Halo Wars 2 is due to release on 21 February. Players that preordered it are already playing today. Reviews and user coments are slowly trickling in and there seems to be some consensus as to the quality of everything on display.
343 Industries and Creative Assembly enjoy a score of 81 for the game on Metacritic at the time of writing and a user score of 7.3 for the Xbox One version. These scores are bound to shift around a bit as more reviews come in. The PC version still has no Metacritic ratings at this point but it is quite likely that PC gamers will receive the game less favourably considering the close affiliation of PC and RTS games and the fact that Halo Wars 2 was primarily designed with a controller in mind.
Overall reviewers agree that Halo Wars 2 is moderately successful at what it is trying to be and do. The Halo Wars series is trying to do for console RTS games what the main FPS branch of the franchise did for its genre on consoles - streamlining and simplifying controls and mechanics of a mostly PC genre for controllers and the design environment they represent.
Most of the praise Halo Wars 2 receives is centred around the times the game is truly Halo in terms of atmosphere and adherence to the spirit of the series. Reviewers agree that a high level of visual polish and design are on display, as we should expect from a AAA release.
The game is also playable on both PC and Xbox One via the Windows Play Anywhere service, which requires only a single purchased copy for both platforms. The first cracks in the game's quality seem to appear when it is held up against other more or less traditional RTS games. A lot of the depth and challenge mouse and keyboard oriented RTS games bring to the table was supposedly lost in the process of adapting many mechanics and gameplay concepts for consoles and the game presents very little in the way of skill demand on the player. The campaign picks up its pace and difficulty in the final moments of its approximately 10 hour run, but most reviewers agree it is too little too late.
One of the widely discussed features of Halo Wars 2 is its Blitz Mode. It is essentially an attempt to combine multiplayer RTS with a card game, with mixed success. The debate on forums is still ongoing whether the games lack of innovation and potential as a competitive game is a good or bad thing.
Halo Wars 2 is available for download from the Microsoft store for roughly £50 depending on which version you want to have, with the deluxe edition having a remaster of the first Halo Wars game in a package deal.