Originally released as an Xbox 360 exclusive back in 2009, Halo Wars was heavily billed as an RTS-lite experience for console gamers and newcomers to the genre. After all, real time strategies have traditionally not fared well in the absence of a mouse and keyboard. The sequel, Halo Wars 2, differs somewhat in as much as it is intended for a PC release from day one, but it seems this fact hasn’t much changed the design philosophy of the game itself.
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Speaking in an interview with GameSpot, Creative Assembly’s executive producer David Nicholson explains that much of the game’s core mechanics are designed in such a manner as to be accessible to the masses. He describes the classic resource management of so many similar games as a plate-spinning act before going on to ask “what happens if we take a couple of those plates away from you, for example you don’t need to worry about resources? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered for you. You’ll have enough resources to do what you want to do.”
Taking that concept to its extreme is ‘blitz mode’ in which players can build decks of cards beforehand and then use them to deploy units during the game. There are no bases, no resources and the game is essentially a battle arena of pure strategic planning and positioning. In a sense this combines two of the most popular genres to have emerged in recent years, that of the MOBA and the trading card battler.
It’s unsurprising that Creative Assembly are looking to ape some of the success of games like Hearthstone and League of Legends, both of which reel in masses of cash with their microtransactions. However, Nicholson is keen to dispel any concerns regarding pay-to-win entrapments. As he explains, “we’ve got the ability for players to earn cards throughout the game. Play through the campaign and we’ll reward your progress with card packs. You can complete the daily challenges, we’ll give you cards packs. You can complete weekly challenges and we’ll give you card packs.” He then goes on to add that “some people don’t have the time to continue playing that many matches, but they really want to stay competitive, so there is that opportunity to pop over to the store where you can buy some more card packs.”