If you're a console owner who happens to be a fan of RTS games, there are really slim pickings these days. So the first Halo Wars was a nice change of pace for a genre that is generally reserved for the PC. Now it's back and looking better than ever thanks to the power of the Xbox One and the team at Creative Assembly. That's right, the guys behind the amazing Total War series, which was my second favorite thing of 2016 and our 2016 PC game of the Year.
So what does Halo Wars 2 bring to the table? It has the usual RTS offerings, a campaign mode and Skirmish mode, but the real star is the new Blitz mode. Blitz mode is basically the RTS version of horde mode. Blitz mode doesn't play out exactly like a Skirmish mode, the traditional RTS mode where you find resources, build your base and slowly build a stronger and stronger Army. Instead it scraps all of the base building and gives you a random hand of four cards(these cards are basically your army and range from a basic foot soldiers to medics to light tanks to heavy artillery). These four cards are pulled from a larger deck that randomly pulls a new card as one is used.
You build a stronger deck by earning points and buying more cards, with duplicate cards used to enhance the power of your basic cards. You can also find uncommon, rare and ultra rare cards that are even stronger versions, with different abilities, than the base cards. Each card has a set number of energy points you spend to call that unit into battle. You pick up energy on the battlefield in limited amounts and you have to decide whether you want to spend a large amount on a powerful unit or smaller amounts on more of the basic units.
This energy management is important as the waves of enemy armies start out small and easy and get larger and progressively more difficult. Ideally the goal is to wipe out the waves before the next one hits so you can have some time to heal up your army and collect energy on the field.
Blitz is a very intriguing mix for an RTS game and I feel like it can add a lot of fun and longevity to the base game. Also Co-op. If you know me, I'm always down for a fun Co-op Experience so that is a huge plus.
While I'm still not 100% sure if fighting wave after wave of enemy is in an RTS will be as fun as the usual Skirmish mode, it seems like a fun distraction and a nice change-of-pace from your traditional RTS modes. I'm hoping that the campaign and the Skirmish mode can bring their own unique feel to them like Blitz mode seems it will, and perhaps Halo Wars 2 can be a starting point for other RTS games on console.