Halo Wars 2 Review

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This real-time strategy game makes you fight for control.

It is said that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In that sense, Halo Wars 2 is the de facto king of real-time strategy games on consoles, where the venerable genre is underrepresented because of the challenges of managing a lot of units at once on a gamepad. Like its predecessor, Halo Wars 2 does a reasonably good job of overcoming many – not all – of those challenges, but compared to the best RTS games on PC, where it also exists, its campaign missions are flat and unambitious, and its distinctive Blitz multiplayer mode sacrifices the stability of a level playing field in the name of fast and unpredictable action.

I admire Microsoft’s effort to expand its prized Halo series into something that spans beyond an endless procession of first-person shooters, and with Halo Wars 2 (like Halo Wars before it) we get to experience this sci-fi universe from a perspective that emphasizes the scope of its battles. Seeing instantly recognizable vehicles like Warthogs and Banshees on the field adds an inherited personality to what is otherwise a fairly standard set of units. While there are substantial differences in tactics thanks to the unique Banished (a rebel faction of the Covenant) units like suicide grunts and airborne Blisterback artillery, the greatest distinction between them and the UNSC Marines comes from support powers like bombardments and buffs cast from above.

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Only a couple of mission designs think outside the box.

The single-player campaign’s 12 missions took me roughly eight hours to complete, including restarting a couple of them a few times. The mission designs are nothing special – though they avoid the trap of repeating variations on the basic “go destroy the enemy base” cliche, they lean heavily on hero-focused objectives like leading your Spartans around the map and holdout missions against waves of enemies. There’s enough variety to keep them from feeling repetitive, but only a couple think outside the box of what StarCraft did almost 20 years ago, and the static base building on pre-determined plots doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to build orders. Much of it is in the vein of the “campaign as multiplayer tutorial” model, teaching you which units counter what, how to deploy artillery units, and how to capture the majority of a map’s control points to win. Each one does come with a range of side objectives (such as keeping a specific unit alive, destroying extra bases within a time limit, or collecting resources from the map) to give them replayability on top of simply turning up the difficulty, though.

Between those missions are some exceptionally well animated cutscenes that tell the story of the UNSC starship Spirit of Fire. The latest Cortana stand-in, Isabel, is a surprisingly endearing character who emotes much more effectively than her human friends. Captain Carter and the three interchangeable Spartans under his command might as well be cardboard cutouts for all the personality they exhibit, but they have a great threat to fight against thanks to the new brute villain, Atriox. He fades into the background after a spectacularly intimidating introduction, but his presence is still felt through Isabel’s fear of him.

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Where Halo Wars 2 feels most limited is in its controls. That’s not at all surprising for the gamepad, where controls for an RTS are always going to be clumsy at best, and though I didn’t expect this problem to be fully solved, developer Creative Assembly doesn’t seem to have done a lot to design its battles to avoid it, either. For example, the speed with which units tend to die in combat isn’t very forgiving when you consider how slowly most people are likely to be able to react. It’s definitely workable, using a very similar layout to what the first Halo Wars has, with some clever changes like using a double-tap of the right bumper to select all units. But even things like that can’t make up for the shortage of buttons and precision on the controller relative to a mouse and keyboard.

Gamepad controls work, but usually not quickly enough.

If, for instance, you’re trying to get your Warthogs and Scorpion tanks out of range of the anti-vehicle gun of a Hunter before they can inflict real damage and move up your anti-infantry Hellbringer flamethrower units to counter, it’s tricky to pull off in the heat of battle. You have to select all units on screen using the right bumper, then use the right trigger to cycle through the available unit types – which can be a lot in a large army – and then you can move that unit type independently. It works, but usually not quickly enough, especially if you have multiple vehicle types to move to safety. Then it might be faster to target and double-tap a unit with the A button to select all of that type, then hold right-trigger and double-tap one of the other types to select both at once. Good luck with that if you’re working with air units.

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That said, it’s impressive that Creative Assembly was able to pack all the controls you need, with the ability to assign up to four control groups to the D-pad and even queue up move commands, onto a gamepad. The catch is that much of that is accessed by holding the right trigger to change the functions of the rest of the buttons, which means you basically need to learn twice as many controls as you do for most games. Again, it’s not insurmountable or unusable, but it’s no picnic. I’m sure some people out there will get good enough with these controls to be relatively fast and become competitive with them (someone has, after all, beaten Dark Souls with a Guitar Hero controller) but by and large I expect most people will get through the campaign and many multiplayer matches largely by selecting all units on screen and throwing them into battle to fend for themselves.

