To round off their Gamescom 2015 presentation, Microsoft announced Halo Wars 2 for Xbox One and Windows 10 to tremendous fanfare.
Halo Wars was an innovative real-time strategy game for Xbox 360 set in the Halo universe. Details on the sequel are scant right now, but in a wide-ranging interview with Eurogamer, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed HW2's nature, support for mouse and keyboards and cross-platform play.
First, Eurogamer asked Phil Spencer how Halo Wars 2 fits into the Xbox lineup as a third-party developed title. Creative Assembly, famed for the Total War series is handling Halo Wars 2.
..."Halo Wars 2, to me, is a first-party game. It's our IP, obviously. But we're funding the development of the game. Creative Assembly is obviously a Sega studio, so there's a partnership there we're working on. Sometimes we're working on first-party games with our studios, sometimes we're building first-party games like Quantum Break with third party studios that want to stay independent. I think that's fine. I don't demand that everyone who works on a first-party game have a Microsoft card key."...
Spencer went on to cite the studio's relationship with Crystal Dynamics on Rise of the Tomb Raider, stating that the relationship goes deeper than just marketing - but includes creative and technical aspects as well.
Eurogamer moved on, describing Halo Wars 2 as a "poster child" for Spencer's Windows 10 gaming efforts. Phil Spencer noted that Halo Wars 2 is an excellent opportunity to build a game from scratch, inferring the benefits of cross-platform play in the process.
..."It's a great canvas for us - we've looked at people playing on multiple platforms, switching back and forth themselves based on time of day and where they are, or people saying they're only console or they're only PC and they want a larger community of people to play with."...
Eurogamer noted that mouse and keyboard support is on its way to Xbox One and asked if it would work with Halo Wars 2. Phil emphasised that the mouse and keyboard feature wasn't announced specifically for Halo Wars 2 but agreed that it made sense.
..."Those two announcements aren't related, but it makes sense to me that this is a time when we turn that on. We haven't gone back to do the planning on how these things tie together. Obviously we're going to want people to play strategy games the way they want to play it, and to give them choices."...
Motiga tackles some of the problems inherent in cross-platform play with their upcoming MOBA-like Gigantic. Some Gigantic player classes are shooter-centric. Those using a mouse and keyboard would enjoy a vast advantage against the same category played via a controller. Turning with a mouse is simply faster than it is with a joystick. To solve this problem, Gigantic has classes that aren't as dependent on precision aiming. Additionally, Motiga will allow players to opt-out entirely of facing others who might have an input advantage by platform. Halo Wars 2 could use a similar system if it goes fully cross-platform.
Microsoft are continuing to blur the lines between console and PC, and Halo Wars 2 could be just another step on the road.