Although we already knew it was coming thanks to a leaked Xbox Games Store listing last week, 343 Industries made the ‘surprise’ announcement during Microsoft’s E3 conference today that Halo Wars 2 is now playable in open beta form on Xbox One via download directly from the marketplace. The cat may have been let out of the bag early on that one, but it’s no less welcome because of it, especially as the full game seems to have been pushed back several months to a February 21, 2017 release.
But the wait should hopefully be worth it: the gameplay shown off on stage looks fantastic and much more ambitious in scope than the original. Hundreds of infantry units, vehicles and aircraft can be seen on-screen at once as they participate in all out warfare, and the story focus this time around seems to be on a new faction of Brutes called The Banished.
The video (above) description reads:
In Halo Wars 2, the Spirit of Fire and her crew, led by Captain Cutter, face a deadly new faction known as The Banished. Their chief, the Brute warlord Atriox, is both a deadly warrior and brilliant military leader in control of a massive army. The key to victory is knowing your enemy, but Atriox is a threat no one is prepared for.
343 Industries and Creative Assembly bring you the explosive return of real-time strategy to the Halo universe in Halo Wars 2. Build and command powerful armies of vehicles and troops in epic battles on the biggest Halo battlefield ever. Experience an all-new story across 13 action-packed campaign missions. Play with or against friends, or matchmake with the Xbox Live community in a variety of multiplayer modes supporting up to 6 players.
An Xbox Live Gold membership is required to download the Halo Wars 2 beta, and requires a hefty 13.02 GB of free space. Don’t leave it to long to try the game out – it’s only available to play until June 20.