That’s where the support powers come in and compensate for the lack of micromanagement dexterity. Some of these are strikingly powerful when fully upgraded, such as the Archer missiles that destroy a swath of enemies and the extremely useful ODST soldier drops, and using them at the right moment feels great and can absolutely turn the tide of a battle.

Strange issues make it feel unpolished next to its PC RTS peers.

Controls are better on the PC version (this is a Microsoft Play Anywhere game, meaning that if you buy one version digitally you get the other for free) but there are some strange issues that make it feel unpolished and disappointing next to its PC RTS peers. Clicking the minimap frequently messes up and simply doesn’t work, forcing you to use the WASD keys to scroll for navigation. Likewise, the command for a unit to use its special ability seems to only work every few attempts. Bizarrely, in the Blitz mode multiplayer there are no default keybindings for recalling a control group you’ve set, rendering it effectively broken until you go into the clumsy menus and manually fix it by rebinding them. And you can’t bind the mouse scroll wheel to the camera zoom, because that control is permanently locked to cycling through unit types in your selection (which is something you barely need to do on PC). I still prefer to play on mouse and keyboard, but this experience should be better.

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Frequent bugs are something I didn’t expect from a Halo game.

Speaking of things that should be better, back on the Xbox One side I saw frequent bugs in the campaign missions, which is something I didn’t expect from a Halo game. I’ve had crashes, infinite loading screens, five- to 10-second freezes, stuck units, mission events failing to trigger (forcing me to replay the mission) and more. I got through it, but I was surprised to see such technical roughness. Fortunately, the glitches have been almost entirely limited to the campaign thus far, with the exception of the stuck units bug, which has popped up in multiplayer on both Xbox and PC.

Most of Halo Wars 2’s long-term appeal is in those multiplayer modes, which are to its credit significantly more diverse and in some ways interesting than you typically see in an RTS. On top of the standard deathmatch mode there’s the territory-control Domination style (reminiscent of Relic’s Company of Heroes and Dawn of War 2 multiplayer) which really gives the support powers a lot of moments to shine. Spotting a bunch of enemy units camped on top of a control point is an excellent time to use a bombardment ability, for example. And because you’re given the choice of seven commander characters with different sets of support abilities, you have lots of options there – including some who can temporarily cloak groups of units or create holographic diversions. But again, the base building options feel limited by the predescribed locations, which constrains build order freedom. That means the variety is going to be down to which of the handful of maps you’re playing on.

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Similarly, there’s a different territory-control mode called Stronghold where you’re competing to control the most base-building locations on the map when the timer ends; the twist is that everyone has completely unlimited resources. That makes it all about unit tactics, which, if you’re playing on Xbox, is not Halo Wars 2’s strongest point. But it does create some pitched battles where you don’t have to care about such pithy things as resource production or upgrades. I’d call it a fun diversion – like playing a goofy cheat mode.

You can win or lose Blitz based on luck.

In its own section of the menu, separate from the conventional multiplayer modes, is Blitz – a faster, more frantic mode where instead of building bases to produce resources and more troops, you summon soldiers using a deck of cards you’ve prepared ahead of time. I generally like this kind of randomization in single-player games because it prevents you from falling into patterns and repeating the same successful tactics over and over again, because you might not have access to the card you’d want to use at the moment you want to use it. Improvisation feels good. Alas, I don’t think it’s a great fit for a competitive multiplayer game because all too often you win or lose based on a combination of your own luck and the enemy’s, rather than the test of skill on the asymmetrical but level playing field I expect from an RTS.

Blitz is fun, but I think that dependence on luck is going to shorten its long-term appeal. And when that luck extends to giving you random new cards, some of which are unique to the six leaders, in upgrade packs that are also for sale in the store, I worry even more. You can’t directly buy the power you want, but you can buy another shot at it. Hopefully the matchmaking system is smart enough not to pair people with crazy-powerful cards in their decks against those with more modest decks, but that remains to be seen.

