It was a surprise to most of us that Halo didn’t get a mention at E3. Surely the flagship franchise will have some kind of an impact when the Xbox One X launches on November 7th.
Well, fear not, as today 343 Industries announced its intention to give Master Chief a 4K makeover. The update will be available later this year, and 343 stated “there is more to share on this front as we get closer to release.”
Alongside this 4K support for Halo 5, a number of Halo titles are also coming to backwards compatibility for Xbox One later in the year. Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4, and Halo: CE Anniversary will all become available, and each game will contain campaign and multiplayer modes and even LAN play between Xbox One and Xbox 360. Also, every Xbox 360 map pack in the Xbox Store will also be free of charge.
It’s been eight years since the launch of Halo Wars on the Xbox 360, the perfect companion for those who wanted to experience the Halo universe from a different perspective. Clearly there was enough of a demand for a sequel and we finally have it, and thankfully it’s better than ever.
Halo Wars 2 features a lengthy story campaign as well as a comprehensive multiplayer, one that introduces a new variant to the RTS world in the form of the card based Blitz mode, more on that later.
Having spent three hours playing the game at a preview event early last month, I was excited to get my hands on the retail build of the game and really get into the campaign and its new story arch within the Halo Universe. Our review will remain spoiler free, so there’s no need to worry about reading on!
Taking place after Halo 5: Guardians, a new enemy threatens the Halo universe, and the only thing standing between extinction and humanity is the brave crew on board the Spirit of Fire, led by Captain Cutter. Halo Wars 2’s story feels much more accessible than than Halo 5 did, and I really enjoyed it. Each mission feels completely different; some require you to break down the opposition’s defences, while others require you to defend against waves of attacks. The final mission type involved capturing various points on the map, and as the story progresses the missions become quite intense, making for a fantastic experience.
The key to winning any battle in an RTS is how you manage your resources. Halo Wars 2 is no different, with the most important being power and supplies. Everything you build requires a set amount of each so it’s crucial you manage both well and efficiently, lest you’ll fall to the superior numbers and upgrades of your opponent.
Early on in the game you’ll learn about building your base, then adding generators and supply pads, before building other buildings such as garages, barracks and armories. As you would expect the garage deals with vehicles, the barracks create the infantry, while the amoury helps with improving weaponry. These can be upgraded over time, improving the health, power and capabilities of your units.
Managing everything via your controller is really simple, the RB manages which units you want to select, a single click will highlight local units while a double click calls all units. LB allows you to move across the map quickly, which is useful if you have units spread out. Certain units, such as spartans have special moves which can be activated using Y. The best move is the ability to hijack a wraith, which can make a big difference when the enemy starts to push you. You can single out different groups of soldiers or equipment if you need to move them away from a larger group, for example, using snipers to scope out cloaked enemies. It could have been really easy to mess up the control system but I felt comfortable almost instantly.
As the leader of the group, you have Leader Powers that can be activated and recharged during battle. These range from restoration drones that repair units within a certain area to Archer missiles, which can be devastating if used correctly. As the game goes on you’ll be able to make use of ODST drops, instant turrets and more. And with the Leader Powers being upgraded on the fly if you have the resources, they can prove to be a valuable card up your sleeve if you need to make a big push or quickly turn the tide.
I played the campaign through on normal difficulty, I did play some missions on Heroic and things really ramped up. Thankfully you can bring in a co-op partner to help manage the workload. I love the subtle touches in the game, the conversations that the AI have with each other while fighting and watching the machinery at your base build the equipment you require.
Playing against the enemy is one thing, but playing online against humans is a different ball game. Halo Wars 2’s multiplayer has a bunch of modes to play through. Skirmish allows you to fight across all the environments and multiplayer game modes with as many AI and co-op friends as each mode will allow. Strongholds is probably my favourite mode, in which you’ll need to capture and control the most bases when the round’s timer stops. There is also Domination and Deathmatch modes to take part in too. Deathmatch is brilliant if you want to see the pain in your opponent’s eyes as their base is turned to rubble.
