Halo Wars 2

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Halo Wars 2
HW2 cover.png
Developer(s):

343 Industries[1]
Creative Assembly[1]

Publisher(s):

Microsoft Studios[1]

Platform(s):

Xbox One[1][2]
Windows 10[1][2]

Release date(s):

February 21, 2017[1]

Genre(s):

Real-time strategy[1]

 
"Know your enemy."
—Official tagline[3]

Halo Wars 2 is a 2017 real-time strategy video game which serves as a direct sequel to Halo Wars, developed by Creative Assembly and 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios.[1] Set in the year 2559, the game focuses on a conflict for control of the Ark between the UNSC and the Banished. It was first revealed at Gamescom 2015 with a teaser trailer and was playable at E3 2016.[4] The game was released simultaneously on Windows 10 and Xbox One on February 21, 2017.[1]

Plot

Characters and setting

"There's a sense of scale and scale that I think was maybe missing from Halo Wars."
—Frank O'Connor[5]
Concept art of Atriox and the Banished.

Halo Wars 2 takes place 28 years after the events of Halo Wars in 2531,[5] after Phoenix-class colony ship UNSC Spirit of Fire had floated adrift in space for decades and declared by the rest of the United Nations Space Command as "lost with all hands".[6] The remaining crew of the Spirit of Fire are awoken from cryo-sleep above the Forerunners' Installation 00, previously the setting for Halo 3. Led by Captain James Cutter, the crew of Spirit of Fire encounter the mercenary faction known as the Banished, led by the cunning Jiralhanae warlord Atriox.[1] Having previously battled the Covenant, the Banished rose to power in wake of the empire's fall in 2552 by gaining control of numerous assets from the Covenant.[7]

According to franchise director Frank O'Connor, a primary theme of the game is two commanders from two very different backgrounds facing off against each other in an attempt to gain control of Installation 00. The crew of the Spirit of Fire, having been in cryo-sleep since 2531, are unaware of the nature of the installation, nor do they know the result of the Human-Covenant War. In an effort to return home, Captain James Cutter leads the ship's crew to the surface of Installation 00 to search for a way to reconnect with the rest of the UNSC. It is at this time that the crew encounter Atriox and the Banished. While Halo Wars 2 is tonally designed to feel like a direct continuation of Halo Wars, managing director Kevin Grace stated that the game would have a similar tone to Halo: Combat Evolved, as the game's setting is primarily contained within one location.[5]

Plot synopsis

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The Spirit of Fire arrives at the Ark.

In 2559, after 28 years of drifting through space, the Spirit of Fire begins to return to operational status. In a message to Captain James Cutter, the ship's AI Serina outlines the current state of affairs, stating that she has awakened the crew due to an unexpected development. Serina herself is long gone, with her report a mere recording; at the end of her seven-year operational lifespan, she terminated herself in accordance with UNSC final dispensation regulations. Cutter meets with Professor Ellen Anders on the observation deck, where she is already at hard work investigating the current situation: the Spirit of Fire has been transported through slipspace to an unknown location outside the galaxy. Looming below them is an enormous megastructure, evidently the source of the mysterious slipspace transit. An encrypted transmission of UNSC origin is intercepted from the surface of the construct and recon teams are deployed to investigate.

Jerome-092 encounters Isabel.

Scouting the surface, Spartan-II Red Team comes across signs of battle and a deserted science outpost. Inside they meet a frightened logistics AI who identifies herself as Isabel. Almost immediately, the Spartans are ambushed by a large Jiralhanae. In a lopsided fight to the alien's favor, Douglas-042 is seriously wounded. The Spartans fall back, evacuating their now-unconscious comrade, and escape the outpost with hostile forces in pursuit. While the others board a Pelican, Alice-130 stays behind to hold off the attackers, her fate uncertain. Aboard the Spirit of Fire, a shaken Isabel briefs Captain Cutter and the crew on the new threat: A Jiralhanae warlord, Atriox, who rebelled against the Covenant during the Human-Covenant War, amassing a mercenary army known as the Banished, who have now attacked the Ark and massacred the humans under Isabel's charge. The AI pleads the crew to flee, but Cutter instead chooses to stay and stop the Banished on the Ark.