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Finally, there’s a single-player and co-op variant of Blitz called Firefight that’s about holding out against ever-increasing waves of enemies as they try to overwhelm you and capture two of three points on the map. I’m having some good fun in there, where the randomness is about creating unexpected scenarios without the shame of losing to another human you think you should’ve beaten, and the balance is tweaked so that swarms of enemy units explode easily under my Banished lasers. That’s a very good use for the card mechanic.

Halo Wars 2  Review
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 delivers real-time strategy at the speed of Halo combat. Get ready to lead armies of Spartans and other Halo fighting forces like Warthogs, Scorpions and exciting new units in a brutal war against a terrifying new enemy on the biggest Halo battlefield ever.

This link directs to a retail affiliate. IGN may receive a commission from your purchase.

The Verdict

Halo Wars 2 will scratch a real-time strategy itch and give you a dose of Halo-Universe flavor with a decent story, but it won’t go much deeper than that. A run-of-the-mill campaign, controls that hamper micromanagement, conspicuous bugs, and multiplayer that relies on luck limit its long-term appeal, but its fast and flashy action makes it fun for a while.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Review

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Berserk fits the Dynasty Warriors mold well, but it’s still repetitive.

If there was ever an anime or manga that was ripe for a Dynasty Warriors game treatment, it’s Berserk. The legendary 100-Man-Slayer’s gruesome story translates well to an action game about hack-and-slash murder sprees, and wielding his giant hunk of iron in Berserk and the Band of the Hawk felt powerful and satisfying… until it got a little too simple and repetitive.

After I got over Band of the Hawk’s inexplicable lack of co-op (nearly every other Warriors-style game includes it), I jumped into the lonely single-player action gameplay. Like the rest of Dynasty Warriors’ many spinoffs, it’s easy to grasp and superficially satisfying, especially when performing specials in the form of Death Blows to eradicate entire swarms of enemies in explosive displays of blood and guts.

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Taking control of the Guts, the epitome of badassery, was a treat for me as a Berserk fan, and that basic loop of racing to fill the Frenzy meter and unleashing unstoppable fury upon foes took longer to get old than it had any right to. Enemies come in many shapes and sizes, from soldiers, to spirits, to bipedal crocodiles, and even weird possessed horses; and they’re all incredibly entertaining to watch fly about the screen. Some of them even get cut clean in half with a Death Blow, leaving torsos and heads briefly on the field.

The too-simple, two-button combo system left me wanting more.

But the too-simple, two-button combo system left me wanting more, especially when I discovered that the same simple strategy works just as well against most bosses as it does against hordes. You just kill a bunch of little things until you’re powered up, then you kill the big thing.

It’s aggravating because there are seven other playable characters that could have cut down the story mode’s repetitiveness drastically, but out of 46 Story Mode missions lasting a total of around 20 hours, only five let you choose a character besides Guts.

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I would have loved to experiment more with other characters.

I would have loved to experiment more with Griffith’s impossibly quick sabre, Shierke’s hard-hitting AOE magic, or Casca’s martial-arts inspired swordplay, and these other characters also have access to entirely different sub-weapons, further enhancing their diverse fighting styles.

But alas, Guts is who you’ll have to smash through Story Mode with in order to even unlock these characters for use in other modes. His extra combo finishers and new sub-weapons are unlocked as you progress, and both offer a few brief moments of newness. Guts’ cannon is stand-out here, doing a considerable amount of damage and noticeable side-effects to enemies, stunning them or outright obliterating them in an AoE explosion.

You can also ride horses into battle, but mounted combat isn’t nearly as effective as attacking on foot and it gets old fast. It’s a funny sight and they are an excellent method of transportation, but when it comes down to it, it’s still easy to follow the same tactics against mobs over and over and over again.

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That repetition is partly because the mechanics that’re here aren’t really used. You are capable of guarding and dodging, but I rarely needed to do either unless I was up against a formidable boss. But most of those are surrounded by minions, which made it much too easy to quickly fill the Frenzy and Death Blow gauges for massive damage.

These balanced boss fights were far and few between.

Nosferatu Zodd stood out as a challenge because he fights alone. Unable to rely on easily mowed down mobs to charge insta-win Death Blows, I needed to learn his attack patterns so I could strike when I had an opening and dodge away when he was about to unleash a guard-breaking blow. Smart use of attack-boosting items was also needed to completely deplete him of his HP before the time limit. It was challenging, in a fun way, but these balanced encounters were far and few between.

