So Halo is my favourite ever video game franchise, I’ve played them all, done them all and grinded my gears through all of them legendary campaigns, though I did, admittedly, pass on that Spartan Assault game. It looked awful, what else can I say? Anyway, as a long term fan of the franchise I had to buy Halo Wars 2, even though Halo 5 Guardians has been on my uninstalled for a very, very long time now as I wasn’t much of a fan of that game as I was of the previous titles.
After completing the campaign and playing a decent amount of multiplayer, I can safely say that this game kicks ass. It’s a super fun game and, for an RTS (Real Time Strategy), has a decent story. For people who have played Halo before, the story was not as emotional as Halo 4’s or as gripping as Halo 2’s or 3’s, but it still kept me playing and I guess that’s what counts with video games. If the story compels me then I want to see it through.
Minor spoiler warning here, for those who are interested in playing it but haven’t yet, as I go through specifics of what made it good and, after that, what I didn’t like about it. The campaign starts off slow but builds up at a well paced speed. Not only do you enemies get more powerful as the game goes on, but so do you as you unlock new abilities and upgrades for your units. In the first mission of the game there are no enemies, but as you scout around the area of the mission you encounter Atriox, the main protagonist, in a cutscene. He kicks the ever-living crap out of Spartan Red Team and you’re all like, “Damn, I should not have come here”. The pace then ramps up as you are forced to flee from a massive number of enemies, all of which are more powerful than you, which really hypes up the rest of the campaign. This is essentially how the whole thing plays out, only in missions after this you are, of course, required to fight back rather than flee. The ending the campaign also links in happily to Halo 5, so that this game isn’t completely isolated from the main series, leaving me to speculate if the Spirit Of Fire will unite and fight alongside the Infinity in Halo 6. I sure hope so.
But it’s not all good. The story, as I said above, is well paced, but sometimes the gameplay isn’t. One minute you’re cleaning house, kicking ass and knocking guys down left, right and centre, but then the next minute you’re sitting down idly watching your supply counter go up because you lost half of your units. It’s not so much a problem on the multilayer, because this is what makes it fun; managing supplies to spend them effectively and efficiently to counter your opponent. But in the campaign it sometimes, though not always, leads to periods of nothing happening as you sit there farting out marines, warthogs and hornets in preparation for a battle they’ll all probably die in anyway. These are distracting sections of the game, but aren’t intrusive in a way that completely kills the mood. Luckily you still feel like what you’re doing means something and will accomplish a goal, so these periods won’t have you completely bored, only a little bored. This is probably a symptom of the genre of RTS, which is hard to design a good campaign for, rather than bad game design. So, though it is an issue, it is an understandable one.
The multiplayer, while unbalanced as hell at the time of my writing this, is incredibly fun. You never know what you’re getting into as every game is different. Sometimes you get in a game that’s slow with neither team doing much fighting until the end where massive armies collide after you’ve built up masses of recourses. Other games will be fighting non-stop with a mixture of small-scale and large-scale conflicts happening throughout the game. Though there is a disappointingly small number of maps in the game, the fact most games play differently depending on your opponent and the leaders each team has chosen does switch things up enough for it to be some-what forgivable.
But, like I said, it’s unbalanced as hell. As of now, anyone can pick up Anders, spam sentinels and essentially be an immortal god as long as they don’t stop producing them. Forge can poop out supply pads and power pads to his heart’s content because he has half price on all of that stuff. The less powerful leaders are useful, but only if the enemy hasn’t picked these other overpowered leaders. There definetly needs to be a nerf to these leaders and certain units.
Another negative is that a recent patch was released to address players concerns regarding lag in multiplayer, but I never experienced it myself, and after the patch I have not been able to connect to the Halo Wars 2 servers for any online play. So again 343 has launched a game without sending Bob the tech-guy to even test if the servers work, which is disappointing. Not everyone is affected though, I notice, as I have friends who can still connect fine, but I and a few others in the community, from what I’ve seen on the game hub, can’t connect to the servers. This needs to be fixed now because I enjoy this game and want it to be top-notch again. I don’t want another MCC with a dead multiplayer.
So would I recommend this game? Yes I would, once the servers sort themselves out. Because, though the campaign is very good, the game is not worth the price tag for just the campaign alone, you need the multiplayer to get your money’s worth. This ain’t no Halo 3, but it’s something.