Halo Wars

Spotlight

Bungie bids Halo farewell

Eric Osborne looks back at 10 years of Master Chief.

VideoMeet Halo's multiplayer announcer

It's veteran actor Jeff Steitzer.

Halo Wars

Warthogs and all.

Bungie's Damian Isla

Bungie's AI guru on the thinking behind Halo.

Key events

Why Halo's biggest problem may be Halo itself

And what Halo 5 might have learned from Halo 3: ODST.

The original Halo Wars ends by putting itself in stasis, with the human warship Spirit of Fire coasting through void - its crew forced into cryosleep, its ultimate relation to the rest of the saga left open for debate. The in-game explanation for this uncertain denouement is the loss of the vessel's Faster Than Light drive. The creative rationale was perhaps Bungie's intense ambivalence about handing the keys to its universe over to Ensemble, developer of the Age of Empires games. Packed with all the floaty jeeps and energy swords a Halo fan could wish for, the plot of Halo Wars nonetheless sits at a careful remove from the numbered Halos, offering a separate cast and events that, for all their dizzying import, never quite overlap with the antics of Master Chief and co. Fast-forward to 2017, and even as the robust-looking Halo Wars 2 approaches release, there's the sense that the Spirit of Fire's fate has become that of Halo as a whole - a mass of trailing story threads and lost souls, waiting for somebody to give it a heading.

When Halo went back to its RTS roots

The making of Halo Wars.

As Microsoft sets out to reinvent Halo yet again with Halo 5: Guardians - festooning Master Chief's crenelated bulk with jumpjets and pop-out holographic reticules, like a long-serving plastic Christmas tree - it's worth digging up the last game to take similarly drastic yet successful liberties with Bungie's old action sandbox. Ensemble's Halo Wars rumbled onto shelves at a comfortable time for Xbox, a year or so ahead of the first Kinect sensor, and was spared the pressures and mammoth sales targets of a core numbered Halo. But in other respects, the project's challenges leave Halo 5's in the shadow.

BBC News mistakes Halo UNSC logo for UN

UPDATE: BBC tells Eurogamer: "Very occasionally mistakes do happen."

UPDATE: The BBC has responded to its broadcast of a Halo logo during Thursday's News at One, admitting its mistake and apologising to viewers.

Bungie bids Halo farewell

Eric Osborne looks back at 10 years of Master Chief.

It's a big year for Bungie. Not only does it celebrate its 20th birthday but, with the impending release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, it's also formally signing off custodianship of Master Chief to 343 Industries.

Microsoft announces Halo Fest

Microsoft announces Halo Fest

New game reveal at August PAX blow-out?

Microsoft will mark Halo's 10th anniversary with Halo Fest, a three day event taking place during the annual Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this August.

Billed as "the largest and most expansive live Halo experience ever" over on Halo Waypoint, you can expect tournaments, exclusive panels and prizes.

Could it also see a new Halo title announced? Perhaps that rumoured remake of Combat Evolved?

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Why I hate… Halo

I say goodbye.

In this new series of opinion pieces, some of Eurogamer's favourite writers reveal how they really feel about some of the world's most renowned, or most reviled, videogames.

Microsoft closing Halo Wars website

Migrating community to lose online stats.

Why is Microsoft closing the Halo Wars forums and getting rid of the game's online stat tracking? So that Halo Wars can move under the Halo Waypoint umbrella.

Halo 3: ODST sales reach 2.5 million

Halo 3: ODST sales reach 2.5 million

Plus: Master Chief set to return.

Around 2.5 million people have snapped up Halo 3: ODST in the two weeks since it was released.

That's according to USA Today, which also reports the expansion pack has generated over $125 million in sales and brought the total number of Halo games sold to 27 million.

But what about the rest of the Halo franchise? Any sign of that movie? "We're being very careful to pick the right time and the right partner," said creative director Frank O'Connor. No, then.

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Halo Wars leaderboards wiped

Robot not sure if accident can be fixed.

Robot Entertainment has revealed that all Halo Wars leaderboards have accidentally been wiped and may now be lost forever.

More Halo Wars DLC this month

Four-map Historic Battles pack soon.

Microsoft has announced that Halo Wars will receive another infusion of premium downloadable content this month with the release of the Historic Battles pack on 21st July for 800 Microsoft Points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60).

Halo Wars balancing patch soon

Halo Wars balancing patch soon

Title Update 3 "in a few weeks".

Microsoft, Robot Entertainment or whoever has updated the Halo Wars website with news of an upcoming Title Update that re-balances units and fixes a few bugs.

The update should be released "in a few weeks" and follows on from May's Strategic Options DLC, which introduced three new game modes.

Check out the changelog below for the full list of changes. Do you like the word changelog? Bit tinny.

