Archive for June 20, 2016

Halo Wars 2 – Quick Preview

With the dust settling over the E3 madness this week, there was a lot to indulge but one game during Microsoft’s conference that stood out to me was Halo Wars 2. Frank here, the Red Tie Guy and for those of you that have followed my channel for a while should know that I’m a RTS fantastic with Xcom being my favourite turn based RTS.

When MS announced Halo Wars 2 back at Gamescom 2015, it was practically a no brainer that I would instantly fall in love with the sequel. Halo Wars was originally released back in 2009 as an Xbox 360 exclusive which became a classic amongst console RTS’s as there weren’t many real time strategy games on consoles however, it wasn’t the deepest title from a strategy players point of view.

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Developed by Ensemble Studios, they set out to create a real time strategy game for consoles but sadly the studio closed down not too long after the release of the first Halo Wars. Since then the developers behind the Total War series, Creative Assembly has picked up the franchise and they’re trying to expand its reach. With the Open Beta being Live on Xbox One right now until June the 20th, I jumped right in to try it out for myself and I wasn’t disappointed.

The content there is to experience is a bit limited though allowing you to choose Captain Cutter from the UNSC or Atriox from the Banished. Domination is the first mode available which is essentially a sandbox where opposing player build their bases, assemble their troops and focus on capturing as much of the map as possible. The second mode is Deathmath, available today until the 20th of June which is a classic RTS mode where all players just battle it out to the death.

Halo Wars 2 is set to release exclusively on Xbox One and PC on the 21st of February 2017, making it a part of the Xbox Play Anywhere listing where you purchase it on one platform but play it on both. There will be two editions of Halo Wars 2 released. The regular version and the Ultimate Edition which comes packed with a Season Pass as well as a definitive Edition of Halo Wars, allowing PC players to experience the original Halo Wars as well.

XCOM 2 Alien Hunters – Review

Xcom 2 was already a difficult game to begin with but after a couple of dozen hours or so and finishing the campaign twice, I kind of felt like I’ve mastered most of the games challenges. Xcom 2 Alien Hunter throws a curve ball at me by adding a new type of enemy that fundamentally changes the combat missions in such a way that I had to completely rethink my strategies.

Once triggers by a story mission, Xcom 2 introduces Rulers. These enemies are essentially altered and more powerful versions of the Vipers, Beserkers and Archons but don’t think for one second that it’s just a change of skin tone. They’ll invade you at any random turn, can soak up a ton of damage and will even give the Sectopod a run for its money. If they take up enough damage, they’ll retreat off the map which might bring you a sigh of relieve but only to return later and give you an even bigger headache so it’s best to try and kill them as soon as you can.

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Unlike the usual turn based combat, the Rulers move in-between combat meaning that time isn’t exactly frozen when you move, reload or do anything really. Trying to outflank them is impossible and putting your soldiers on overwatch isn’t very useful as it is triggered immediately. The only sigh of relieve you might have is that Rulers tend to knock your soldiers unconscious instead of killing them but that causes complications with mission that have time limits.

Your soldiers won’t be completely useless though as Alien Hunter introduces new firepower, some of which makes the game seem a little too easy early on. The Bolt Caster, which is a crossbow-like weapon, has high damage and high accuracy but at the cost of only having one ammo so you’ll need to reload it after each shot.  Sharpshooters can also make use of a ShadowKeeper pistol which deals a lot of damage and it is definitely a must have for any sniper in your squad.

The Rangers aren’t left in the cold though as they receive a brand new axe which replaces the sword. They do incredible damage on their own and have a unique ability which allows the ranger to throw it at the cost of one use per mission. Additionally there are freeze grenades which immobilize enemies for a few turns, perfect to use if a Ruler is trying to escape or if you need to retreat from an enemy.

One of the most interesting new additions are the trophies. Once you slay a Ruler, you’re able to mount their hollowed out corpses in a trophy room in your HQ. Your soldiers can also wear those skins, which grant them special abilities for example the Archon skin allows your soldier to briefly fly which the Berserker skin allows for a one-time melee attack however, if your soldier is killed and you don’t recover that body then that skin is gone for good.

For those veteran commanders such as myself looking for a challenge beyond the Rulers, will be left disappointed. Once you receive the new equipment Alien Hunters offers, the game suddenly becomes too easy. Even though the Rulers do change the tactics of some missions, they are essentially just different versions of current aliens and disappointingly there are no completely new alien models.

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The new gear on offer is equivalent to most of the mods out there. Most mods are visually more appealing than that which is in this paid DLC so one has to wonder why Firaxis even spends time creating things which the community does for free.

Xcom 2 Alien Hunters is an interesting piece of DLC but which appeals to the more hardcore Xcom 2 players out there.  With new weapons, abilities and expanding on some tactical approaches of missions, Alien Hunters does add enough at a quick glance but with questionable replay value.