The Halo Wars: Definitive Edition brings the spin-off Halo RTS to both Xbox One and Windows 10. This version features Xbox Play Anywhere so it's a completely connected experience where you own it in both places and all data is shared between the two. Halo Wars is a fantastic real time strategy game that features a campaign and a multiplayer portion. The story follows The Spirit of Fire as it deals with problems on Harvest, a planet long stricken by the war with the Covenant. James Cutter commands the Spirit with two key personnel, John Forge that runs the military aspects of the ship for the most part and Ellen Anders a scientist that inspects Forerunner technology. The group discovers that the Covenant are seeking certain artifacts and decide to follow them in order to find out what they're after. This journey takes them to a number of unique locations across the universe while taking on the many secrets that lie within them. The story is actually really great and helps build upon the general narrative of the Halo franchise. It also features some incredible cutscenes, at least for the time and they still hold up quite well. The campaign can also be played in solo or with another player through coop. Aside from regular mission progression you can also collect secrets skulls and black boxes throughout levels.
The multiplayer aspect of Halo Wars is actually very robust featuring a wide range of modes to play and maps to battle on. Games can be played up to 3v3 with a mix of factions in order to completely mix up the experience. The factions include heroes that each player can choose from that offers certain bonuses and advantages. You can also play any of the multiplayer aspects in local against AI if you'd like. Modes vary from straight up attrition combat to Tug of War where you compete for control. This is definitely the full version of Halo Wars as all additional DLC that was released is included with the Definitive iteration. The multiplayer is actually a blast to play being usually balanced depending on the skill of those playing and the mix of tactical leaders on the map. They've also replaced the traditional matchmaking system with a browser that allows better setup and joining for matches.
The game still actually looks great with smooth gameplay and higher resolution looking textures for Xbox One. The PC version is basically the same though it does feature a couple options for adjusting graphical quality which does look slightly better. It does however have an aged look to it and the experience doesn't completely transfer over to the keyboard too well. That aside the keyboard and mouse controls do feel like the proper way to play the game offering much better control.
Halo Wars was actually a great RTS when it launched on console still being the best take on the genre I've seen to this point and it's nice to see it given an upgrade to play on the modern Xbox platform. It would have been better if some improvements would have been made to aging textures in order to add longevity, but it still does look fine. The cutscenes also hold up well and it does play great no matter where you choose to experience it. With Xbox play Anywhere you get the full game on either Xbox One and Windows 10 though I've definitely switched to the PC for the game as it's just better. The campaign tells a compelling story that builds upon the Halo universe while still acting as a standalone. The multiplayer is also well done bringing the full selection of content together while offering an easier way to join matches. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition doesn't exactly feel like other remasters as it lacks improved textures, but with the minor tweaks this is a perfect version of this great Halo RTS.
Review Done on Halo Wars: Definitive Edition for Xbox One & Windows 10
Review Code Provided by Microsoft