Microsoft’s annual E3 press conference wrapped up today as the publisher announced more games for its Xbox One platform. A plethora of leaks over the past few days have soured a few surprises, including the new Xbox One slim console and the 4K compatible Project Scorpio, as the trend didn't slow down with a leaked screen-cap of the now released Halo Wars 2 trailer popping up online yesterday.
With Halo 5: Guardians launching a few months ago, Microsoft seems intent on delivering more experiences from the legendary franchise with 2017’s Halo Wars 2 from Total War developer Creative Assembly. Having gotten its beta information and a handful of screenshots leaked a few days ago, we now have official confirmation of a February 2017 launch and a week long open beta.
The trailer sees a group of the iconic Spartans rushing into battle alongside Cyclops vehicle units on one side, and a Brute chief marching with Covenant troops on the other. From the game’s promotional art, we already know the Brutes and the Covenant at large are involved and that some of the campaign will take place on the Ark. Fans have pointed out that Spartan Alice-130, seen from a clear shot at her service tag, will be involved in the storyline and she also featured in the first Halo Wars game in 2009. The game's older art style and weapons also confirm what we already know: that it takes place some time prior to the events in Halo 5 and the mainline FPS games.
The center of attention was given to a human commander of the UNSC that walked through the battlefield as time froze and went on in bursts. His opposite, a Brute leader known as Atriox, is said to be the main villain who is leading a faction known as 'The Banished'.
343 Industries Studio Head Dan Ayoub spoke about the game's overarching plot:
"In Halo Wars 2, the crew wake to find themselves orbiting an ancient alien construct known as The Ark. Here, they face a deadly new faction known as The Banished and their chief the Brute warlord Atriox. Atriox is an entirely new kind of villain in our universe. A brilliant leader with the power of a massive army behind him and he represents a menace that the crew are completely unprepared for."
The open beta, set to go live from today through to June 20, is said to show off the "biggest Halo battlefield ever" as dozens of allies and foes clash on-screen. Halo Wars 2 will also be available on PC for Windows 10 in a move Microsoft dubs 'Play Anywhere'. Game saves and progress, as well achievements, will be shared on Xbox Live across the two platforms, and players on Windows 10 and Xbox One can even play co-op modes together - although nothing has been confirmed for Halo Wars 2 in terms of a potential co-op campaign or multiplayer modes.
Finally, an image posted on Halo's Reddit page indicates that a definitive edition of the first Halo Wars will be included in the Ultimate Edition of the sequel, as well as a season pass for Halo Wars 2 that will come with new leaders for use in multiplayer and a campaign expansion. Players who purchase the Ultimate Edition will also be given access to the game four days before release.
Halo Wars 2 is set to launch on February 21, 2017 for Xbox One and PC.