Microsoft reveals new Halo Wars 2 beta details, including a brand new game mode called ‘Blitz’ that introduces card-based mechanics alongside the traditional RTS gameplay.

After a big unveiling last year at E3 2016 followed by an immediate open beta test, Halo Wars 2 has since stayed relatively under the radar. The real time strategy title appears to be ramping up its marketing efforts as the game nears its launch next month. Already, fans have been introduced to an aggressive and feared Brute named Atriox, who is leading an uprising that threatens to not only shape the events in Halo Wars 2, but directly impacts future Halo titles as well. With a planned beta test quickly approaching, Microsoft has finally revealed more information about it including a brand new game mode.

According to Dan Ayoub, Studio Head at 343 Industries, the new game mode is called Blitz and infuses cards and deck building into the tactical RTS gameplay. The new mode will be the focus of the upcoming beta session, which introduces the Proving Grounds, a symmetrical map featuring three control points both teams need to capture and hold. With no resource mining or base building to worry about, players instead create new units, attacks, and boosts by selecting from four on screen cards from a user created deck. Spend energy points during the match to activate a card and fill the capture meter first to win the match.

Fans will get to go hands on with this mode later this month on January 20, when the final large-scale multiplayer beta kicks off on Xbox One and Windows 10. For 10 days, players have access to every faction leader and Blitz card that will be included on day one of launch as well. The beta takes place on the Proving Grounds map with 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 games through matchmaking.

As expected, none of the cards, progress, or content from the beta will carry over once the full game launches later in February. With that said, everyone who simply logs into the Blitz beta test receives a free bonus card pack in the retail version of Halo Wars 2 and another pack after one full match is completed.

The first round of testing proved to be very successful for the title, as a flood of players caused the beta to be extended by a few additional days to accommodate everyone. That extra time was certainly valuable for Creative Assembly and 343 Industries who used the feedback to further improve and refine the experience for players. Depending on how successful Halo Wars 2 becomes, Microsoft seems to be willing to potentially take this formula to some of its other IPs as well including Gears of War.

How do you feel about this new card-based gameplay mode? Are you excited for Halo Wars 2 or are you on a wait and see approach?

Halo Wars 2 launches on Xbox One and Windows 10 on February 21, 2017.