Is there any harder sell than a Real Time Strategy game for console? Much like ice to eskimos, the answer my friends, is no. God bless Microsoft for trying then with the sequel to their previous attempt, Halo Wars 2.
We played a 3v3 co-op mode called Stronghold, an action focused mode that did away with upgrades and resource management in favor of capturing minibases scattered around the map. The lack of resources didn’t mean we were free to spam units all day long though, each player was confined to a population cap that determined the number of units they could have at once. Capturing a minibase would grow that cap a little.
In order to not look like the RTS scrub that I am, I just built one of everything and a bunch of regular grunts, and after several minutes, figured out how to select them and move them to a point. So far so good. Capturing the point involved building a base on it, which took several seconds. As opposed to doing anything with this time, I mostly stared wall-eyed at the progress bar, causing my APMs to drop to a staggering negative one million. One of my teammates was clearly a seasoned vet, as he had figured out how to split his units into two separate groups, a feat so Herculean my caveman brain wept at the thought of it.
At this point the opposing team showed up and rudely started attacking my new minibase. Unfortunately, because I kept using the select all option, all my troops were busy hoofing it somewhere else. RIP minibase 2016-2016. Fortunately, I managed to put a minor dent in them with one of my Leader Abilities, which allows you to blast any point on the map within your vision with lasers or mines, or alternately heal your troops. It’s got a fairly stiff cooldown though, so my brand of panic-stricken flailing might not be the best approach.
Astoundingly, the match ended in a tie, as I managed to sneakily capture a remote minibase during the final minute. But mostly because one of our opponents was AFK.
RTS games need their interface to be as intuitive as possible, as the degree of simultaneous micromanaging and strategy required are already taxing your brain. Halo Wars 2 makes a solid attempt, but there’s a serious learning curve to the controls, and mapping the myriad features and macros of a keyboard to a controller will always be an uphill battle. Fortunately, Halo Wars 2 will be releasing on PC, as well as Xbox One, February 2017.