nearly every way. The way units are controlled and move was refreshing. It managed to achieve the right balance of challenge with a sense of accomplishment. From the way you need to hold out against units, to the back and forth trading as you push forward in an attack, it all worked as well as you would hope. There is clearly still balancing to be done before the game is ready for prime time consumption, but even in its current state the game was a blast to jump into.

The real winner for Halo Wars 2 has to be the Blitz mode, the card-style multiplayer mode that is new to the series. This new mode, which can be played solo or multiplayer, has the player work to maintain control of points on the map as your opponent tries to do the same. Unlike in other modes, Blitz limits what can be utilized in battle by offering a selection of cards from randomized packs. Much like a game of Magic or Harthstone, there are a variety of cards to draw from, all offering different costs and advantages. It is up to you to build a deck, and try to match wits with your opponent.

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Despite how it may sound, the Blitz mode works far better then I would have imagined. The card mechanic makes for a unique challenge. By playing an RTS game with no base building and a random assortment of troops, you are forced to think on your toes. Will you play only power cards, biding your time as you collect resources to make big pushes on the opponent, or will you go with lower power cards and a steady stream of attacks? The choice and how you play are up to you. As I played I tried both methods, along with a mix, to varying degrees of success. The simple fact that you must hunt down the resources to be able to drop down the cards makes for a constant struggle to stay ahead of your opponent, and offers some amazing emergent gameplay moments. In a series of solo horde-style games along with some high intensity 2v2 matches, the mode never got old. I found myself tweaking the deck of cards I was using and trying to find the perfect combination to dominate the battlefield. It is a mode that I could see people getting lost in, especially if the team manages to get the balancing right. With countless possibilities for future expansion, Blitz is something that could help Halo Wars 2 stand out from the RTS crowd.

The Dawn of Atriox: A Look at Halo Wars 2 1As with any game moths away from release, it is hard to say if this will end up being a must own. What I can say is Halo Wars 2 seems to have all the parts that could push it to be something special. The teams working on the project clearly care about the game, and the level of polish on display is second to none. Yet the devil is in the details, and that final balancing and tweaking are what separates the good games from the great ones. If what is on display is any indication, the teams at 343 Industries and Creative Assembly are building something that any real time strategy fan would love to play. It combines the Halo universe with the genre perfectly, and most important of all, it was fun to play. Halo Wars 2 is slated to launch on PC and Xbox One this February 21st, 2017.

Halo Wars 2 Preview: Could Make New RTS Fans

Halo Wars 2 Preview: Could make new RTS Fans

When Halo Wars launched in 2009, it was met with a lot of criticism. Traditionally RTS games don’t translate well onto consoles—the required simplicity made it difficult for traditional RTS fans to sink their teeth into, so it was easy to see why the game didn’t work. Still, according to Microsoft, it’s one of the most requested sequels from the Xbox brand. In order to avoid letting their fan base down, the house of Halo announced the return of Halo Wars in the form of an all-new game, Halo Wars 2, available for both PC and Xbox One. I got my hands on a demo for the game at X16 in Toronto, and there seemed to be a lot of care put into this title.

Developed by creative Assembly (the minds behind the Total War franchise), Halo Wars 2 takes place shortly after Halo V. The demo I played was actually the PC build, so right off the bat I enjoyed my time more than I would have with a controller. Still, for anyone who wants to, it is available for the Xbox One as well and is part of the Play Anywhere program.  Still, Halo Wars 2 feels a lot more basic than many RTS games. That isn’t a bad thing though, as it makes the game much easier to just pick up and play without many of the fears newcomers may have. The simplicity of the game was completely intended, and for something in the Halo universe that ventures outside of the twitch shooter genre it works as a nice break from the norm.

Halo Wars 2 Preview: Could make new RTS Fans 1However, Halo Wars 2 does feel somehow familiar. The team at 343 Industries swapped out a lot of the strategy from the RTS genre and replaced it with straight up action and hard-hitting explosions. Every support missile and every bomb dropped makes an impact, and it’s pretty glorious.  One thing I really enjoyed was the plethora of special abilities available. Like I stated above, the minds behind this game wanted everything to pack a punch, so calling in an air strike really feels like a big event.

