At launch, Halo Wars 2 features four competitive multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Domination, Strongholds, and the new card-based Blitz. All of these are also available versus AI-controlled opponents, but 343 Industries and Creative Assembly opted to temporarily disable the multiplayer ranking system in order to give newcomers time to get used to the game’s strategy mechanics.
“First, a social/unranked environment is going to be more inviting and less stressful and allow players a chance to get familiar with the game, the units, and the multitude of strategies and tactics at their disposal,” said community manager Brian Jarrard in the announcement. “Second, delaying a ranking seasonal model also allows the development team to monitor and respond to any balancing issues that usually only arise after players have spent considerable time exploring units and developing strategies and synergies.”
Jarrard added that the development team is also looking for “natural” opportunities to introduce seasons of ranked play, and that this would likely happen as additional playable leaders are introduced into the game.
Halo Wars 2 is far from the first game to delay ranked multiplayer until shortly after launch. Overwatch used a similar strategy, releasing last May with just the “quick play” option for finding multiplayer matches before introducing ranked seasons in June. The mode has continued to see improvements and updates since then, with drastically different approach to skill placements in each of the game’s seasons thus far.
Halo Wars 2 is out now on Xbox One and PC. It does not support cross-play multiplayer, but it is an “Xbox Play Anywhere” title.