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Halo Wars add-on in "coming weeks"

DLC expands modes, Achievements.

Microsoft has unveiled the first add-on for Halo Wars titled Strategic Options, which is due sometime in the "coming weeks" and offers three new modes and four new Achievements.

Halo Wars sells over 1 million copies

Halo Wars sells over 1 million copies

Becomes best-selling console RTS.

Microsoft says Halo Wars has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, making it the most successful console RTS this generation.

The Ensemble-developed Xbox 360 exclusive launched at the end of February and received solid critical applause.

Since then, more than 2.6 million multiplayer matches have taken place, totalling more than 118 years in playtime. On average, 200,000 people face off in Halo Wars multiplayer every day.

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UK chart: Killzone 2 beats Halo Wars

Sony's first number one since GOWII.

Killzone 2 has sealed Sony's first UK All-Formats number one since God of War II's release nearly two years ago, becoming the fourth-fastest-selling Sony-published game ever in the UK.

Halo Wars

Halo Wars

Warthogs and all.

The strange thing about Halo Wars is how understated it all seems. How dignified. There are so many ways that Halo Wars is an important game - it's real-time strategy on console, it's Halo in a new genre, it's Ensemble's swansong, it's another blow in the console wars - but while they could easily dominate your thoughts as you play it, they don't. Instead they just evaporate in the face of such a confident, self-assured and elegantly constructed videogame.

It lacks a little flair at times, but Ensemble has always excelled with this kind of small-c conservative design. If you look at the recent trend of RTS on consoles - taking in everything from the forthcoming Stormrise by Creative Assembly to Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's EndWar - Ensemble's game is most like the traditional RTS. Tweaks for the format are small, but meaningful, and they mostly work. Anyone who's played PC RTS has had a tendency to look on console incarnations as though it's sex with a couple of condoms on, but Ensemble's got it down to one extra-thick Durex: awkward, but still fun.

Halo Wars is also rather neat because it's an RTS prequel to a series originally conceived as an RTS. As expected, it tells the story of armed conflict between the Covenant, the UNSC and The Surprise Guest Oh I Wonder Who They Could Be. The story's not told particularly well, and isn't directly relevant to the game's charms, but it's an excuse to cram all your favourite bits of Halo's universe into an RTS: if you've shot it, shot in it, stole it or been annoyed by it while making your way through the Library, and if those events took place in a Halo game, you'll find it here, converted into an RTS, but working just as expected.

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New dev working on Halo Wars DLC

Robot lumbers out of Ensemble ashes.

Robot Entertainment, a new Texan game developer created by many of the original founders of Ensemble Studios, has confirmed that it is working on downloadable content for Halo Wars.

Latest Halo 3 Mythic map unveiled

Forge-loving Sandbox vehicle playground.

Microsoft has announced the third map in the upcoming Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack, which also ships as part of the Halo Wars collector's edition later this month.

Ensemble involved in Halo Wars' future

MGS "very excited" about series potential.

Microsoft Game Studios has a "lot of ideas" for future Halo Wars content, and said that the new studio created by former Ensemble employees will help.

Halo Wars demo details

Halo Wars demo details

Tutorials, campaign and skirmish maps.

Microsoft has detailed the contents of the 5th February demo for Halo Wars, and said it will be available from 9am GMT.

The demo will include optional beginner and advanced tutorials to help you get to grips with Ensemble's take on RTS-for-console controls.

After that, or straight away if you prefer, you can then play through the first two missions from the story mode.

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Peculiar bedfellows, perhaps? There was always going to be a clash somewhere in this year's Coming Attractions as we sorted our way through 12 categories, but you could argue there's more that unites fighting and strategy than divides them. Both are about trying to take maximum of advantage of your opposition's weaknesses, both reward patience, concentration and consideration, and as of Red Alert 3 both have a thing for impractical women's clothing.

Halo Wars demo arriving in four weeks

Series has sold 25 million copies.

More droplets of news trickle out of Microsoft's rather dry CES keynote address in Las Vegas last night: Xbox 360 strategy spin-off Halo Wars is to get a demo on 5th February (as reported by IGN and GameSpot).

Halo Wars release date pinned down

Halo Wars release date pinned down

Europe gets it days ahead of US.

Microsoft has confirmed exact release dates for its 360 strategy game, Halo Wars - and the original prediction of February was only half-right.

Halo Wars will release in Japan and Asia on February 26th, in Europe on February 27th and in North and South America on March 3rd.

Pre-order the game at a participating retailer and you'll get an exclusive in-game Warthog with flame decals, whether you buy the Limited Edition or not.

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Microsoft to "break the bank" at E3

Near and far 360 games to be shown.

Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer may "break the bank" at E3 next year by talking about Xbox 360 titles further than five or six months away.

Halo MMO had been green-lit

Was a prequel, and a "classic MMO".