Matches can take anything from 20 to over 60 minutes, and sometimes you may not have the time to get that involved. That’s where Blitz comes along. Blitz puts a twist on RTS gameplay by combining card-based strategy with RTS combat. Your card deck is your army in Blitz, you can choose a leader, that come with their own unique abilities, then build your deck in preparation for battle. On the battlefield, matches last no longer than 20 minutes and can be over in as little as 5. It’s a brilliant way to get in a couple of matches if you’re short on time, yet you still need to be very tactical to win.
As you would expect from any Halo title, the presentation is superb. The musical score had me mesmerised from the beginning, as did the audio in battle – get zoomed right in when you can so that you can hear all the workings of your units. The graphics are excellent, again in battle there’s plenty of detail to look at, although the maps never really jumped out at me as much as they might have done from a first-person view. The cinematics are sensational, it’s really getting hard to tell the difference between live action and CGI cinematics, Blur who worked with 343 Industries and Creative Assembly will no doubt very pleased with their work.
Apart from struggling with the higher difficulties I never experienced any major problems with the game, I had one crash but that’s likely down to the Preview Program. Halo fans new and old must play this, the battles are intense but hugely satisfying when you come out on top. The story had me gripped from start to end and I’m having a real blast perfecting my rather rusty RTS skills online. Halo Wars 2 is well worth your time.
Check out the latest video to come from 343 Industries and Creative Assembly, as they discuss the multiplayer modes available in the up and coming Halo Wars 2 along with a new style of gameplay called Blitz.
As you can see from the video, Blitz is a mix between real time strategy and a card based game. Players get to create a deck of 12 cards based on their chosen Commander, deploying these cards onto the battlefield in real-time during the match. As like other card based games, every card/unit carries an energy cost, the more powerful the unit the higher the cost to play it. Strategy will play key as in the heat of a battle do you spend your energy points on smaller units to build up your forces or save your energy so you can deploy Wraiths or Warthogs. Only you can make these decisions.
Blitz mode will come in two variations, Firefight and PvP. Firefight will be a PVE mode that can either be played by yourself or with up to two other friends against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. PvP will come in its normal fashion of ranked and unranked matches of 1v1, 2v2 or 3v3.
For more information about the up and coming game modes in Halo Wars 2, check out Xbox Wire, or the Official Website. Halo Wars 2 is due for release on February 21st 2017 on Xbox One and Windows PC.
So hands up if you took part in the Halo Wars 2 Beta? Well if you did then keep an eye on your Xbox Inbox as all players that took part are being rewarded with free Halo Wars 2 Avatar T-shirts. If you were one of the lucky ones that took part you will receive two codes, one male and one female. So if dressing up is your thing then keep you eyes open.
Halo Wars 2 will be available February 21, 2017 for Xbox One and Windows 10 and will feature as one of the Play Anywhere titles.
Loot Crate have been producing special one-off themed crates for gamers to go giddy over, now they are looking to produce a themed edition that runs over several months. The Halo Legendary crate will be one of the first to trial this, running over 12 months. There are six different Legendary crates for Halo fans to get excited for – and what’s in them? Who knows… that’s the best part, it’s a surprise.
343 Industries have partnered with Loot Crate for the Halo Legendary Loot Crate, so the contents will no doubt be awesome and packed with figures, apparel, collectibles, in-game items and several surprises. The first crate spotlights the SPARTAN-IVs and includes an exclusive figure that will form the heart of this first crate – it will be shown off at RTX 2016 and streamed over on twitch on Friday, July 1.
We haven’t had a leak for at least a few hours so you’ll be pleased to know we have one for you, this time it’s Halo Wars 2. There haven’t been many details about the latest title from 343 Industries, but the beta will no doubt give us some more insight into the sequel.
MondoXbox posted the images (in Italian) of the Xbox Store with the Halo Wars 2 open beta. The start date is the same day Microsoft holds its E3 2016 press conference.
If you follow Major Nelson’s gamertag you’ll see it’s listed under the games he follows.
At least try to look shocked on Monday evening about this, ok?
Zombies became popular with gamers back in the days of Halo 2 – manually switching teams when killed by a sword wielding zombie player – eventually, the mode received it’s own slot in Halo 3’s multiplayer and has featured ever since. Now, infection is coming to Halo 5.
