Halo Wars 1 was one of my favorite games on the Xbox 360. Finally being able to play a RTS in the Halo universe was nothing but amazing. Halo Wars 1 mixed great gameplay with a self contained story, interesting characters, and drama. Halo Wars 2 failed to live up to the standard’s that Halo Wars 1 set.
Halo Wars 2’s story doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Spirit of Fire is reactivated after being locked down for 28 years. The first question that I have is how did the Spirit of Fire make it from the Milky Way galaxy all the way to the Ark? Remember, Forge used the Spirit of Fire’s slipspace reactor to blow up the Forerunner fleet in the first game. I find it hard to believe that the Spirit of Fire drifted across the galaxy precisely to the Ark. There is no explanation as to why this happened. I feel like this is pretty important information to just leave out of the game. Did a Forerunner bring them to the Ark? Was it Cortana? Mendicant Bias? The game doesn’t answer this question.
One of the selling points of Halo Wars 2 was the villain Atriox. After watching the trailers and promotional videos, I thought Atriox was going to be a pretty badass enemy. The first cutscene where he destroys the Spartans is really cool….but that’s about all we see from him. Atriox’s back story was explained a little bit, showing how he went into battle again and again only to betray the Covenant and start his own faction. I can understand that. Being ordered into battle and seeing your race be used as fodder is a reasonable reason to turn against the Covenant. He’s a tough Brute who leads with an iron fist. He’s even convinced some Elites to join his ranks.
But how am I supposed to believe that Atriox can’t defeat one UNSC ship? A ship that’s over 28 years old by the way. The Spirit of Fire has a limited amount of soldiers and vehicles, but Atriox isn’t able to capitalize on this and put up more of a fight. It makes him look like an incompetent leader. We are told that Atriox held his own against the Covenant at the height of their power, but he can’t beat the UNSC? It hurts the aura that he had before the game released. I’m glad that he survived because I want to see his true power in future games (if 343 doesn’t kill him off like they did Jul M’dama in Halo 5).
It was disappointing to see that the plot revolved around getting to the Cartographer AGAIN. This is a plot point that has occurred since Halo 1, and it feels like more of the same. The Ark is a mysterious structure with a lot of history, but the same plot points were used. I think it was a huge mistake not to use some other secret that the Ark could have had.
Speaking of the Ark, why in the hell did Anders suggest to move the newly created Halo ring into UNSC space? Does she not know that a Halo can wipe out civilization in an instant? I could understand that maybe the UNSC could protect the Halo, but it’s an incredible responsibility and one mistake could kill everyone. I don’t agree with her decision.
After traveling through the portal, Anders encounters a Guardian. It’s probably the Guardian seen at the end of Halo 5. This is a little interesting because Anders is on the Halo and probably won’t agree with Cortana and her Created, but I would be shocked if Anders is even in Halo 6. The main Halo games are separate from Halo Wars and the novels. I mean Jul was killed in one of the very first cut-scenes in Halo 5 after being portrayed as a pretty good villain in Halo 4 Spartan Ops. Anders will probably be killed off-screen, which is disappointing.
Halo Wars 2 also ended on a cliffhanger. Halo 5 ended on a cliffhanger. I wish that the games would have an ending that gives us closure, but plants seeds of what’s next.
The plot of Halo Wars 2 doesn’t even move the story forward. Yes, the Halo is significant, but look at the UNSC and Banished. They are still at the Ark fighting each other. There was no final showdown with Atriox. There was no winner or loser in the fight. Atriox is seen with massive amounts of soldiers at the end of the game, so the battle is going to continue to rage on. The Spirit of Fire has no slipspace engine, so they can’t escape. There is no resolution to the plot at all. At the end of the game, the same battle is being fought.
Halo 5’s story soured me a little because there were so many opportunities to make the game great, but 343 dropped the ball in a few regards. With Halo Wars 2, the ball was dropped and shattered. I hope that 343 can come up with some sort of vision as to how the events in the Halo universe are going to play out. It seems like they introduce something and then forget about it (Janus Key, weird ship on Alpha Halo).
As a huge Halo fan, I find myself worried about the future of Halo. Halo’s 1-3 told simple stories, but they got from A to Z. With Halo 4 – Halo Wars 2 it feels like it’s going from A to G to B to E to T.