So I cranked up the difficulty, but even then Band of the Hawk barely put up a fight. And for some reason, even though it wasn’t significantly harder, it rewarded me with absolutely absurd amounts of experience as though I’d done something to earn it, basically power-leveling me and putting me even further above the competition.

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So most of Band of the Hawk is a pushover, but there is one boss fight that spikes frustratingly hard in the other direction, even on normal mode. The boss is surrounded by tornadoes and throws gravity magic balls and blades at you if you’re able to bypass the whirlwinds of death. This is all to be done while your movement speed is cut in half, which can only be remedied – temporarily – by destroying a marker that sometimes also takes refuge within the barrage of tornadoes. It was so mind-numbingly absurd that I could only beat it by cheesing. Actually, I really can’t tell if I even was cheesing, or if my method was what Berserk and the Band of the Hawk intended. Yes, I’m still salty. But the point is this boss fight wasn’t good.

I spent a lot of time tinkering with the unexpectedly interesting accessory-customization system.

In between story missions, I spent a lot of time tinkering with the unexpectedly interesting accessory-customization system, which I thoroughly enjoyed. These customized accessories, like a Strong Cuff or a Midland Insignia, can be equipped with skills from a list of dozens ranging from Daunt Resistance (which makes it harder to get staggered by enemies), to Technique Up (which increases your movement speed and critical hit chance). It felt great to modify an item, level it up, and feel an immediate difference on the battlefield. With Daunt Resistance, Guts went from being thrown around like a ragdoll by Zodd if I failed to dodge an attack to standing his ground against all but the most devastating of blows. Accessories even made finishing story mode missions more fun, as the better I did, the more loot I got to experiment with.

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There are no extra awesome new weapons or gear to be found in Story Mode.

These accessories can even be used in Free Mode and Endless Eclipse Mode, both of which allow you to freely choose any unlocked character and replay any mission you’ve already done. But that wasn’t enough to make me go back and replay very much – after all, it’s still not very challenging. Story mode missions are missing good incentives to do anything other than race to the finish line, so repeating them is very one-note. The collectibles, called Behelits, are found by completing mini-objectives within story mode missions, but all they unlock are panels of pictures in the Gallery. There are no extra awesome new weapons or gear to be found in Story Mode, almost completely removing any desire to go back and explore within them.

Endless Eclipse Mode, on the other hand, is where you’ll unlock more things of interest. There are Warhorses (such as Griffith’s White Hawk’s Warhorse) and outfits, some of which are pretty awesome aren’t found until deep into Endless Eclipse, and a special character, Wyald, one of the Apostles that shows up as a boss in the Story Mode, complete with a Transformation ability. The downside is that like most of the rest of Band of the Hawk it’s quite repetitive, but at least it’s difficult for a change because the enemies gain health and hit harder the deeper into the never-ending abyss you go, and you don’t regain health. Finally, a challenge! And, because rewards in Endless Eclipse Mode are unlocked on different levels, up to 100, and each playable character unlocks different things, there are a lot of hours of replayability in this mode.

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As for the story, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk pulls directly from its acclaimed source material, and it’s actually not a bad way to start if you’ve never read or watched anything Berserk-related before. It’s primarily action oriented, but what makes the franchise shine is its sometimes hard-to-watch dark-fantasy story. Berserk and the Band of the Hawk starts with the Golden Age Arc, the beginning of Guts’ and Griffith’s story, and includes nearly two hours of anime footage.

It even expands on that arc extensively with more scenes, events, and mid-mission conversation—which is, unfortunately, all in Japanese with no English option other than subtitles. Reading a multitude of subtitles is difficult if not impossible when focused on slaying enemies; I wish I could re-read this dialogue somehow. Even so, I learned more about Guts’ world by playing this game than I did by re-watching the movies, for sure.

The second half of the story, which goes into The Black Swordsman Arc and beyond, drops the anime footage and speeds through plots covered by the anime and manga. In hindsight, I wish I’d finished the manga before playing because I feel main plot points are somewhat spoiled for me now, but it did pique my curiosity enough that I still want to read the full details on Guts’ story.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk  Review
Berserk and The Band of the Hawk
Slash and smash your way through enemies and environments in the game based on the iconic manga and anime series Berserk.
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On PlayStation 4

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The Verdict

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is mindlessly repetitive, but its combat is still somehow addictive enough to be an enjoyable action game with a dark-fantasy story that stays true to its source, most suitable for fans of Berserk. It even left me craving to try out new characters in Endless Abyss Mode. But it desperately needs more challenge and variety to carry it through its campaign, especially considering you can’t bring a friend with you.

