On the other hand, the greatest setback of having a partner is the shared resource pool as well as the shared population limit. If you are not well in sync with your teammate, problems can arise quickly. A partner who wants to develop first could leave their combat-heavy partner without the power to build an army. As always, cooperation while playing co-op is everything. Your units, once queued up, belong to the player who assigned the unit to be built. Again, coordination is everything; if one player monopolizes the army, the other will have little to do but wait for units to die off before they have control.
"If I had my say, I would opt to play the game with a friend, whenever possible."
Blitz Firefight mode is another interesting co-op idea, but it does not add much to the formula that was introduced. The decks you gather while playing other game modes, do not truly change the game any more than placing a self-imposed handicap or 'greatest hits' into the player's hand, depending how they build their deck. The system is fine mechanically and does what it ought to no fault, but it simply does not breathe more life into the game past what the campaign has to offer with a bit of added pressure, as it is set up in a horde-mode format instead of campaign's objectives. On the positive light of Firefight, the co-op allows the two players to be completely independent, meaning that building a deck with a friend and playing your cards right together can be just as fun and well thought out as doing it alone.
There are other co-op and versus type multiplayer modes. Many are standard, skirmish style, with variations and objectives that can tweak gameplay. None of this adds to the flow of what you do; you build bases in designated spots and hold, capture or destroy things as best you can. The game simply has no more to offer.
PC Impressions by Nicholas Puleo
Halo Wars 2 is another Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning one copy gets you both Xbox One and PC, which is great for a title like this. The experience of playing an RTS with a mouse and keyboard vs a controller is akin to the difference between cutting a tree with a hand saw vs using a chainsaw. Microsoft and Creative Assembly did not gimp PC players with console like controls, your full QWERTY arsenal is at your disposal and all the common RTS advantages like dynamic groups, precise unit selection, and quicker navigation via the mini map are all present.
The downside? There is no cross play between Xbox One and PC - even for co-op. It's an odd decision because a game like Gears of War 4 allowed it in co-op but not competitive, but according to Microsoft "engine differences" prevent it here.
The game looks great, plays great, and runs fairly smooth thanks to a recent patch. It almost makes it difficult to play on Xbox One after experiencing the PC version.
The game reaches a very odd tipping point, it is not bad - because it is good. But, it is good - because it is not bad. The mechanics in place work well. It is very easy to hop in and start leading your army into a foray of space marines, tanks, flying rockets and lasers, explosions and moments where, after holding your breath, a well-placed missile strike will change the tide of battle. However, if you played the original Halo Wars, none of these moments will be new to you. The game offers very little in innovation or any sort of interest past a few hours worth. If you want more Halo Wars, you got it.
As I wake up from the dream-like state I started the review in, I realize that eight years had passed. Eight years of technology in video games and lore in Halo moving forward. Maybe Halo Wars should try and move forward as well.
The Co-Op Experience: Halo Wars 2 will support online co-op in the campaign, blitz firefight and skirmish modes. In Skirmish mode, test your battle strategies against a range of AI difficulty levels. Fight across all the environments and multiplayer game modes with as many AI and co-op friends as each mode will allow. *DOES NOT SUPPORT CROSS PLAY*
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.