The Spirit of Fire crew begin their campaign against the Banished with a strike on a salvage operation led by Atriox's lieutenant Decimus, while Anders works to find a way to contact the UNSC. Decimus and his local forces are eventually defeated, but he manages to escape. In the Banished base's wreckage, data is discovered pointing to a Cartographer — a map room of the entire installation. To prevent the Banished from making use of the Cartographer, Captain Cutter decides to mount an assault on the site. While the UNSC forces secure the access point to the Cartographer, the narrative returns to Alice-130, who has been carrying out her own operations against the Banished behind their lines. She launches an operation to rescue UNSC prisoners while using another abandoned research outpost to reestablish contact with the Spirit of Fire. After successfully doing so, she is placed in command of the UNSC forces in the area by Captain Cutter, with the intent of continuing a local campaign against the Banished.

Isabel outlines her plan to destroy the Enduring Conviction.

Meanwhile, the UNSC forces reach the Cartographer, and after meeting some resistance from the Banished and the Ark's Sentinels, they gain access to the central chamber. Interfacing with the Cartographer, Professor Anders learns that Atriox has been using the site to take over the Ark's entire portal network, allowing him to quickly transport his forces across the installation. Destroying a key control node will deny the Banished access to the portals. Anticipating the UNSC's plans, Atriox has stationed forces led by Decimus in the area. After a lengthy battle, the UNSC forces manage to destroy the portal node and kill Decimus. However, their victory is short-lived as the Spirit of Fire falls under attack by the Banished flagship Enduring Conviction. While the Spirit fights off the attack in space, Alice-130 and her forces must survive waves of Banished forces without orbital support. Aboard the Spirit of Fire, Professor Anders introduces a bold plan: in order to reestablish contact with the UNSC, they will launch a Halo ring. It is revealed that the Ark maintains a nearly complete Halo in its Foundry as an emergency replacement. Additionally, Anders has discovered a means to disable the ring's firing mechanism, though it can only be deployed to one of the sites of the original installations. Cutter resolves that since Installation 04 was discovered relatively close to Reach, a communications beacon deployed in its former site may feasibly reach the UNSC.

Sentinels attacking the Enduring Conviction.

However, the plan cannot proceed before the present threat of the Enduring Conviction is addressed. Isabel outlines a plan to use a Forerunner particle cannon on the Ark's surface to fire on the assault carrier, while she and Jerome-092 will board the flagship through its gravity lift. Anders manages to activate the particle cannon, though it only disables the Enduring Conviction's shields. Jerome and Isabel then head to the gravity lift but their Pelican is shot down on the way. After UNSC forces besiege the Banished base at the gravity lift, Jerome successfully boards the lift, infiltrates the carrier, and inserts Isabel into its systems. She then fires the ship's ventral energy projector on the Banished troops below, feeding off of her rage over their massacre of the Ark personnel under her care. The beam soon penetrates the Ark's crust, rousing the installation's Aggressor Sentinels. Swarms of the Sentinels descend upon the Enduring Conviction, ramming themselves into the carrier in massive numbers. While Jerome fights off Banished Jiralhanae inside the ship, the Sentinels finally manage to bisect the ship, stopping in perfect synchrony once they have punched through. Jerome picks up Isabel and jumps off the ship toward the Ark.

The new Halo above the Ark.

In the aftermath, Atriox and Shipmaster Let 'Volir survey the wreckage of the Enduring Conviction. As they assess their losses, both are surprised to witness a Halo rising from the Ark's Foundry. Atriox immediately orders 'Volir to send all his forces on the ring to prevent the humans from gaining a foothold. While the UNSC work to establish a presence on the new Halo, the Banished mount their own invasion there through access portals at the Ark's Foundry. After the UNSC forces destroy Banished bases sending troops to the Halo, they travel to the new ring as well through the access portal. Atriox contacts Captain Cutter and makes an offer to spare the crew of the Spirit of Fire — if they leave. Cutter staunchly refuses, pointing out that Atriox did not extend similar mercy to the personnel he slaughtered before their arrival. On the Halo, the UNSC must reach the control room and disarm the ring before it can reach human space, while the Banished continue to send in forces in an effort to gain control of the installation. The control room is shielded, but Anders manages to take control of an initially hostile Retriever Sentinel and use the machine to disable the energy barrier.

