For almost all esports fans, the big Halo news to come out of Gamescom was the announcement of the $1,000,000 Halo World Championship. Overlooked was the unexpected announcement of Halo Wars 2, which is currently under development from the makers of the Total War franchise, Creative Assembly.
The original Halo Wars, an Xbox 360 exclusive real time strategy game, was released in 2009 and was made by Ensemble Studios, who were well known for the Age of Empires series. Shortly after Halo Wars’ release, the studio was shut down and the maintaining of the game (things such as bug fixes and map packs) was taken over by Robot Entertainment, which was founded by many of the former Ensemble Studios employees. The game was one of the few console RTS games, then and now, and still continues to have a dedicated community.
How does all of this relate to esports? Not much is known about the second entry in this spin-off series, but we do know it intends to release on both the Xbox One and on Windows 10. This makes the game much more open to a competitive scene due to most RTS players preferring mouse and keyboard over a game pad. It would also make sense that the gameplay will be noticeably different than the original game as this sequel is now being developed by a different studio and the majority of buyers being dissatisfied with the original.
No matter how the game turns out, as long as it is not considered to be extremely “casual”, there is a good chance that the game will harbor a tournament scene. In the original game’s heyday, it was supported by several online tournament organizers and hosted many competitive ladders. It would be very likely that these original supporters would return to their older game. 343 Industries, the “masters” of Halo if you will, and Microsoft have clearly devoted themselves to supporting the main Halo series as an esport. It would not be surprising to see them at least test the waters with this title as well, considering the history of RTSes dominating the earlier days of competitive gaming. If things go right, which they should under Creative Assembly, the sequel has a bright future.
Until we know more about the game it will be very hard to tell what lies in its path, all we can do for now is speculate. Unfortunately, this announcement was largely overshadowed by the other more relevant one and I felt many people were forgetting about it. The game supposedly intends to launch sometime at the end of next year. If it does end up becoming an esport, you’ll be able to find all you need to know about it here at eSports Guru!