343 Industries and Creative Assembly have been working on Halo Wars 2 for what seems like an age, and the release is now just days away. Still, we don’t know everything the game has to offer, only the dribs and drabs released by Microsoft Studios to the press and what we’ve witnessed during the game’s beta testing. To prep us all for the big day, we’ve decided to put together a little guide of a few things we’ve come to know so far.
Twenty-eight years have passed since the Halo Wars that ended in the year 2531. The vessel UNSC Spirit of Fire has been floating in space with all crew held in suspended animation. For decades they have been classed as “lost with all hands” by the UNSC when suddenly all aboard are awoken above a Forerunner Installation. Unaware of why this has happened and what has been going on over the past twenty-eight years, including the result of the human-covenant war, the crew led by Captain James Cutter begin to look for ways to return home.
Cutter orders the crew to land on the surface of the installation in the hope they can find a way to reconnect with the rest of the UNSC. What they didn’t expect was to encounter the Banished, a violent mercenary faction who rose to power by taking control of covenant assets following the fall of their empire in the year 2552. What follows is a fight for control of the installation between the two factions. Who wins that battle will be down to you!
Captain James Cutter is the protagonist for the UNSC faction in Halo Wars 2; he was a senior officer in the UNSC Navy who served during the Insurrection and the early years of the human-covenant war. Cutter later went on to command the Pheonix-class support vessel, the UNSC Spirit of Fire, the vessel the crew wake up on in the Forerunner Installation. As a charismatic leader, he rallies his troops together to try and find a way back home, during which his character is tested facing Atriox of the Banished.
“Where you see half a crew, Isabel, I see a family. Courage, and a thousand heroes who swore to fight their way through hell before they’d ever turn their backs and run. And where you see one old ship… I see home. And that is always worth fighting for!”
Captain Cutter to Isabel and the bridge crew of the Spirit of Fire
General Atriox is the warlord chief of the Banished. Many fans of the Halo series will recognise him as a Brute, better known amongst the covenant as the Jiralhanae. However, unlike those that gamers will have approached in the past, Atriox is no normal Brute. He is a powerful Jiralhanae chieftain, who was the first soldier to defy the covenant and live to tell the tale. With his defiance it meant the covenant were like Nazi Germany during WWII, fighting a war on two fronts. And whilst they may have come close to defeating humanity, they couldn’t even get near Atriox, and so with each of his victories his name soon became Legend and inspiring others to join his cause.
“I am not Tartarus or some fanatic. I am not Truth. I am not Regret. I am their remedy.”
Atriox to the Silent Shadow assassins sent to kill him
Isabel is a smart UNSC artificial intelligence who was tasked with running logistics based on the Forerunner Installation the Spirit of Fire arrives at. 343 Industries described her as having “incredibly computational power and a fully independent creative mind” which led to her seeing the research team she was assigned to assist as her friends. Much like Cortana and Master Chief, Isabel forms a strong bond with the UNSC forces that land on the Installation and helps them in their efforts to fight the Banished, with the hope of finding a new family amongst the Spirit of Fire crew.
“Isabel, UNSC logistics, Ark research outpost.”
Isabel identifying herself to Jerome-092
Decimus once served in the covenant army, but when Atriox defied the prophets and established the Banished, Decimus switched allegiances admiring his strength. Soon after he became a General serving directly under Atriox and was tasked with commanding a military base on the Installation’s surface. He fights for glory and his ruthless bloodthirsty nature is representative of every reason why people fear Brutes, making him the equivalent of the boogie man in the stories that UNSC soldiers swap with one another.
“The Covenant could not stop us. You have no chance.”
Decimus to the crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire
The campaign plays through the story discussed earlier in the article and spans across 13 action-packed mission. But for a lot of people, the main area of interest nowadays lies in the multiplayer experience, and anyone who has taken part in beta testing will have had a chance to play the game, which meant getting some first-hand experience of the brand new Blitz multiplayer mode. This is a whole new take on the RTS genre and combines it with elements of MOBA and card-based strategy games. The idea is to capture zones on a map, holding more than your opponent to start scoring points. To do this you play cards that you earn through achievements, which can be activated by collecting enough materials in-game and summon troops plus other resources. I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing it and I’m sure many others will too.
Anyway, that about sums up some of the more important points to Halo Wars 2. Now all there is left to do is wait for release day and scream like the little fanboy I am when I pick up my copy and lose my evenings and weekends to it.
Halo Wars 2 is developed by 343 Industries and Creative Assembly, and published by Microsoft Studios. It is still available for preorder from various reputable retailers including our affiliate CDKeys.com, or you can pick it up on the 21st February 2017 online and in-store. It will be available on both the Xbox One and PC