Play Halo Spinoffs For Free This Weekend (Xbox One And PC)

Real-time strategery.

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Now Playing: Xbox One X: The Biggest Enhanced Games

Are you a Halo fan? Did you skip the series' strategy game spin-offs Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2? After all, if hair-trigger shooters are your thing, it's not a given that you're also interested in real-time strategy games. But if you've wondered whether the Wars series might appeal to you, Xbox One and PC players will have a chance to find out this weekend, when the games will be available to try for free.

Specifically, as part of a Free Play Days event, Xbox One owners can download and play Halo Wars 2 between now and October 21. PC gamers can try out Halo Wars: Definitive Edition on Steam during the same window of availability. If you want to buy the games, they're on sale for half off through the weekend as well. Both games are available through Xbox Game Pass as well.

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Halo Wars first launched in 2009 on Xbox 360, pitting human UNSC forces against the alien Covenant army several decades prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. It got an enhanced Definitive Edition for Xbox One and PC in 2016; that's the version that will be free on Steam.

In GameSpot's original Halo Wars review, Luke Anderson wrote, "It looks and sounds great, and it captures the essence of the series well, but there's not much else to keep you coming back once you've finished the short campaign and grown tired of playing multiplayer skirmishes between the two sides. It's good while it lasts, but it will appeal more to fans of Halo and casual RTS players than anyone looking for a deeply engrossing strategy game."

The sequel, Halo Wars 2, came out in 2017 and takes place shortly after the events of the original and offers a similar RTS-lite experience. "Halo Wars 2 lies somewhere in between an RTS game for Halo fans and a Halo game for RTS fans," Kallie Plagge wrote in our Halo Wars 2 review. "It adapts Halo's FPS roots well, taking the series’ classic missions and reformatting them in ways that make sense for a strategy game without sacrificing accessibility. But ultimately, this is a very light RTS experience geared toward Halo veterans, not a robust strategy game, and it runs out of steam quickly."

In any case, both games are worth trying for free if you've ever wondered about them and don't have anything else to play next weekend.

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Avatar image for deactivated-5d4c0b80dcd76

This is the game that got my original RROD (that I fixed) Xbox 360 banned...I had replaced my own DVD drive (because it too permanently failed by forcefully ejecting my SFIV disc right when I did Ken’s Ultra Combo finisher, then froze up..seriously, it did that) on that same unit as well and figured, why not make it backup compatible? At least I was able to transplant all the chrome parts to the another Xbox basic which still works and has no problems.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

I bought both on Day 1, and enjoyed both. The 1st one is like"Starcraft lite," and the 2nd one has a better engine but is somehow not quite as fun as the 1st. Recommend starting on hardest difficulty.

Avatar image for Sam3231

Sweet, finally get to try this.

Avatar image for srfilk86

I thought they were a tad underwhelming. I loved Command and Conquer Red Alert. It was fun making massive armies and then overwhelming the enemy. Bummer you can't do that in Halo Wars.

Avatar image for Vodoo

I actually like these Halo games better than the regular ones now. They offer something different than the same FPS gameplay we've seen since Halo 2. I always have trouble remembering the controls though for a controller. It's like every button is used for 2 things (tapping or holding) and then there's combinations of buttons.

Avatar image for Smosh150

I loved Halo Wars 1 and playing it again, but 2 was another story. There was some nice things to it don't get me wrong, but the art style and physics went a totally different direction. 1 was almost like watching Halo from a birds eye person view with models that felt 3D and had physics to them it seemed, but 2 was like watching a 2D version of Halo with a birds eye view.

Hard to explain, but as an example just play with the Warthogs themselves between 1 and 2 and you can see a real difference. 2 seemed to go with a faster pace as well, the gameplay just didn't appeal to me at least (Story was great though).

I'd kill for Halo Wars to go in the direction of Company of Heroes though, I feel like a cover system would fit in great with the Halo universe.

Avatar image for Yurdle

@Smosh150: Holy crap yes, when Halo Wars was first announced one of my immediate thoughts was "How awesome would Halo be in the CoH 2/DoW 2 engine?". It would fit extremely well with cover systems, fog of war, destructibility, and everything else that makes CoH 2 fun. So many Halo mechanics would play so well with Relic's strategy engine.

Avatar image for Smosh150

@Yurdle: Oh yea, I feel like if Microsoft would ever license Halo out to Relic that would be their comeback. DoW 3 really soured their reputation, but a Halo game from Relic (In the style of CoH 2/DoW 2) would really drawn in a lot of fans including those who really disliked DoW 3 (I can easily say it was the worst of the series, but some people go too far with their hatred of it).

Hell, I am still playing the Dawn of War 1/2 and Company of Heroes 1/2 (Granted I do use mods for them both, but it only accentuates the fantastic gameplay of these games), I can't imagine how great Halo would do in such a style as well as its longevity. It would just be awesome.

Avatar image for DarkReign2022

Saw "Halo Spinoff" and got my hopes up that Spartan Strike was coming to Xbox finally. Guess i jumped the gun on that one. ****...

Avatar image for m4a5

If there's one thing these games got right, it was the beautiful CGI for cinematics...