Anders facing a Guardian.

While Anders enters the control room to disable the Halo's firing systems and deploy a communications beacon, the UNSC must hold off waves of Banished attacks before she can complete her work. Interfacing with the control room's core, Anders manages to cordon off a section of the ring's landmass housing the majority of the Banished troops and launch it into space. The UNSC forces then evacuate from the ring, but Anders has no time to make it out of the control room before the Halo enters a slipspace portal toward its destination — the Soell system, the original site of Installation 04. Anders assures Captain Cutter that she intends to return as soon as possible, perhaps only in several weeks, before her signal is cut off. Cutter resolves to continue the fight against the Banished on the Ark before Anders returns, while Atriox, furious about his defeat, looks upon a massing of his forces.

On its way to the Soell system, the Halo unexpectedly drops out of slipspace. An elevator descends to the control room's central chamber and Anders returns to the surface, where she is confronted by a Guardian.

Spoilers end here.

Gameplay

Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy video game with two playable factions: the United Nations Space Command and the Banished.[8]

Campaign

The Halo Wars 2 campaign consists of twelve missions:[9]

  1. "The Signal" - "Spartan Jerome and Red Team investigate the source of a UNSC emergency signal."
  2. "A New Enemy" - "Captain Cutter dispatches a strike team to launch an attack against Atriox's lieutenant, Decimus."[10]
  3. "Ascension" - "Spartan Jerome and his forces fight through Banished fortifications on the way to the Cartographer."[9]
  4. "One Three Zero" - "Fighting behind enemy lines, Spartan Alice must rescue UNSC prisoners to open up a second front in the war against the Banished."[9]
  5. "The Cartographer" - "Professor Anders and Jerome arrive at the Cartographer to discover the secret of Atriox's command over the Ark."[9]
  6. "Lights Out" - "Jerome must destroy The Banished's portal network controls and cripple Atriox's transport capabilities across the Ark."[9]
  7. "From the Deep" - "Alice must defend against the Banished as they assault her rag-tag band of survivors."[9]
  8. "Hold the Line" - "In part one of Isabel's plan, the UNSC must defend a Forerunner cannon as it immobilizes the Banished's carrier and breaks through its shields."[9]
  9. "Under The Dark" - "In part two of Isabel's plan, Jerome and Isabel infiltrate a Banished compound and prepare to enter the belly of the beast."[9]
  10. "The Foundry" - "Alice and Douglas lead an assault to cut off the wave of Banished boarding the Halo."[9]
  11. "The Halo" - "A reunited Red Team must push back the Banished invasion of the Halo so Anders can reach the Control Room."[9]
  12. "Last Stand" - "Cutter and his crew must fend off the Banished in a final defense of Anders as she prepares the Halo for its voyage."[9]

Multiplayer

The multiplayer mode of Halo Wars 2 features a number of gamemodes and supports up to six players.[8]

Skirmish

The Skirmish mode allows players, through solo or cooperative play, to battle against AIs with a range of difficulty levels. Strongholds is a fast-paced, timed gamemode where players must control more bases than their opponent when the timer stops to win.[11] Domination centers around players building bases, armies, and battling for control of the map. Deathmatch involves players building up their own bases and armies, though players battle to eliminate one another rather than taking control of the map.

Maps
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Blitz

Main article: Blitz

Blitz is a new gamemode with an unique approach to RTS gameplay.[1] In Blitz, players contest control points by positioning their forces over particular areas of the map. When one team holds more control points than the other, they start accumulating points until the balance is redressed. The first team to hit 200 points, or the highest scoring team after 12 minutes wins the game.

Maps
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Base assembly

Halo Wars 2 uses a socket base system similar to the original Halo Wars, with some differences. Halo Wars 2 introduces Minibases as a new feature allowing the player to build subsidiary "Battle Bases" or "Supply Bases". Visually, the various base structures are no longer constructed from the base hub and are instead delivered by dropships.