Ensemble Studios has revealed that the Halo MMO it was developing for Microsoft wasn't just a prototype - it had been green-lit for production.

Halo Wars

Halo dolly.

They're not messing about. Graeme Devine is in charge of the storyline of this new branch to the Halo franchise, and he's bold as a tin cockerel when he's asked about the Halo Wars mission. "What Halo did for first-person shooters, Halo Wars is going to do for real-time strategy. I absolutely think that. Because we've made it from the ground up for 360, and we didn't have to think about keyboard and mouse, and worry about whether we're going to have to port it to the PC. This game plays better than any PC real-time strategy game with a controller."

Halo Wars gets February release date

Halo Wars gets February release date

Limited Collector's Edition unveiled.

Microsoft plans to release Halo Wars next February, in both Standard and Limited Collector's Edition guise.

The latter is chock full of extras, according to Microsoft's Gamerscore blog. Included will be early access to the Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3, bizarrely, featuring the Assembly, Orbital and Sandbox areas.

There's also the Halo Wars: Genesis comic book created by lead game designer Graeme Devine, Halo novel writer Eric Nylund, and artist Phil Noto. This book adds some backstory to the Covenant interest in the world of Harvest.

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Maddie reference spotted in Bungie trailer

Maddie reference spotted in Bungie trailer

Controversy kicks off over what it means.

Speculation is mounting that the new trailer for Bungie's next Halo project features a reference to missing five year-old Madeleine McCann.

The trailer, released yesterday, has since been the subject of widespread analysis on the internet, as reported by Videogaming247.

Apparently the message "MADDIE, WHERE ARE YOU?" appears in three frames of the video. A debate has now kicked off over whether this is a reference to the missing girl, who disappeared in May 2007.

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Microsoft: We still own Age of Empires

That should cheer up the Ensemble chaps.

Microsoft may have announced plans yesterday to shut down Ensemble Studios when Halo Wars ships, but Age of Empires fans are told not to worry!

Bungie's Damian Isla

Bungie's AI guru on the thinking behind Halo.

Most big, modern games are, of necessity, a team effort - so much so that it's often hard to ascribe any particular part of the experience to one person. In the Halo series, for instance, all manner of people contributed to the games, and for the most part, you'd be hard pressed to pick out a great moment and say, "this person made this". It's a team effort. Everyone's fingers are in all sorts of pies, and every pie has all sorts of fingers in it.

Halo Wars

A sign of growth in the business!

Microsoft's getting pretty good at not announcing Halo games. Not only did it not announce a new Bungie one at E3, but within the very same conference it managed to overlook Halo Wars completely. Given that Ensemble Studios' ambitious spin-off strategy game for Xbox 360 was announced in 2006, that raises serious questions about how long we'll have to wait to play it.

Bungie "very excited" about Halo Wars

It's a "cool, faithful adaptation".

Bungie AI boffin Damian Isla reckons Ensemble Studios has "really understood what things Halo is known for", claiming Halo Wars will be top drawer.

Bungie talks AI and animation

It's all about picking up pencils.

The next big step for artificial intelligence in games will be making a character walk up to a table and pick up a pencil.

Kim

Kim "excited" about unannounced games

And says Alan Wake and Halo Wars are fine.

Shane Kim, Microsoft's vice president of winding up the internet, has said the company still has some tricks up its sleeve and that people shouldn't worry about the absence of Halo Wars and Alan Wake from last week's showcase event.

"There are other things in the pipeline that we are not talking about yet that I'm pretty excited about as well," he told assembled press when asked about the duo's absence. "So it definitely gives us the opportunity not to have to rush things."

Although the showcase event, held in San Francisco, was understood to be a roundup of more or less all the company's 2008 titles - including previously unannounced Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - Kim's comments are likely to rekindle curiosity about rumours like the Wii remote equivalent ahead of E3 2008, where the company is likely to have a significant presence.

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Coming Attractions: Strategy and Simulation

Part 1: Real-time highlights of 2008.

Last week, you may recall, we put on our robe and wizard hat for a look at this year's most promising RPGs. We've done shooters, racers, action adventure and sports games too, if you missed any of those.

Studios pull out of Halo film

Fox, Universal unhappy.

Microsoft's ambition to get a big-budget Halo movie into cinemas has taken a knock this week, with film studios Universal and Fox pulling out of the deal they had struck with the software giant after a last-ditch attempt to renegotiate terms was rebuffed.

'Halo Wars is for Germans' - Microsoft exec

Genre's 'perfectly suited'.

Ensemble Studios' real-time strategy 360 title set in Bungie's elaborate sci-fi universe was the biggest surprise of this week's X06 - and a top Microsoft exec has let slip that Halo Wars has been specifically created to appeal to our European gaming chums.