I had a chance to recently go hands-on with various aspects of Halo Wars 2 and the first aspect we want to highlight over the coming days is a brand new single player and multiplayer mode called Blitz.
Depending on whether you play Blitz alone or with others determines the style of gameplay Blitz evolves into. The premise at its core remains the same, however: capture and hold three points to score points and win the game.
If playing against the AI, Blitz takes on a Survival-like tone. Instead of accruing a score, enemy waves keep coming, with the difficulty increasing with each one. If the enemy can hold two points at any given time, a meter will start to fill, and once full, you lose the game. It can get to a point where the AI is throwing every enemy it has at you at once, but my personal record was 15 waves.
If playing against other humans, either 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3, Blitz takes on a decidedly Domination-like feel. Holding at least two points will mean scoring for your team, and the first team to 200 points will win. There is also a 15-minute time limit here, with highest score winning if the match has not been decided by then.
Being a real-time strategy game, though, the most interesting aspects of Blitz are in how you “build” units. While you still must spend resources, which occasionally appear at random on the mode’s single “Proving Grounds” map, you only can choose from four units at a time. The units you get are drawn like cards into a hand. You can trade cards for others from your 12-card deck at any time for a small resource fee, and knowing what cards may come up in your hand is crucial to turning the tide, or holding the advantage.
This trading card game mechanic lends an entirely new layer of strategy, though, to the RTS genre and to Halo Wars 2‘s already cerebral gameplay. Choosing which deck you wish to use before each match, represented by an avatar like Professor Anders, Commander Cutter, or Banished leader Atriox, will yield some exclusive cards, but the bulk of your deck will be customizable with card packs you earn in the campaign, or that you can buy in the store (yes, there is a microtransaction option, like every other card game out there). Doubles of cards are immediately sacrificed to strengthen those already in your collection, meaning you’ll never be allowed more than one Wolverine or Warthog for example, but that it could get bonuses to attack, range, defense, speed, and other stats over time.
This mash-up of gameplay is definitely intriguing, and still has a base RTS element at its core. To help show off the new mode, Halo Wars 2 is holding an open beta from January 20-30 on both Xbox One and PC, specifically for Blitz. If you want to see the mode in action, you also need look no further than our video of opening packs, a single player match, and a 1v1 multiplayer match, above.
Halo Wars 2 is dropping on February 21 for Xbox One and PC.