Halo Wars 2 Review

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This real-time strategy game makes you fight for control.

It is said that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In that sense, Halo Wars 2 is the de facto king of real-time strategy games on consoles, where the venerable genre is underrepresented because of the challenges of managing a lot of units at once on a gamepad. Like its predecessor, Halo Wars 2 does a reasonably good job of overcoming many – not all – of those challenges, but compared to the best RTS games on PC, where it also exists, its campaign missions are flat and unambitious, and its distinctive Blitz multiplayer mode sacrifices the stability of a level playing field in the name of fast and unpredictable action.

I admire Microsoft’s effort to expand its prized Halo series into something that spans beyond an endless procession of first-person shooters, and with Halo Wars 2 (like Halo Wars before it) we get to experience this sci-fi universe from a perspective that emphasizes the scope of its battles. Seeing instantly recognizable vehicles like Warthogs and Banshees on the field adds an inherited personality to what is otherwise a fairly standard set of units. While there are substantial differences in tactics thanks to the unique Banished (a rebel faction of the Covenant) units like suicide grunts and airborne Blisterback artillery, the greatest distinction between them and the UNSC Marines comes from support powers like bombardments and buffs cast from above.

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Only a couple of mission designs think outside the box.

The single-player campaign’s 12 missions took me roughly eight hours to complete, including restarting a couple of them a few times. The mission designs are nothing special – though they avoid the trap of repeating variations on the basic “go destroy the enemy base” cliche, they lean heavily on hero-focused objectives like leading your Spartans around the map and holdout missions against waves of enemies. There’s enough variety to keep them from feeling repetitive, but only a couple think outside the box of what StarCraft did almost 20 years ago, and the static base building on pre-determined plots doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to build orders. Much of it is in the vein of the “campaign as multiplayer tutorial” model, teaching you which units counter what, how to deploy artillery units, and how to capture the majority of a map’s control points to win. Each one does come with a range of side objectives (such as keeping a specific unit alive, destroying extra bases within a time limit, or collecting resources from the map) to give them replayability on top of simply turning up the difficulty, though.

Between those missions are some exceptionally well animated cutscenes that tell the story of the UNSC starship Spirit of Fire. The latest Cortana stand-in, Isabel, is a surprisingly endearing character who emotes much more effectively than her human friends. Captain Carter and the three interchangeable Spartans under his command might as well be cardboard cutouts for all the personality they exhibit, but they have a great threat to fight against thanks to the new brute villain, Atriox. He fades into the background after a spectacularly intimidating introduction, but his presence is still felt through Isabel’s fear of him.

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Where Halo Wars 2 feels most limited is in its controls. That’s not at all surprising for the gamepad, where controls for an RTS are always going to be clumsy at best, and though I didn’t expect this problem to be fully solved, developer Creative Assembly doesn’t seem to have done a lot to design its battles to avoid it, either. For example, the speed with which units tend to die in combat isn’t very forgiving when you consider how slowly most people are likely to be able to react. It’s definitely workable, using a very similar layout to what the first Halo Wars has, with some clever changes like using a double-tap of the right bumper to select all units. But even things like that can’t make up for the shortage of buttons and precision on the controller relative to a mouse and keyboard.

Gamepad controls work, but usually not quickly enough.

If, for instance, you’re trying to get your Warthogs and Scorpion tanks out of range of the anti-vehicle gun of a Hunter before they can inflict real damage and move up your anti-infantry Hellbringer flamethrower units to counter, it’s tricky to pull off in the heat of battle. You have to select all units on screen using the right bumper, then use the right trigger to cycle through the available unit types – which can be a lot in a large army – and then you can move that unit type independently. It works, but usually not quickly enough, especially if you have multiple vehicle types to move to safety. Then it might be faster to target and double-tap a unit with the A button to select all of that type, then hold right-trigger and double-tap one of the other types to select both at once. Good luck with that if you’re working with air units.

