A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Rewards strategic thinking, teamwork, but all action is focused on war, violence. Killing enemies is solution to every problem.
Positive Role Models
Human protagonists are loyal to their species, each other, often sacrificing themselves for good of others. They're all soldiers, though, and most exhibit an eagerness, sometimes even joy in lethal combat.
Ease of Play
Simple controls; easy to learn. Four difficulties range from exceptionally easy to crushingly hard.
Violence & Scariness
Humans fight aliens, machines with broad spectrum of sci-fi military gear, including guns, tanks, aircraft, bombs, turrets, other weapons, vehicles. Action is viewed from bird's-eye perspective, so little detail is shown. But noninteractive narrative sequences show soldiers getting stabbed, violently tossed around by big aliens, sometimes with a small amount of blood.
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Occasional mild profanity, including "bitch," "ass."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy (RTS) game concerning a far-future war between humans and aliens. All the action revolves around large-scale battles involving soldiers, tanks, aircraft, and bombs. But save for a handful of cinematic cut scenes that show dramatic one-on-one combat, the fighting is generally presented from a high, eye-in-the-sky perspective that limits its intensity. Players are encouraged and rewarded to develop and implement strategies, and in online play they have the opportunity to work together in small teams. Note, too, that while many real-time-strategy games tend to turn off rookie players due to their complexity, this one has been tailored to be accessible and welcoming for casual and mainstream players. There's also some occasional mild profanity, including "bitch" and "ass."
Is It Any Good?
Much like the original game in the series, the sequel is designed to be welcoming to people who don't normally play real-time strategy games. A broad selection of difficulty settings and a brilliantly designed control scheme for gamepads (RTS games are typically made for keyboard and mouse and are notoriously hard to play with a standard controller) should make it easy for just about anyone to start experiencing success right away in Halo Wars 2. It also benefits from an enthralling story told largely through Hollywood-quality CGI cinematics that are filled with compelling, emotive characters invested with a sense of purpose and urgency. It's easy for players to cheer them on. While the online modes in RTS games are typically the most off-putting for casual players, Halo Wars 2's arcade-like Blitz mode is quick to play and easy to understand and even includes a clever card-collecting element that lets players build decks composed of the types of units they want to use in battle.
But while Halo Wars 2 is clearly a game made with the intent to draw a broad swath of mainstream Halo fans who probably don't normally play RTS games, it also has enough depth that more serious strategy players can enjoy it, too -- and not just because they can play with a keyboard and mouse (if they choose to play on PC). Base-building and tech upgrades are admittedly pretty rudimentary; there's not a lot of strategy involved in choosing what structures to build or how to upgrade them. But the units -- warthogs, snipers, grizzlies, and many more -- each have their own strengths and weaknesses, including special abilities that players will need to practice using to properly exploit. Understanding how various units counteract isn't necessary when you're playing against the computer on the easiest setting, but it becomes essential when playing on harder difficulties -- or going up against skilled players online. A game like Halo Wars 2 will never have the mass appeal of the core Halo shooters, but franchise fans who give it a chance aren't likely to come away disappointed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.