On Xbox 360, Microsoft and Ensemble Studios released a real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe called Halo Wars. The game was a success and the first time the series diverged from its signature first-person shooter gameplay. However, it's been six years since Halo Wars, and fans of the game have been left in the dark.
Microsoft shut down the Halo Wars forums and online stat tracking just a couple of years after the game launched, and little hope remained for the game receiving a sequel. However, during the Microsoft Gamescom 2015 press conference in Cologne, Germany, they officially announced Halo Wars 2 for Xbox One and Windows 10.
Halo Wars 2 was unveiled via an epic cinematic trailer, so while no gameplay was shown, one has to imagine that it will be very similar to the RTS gameplay that defined the original Halo Wars. It's also reassuring to see that Halo Wars 2 will be story-focused, as one of the highlights of the original game was its engrossing story.
The trailer divulges a couple of other pieces of information for fans to chew on. For one, the game is being developed as a collaborative project between 343 Industries and Creative Assembly. Creative Assembly is one of the most prolific RTS developers in the industry thanks to their Total War franchise, and they're also known for their other games, such as the terrifying Alien: Isolation. We also know when we can expect Halo Wars, and that is fall of 2016.
Halo Wars 2 is an important exclusive for Microsoft, and the fact that it's coming to Xbox One and Windows 10, with cross-buy and cross-platform play, is a big deal. While it looks like core games in the series, such as Halo 5: Guardians, will remain purely Xbox One exclusives, Halo Wars 2 is a nice "get" for the PC gaming community. Furthermore, it shows that Head of Xbox Phil Spencer was being truthful when he said that Microsoft is dedicated to PC gaming.
Halo Wars 2 ensures that Microsoft's flagship series will remain a focus for the next two years. With Halo 5: Guardians coming October 27th, it is easily the biggest and most significant exclusive available this holiday season. The game is releasing virtually unopposed, as Sony's heavy hitter Uncharted 4 and perhaps Wii U's last big exclusive, The Legend of Zelda, have both been pushed to 2016.
Microsoft has promised the best lineup of games in the history of Xbox, and for all intents and purposes, they seem to be living up to that promise. Besides Halo Wars 2, the company highlighted a number of other exclusives set to hit Xbox in 2016, including Scalebound from Platinum Games, Quantum Break, Sea of Thieves, Gears of War 4, and more.
Halo Wars 2 is releasing in fall of 2016 for Xbox One and Windows 10.