One of the biggest surprises of the Microsoft press briefing at Gamescom was the announcement of Halo Wars 2. The original Halo Wars was released back in 2009 for the Xbox 360. What surprised a lot of people was that the game played very well with the Xbox 360 controller. The d-pad was still a concern (the Xbox 360 d-pad is one of the worst in gaming), and while the Xbox One d-pad is an improvement, it's still not all that great. However, the Xbox One will offer keyboard and mouse support before Halo Wars 2 launches.
What most people had issue with when it came to the original Halo Wars was the short single player campaign. You can finish the campaign in just a few hours, and with the limited player base, multiplayer didn't last very long either. All of that should change considerably with Halo Wars 2. While exact details are scarce, we do know that Creative Assembly is developing Halo Wars 2.
For those who are not familiar with Creative Assembly, the Sega-owned development studio is credited with the Total War series. Jump back 10 years and the real-time strategy (RTS) genre dominated PC gaming. StarCraft was the king of eSports and people played RTS games competitively for big money. These days the MOBA genre has taken a lot of wind out of RTS games, especially in the eSports realm. League of Legends now dominates while the new StarCraft 2 expansion doesn't really have much buzz surrounding it.
Amid the rise of MOBA and fall of RTS games, Creative Assembly has amassed quite a falling for its Total War series. In fact, it's not that farfetched to say that the Total War series is the only series still going strong in the RTS genre aside from StarCraft. Time and money were two big reasons why the first Halo Wars didn't offer a longer single player campaign, and it's hard to imagine Microsoft bringing in Creative Assembly just to repeat that miscalculation a second time.
We expect a fully realized single player campaign for Halo Wars 2. More than likely we'll see campaigns for the UNSC, as well as the Covenant and possibly the Flood. We don't have details on the main story, but expect a single player campaign told from at least three different perspectives. It's very likely that the single player campaign alone will be enough to satisfy fans that were disappointed in the original Halo Wars, but there will also be online multiplayer.
The big question when it comes to multiplayer in Halo Wars 2 is just how intricate the game will be. Total War games are very comprehensive and it's hard to imagine a controller being able to handle everything that's involved in the Total War games. Even with keyboard and mouse support, Microsoft will want the game to be developed so that anyone using a controller can play. Then you have to factor in the almost guaranteed cross-platform play between the PC version and the Xbox One version and the controls have to be simple enough to work on console, but intricate enough to satisfy fans of the genre, while not giving PC players a significant advantage in the process.
With Halo 5: Guardians and Killer Instinct, Microsoft has shown that the company has a vested interest in eSports. It's very likely we'll see an eSports push for Halo Wars 2, which means that the game has to appeal to PC RTS players and offer the complexity they're accustomed to. There's undoubtedly a happy median between console-friendly controls and PC complexity, so hopefully Creative Assembly can really nail the control scheme to make everyone happy.
There's a lot we still don't know about Halo Wars 2, but the game is still quite a ways off. The tentative release date is currently set for the second half of 2016. At this point, 2016 is looking very good for the Xbox One with Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2 and Scalebound to name a few. Keep an eye on Prima Games as we continue to delve into Halo Wars 2 as new information becomes available. For now, check out some of the other big announcements from Gamescom 2015!