After extensive features on multiplayer RTS gameplay, Xbox is using the Halo Wars 2 launch trailer to remind players that there’s a campaign – and it looks damn good.
Somewhat surprisingly, the launch trailer for Halo Wars 2 is all about character development. While the core Halo franchise has had some great characters (Halo 3) and some crummy ones too (Halo 5: Guardians), it was hard to imagine co-developers 343 Industries and Creative Assembly would be able to integrate emotional storytelling into a real-time strategy game. Still, if the launch trailer is any indication, it seems like Halo and RTS fans might be in for a real treat.
While we’ll have to wait until February 21 (or the 17th for Ultimate Edition buyers) to say for certain, Atriox seems to be one of the most compelling villains in Halo in quite some time. As a Brute who overthrew the Covenant that enslaved him, Atriox actually has reasonable character motivations that make him seem like a grounded character. He doesn’t do evil things just because he’s, well, evil – it seems another level deeper. Of course, Halo 5: Guardians also had some stellar character development in trailers ahead of launch that were nowhere to be found in the retail game, so we’ll have to see if Creative Assembly and 343 Industries nail it this time around.
Since E3 2016, the developers have had two betas on Xbox One and one on PC that gave a glimpse at the multiplayer dynamics Halo Wars 2 has to offer. While you could pick up small narrative elements in each, being multiplayer, it felt like any sort of storytelling was put on the back-burner to service competitive RTS environment. In fact, it seems like most of the marketing for Halo Wars 2 has existed to tell players there will be traditional RTS online gameplay or the new Blitz mode, which was shown an extensive beta last month. Campaign seemed to be less essential, but this launch trailer seems to address that perception directly.
Halo Wars 2 is an Xbox Play Anywhere title meaning players can play campaign and multiplayer on both Xbox One and PC with save games shared seamlessly between the two platforms. While there won’t be any form of cross platform play at launch, 343 Industries has said it’s something they’re “looking into” for the future of the game.
Halo Wars 2 launches February 21, 2017 on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Those who pick up the Ultimate Edition will have four days of early access starting on February 17.