There is no question that StarCraft is not quite the big deal in eSports that it once was. MOBAS are in when it comes to strategy games. Does that mean that the RTS is dead? Maybe not, there is a huge fanbase for old school strategy games such as Age of empires. But what about Halo Wars?
What is Halo Wars?
Well I’m sure all of you are familiar with Halo, right? The game is one of Microsoft’s flagships, detailing the exploits of the heroic Master chief leading humanity in their war against the alien Covenant. The game started its life as a first-person shooter and in many ways was the title that helped X-box become the powerhouse that it is. Later the series received a real-time strategy game in the form of Halo Wars. Surprisingly, It’s actually really good.
There has been a long-standing acceptance that generally strategy games don’t translate particularly well to console. Using a mouse and keyboard just seems far more intuitive for this kind of game, especially with being able to customise keyboard shortcuts. Halo Wars was different. This wasn’t a PC game being ported to console. Here was a game designed for console, and as a result, it just worked. There was an element of resource collecting, but make no mistake the focus was on action.
Halo Wars 2
This title was designed with eSports in mind. The main Halo series has been popular on the eSports circuit and Halo Wars 2 was created to play in a similar vein. Although developers 343 had the competitive play in mind when they designed it, it hasn’t yet taken off and become a player in the world of eSports. But should it be? The Creative Assembly executive producer David Nicholson certainly thinks so stating “You don’t make an eSports game; you make an eSports-ready game and the community turn it into an eSports game.” If that’s what has been done, why hasn’t it happened yet?
Well according to 343 the fans want to see it. There is a feeling among the community of Halo Wars players that it is eventually going to happen and that is always encouraging. Of course, it needs to be financially backed as well. Microsoft has shown with the Age of Empires franchise that if there is the demand within the community they will put up the money to make a competition with a prize fund. (Admittedly not much in the case of AOE). But with all the talk from the development team about how the game was designed to be eSports friendly you have to think that a conversation about that potential was discussed before the game was even produced.
There are several modes within the game that lend themselves to competition. Some of the noise coming out of the community is that there is a lack of balance between the factions and this is something that truly needs addressing if it going to become competitive.
Variety is the spice of life
Then there is the fact that with limited factions and options games aren’t really THAT interesting to watch. Part of the reason that MOBAs have become so widely popular is that there tend to be a wealth of different characters to choose from. The offshoot of this is there is an almost unlimited amount of group compositions. This leads to matchups that are varied and different. Different strategies can be employed and this is what makes the matches so great for spectators.
So will it happen?
Well that’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it? (That’s actually not that much these days is it?) The production company and the fans seem keen, but it remains to be seen. Maybe Halo Wars 3?