Halo Wars 2 buyer's guide – which version is best for you?

Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 (Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Wars 2 is the second iteration in Microsoft's real-time strategy Halo Was series – an offshoot of their globally renowned shooter franchise. Following up from the first Halo Wars game back in 2009, the game moves from behind the eyes of the Master Chief to offer a fast-paced RTS experience on both console and PC.

With the game's release just around the corner, we've brought together each of the available editions into a single location. Considering the benefits between retailers and various options, here's a breakdown of which edition suits you.

Release date

Halo Wars 2 officially launches worldwide on Tuesday, February 21 for Xbox One and Windows 10. However, for owners of the game's higher-tier Ultimate Edition, four-day early access is available. This earlier release date of Friday, February 17 applies to both physical and digital versions of the game.

Preorder bonuses

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GameStopRow 3 - Cell 1 Row 3 - Cell 3 Row 3 - Cell 4 Row 3 - Cell 5 Row 3 - Cell 7
Best BuyRow 4 - Cell 1 Row 4 - Cell 2 Row 4 - Cell 4 Row 4 - Cell 5 Row 4 - Cell 6

If you redeem a digital code for Halo Wars 2 from any retailer, your copy will be playable on both Xbox One and Windows 10 through Xbox Play Anywhere!

Halo Wars 2 Standard Edition (Physical)

The standard version of Halo Wars 2 is being offered for $59.99, with additional bonus content dependent on the retailer (detailed breakdown supplied above). This version of the game is most common and stocked by a majority of video game retailers.

Halo Wars 2 Standard Edition (Digital)

A digital version of Halo Wars 2 is also available, sold as a pre-paid code to be redeemed via Xbox Live. Most retailers who stock pre-paid codes will distribute the codes ahead of launch, to give players the chance to pre-load the title. Like digital copies purchased directly from the Xbox Store, these copies of the game will unlock at 12:01 in your time zone. Codes are valid for both Xbox One and Windows 10.

The following retailers stock digital copies of Halo Wars 2 for Xbox One.

Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition (Physical)

Stepping up from the standard version, Halo Wars 2's Ultimate Edition bundles together the base game, season pass and Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (a remastered version of the original Halo Wars). This is a great package for diehard fans of the Halo series, with four-day early access to the full game.

However, unlike previous Ultimate Editions released by Microsoft, Halo Wars 2 doesn't appear to ship with a bonus SteelBook. This version also won't support Xbox Play Anywhere, with physical versions currently excluded from the initiative. You can pick up a physical version of Halo Wars 2's Ultimate Edition for $79.99 from the following retailers.

Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition (Digital)

The digital version of Halo Wars 2's Ultimate Edition is arguably the most complete version of the game. Offering access to the base game, season pass and Halo Wars Definitive Edition, this bundles together all content available at launch. As a reward for going digital, this version of the game also works on both Xbox One and Windows 10 via the Play Anywhere program.

Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition (PC Physical)

Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition is also getting a physical release over on PC, in the form of a special edition release in collaboration with THQ Nordic. Although this version of the game won't be shipping in the United States, it's a great buy for any collectors willing to purchase a copy from Europe.

Inside the package, you'll be getting a digital license for the game and season pass, in conjunction with 4 installation discs. This digital license also grants Play Anywhere access between Xbox One and Windows 10. If you're looking to pick up this version of the game, you can do so via the UK-based retailers below.

Halo Wars 2 Xbox One S 1TB Console

Yet to pick up an Xbox One S? Whether you're just getting started with Xbox One or looking to upgrade your existing console, the Halo Wars 2 bundle is a great way to make the leap. Bringing together a 1TB Xbox One S and Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition, the bundle cuts a hefty amount off the complete package. You'll also be able to reap the benefits of HDR and 4K video, currently exclusive to this variant of Microsoft's flagship console.

Halo Wars 2 Collector's Edition Guide

Although a huge amount of merchandise isn't set to launch alongside Halo Wars 2, Prima's Collector's Edition guide delivers a slew of new content for any Halo fan. Being a game guide, the book offers tips and tricks for each of Halo Wars 2's campaign and multiplayer modes. Various bonus content is also up for grabs, included a collection of concept artwork and exclusive in-game content. If you're looking to go all out for Halo Wars 2's launch, this book is a great accompaniment to your preorder.

Still undecided?

If you're still undecided on whether to pick up Halo Wars 2, make sure to stay tuned for our upcoming review and guides on Windows Central!

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.