At the recent E3 event, 343 Industries unveiled a first look at Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare, the latest expansion for the popular RTS title. The expansion is set to hot drop new maps, a new mode, new leaders and an entirely new Banished single player campaign — one in which Atriox and the Banished square off with Halo's most sinister, terrifying enemy...

Story: the Flood have returned

Awakening the Nightmare will reintroduce the fearsome, grotesque and galaxy-threatening Flood to the Halo universe. For new fans who haven't played the original Halo trilogy, the Ark was the site of the explosive, conclusive battle between the UNSC and their Elite allies, the Covenant, and the Flood in Halo 3. The Flood is a parasitic life-form that infects a creature's nervous system, completely taking over its body in a matter of seconds and using it to further spread the infestation — and the UNSC needed a way to stop it before it infected the entire universe.

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The Master Chief and the Arbiter find Installation 04b.

The parasite survived...and now, years later, the Banished have awakened the Ark's darkest secret.

When the Master Chief and the Arbiter discovered Installation 04b (the replacement Halo ring that the Ark's systems had been building since the Master Chief destroyed the original Installation 04 in Halo: Combat Evolved) a plan was devised. Knowing of the Halo rings' potential to completely snuff out the Flood and all of its potential hosts to infect, they activated the ring, using its power to eradicate the Flood and the remnants of Covenant forces while they and the coalition of human and Elite forces escaped.

However, the ring wasn't fully completed before our heroes activated it — and as a result, the Forerunner super-weapon malfunctioned, tearing itself apart and heavily damaging the Ark facility itself. Worst of all, though, was the fact that the incomplete Halo ring's blast was not enough to completely wipe out the infestation of the Flood. The parasite survived... and now, years later, the Banished have awakened the Ark's darkest secret.

Campaign: Become the Banished, and fight back against the Flood onslaught

This expansion will have players take control of Atriox and his formidable Banished as they attempt to stand fast against the Flood's merciless assault. A brand new series of campaign levels will be available, taking place a few months after the end of the base campaign of Halo Wars 2. While not confirmed, there is a good possibility that players will be able to take control of several of the Banished's leaders during the campaign, such as the fearsome Atriox, the cunning Let 'Volir, the ferocious Hunter pair Colony, or the new Banished leaders being introduced in the expansion.

New mode: Terminus Firefight

Co-operate with up to two other players against wave after wave of UNSC, Banished and Flood forces in the latest addition to Halo's classic defense mode.

Awakening the Nightmare will also bring a brand new mode to the table — Terminus Firefight. Players will be able to co-operate with up to two other players against wave after wave of UNSC, Banished and Flood forces in the latest addition to Halo's classic defense mode. New types of defensive options will be available in gameplay, such as spike floors and barricades. True to the Firefight name, Terminus Firefight will test the tactical defensive skill of both you and all of your teammates as you ruthlessly resist the AI onslaught.

Multiplayer: New maps and leaders

Awakening the Nightmare will also bring two additional Banished leaders to the title, as well as two brand new multiplayer maps — the latter of which will be free to ALL players, regardless of whether or not you buy the expansion. Free content is always welcome!

Other information: Pricing, release, and more

Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare will cost $19.99 and will be purchasable digitally on the Xbox Store, as well as physically through code cards at gaming retailers. It will be playable on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

NOTE: The expansion is NOT part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass. This expansion is independent of the Season Pass and all Season Pass owners will have to pay the $19.99 price.

The expansion is planned to drop Fall of this year. We'll update this article with the exact release date once it's announced!

Additionally, Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare will take advantage of the HDR support that was recently patched into Halo Wars 2 in May.

Are you excited for Awakening the Nightmare? Feel free to let me know what you think of the expansion so far in the comments below. Personally, I'm clawing like a Combat Form (Flood jokes, ba-dum-tss) at the chance to play as the Banished and bring their might upon the Flood. The parasite must be cleansed!

And should you not already own Halo Wars 2:

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