Nearly eight years ago, Microsoft gave gamers a new lens to view the wonderful world of Halo through, Halo Wars. Fast forward to today and gamers are getting ready for the series’ second iteration, Halo Wars 2. In order to help fans get aught up on the franchise’s brief history, Halo Wars: Definitive Edition has been released.

The latest remaster to come from Microsoft is another excellent one. Visuals have been upgraded and showcase a much more modern, slick and precise look, while controls and gameplay make the experience a very accessible one. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is an addictive appetizer for the upcoming main course of Halo Wars 2, which arrives on Feb. 21, 2017.

For those who have yet to step into the Halo Wars universe, there are a few excellent tutorials to prepare you for the campaign and multiplayer. These will help you understand basics like attacking, building and selecting units. Gamers will also learn about more advanced features like jumping from base-to-base to executing special abilities and more.

Players are given a brief glimpse into how playing as the UNSC (human faction) and the Covenant can differ from each other. While basic functions such as how to establish a base or train soldiers largely remain the same, there are a couple differences between each faction that you should be aware of.

Snowy visuals from Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (Courtesy of Microsoft).
Snowy visuals from the world of Halo Wars (Courtesy of Microsoft).

What I love most about the Halo Wars series is how it forces players to consider their immediate strategies, and adjust based off of the successes or failures. Of course the game is a real-time strategy title, so you would expect this to be the case, but I really do enjoy how the gameplay continuously makes the player think about his or her tactics.

Halo Wars: Definitive Edition sports visuals, which have been greatly improved. Textures and clarity have clearly been given the current-generation treatment. They more closely resemble the looks we are seeing from gameplay found in Halo Wars 2.

Effects like explosions have also been pushed forward. As you are attacking a base and have its health down near zero, parts of each building will begin falling off. This was true with the original game, but in Halo Wars: Definitive Edition, the animations are far more precise and realistic. There is more subtlety to the destruction than there was in the original.

Rock formations have great definition in their cracks and jagged edges. Snow and ice glisten with great effect. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition has gone from a mid-generation oldie to a current-generation beaut. To see for yourself, you can take a look at a screenshot from the original game and compare it with one from the Definitive Edition. The difference is noticeable.

A screenshot from the original 2009 release of Halo Wars (Courtesy of Microsoft).
A screenshot from the original 2009 release of Halo Wars (Courtesy of Microsoft).
A screenshot from Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (Courtesy of Microsoft).
A screenshot from Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (Courtesy of Microsoft).

I hadn’t been able to jump into the game’s online multiplayer through the first several days of playing the game. However, in the past day or two that has changed. Game modes that I’ve spent time in are “Reinforcement” and “Standard,” with varying difficulties to go along with them.

Connections in the matches I played were excellent and I experienced no issues in my time online. Most online matches I played were 3v3 affairs, so gamers will want to have their mics on. Communication is key while playing online.

Gamers should work with teammates to coordinate strikes, as timing those correctly can mean the difference between winning and losing. Additionally, teams can work together to hone in on a similar strategy. I’m really enjoying my time with Halo Wars: Definitive Edition‘s online experience and expect it to only get better as time goes on.

All previously released downloadable content for Halo Wars is included in Halo Wars: Definitive Edition. This is largely made up of the two major DLC releases of “Strategic Options” as well as “Historic Battles.” These delivered new modes, maps and achievements when they debuted in 2009.

Currently, multiplayer has 11 different maps for players to choose from. Microsoft has included five modes for gamers to enjoy as well as four unique difficulties. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is an extremely fun time and contains addicting gameplay that makes time seem irrelevant. This release only makes me more excited to see what is in store for Halo Wars 2.

Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is available now on Xbox One and Windows 10 for those who pre-ordered the digital version of Halo Wars 2 Ultimate EditionStick around here at We Write Things for more on Halo. Microsoft provided We Write Things with a review code of Halo Wars: Definitive Edition for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.