Units

Halo Wars 2 features a number of units carried over from the previous Halo Wars, as well as several all-new ones. Unlike Halo Wars in which each Hero Unit is given unique abilities and Super Units, each faction now has only one type of Super Unit: the G81 Condor Gunship for the UNSC and the Type-47 Scarab for the Banished.

Unlike Halo Wars, units are no longer listed by role such as Building Killer, Infantry Killer or even Vehicle Killer. They are now listed as their role in their unit such as Reconnaissance, Sniper, Anti-Air Walker, etc.

When producing a unit, it has three colors to indicate its strengths against various unit categories, namely Infantry, Air, Vehicles and Buildings, each represented with an icon, respectively as:

  • Green - Best unit to deal with.
  • Yellow - Okay to deal with.
  • Red - Worst unit to deal with.

If the icon is clear the unit cannot attack that type of unit.

The following units are available for the UNSC and the Banished, respectively:

UNSC
Banished

Leaders

Like in Halo Wars, players in multiplayer pick a leader to play as, each of whom have a set of unique "Leader Powers" and units. Leaders for the UNSC include Captain Cutter, Professor Anders, Isabel, and Sergeant Forge, with a new character, Morgan Kinsano, added post-launch as downloadable content. Atriox, Decimus, and Let' Volir serve as the leaders for the Banished faction, with a new character, Colony, added post-launch as DLC.

Leader Points and Leader Powers

When the player acquires Leader Points, they can be applied on several Support Powers that can aid the player on the battlefield.

Support Power Duration / Type  Population Supply Cost Power Cost Cooldown Type
UNSC Leader Powers
Close Air Support 30 Second / Support Power 4 Pelicans 1500 0 360 seconds Air Support
ODST Drop Permanent / Active Power 12 Population 600 0 180 seconds Elite Infantry
Turret Drop Permanent / Active Power 1 Defense Turret 350/425/500 0 203 seconds Defense Turret
Archer Missiles 3 Second / Active Power 8/12/16 Missiles 275//375/475 275/375//475 228 seconds Bombardment
Restoration Drones 15 Second / Support Power N/A 300/400/500 100/200 210 seconds Healing
Battle Hardened Permanent / Passive N/A N/A N/A No Cooldown Veterancy Boost
R & D Permanent / Passive N/A N/A N/A No Cooldown Advanced Technology
Holographic Decoy 30 second / Support Power N/A 650 N/A 150 seconds Decoys
Lotus Mine Permanent / Active Power 3 Mines 50/100/150 50/100/150 105 seconds Cloaked Mine
Banished Leader Powers

Technology Advancement

In Halo Wars 2, players are no longer capped the Reactor as the Tech Level system is replaced by Generator Power Resources that are generated by Generators that function similarly to the Supplies in the original game. In order to advance Technology, the player must upgrade the Firebase to the next tier in order to upgrade units.

Collectibles

Skulls

Skulls can be obtained through completing various optional missions, like killing specific enemies and keeping allies alive.

Achievements

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Phoenix Logs

Main article: Phoenix Logs

Similar to the Black Boxes of the original Halo Wars, collectibles known as Phoenix Logs found throughout the campaign unlock codex entries featuring background information for various characters, events and locations in the story.

Appearances

Characters

Species

Locations

Events


Development

Blur Studio once again created pre-rendered CGI sequences for the game's cutscenes.[13] Changes in Blur's approach to CGI animation have resulted in some of the characters being recast. In the original Halo Wars, the characters were hand-sculpted and animated whereas Blur has since come to favor full motion capture technology, including facial performance capture; due to this change, actors that resemble the characters they are playing as closely as possible are preferred. Most notably, Captain Cutter, originally voiced by Gregg Berger, is now played by Gideon Emery (digitally aged to appear closer to Cutter's biological age), while Faye Kingslee was recast as Professor Anders due to scheduling conflicts with her previous voice actress Kim Mai Guest.[14]

After the announcement of Halo Wars 2, Creative Assembly went on to publicly advertise positions working on the game.[15]

