In the test Halo Wars 2 impresses with an elaborate campaign and bombastic tank battles. We check if that’s enough to follow in the footsteps of Command & Conquer. Halo Wars is a rude mess of our carefully constructed world view. Real-time strategy, as the custom goes, has its home on the PC. If it ever wanders on consoles, as it did on Nintendo 64 or Playstation 2 back then – yes, there really was! – then as a peculiar curiosity, quickly forgotten by historiography. You can already bet with bitcoin on Halo here.
Great on consoles – and on the PC?
At its heart, Halo Wars 2 is such a classic real-time strategy game that it could be PC-based: Build bases, collect resources, unlock upgrades, and then rush a horde of tanks at your opponent! But you can tell the game’s console origin by some decisive compromises. First and foremost, we only raise our bases at fixed points instead of building freely. And the armies are generally somewhat smaller than PC veterans are used to.
- On the other hand: Even the mouse strategist can have fun with games that are not as fast as Starcraft or as complex as
- Halo Wars 2 is an RTS for all who have their brightest pleasure in it. Halo Wars 2 is an RTS for those who enjoy ramming futuristic combat gear into each other in bombastic battles.
- And while thinking about clever troop composition, skillful maneuvers, and the right time for a supportive orbital strike, you may not have to micromanage every single unit to the second.
So Halo Wars 2 is also a game for PC strategists! However, the porting has its quirks. Although Halo Wars 2, unlike its predecessor, knows PC standards like control groups, the fact that clicking on a barracks immediately pops up a huge unit circle menu and unnecessarily swallows half the screen – that stinks of gamepad control.
We are allowed to assign keys freely, but this is done via a terribly confusing and cumbersome menu. But Halo Wars 2 also looks first-class on the PC and ran without difficulties on our test computer even in the most spectacular battle turmoil.
And where we are at the moment spectacular: We can hardly better describe the render videos in the solo campaign. We start with Captain Cutter, his spaceship Spirit and Fire and an absolutely miserable day. After the first Halo Wars, the crew has the whole remaining fails, awakes thirty years later from cryo-sleep – and is promptly hit on the nose by a new enemy.
And it’s a great staging! How our soldiers sneak through a destroyed research facility, suddenly atriox rises from the shadows in front of them and mercilessly mows them down, that wouldn’t have been out of place on a cinema screen – or at least in a blizzard game! Such spectacular staging is the absolute exception today in real-time strategy.
Halo Wars 2 is also never more than action cinema with brave marines and bloodthirsty aliens. The characters don’t grow beyond these classic roles: half of the campaign we don’t know exactly what Atriox actually wants. It’s enough that he’s an evil scoundrel and needs to be stopped urgently!
And if you don’t already know the main characters from the first Halo Wars or if you love the universe, you won’t really like the boys and girls of the Spirit of Fire either. Even if you don’t have to know the Halo background story by heart to understand Halo Wars 2. It proves to be a clever trick to introduce a new rogue without ballast.