Total War developer Creative Assembly and 343 Industries came out big in support of Halo Wars 2, bringing not one but two trailers, a beta announcement, and new release date in the spring of 2017.
So, personal bias: I’ve been waiting for Halo Wars 2 for a long, long time.
That’s not just because I am one of *those* Halo fans, the kind that can explain to you what exactly is going on during each installment. This is because Halo Wars, the last game from legendary real time strategy game developers Ensemble Studios, was simultaneously widely overlooked and a serious breakthrough for one of the longest standing game genres in history. Halo Wars, following the exploits of the human warship Spirit of Fire and her crew, didn’t boast the colossal armies or gameplay depth of Starcraft or even Ensemble’s own Age of Empires. It did prove, however, that a consistently fun and engaging RTS could be made for consoles and played on a controller. It was a concept I thought was ripe for expansion and improvement, as the 360 became more powerful and the Xbox One arrived – and expansion never came, thanks to middling sales and the closing of Ensemble Studios.
So here comes the famous developers of the Total War series (and Alien: Isolation), Creative Assembly, to bring this missed opportunity back to life. Following a brief teaser trailer last year, Halo Wars 2 played as the last big announcement of Microsoft’s 2016 E3 conference, with not one but two trailers. The first you see above, an evocative showdown between Spirit of Fire’s Captain Cutter and the Brute commander of The Banished, Atriox. Below is the first gameplay footage of the game, showing off Halo Wars 2’s far bigger armies and the announcement of the game’s open beta, starting today and running through June 20th.
Included in both is perhaps the only disappointing news revolving around Halo Wars 2 – the delay. Originally slated for release this fall, it has now been pushed to February 21, 2017. A disappointment, sure, especially for the Xbox One’s exclusive lineup this fall, but at least the beta will give us the first look at what the future of the only successful console RTS series is.
We’ll have more on Halo Wars 2 and everything else throughout E3 week.