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That said, it’s impressive that Creative Assembly was able to pack all the controls you need, with the ability to assign up to four control groups to the D-pad and even queue up move commands, onto a gamepad. The catch is that much of that is accessed by holding the right trigger to change the functions of the rest of the buttons, which means you basically need to learn twice as many controls as you do for most games. Again, it’s not insurmountable or unusable, but it’s no picnic. I’m sure some people out there will get good enough with these controls to be relatively fast and become competitive with them (someone has, after all, beaten Dark Souls with a Guitar Hero controller) but by and large I expect most people will get through the campaign and many multiplayer matches largely by selecting all units on screen and throwing them into battle to fend for themselves.

That’s where the support powers come in and compensate for the lack of micromanagement dexterity. Some of these are strikingly powerful when fully upgraded, such as the Archer missiles that destroy a swath of enemies and the extremely useful ODST soldier drops, and using them at the right moment feels great and can absolutely turn the tide of a battle.

Strange issues make it feel unpolished next to its PC RTS peers.

Controls are better on the PC version (this is a Microsoft Play Anywhere game, meaning that if you buy one version digitally you get the other for free) but there are some strange issues that make it feel unpolished and disappointing next to its PC RTS peers. Clicking the minimap frequently messes up and simply doesn’t work, forcing you to use the WASD keys to scroll for navigation. Likewise, the command for a unit to use its special ability seems to only work every few attempts. Bizarrely, in the Blitz mode multiplayer there are no default keybindings for recalling a control group you’ve set, rendering it effectively broken until you go into the clumsy menus and manually fix it by rebinding them. And you can’t bind the mouse scroll wheel to the camera zoom, because that control is permanently locked to cycling through unit types in your selection (which is something you barely need to do on PC). I still prefer to play on mouse and keyboard, but this experience should be better.

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Frequent bugs are something I didn’t expect from a Halo game.

Speaking of things that should be better, back on the Xbox One side I saw frequent bugs in the campaign missions, which is something I didn’t expect from a Halo game. I’ve had crashes, infinite loading screens, five- to 10-second freezes, stuck units, mission events failing to trigger (forcing me to replay the mission) and more. I got through it, but I was surprised to see such technical roughness. Fortunately, the glitches have been almost entirely limited to the campaign thus far, with the exception of the stuck units bug, which has popped up in multiplayer on both Xbox and PC.

Most of Halo Wars 2’s long-term appeal is in those multiplayer modes, which are to its credit significantly more diverse and in some ways interesting than you typically see in an RTS. On top of the standard deathmatch mode there’s the territory-control Domination style (reminiscent of Relic’s Company of Heroes and Dawn of War 2 multiplayer) which really gives the support powers a lot of moments to shine. Spotting a bunch of enemy units camped on top of a control point is an excellent time to use a bombardment ability, for example. And because you’re given the choice of seven commander characters with different sets of support abilities, you have lots of options there – including some who can temporarily cloak groups of units or create holographic diversions. But again, the base building options feel limited by the predescribed locations, which constrains build order freedom. That means the variety is going to be down to which of the handful of maps you’re playing on.

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Similarly, there’s a different territory-control mode called Stronghold where you’re competing to control the most base-building locations on the map when the timer ends; the twist is that everyone has completely unlimited resources. That makes it all about unit tactics, which, if you’re playing on Xbox, is not Halo Wars 2’s strongest point. But it does create some pitched battles where you don’t have to care about such pithy things as resource production or upgrades. I’d call it a fun diversion – like playing a goofy cheat mode.

You can win or lose Blitz based on luck.

In its own section of the menu, separate from the conventional multiplayer modes, is Blitz – a faster, more frantic mode where instead of building bases to produce resources and more troops, you summon soldiers using a deck of cards you’ve prepared ahead of time. I generally like this kind of randomization in single-player games because it prevents you from falling into patterns and repeating the same successful tactics over and over again, because you might not have access to the card you’d want to use at the moment you want to use it. Improvisation feels good. Alas, I don’t think it’s a great fit for a competitive multiplayer game because all too often you win or lose based on a combination of your own luck and the enemy’s, rather than the test of skill on the asymmetrical but level playing field I expect from an RTS.