For the Ark's Forerunner architecture, Creative Assembly's art team initially explored a direction reminiscent of that in Bungie's Halo games, but they ultimately adopted a more streamlined style based closely on the Forerunner aesthetic in Halo 5: Guardians.[16]

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Marketing and merchandise

Halo Wars 2 Announce Trailer

Main article: Halo Wars 2: Announce Teaser

On August 4, 2015, at Gamescom 2015, Halo Wars 2 was first announced by Bonnie Ross. The Halo Wars 2: Announce Trailer is a pre-rendered trailer showcasing Halo Wars 2. The trailer was created and produced by Blur Studio, in collaboration with 343 Industries and Creative Assembly. It was directed by Blur Studio's Dave Wilson.[17]

Atriox statues

Around August to November 4, 2015, for the numerous parties involved in Halo Wars 2, Jeremy Cook, Art Director at 343 Industries, made 3, 9 inch, statues of Atriox, who was featured in the announcement trailer. The statues were made using the very detailed highpoly meshes Blur studio made,[18] and the statues are fully colored, the skin and hair is blue and grey, and armor is metallic.[19]

The first statue was finished sometime before August 21.[20] The second bust was finished during a power cut on September 1, and was given to Creative Assembly,[21] The third and final statue was colored using a Valejo airbrush primer, with its color blended in so it can be detailed and highlighted, to finally be finished on November 4, and was given to Blur Studios.[22]

Halo Wars 2 toys

On February 12, 2016, numerous toys were announced with the start of a partnership with Mattel. Two of which were the MegaBloks Jackrabbit, and the Boomco Type-25 Spiker set to be featured in Halo Wars 2.[23]

E3 2016

Main articles: Halo Wars 2 Official E3 Trailer and Halo Wars 2: Behind the scenes

At E3 2016, a Halo Wars 2 demo was playable.[4] Also at E3 was shown the Halo Wars 2 Official E3 trailer,[24] and a behind the scenes of that specific trailer.[7]

Halo War 2 Open Beta

Main article: Halo Wars 2 Open Beta

During E3 2016 it was announced that between June 13 and June 20, 2016 an open beta for Halo Wars 2 would be available.[24] The beta was later extended an additional three days. Another Beta for both Xbox One and Windows 10 will be available closer to the game's full launch.[25]

RTX 2016

Main article: Halo Wars 2 RTX 2016 Trailer

At RTX 2016, a cinematic trailer for Halo Wars 2 was revealed during 343 Industries' panel on July 2, 2016.[26][27]

Know Your Enemy

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Know Your Enemy

A ViDoc was shown on July 22, 2016, after 343 Industries' panel at SDCC 2016, and it focused on the story and characters of the game.[28]

Multiplayer ViDoc

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Multiplayer

The ViDoc was shown on October 19, 2016, and its focused on Halo Wars 2's multiplayer, including the first look to the new gamemode Blitz.

Atriox

Main article: Halo Wars 2 Atriox Trailer

A cinematic trailer for Halo Wars 2 was revealed on December 2, 2016 at Game Awards 2016, and it focused on the story of Atriox and the Banished.[29]

#TwitterHaloWars

Main article: #TwitterHaloWars

Starting on January 17, 2017, 343 Industries ran a twitter minigame to promote the new Blitz Mode of Halo Wars 2. Played over twitter's Direct Messaging system, players could face off against the computer or challenge their friends with the hashtag #twitterhalowars. Players were rewarded for their victory with an exclusive skin code.[30] The game concluded on February 16, 2017.[31]

Blitz Beta

Main article: Halo Wars 2 - Blitz Beta

The second Halo Wars 2 open beta ran from January 20-30, 2017. It featured the new multiplayer gametype, Blitz, and the map Proving Grounds.[32]

Limited edition poster series

The release of a series of limited edition posters depicting central characters from Halo Wars 2 was announced on February 2, 2017. These posters, three sets of paired prints featuring Let 'Volir and Professor Anders, Isabel and Decimus, and Atriox and Capt. Cutter, were produced by 343 Industries with artists Grzegorz “Gabz” Domaradzki, Craig Drake, and Kevin Tong (respectively for each set). The release dates and availability of these posters will later be revealed on twitter.[33] Murals based on these posters were also later installed by 343 Industries through local artists in six U.S. cities: Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and San Francisco.[34][35]

Launch trailer

Main article: Halo Wars 2 Official Launch Trailer

The official launch trailer for Halo Wars 2 was released on February 6, 2017.

