Halo Wars 2 Beta Impressions

So recently I had the chance to sit down and play the Halo Wars 2 beta. At first I thought about making it Friday’s Review Post, but then I realised it’s not fair to review the game in the beta stage as there’s still a lot of work to be done.

And by a lot of work to be done, there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s fucking atrocious.

We’ll get the “positives” out of the way first, Nathan tried to help me with the positives but I added most of them to the negatives. Only real positive is that they’ve added some new units, but even that has it’s downsides considering that they’ve taken units out and merged two or three units together to create one big useless clump.

Let’s move onto the negatives, of which there are many. I’ll go in order of the notes I have, starting with the wait times. The lack of people playing is a problem, but another problem directly linked with that is that people kept leaving the game. Not sure why they kept leaving, maybe they had a sudden realisation that what they were playing was shit, but it took a while to find a game by myself. So I got Nathan to join me, and for some reason he likes the beta, not sure why, but moving on.

The loading times are absurd. Not just when waiting for players, but actually loading the game. You’d be popped into the game, five seconds later you’d have to wait another few minutes for it to catch up and buffer or some shit, it was ridiculous.

I know this is a small point to make but I may as well nit pick to piss off the fans of the beta. The alert bars, where it says “Waiting for Players”, the text is too small and the bar it is in is too bland. With this information, do what you will.

Obviously the major change is that Ensemble Studios unfortunately closed down, so they handed the Halo Wars brand over to Creative Assembly, a company that is renowned for making the Total War games. Never played them, probably never will. But with the closure of Ensemble Studios, Creative Assembly took it upon themselves to re-invent some of the characters. So, instead of Captain Cutter being this older man, he looks like every generic 30 something bearded man from gaming, he’s joined the ranks of Nathan Drake, the entire cast of Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel and Gordon Freeman. I don’t know what they’ve done for the rest of the characters though. You could only play as Cutter or this Brute Chieftan bloke who I didn’t play as because I’d had enough of the game after my time with Cutter.

The first Halo Wars offered a lot of freedom in how you moved the camera angle, Halo Wars 2 does not. I dunno, the camera angle felt extremely stiff and clunky, very difficult to manoeuvre anywhere properly considering you can only swivel the camera left to right, not up and down. You can zoom in and out but it’s at one fixed angle.

Remember the Look Here feature thing? You could press the left stick in if you wanted someone on your team to look at where you were. That can be spammed so much it’s amazing. Just mashing the left stick in creating an extreme amount of bleeping noises until Nathan told me to stop.

Taking new bases is also no longer a challenge as they’re all empty. No rebels walk around the whole one map the beta offered. It takes away the challenge of gaining bases when all you need to do is send one unit in to build a base and then send them back to wherever they came from. There’s also a lot of mini bases, similar to the ones in Halo Wars, although this time around they’re a lot more useless. In Halo Wars you could just snap a supply pad out of nowhere in no time at all, in Halo Wars 2 you have to go through the process of setting up a completely new base to make one new thing.

There weren’t any upgrades for air vehicles, or for that matter any units whatsoever, and if there were upgrades it was literally only one and it wouldn’t provide much use, extremely disappointing.

Remember how when you upgraded the Marines to ODST you could drop as many in as possible so long as you didn’t go over the counter? Not anymore. The ODST units can be dropped in every once in a while, one unit at a time. Now you’d think they were a lot stronger if they can only be dropped in less, right? Wrong, they’re pretty much weaker than they were in the first game, which makes them pretty much useless.

I know it’s the beta, but there was a number of clipping issues and I swear to Christ at one point two units clipped together so much that they produced a third unit, I’m not making that up. Well, I’m not making up the ridiculous amount of clipping bit.

The new Commander Powers upgrade tree is, well, shit. Literally everything is one point to purchase, if you have five points, you can rush the “ODST Squad Drop”, spam that a few times and then away you go. You get two squads of ODST and somehow along with that it drops a Tank and some other stuff, quite the squash in the drop pod I guess.

 

I spoke of the glitches earlier but I must say, this is one of the buggiest betas I’ve ever played, I mean, by a beta you’d expect the developers to have everything looking sort of polished but not there yet, Halo Wars 2 is still extremely far away from being anywhere close to playable.

Let’s talk framerate. It was shit. My frames quite literally dropped into single figures when any combat was present on screen, so what am I supposed to do, not watch it? Truly stupendous how the game gets extremely laggy when you enter a combat scenario.

You can get mini nukes, the textures for that make it look like 8-Bit Contra bombs, genuinely looks shit.

They changed the generators so that they don’t produce a set number at all times, you have to wait for them to slowly increase, just like your supplies, the problem is that supplies come in far too quickly while the generators don’t produce enough to keep up with supplies. I had four supply pads and two generators to test this, now, it should basically be double. No, it was quadruple, hell, even more. It was absurd and poorly balanced.

There used to be a thing on the original Halo Wars where you could get more units than you were allowed. This has not been fixed in Halo Wars 2, which is something that is something I could even fix and it’s not hard to fix, just they haven’t yet because they can’t be arsed, I don’t know, a sequel is supposed to improve on the mechanics of the first game, not make it shittier.

Oh yeah, I didn’t learn how to play the game either. First time I tried the opening tutorial thing, it was blocked by updates, and then the second time it just automatically skipped.

It has done one good thing though, it’s made me appreciate Halo Wars much more than I already did. 343 have fucked up again.

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