Infection was unveiled during the game’s Halo livestream: Ghosts of Meridian. BRAINS!
During the Easter break the Killer hype lived on in the Iron Galaxy Studios as they put on the finishing touches for the launch of Killer Instinct Season 3.
Released on the 29th of March, Killer Instinct Season 3 will give you, right off the bat, Kim Wu, Tusk, Rash and Halo’s Arbiter. There will also be another character dropping every month. In April we will have access to the vampire, Mira. The boss from Killer Instinct 2, Gargos will be making his long awaited return, invading consoles in May and two new characters will drop in the following months, one of which we know will be General RAAM from Gears of War.
Later this season a new re-playable single player mode will be introduced, called Shadow Lords. In this mode you will assemble your strongest team to take on Gargos and his cronies in a battle across the world. Purchase of the Ultra Edition will land you early access to all the new, incoming fighters as well as eight retro costumes and accessories.
Season 3 launches simultaneously with the Windows 10 version and cross-play multiplayer is available to both formats with the game. All of your purchased characters from the Xbox One version will also carry over to the Windows 10 version which also supports 4k visuals.
The only original Killer Instinct character that has not been announced is Eyedol. Do you think he will be making a return along side Gargos?
The wait is finally over and fans of Halo 5: Guardians can now get a glimpse of the up and coming Player vs Environment (PvE) Warzone Firefight mode, which featured during the Halo World Championship 2016 Finals.
Warzone Firefight will put you and up to seven other players together, working as a team to complete five rounds of increasingly difficult, time limited objectives. Add to this the most on-screen enemies in the history of the franchise, and you are looking at some serious firefights. However 343 Industries haven’t left you high and dry as you will have access to all your weapons, vehicles and mods via the REQ system, allowing you to bring the right tool for the job.
On a side note – if you haven’t already claimed you free Halo 5: Guardians – Halo World Championship REQ Pack then check out the link here.
Warzone Firefight is expected to hit our consoles sometime in the summer so stay tuned for further information.
As I sit here a content update is currently dropping from orbit on to your Xbox Ones, yes today is the launch for the next Halo 5 Guardians free update, Hammer Storm. As with the previous updates The Battle of Shadow and Light, The Cartographer’s Gift and Infinity’s Armory, Hammer Storm brings a whole wealth of new content ranging from new game modes, weapons and even a new map. Some of the key features are:
New game modes: Grifball, Assault and Fiesta. From the hammer-meets-sword sports sensation of Grifball, and weapon-roulette hilarity of Fiesta, to the fan-favorite Assault game type that’s been fully evolved for Halo 5: Guardians, Hammer Storm brings a brand new game mode to fit every flavor of Halo fan.
New map Torque. An entirely new environment primed for battle, Torque is a large symmetrical map that caters to Capture the Flag and Assault game modes. The pistons in each courtyard can provide key gameplay for cover, traversal, and objective movement.
New weapons change the game. The Gravity Hammer provides the proper tool for smashing enemies, and the Halo: CE Pistol brings back a legacy of single-handed death-dealing. Be sure to watch for the classic headshot death animation when you deliver the killing blow!
New REQ items. Hammer Storm has a myriad of new REQs, including attachments for loadout weapons, weapon skins, armors, emblems, assassinations, visors, and stances.
New possibilities with Forge. The new “ball” mechanic that powers the Assault and Grifball modes unlocks the potential for entirely new game types in Forge mode, not to mention paving the way for returning favorites like Oddball and Ricochet.
With the release of Hammer Storm this brings the current free content since launch of Halo 5 to 11 new maps, 12 new modes (including Big Team Battle and Forge) and more than 180 new REQ items, now who can argue with that. However 343 Industries have hinted that this is not the end by no means and we are to expect to see a lot more free future content over the coming months. Apart from even more new maps, modes, vehicles, weapons and our much-loved REQs, a fan favourite is returning in the form of “Warzone Firefight” allowing players to battle together against common foes in classic PvE multiplayer.
So all you have to do now is fire up Halo 5: Guardians and the new Hammer Storm content will download automatically for you, it’s as easy as that. If your too excited and can’t wait for the download then why don’t you check out the trailer that has just been released for the launch of Hammer Storm.