I sat through a level of the 10 to 12 hour single player campaign and played a multiplayer map as well. While the mission was more linear than the open team deathmatch I played, they shared a lack of focus on building structures; instead making the game more about creating units and engaging in combat. Yes, there are bases to build, but they require very little upkeep and management. The idea is to keep your troops intact and own the map. One thing I particularly enjoyed was how the winds of battle can change. In a lot of RTS games I’ve played, there is a moment where I can pinpoint exactly when I’ve lost. After that moment, I’m essentially trying to cover holes in a sinking ship.  In Halo Wars 2 however, my team worked our way back from a pretty big deficit to win the match in a convincing fashion. I was told the game I played was one of many multiplayer modes designed to ease players into the game. There are more basic games to start with, and as players get their bearings with some of the more basic aspects of RTS mechanics, they can go forward into more complex, all-encompassing gameplay that involves building units, managing them, and coordinating them in battles.

The two playable generals consisted of a human and Decimus, the highly intelligent brute antagonist introduced at E3. I stuck with the humans under the guidance of an Xbox rep, but I did notice slots for more generals, so I can only assume there are more characters to unlock that could have different play styles.

Halo Wars 2 is slated for a February 2017 release, but will not feature cross platform play for obvious reasons. Fans can either pick up the regular version of the game or the Ultimate Edition that includes Halo Wars 2 and the original Halo Wars completely remastered on both Xbox One and PC. I’m really interested to try the PC build of the original Halo Wars just to see how much of my complaints were rooted in the fact that it’s a console game.
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Regardless of that, Halo Wars 2 looks to be a pretty exciting step for Halo fans. This is the perfect game to get someone who typically wouldn’t play an RTS into the genre, and as a kid who grew up on Warcraft III and Command and Conquer: Red Alert that makes me happy. If it can manage to stay interesting even in its simplicity, I have no doubts it can make a few new fans.

Halo Wars 2 Open Beta Screens Leaked

Halo Wars 2 Open Beta Screens Leaked 2

For those yearning for the fast-paced action of the Halo franchise, combined with the thrilling gameplay of an RTS can get their fix in Halo Wars 2, which, thanks to leaked images will be available through an open beta.

The images surfaced after the Halo Wars 2 open beta appeared on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Seemingly, the beta was to be announced Microsoft’s conference at E3, and run through the whole week as the start date for the beta is June 13th 2016, ending on the 20th.

Halo Wars 2 Open Beta Screens Leaked Halo Wars 2 Open Beta Screens Leaked 1

Supposedly the beta was listed under Microsoft spokesperson, Major “Larry Hyrb” Nelson followed games, however the listing has since been taken down.

First Strike Games Bring Hard Hitting Talent to New Studio

First Strike Games Bring Hard Hitting Talent to New Studio 1

The Games industry is built on change. As one studio loses staff, another will pick them up and develop new concepts with that talent. First Strike Games is a new studio, and it seems they have collected some talented people from 343 Industries, notably some people that worked on Halo 5.

Read moreFirst Strike Games Bring Hard Hitting Talent to New Studio

Halo 5 Beta and Pre-Orders Details

Halo 5 Beta and Pre-Orders Details - 49488

This week, Xbox announced the launch of Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta, which promises to be the next evolution in multiplayer gaming. Following the legacy that Halo has left as the definitive arena shooter, this new multiplayer feature allows players to participate in a 4v4 multiplayer area battle royal. With the new added Spartan abilities, modes and new characters, Xbox promises to deliver a gaming experience that is sure to entice old fans and newcomers alike.

If you want to pre-order to ensure you get the version of the game you want, Microsoft has outlined three versions of the game to choose from. The standard edition of the game will cost $59.99 and will come with the game and an exclusive poster. If you want to be a bit more committed to your Halo experience the Limited Edition may be for you. Running at $99.99, this version of the game comes with everything the standard edition comes with and additional of extra digital content and a steel book case for the game. Now you may be saying “My Love for Halo has no limits”, in that case, Microsoft has you covered. The Limited Collector’s Edition, costing $249.99, consisting of everything the other versions have, along with a numbered statue designed by the team at 343 Industries.

Microsoft are really ensuring everyone who is excited for Halo 5 will have many ways to get their hands on it. The Multiplier Bata runs from now until January 18th. Turn on your Xbox One and strap in for some Halo Action. Sound off below on what you think of the beta, and if you plan to pick up one of the special editions of the game.