We caught up with 343i's Dan Ayoub and Creative Assembly's David Nicholson to discuss all things Halo Wars 2, including its place in the universe, the balance between hardcore RTS and accessibility, and to what extend previous Halo knowledge will be required to play Halo Wars 2.
It was a fitting setting for a discussion about Halo. We were sat in 343i's Halo museum, crammed with cabinets stuffed with memorabilia, books, CDs, and all manner of Halo merchandise spanning the entire franchise. You could practically hear Halo's iconic monastic choir emanating from the walls.
Creative Assembly enjoys a 20-year history creating strategy games, most famous for titles like Total War, but also cinematic experiences like Alien Isolation. 343i and Creative Assembly have pooled their expertise into Halo Wars 2, which will not only attempt to reinvigorate the classic RTS genre but also stand out as one of the Halo franchise's greatest entries.
I asked Dan Ayoub exactly why the studio decided to revisit Halo Wars, which was a bold attempt to make RTS intuitive on a controller back in the Xbox 360 era. Ayoub said that it was ultimately the fans which led to the decision.
Halo Wars 2 takes place 28 years after the events of the previous game, with the remaining crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire adrift in deep space. The UNSC wrote off the ship as KIA, and there is nobody around to debrief Captain Cutter and his dedicated army.
Halo Wars 2 is a self-contained story, unlike some of the previous Halo games, which often require deep knowledge of external content such as literature and the live action shows produced by 343i. Dan Ayoub noted that such in-depth knowledge won't be required for Halo Wars 2, as the game's protagonists will need to recap on current Halo events just as much as the player.
Some of the returning characters include Captain Cutter, who leads the crew of the Spirit of Fire, but also Isabel, who is an all-new A.I. with Cortana-level intelligence. Isabel introduces the player to the game's villain, Atriox, who 343i say isn't just a one-off for Halo Wars 2, but is intended to be a deadly foe on the same level as any of Halo's most notorious evils.
Throughout the interview, we also discussed the capabilities of UWP, how 343i and Creative Assembly will reconcile casual vs. hardcore play in Halo Wars 2 and the possibility of future live-action Halo content down the line. Be sure to watch the video above, and check out the link below for some more in-depth coverage on newly announced Halo Wars 2's MOBA-like Blitz mode!
Halo Wars 2 launches on February 21st, 2017 for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!