PLOT Fight your battles as you create your own army.
RATED T for Teen
DETAILS Xbox One; $59.99
BOTTOM LINE The Blitz mode freshens the playing field.
Like its predecessor, the real-time-strategy game Halo Wars 2 follows a rock-paper-scissors pattern for enemy weaknesses. In broad terms, infantry beats air, air beats vehicles and vehicles beat infantry. Some specialized units are more attuned to taking down particular enemy types, but relying heavily on those would be a mistake. Instead, a winning strategy usually comes down to balance. A few of each unit type, all moving in unison.
That focus on a healthy mixture of units is where the game goes for blunt force instead of fine detail. You can select units by type, but in the chaos of battle, that isn’t always doable. You can make individual squads by mapping them to the D-pad, but from then on you need to hold a trigger button to select them. Neither solution is as useful as simply selecting all units with one handy button click and setting them toward a target. This wide-swath approach to strategy lacks some of the grace of more complex games of the genre.
Outside the campaign, Halo Wars 2 offers traditional multiplayer, as well as a compelling new Blitz mode, which takes notes from the popular blind box trend in video games. Rather than build up a base to make your units, you have a single customizable deck made with cards earned through the campaign, for various achievements, and of course, for purchase. This is where Halo Wars 2 should find its longevity.
Halo Wars 2 is an iterative sequel, with new units and balance, and a handful of additions. The campaign is well-made and the multiplayer shines thanks largely to Blitz mode. It’s a streamlined take on a genre that has faded even more in recent years, but in its own way, Halo Wars 2 is still carrying the flame.