( PC Impressions of the Blitz Beta.)
For the first time since Halo 3 in 2007, I don’t know what to expect from a Halo game. I haven’t played a Halo in a while and this is the first time that I’m excited. Halo 3 and ODST was phenomenal, it had awesome story beats and in the end it was a great shooter, had great co-op, fantastic multiplayer, it was great.
Halo Wars 2, is something else entirely and it has the freedom to go another route then the mainline Halo’s that are on the flagship console. Halo Wars released 8 years ago and it was the first time a RTS was successful in the console space and right now, in 2017, the genre isn’t booming so there’s another chance to go at it again and hit it the spot again, Halo Wars 2 is a pretty good game and it’s mechanics are solid.
I got the chance to play the “Blitz” beta and it was pretty cool, it’s easier to get around the map and multitask. It’s easy to assign and use control groups, you can also assign camera positions to certain keys, for example G. Let’s say, I press F and that button press will bring up my base and let’s say, I press J and that will bring up my hidden cluster of Scorpion tanks, it’s useful and resourceful. The mode, itself is a card game of sorts mixed in with real time strategy.
Blitz is made for two kinds of people, those who like Halo but don’t enjoy spinning a million plates in a RTS game and those that don’t have enough time to play a full hour match, it comes with one map and it has three capture points. Hold more points then your opponent and you win, it’s similar to Domination in games like Battlefield, Halo, or Call of Duty. The twist is that you hold four cards, eight more in reserve which makes twelve in total. Instead of managing a base, you build units by playing cards and how you use these cards are up to you. Cards replenish over time, and you can spend a small amount of energy to cycle your cards.
A card can be anything from UNSC Marines or Elites to a vehicle, to leader specific powers. Blitz will launch with six leaders from the UNSC to the Covenant, cards are earned through packs. Each leader has a starter deck.
During the beta, each match lasted me seven to 12 minutes and it’s perfect for folks who want to get competitive, but don’t want to mess around with base building or scouting. You can also play with the A.I and it becomes something similar to Firefight, although I played with the A.I to get my bearings and understand the game’s mechanics before moving into real time play. It’s 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 player base. You begin with a handful of cards and units, and as soon as you begin to fight, it’s a mad dash to control what you can and hold fast. You can only build units where you have sight, so spreading your forces might be in your advantage.
I hopped into 3v3 game session, my allies had a deck that focused on numerous abilities like AoE healing and land mines, while I had tanks, UNSC infantry, and cheap units. You share abilities with your teammates so we made a strong frontline and when I got myself into a fight, his healing kept my forces in shape and ready to fight again. That alone made me excited to hop into Halo again after such a long time away from it. Halo Wars 2 is shaping up to be exciting, stay tuned for the first full impressions coming next month.
*Halo Wars 2: Blitz Beta is available now until January 30th, 2017.