Halo Wars 2 Reviews

  • JoutjaJoutja368,205
    09 Mar 2017
    10 0 0
    This review is based on the experiences and opinions of the author. Anything written here may not cover the entire extent of the game nor will it reflect on the experiences of others. All opinions expressed are held by the author and if you disagree with any content and wish to discuss please be polite. Rudeness will not be answered or tolerated. If later patches, findings, DLC or if the author’s opinion changes, this review may be edited to include these, in which case there will be an identifier placed at the top of the review.

    Quick Summary

    - The Banished are a great new faction to replace the Covenant.
    - Cut-scenes are awesome.
    - New units.
    - Well-Polished – No bugs encountered so-far.
    - Graphics not as up-to-date as expected.
    - Difficulty has been spiked. Not as accessible to new players.
    - Some controls a bit fiddly.

    Overall Score: 8/10

    Full review

    Please note that this review is also for the Xbox One Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition so may incorporate DLC features not available on other versions. This is also my first review so please don’t just too harshly on the organisation of the review. Any feedback is appreciated provided it is constructive.

    First, I’m going to give a quick summary of the campaign. You continue the story of the Spirit of Fire after they exit cryo sleep from the previous game and are pitted against the new enemy, the Banished. The campaign isn’t very long, consisting of only 12 missions which took the best part of 8 hours to finish. However, with all the bonus and optional objectives mixed in, there is a lot of re-playability and achieving those and in playing on the higher difficulties.

    Without giving away too much detail, the campaign missions provide several different scenarios which require the player to think on their feet and not rely solely on base-building and unit spamming to achieve the objectives. This variance means that there will be levels geared for a number of different type of strategy players.

    One thing which bothered me which may not bother other players, is the magical feature of the cryo tubes in that they can change a person’s race if they stay in it too long. This is a slight spoiler alert but shouldn’t have much bearing on the story of the game.
    *** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

    The ability to fight against the AI in a skirmish mode continues in this game. You have a greater variety of options available to you this time than in the previous game. As well as a couple of different game modes you also have the option to adjust the number of starting resources and whether mini-bases count towards the over-all base count. There doesn’t appear to be as large many maps to play on initially but it is likely that more will be released with the DLC packs as advertised by the season pass.

    One of the new game modes available in Halo Wars 2 is the domination mode which creates a series of captures points in the map which the players must fight over to accumulate enough points to win the game.
    One aspect of the skirmish mode which I have noticed but I’m not sure if it is intentional or if I’ve just had bad luck in this sense but the AI is very proficient at rushing you early on with fairly advanced units. This was only on normal mode which adds to the difficulty spike discussed later. After these initial first waves the AI appears to almost give up the attack and remain entirely on defence. It was not unusual for me to survive the first waves, build up a huge army and attack the AI only to find that they still only had their starting base and was defending it with only leader powers. Whether this will be patched later to make a more balanced match throughout remains to be seen.

    A completely new game mode called Blitz has the potential to be fun and is definitely aimed at the more speedy players who like to rush into battle or players who only have time for a quick battle here and there. While I like the idea, I’m not entirely sold on the requirements of having to build a deck from booster packs which provide a random set of cards for you to customise your decks with. These packs are gained on levelling up your player career which can be done both single player and multiplayer (although, only campaign counts. Skirmish mode provided no XP).

    In a Blitz battle, each team starts at the opposite sides of the map and they are tasked with capturing three domination points until the score reaches 200. Units are brought onto the map by the player drawing a “hand” of five cards picked from a deck of twelve cards and playing them by using power. Power is accumulated slowly but at regular intervals there are power drops on the map for your units to collect. This adds additional complexity as you would have to defend all the domination points and collect the power.
    Technically, the game performs well. The graphics are good, although not as updated as I would have expected considering Creative Assembly’s record and the current standard required of games. This could be due to Xbox One limitations. The game is harder than the previous Halo Wars but this seems to stem from the increased reliance on creating a more varied army roster. In Halo Wars One you could easily build a Grizzly/Hornet/Vulture/ODST army and still dominate the battlefield. If you tried that now you would instead be greeted by an AI that can adapt its army to effectively counter yours. Even if you varied up the unit’s, the AI can still pack a serious punch.

