Microsoft announced today that its Spartan-themed real-time strategy game Halo Wars will return in a sequel launching next year for the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms.
Halo Wars 2 is developed by The Creative Assembly, the development team responsible for last year’s multiplatform horror title Alien: Isolation. More pertinently, The Creative Assembly previously worked on high-profile RTS releases in Sega’s Total War series, including Empire: Total War, Total War: Rome 2, and the upcoming Total War: Warhammer.
Developed by Age of Empires series creator Ensemble Studios, the original Halo Wars featured characters, vehicles, and settings familiar to fans of Bungie’s Halo series. Its storyline took place decades before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, challenging squadron commanders to defend a newly discovered fleet of ancient ships from the Covenant, the Halo series’ antagonist alien race.
Ensemble Studios shut down prior to the 2009 retail release of Halo Wars, leaving spinoff studio Robot Entertainment in charge of title updates and downloadable content releases. Despite the genre’s popularity on PCs, Halo Wars launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive and was never ported in the years after its release.
Halo as a real-time strategy game actually gets back to the roots of the series. When Bungie started developing Halo: Combat Evolved in the late 90s, it was conceived as a Mac-exclusive RTS. It first evolved into a third-person shooter before Microsoft purchased the studio in 2000 and the game settled into its final, first-person shooter form.
Promising “an exciting new strategy game packed with fast-paced action, massive battles, and an all-new Halo story,” Halo Wars 2 is part of an ongoing blitz of Halo series releases from Microsoft. The franchise made its iOS debut in April with the release of the Halo: Spartan Assault sequel Halo: Spartan Strike, and developer 343 Industries is gearing up for this fall’s launch of Halo 5: Guardians for the Xbox One.
The Xbox One already hosts a number of Halo games via the 2014 franchise compilation Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which bundles prior series entries Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. Earlier this year, a port of 2009’s Halo 3: ODST joined The Master Chief Collection‘s roster of visually updated Halo series campaigns.
Halo Wars 2 will premiere in the fall of 2016 for Xbox One and Windows 10.