War of Wits

Main articles: War of Wits: The Armrest and War of Wits: The Sale

Released on February 9, 2017, War of Wits is a pair of live-action trailers that humorously portray the dynamic between Atriox and Captain Cutter in mundane real-life situations.

Strategy ViDoc

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Strategy

Music ViDoc

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Music

Character ViDoc

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Character

MegaConstrux Challenge

Main article: Halo Wars 2: MegaConstrux Challenge

Kinsano Vidoc – Trial by Fire

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Kinsano

Colony Vidoc – Hunt or be Hunted

Main article: Halo Wars 2 ViDoc: Colony

Gallery

Development images

Concept art and illustrations

Announcement trailer images

Marketing and merchandise images

Multiplayer

Gamescom 2016

Sources

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo Waypoint: Halo Wars 2
  2. ^ a b YouTube: Halo Wars 2: Announce Teaser
  3. ^ YouTube: Halo Wars 2 Official E3 Trailer
  4. ^ a b Halo Waypoint: The Hog Wild Req Drop
  5. ^ a b c GameSpot: Halo Wars 2 New Story Details and Images Revealed
  6. ^ Halo Wars Timeline Events
  7. ^ a b YouTube: Halo Wars 2: Behind the Scenes
  8. ^ a b Eurogamer.net: Halo Wars 2 release date set for February
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k YouTube: Halo Wars 2 All Cutscenes (Game Movie) 1080p HD
  10. ^ HALO WARS 2 CAMPAIGN GAMEPLAY | EXCLUSIVE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS MISSION
  11. ^ Youtube: 15 Minutes of Halo Wars 2 Gameplay - E3 2016
  12. ^ Halo Wars 2 Open Beta
  13. ^ Blur.com: Halo Wars 2
  14. ^ Halo Waypoint - Warzone Firefight Sneak Peek
  15. ^ Creative Assembly's website Halo Wars Jobs
  16. ^ ArtStation - Brad Wright (Halo Wars 2 Concept Dump4)
  17. ^ Blur.com: Halo Wars 2: Announce Trailer
  18. ^ Jeremy Cook's Twitter - Statue info 1
  19. ^ Jeremy Cook's Twitter - Statue info 2
  20. ^ Jeremy Cook's Twitter - 1st Statue info
  21. ^ Jeremy Cook's Twitter - 2nd Statue info
  22. ^ Jeremy Cook's Twitter - 3rd Statue info
  23. ^ Xbox Wire - 343 Industries and Mattel Sign Master Licensing Agreement, Introduce New Halo Toys
  24. ^ a b YouTube: - Halo Wars 2 Official E3 Trailer
  25. ^ Gamespot: Another Halo Wars 2 Beta is coming with a new mode
  26. ^ YouTube: Halo Wars 2 - RTX 2016 Cinematic Trailer
  27. ^ Gamespot: "New Halo Wars 2 Trailer Revealed and Halo 5 Forge Getting File Browser"
  28. ^ Halo Waypoint - SDCC: What's on the Menu?
  29. ^ Halo Waypoint - Community Update: Brute Force
  30. ^ Halo Waypoint FORUM:#TWITTERHALOWARS - FAQ
  31. ^ Twitter Isabel UNSC Log. (@ISA1307_2)
  32. ^ Xbox Wire Play the Halo Wars 2 Blitz Multiplayer Beta on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC Today
  33. ^ Xbox Wire Halo Wars 2 Releases Original Art Collection Featuring Gabz, Craig Drake and Kevin Tong
  34. ^ Youtube Halo Wars 2 Original Art Series
  35. ^ Xbox Wire Halo Wars 2 Takes Art Series to the Streets

External links