Everything you need to know about Halo Wars 2's upcoming expansion: 'Awakening the Nightmare'

Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

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.

The Master Chief and the Arbiter find Installation 04b.

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:

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Anyone who knows anything about Halo, would know The Flood can't be playable. Because it would break the entire Universe of what the Flood are. The Flood aren't methodical, and don't possess the ability to come from a barracks etc etc. They are Parasitic and as such rely on hosts.
  • Actually the Flood become less and less feral the more people they infect. The Flood siphon information and memories from each host and compile it into intelligence-focused forms like the various types of Graveminds. Thats what makes them extremely dangerous - they learn to use enemy tactics against them.
  • Halo Wars 2 is my favorite game of 2017 so far. It is really well done. Metacritic is statistically meaningless, but, despite this, it unfortunately has an impact on how people perceive games, and it is ridiculous that Halo Wars 2 is sitting at a 79/100 there. The story is great, the gameplay is great; it's the best console RTS game ever made. No way it should be rated lower than 90/100. Rant aside, Awakening the Nightmare looks awesome, and definitely has enough content to warrant its price. It also seems somewhat reassuring that the game is doing well enough to warrant the extra resources needed to make this.
  • I agree with you about its ratings. Game deserves more praise then it gets.
  • Your post doesn't make much sense. 
    You come down heavily on metacritic while you are trying to force your opinions as facts. Metacritic is an average score of professional gaming journalists. This is not from some MS/XB fan who convinently talks of a XB1 game as the favourite game in 2017 or the "best" RTS game on console.
  • "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." Well done MS and 343i. This is what Spencer was talking about. Game as a service. Keep paying for more and more content.... With practices like this, I have no doubt despite having fewer active user and games, XB Live will again be the gaming service that squeezes the most money out of its gamers... Don't worry though, your fans will be celebrating that news... 
  • Yep, that's the Point to stop buying Games like Halo, Halo Wars, Gears and Co. Just changed my ratings in store and so on. This is something i would expect from Battlefield or so, but i bought the ultimate edition, because i wanted to buy a game once and could play all the content... Game 70 € + Season Pass 30 € + FIRST?!? Extra DLC 20 €+ Game Packs if you want + Gold Service ... ??? No, thats it for me.
  • For me, the problem isn't that Awakening the Nightmare should've been included in the Season Pass (although, that would've been nice), as it does seem large enough in scope to warrant a standalone release; the problem is that what was included in the Season Pass just isn't worth the value, especially if you don't care much about multiplayer. That said, I bought the Ultimate Edition not because I cared about the Season Pass (although, I am looking forward to the extra missions they are releasing as part of it, as I really enjoyed the campaign), but because it came with Halo Wars: DE and both games were Play Anywhere. I think Awakening the Nightmare at $20 is of more value than the entire Season Pass at $30 (which is a rip-off by itself but is a good deal when you factor in you get Halo Wars DE, which is normally $20 itself, as part of that price).
  • I disagree 100%, to be honest. I feel that the Season Pass is very much worth the $30. I mean for one, we're getting a mini UNSC campaign down the road, and we get eight new leaders, each one offering a unique playstyle as well as new units for Blitz. I find that to be easily worth $30 even before factoring in HW:DE with the Ultimate Edition, and I have no problem paying an extra $20 for an entirely new campaign and mode as well as two exclusive leaders to the expansion.
  • So there is a separate campaign expansion that season pass holders are getting? I had thought this was it, so I felt a little miffed when I saw I would have to pay extra for it. If I still get a separate expansion, and this new campaign in any way approaches the last in quality, I'll bite on this.
  • Yep. The season pass campaign expansion is supposed to be the events of a special operation that the UNSC runs
  • Yep. I came to add this comment. I am a big fan of the Halo series, but I will not be purchasing this add-on. I bought the Ultimate Edition because of the Season Pass, which has so far just gotten a few leaders (and their corresponding leader powers) added to the game. That's interesting, but it is not what a Season Pass is meant to cover. Not only am I going to skip this add-on, but I'm never going to buy another Season Pass from Microsoft. This was a clear bait and switch that I will use my wallet to vote against; I hope enough Season Pass owners do the same to force 343's hand here as well, but that is too much to ask. To be clear, I am fine with creating add-ons that you need to purchase separately, in general, but be clear what the Season Pass is for and reduce its price because it costed more than the features that it did cover.
  • Same here 😉
  • Well then, in that case I'm in. They did a good enough job with the first campaign that I'm willing to give them a vote of confidence.
  • I'm a bit confused. Some say Halo's firing doesn't effect the Flood whatsoever, only other life forms. Is this true or false?
  • David, any creature with a central nervous system is killed. This would include Flood forms. But the ring was incomplete so it didn't fire correctly, thus the survival of some Flood.