Blitz is fun, but I think that dependence on luck is going to shorten its long-term appeal. And when that luck extends to giving you random new cards, some of which are unique to the six leaders, in upgrade packs that are also for sale in the store, I worry even more. You can’t directly buy the power you want, but you can buy another shot at it. Hopefully the matchmaking system is smart enough not to pair people with crazy-powerful cards in their decks against those with more modest decks, but that remains to be seen.

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Finally, there’s a single-player and co-op variant of Blitz called Firefight that’s about holding out against ever-increasing waves of enemies as they try to overwhelm you and capture two of three points on the map. I’m having some good fun in there, where the randomness is about creating unexpected scenarios without the shame of losing to another human you think you should’ve beaten, and the balance is tweaked so that swarms of enemy units explode easily under my Banished lasers. That’s a very good use for the card mechanic.

Halo Wars 2  Review
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 delivers real-time strategy at the speed of Halo combat. Get ready to lead armies of Spartans and other Halo fighting forces like Warthogs, Scorpions and exciting new units in a brutal war against a terrifying new enemy on the biggest Halo battlefield ever.

This link directs to a retail affiliate. IGN may receive a commission from your purchase.

The Verdict

Halo Wars 2 will scratch a real-time strategy itch and give you a dose of Halo-Universe flavor with a decent story, but it won’t go much deeper than that. A run-of-the-mill campaign, controls that hamper micromanagement, conspicuous bugs, and multiplayer that relies on luck limit its long-term appeal, but its fast and flashy action makes it fun for a while.

Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart’s Last X-Men Movie

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More of Stewart’s Professor X to come?

While Hugh Jackman has said that Logan will serve as his final big screen outing as Wolverine, recent comments from Patrick Stewart suggest the Professor X actor isn’t quite ready to leave the X-Men film franchise behind.

“Hugh has raised the flag that says goodbye. I haven’t done that yet,” Stewart told ET.

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In Logan, Stewart stars as a much older Professor X, who appears to be in pretty rough shape. Read IGN’s review of Logan to find out why we found the return of Patrick Stewart as Xavier to be “one of the hugely satisfying aspects” of the film.

The X-Men film series is reportedly being “reconfigured” at Fox. Jean Grey actress Sophie Turner recently revealed that the next entry in the franchise, which is rumored to focus on Dark Phoenix, will start shooting soon.

Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie

Patrick Stewart as Xavier in Logan

Jackman has said he’s ready to hang up the claws for good, but Deadpool writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese said they’d love to bring his Wolverine into the world of Ryan Reynolds’ foul-mouthed anti-hero, though for that to occur a major restructuring would have to happen with the franchise. According to Reese, Jackman and Reynolds are “really close” and “want to see these characters come together.”

Logan will reportedly have a post-credits scene, but don’t expect Deadpool to make a cameo, as both Reynolds and director James Mangold have confirmed Wade Wilson won’t appear in the film.

Logan: Every Image So Far From Hugh Jackman’s Final Wolverine Movie

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Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie
Logan May Not Be Patrick Stewart's Last X-Men Movie

Logan: Every Image So Far From Hugh Jackman’s Final Wolverine Movie
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Alex Osborn is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Pillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature Teased

The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire crowdfunding campaign continues to soar. It has now made more than $3 million on the crowdfunding site Fig.

The game needed just under 23 hours to raise its $1.1 million goal. As of this writing, Deadfire has attracted over 26,000 backers. Funding has been split almost evenly between traditional crowdfunding ($1.58 million) and investments ($1.49 million) from those seeking equity in the project (with Fig Game Shares). The campaign wraps up on February 24.

Pillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature Teased
Pillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature TeasedPillars Of Eternity 2 Passes $3 Million, New Feature Teased

“Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our fans, backers, and investors for helping us reach the amazing milestone of $3 million dollars!” developer Obsidian Entertainment said in an update. “It’s truly amazing that we’ve hit this point. We’re now the campaign with the most backers in Fig history, and it’s due to our amazing fans who, like us, want to make Pillars of Eternity II the deepest, most robust, and most engrossing RPG it can possibly be. We’re so excited to be able to include companion relationships, which we know are going to make the game even more incredible.”

Obsidian teased that it has a “big announcement about a really important, super cool, and heretofore extremely hush-hush game feature” to be revealed soon.

Deadfire builds on the mechanics of the previous game and promises to offer “truly living cities [and] more freedom to explore the open world.” You can read more about it here. A PC release is currently slated for the first quarter of 2018.

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