    The are some issues that the game suffers from. Connection issues were quite common in the multiplayer with disconnections from me and other players which then unbalanced the match for the remaining players. There is also an issue with the recording of wins and with one of the achievements. The lack of wins being recorded is a particularly frustrating problem. When you’ve finally managed to play through a whole match without disconnections and managed to beat the enemy but your hard earned win doesn’t count, desk’s get flipped. The achievement “Short Term Commitment” is, at the time of writing, logged on TrueAchievements as an unobtainable achievement as many players have managed to complete a daily challenge every day for longer than a week and yet it hasn’t popped. This can be frustrating because the players have to make the commitment to playing a few matches every day, not always possible for those who work long hours and might not get many chances to play every day.

    Now, to round off the review. While I’ve complained about a few of the features in Halo Wars 2 they don’t detract from the overall experience of the game significantly. Halo Wars 2 is a very fun game with a brilliantly thought out new enemy. There are a return of familiar units, improvements to others and some new ones to play with. The campaign, while the story is forgettable, provides a good mix of mission types with a bit more immersion with the characters on the field. It is a good starting point to prepare the player for Skirmish and Multiplayer. The multiplayer is fun and can offer a surprisingly large variety of game modes for the genre which gives me hope for a potential rebirth to the Command and Conquer type games.
  • Le Schwab 117Le Schwab 117100,802
    17 Mar 2017
    3 8 2
    Halo Wars 2 was a weird game. I mentioned my thoughts on the story in a separate article because it warranted its own discussion. Here, I will break the game down and offer my opinions on what I liked and didn't like.


    First, the campaign was a disappointment compared to Halo Wars 1. There are a ton of plot holes that aren't even addressed during the game, but 343 has stated there will be campaign DLC which will hopefully address these issues. I'm glad that there will be additional content, but why wasn't it included in the game in the first place? Today's games seem to launch with the bare minimum. This could be due to pressure by publishers to just get the game out. But it hurts games that need the extra polishing, such as Halo Wars 2.

    The campaign doesn't really open up until half way through the game. I don't remember how long Halo Wars 1 held my hand, but it seemed like Halo Wars 2 was a tutorial until mission seven or eight. I understand that players need to learn how to learn the new mechanics, but there are two dedicated tutorial systems in the game. I feel that RTS games work best when all of the units are available. That way, players can try out different strategies and see what works. Halo Wars 2 restricts the choices you can make until later on in the game.

    The missions that were offered weren't anything special. There was a mission where you started off with one of the Spartans and had to rescue other UNSC forces. Another mission had me holding off all Banished units for as long as I could. And one mission was basically a multiplayer mode where I had to hold as many domination points until I reached a certain number. No missions really stood out to me as something that hasn't been done before. I really disliked how 343 put a multiplayer mode into the single player campaign. If I wanted to play domination, then I would play domination. I wanted something unique, but nothing was there.

    The Blitz multiplayer mode wasn't my cup of tea either. It's an interesting concept, but I'm tired of games making me unlock cards to unlock units. Halo 5 did something similar with its Warzone Firefight mode.

    Speaking of Firefight, I only played a little of it because it is invite only. There is no matchmaking for Firefight, which I think is a shame. I've never been a fan of removing matchmaking from multiplayer modes because not everyone can get their friends to play together at a certain time. Players should always have another option.

    I think Halo Wars 2 shines with its multiplayer, specifically Team War. I enjoyed building my bases up and having massive battles. Unfortunately there are some balance issues. The UNSC units seem to be overpowered compared to the Banished units. As of now, marine rushes are incredibly hard to defend against.

    Forge and Anders seem to be the best leaders in the game because of their abilities to improve their economies quickly. I hardly ever see Isabel used. Sometimes I see Shipmaster used, but it's usually a high level player who can cloak and transport their units effectively.

    I hope that the leaders and units get nerfed or buffed because I don't want to play as Forge every game just so that I can have a chance to win. I'd also like to see the Banished get a complete overhaul because I enjoyed playing as the Covenant in Halo Wars 1.

    Overall, Halo Wars 2 is an average game. There are a lot of issues with the single player and the plot. Leaders and units aren't balanced. And Blitz mode isn't that fun for me. But the regular Team War is fun. If I wasn't a Halo fan, I may have rated this game lower, but I keep on coming back to play a multiplayer match every night. Hopefully 343 can make some balance changes and deliver with the campaign DLC.