Every week on The Free Cheese Podcast, we begin with a segment called Now Playing where we talk about the games that we’ve been spending time with. In this article, we’re bringing a bit of that conversation to the written word because it isn’t dead yet.
We’ll share what we’ve been playing and we encourage you to ask questions or share your own thoughts on what you’ve been playing in the comments.
Halo. Over the last few weeks, I’ve done that thing that I think many of us do where I play a little bit of a lot of different games. I try new things and I return to games that I know all too well. In the end, I’m still usually left unsatisfied and looking for something else to play.
Over the last few months since I’ve completed the main core of the Halo franchise, I’ve occasionally fired up Halo 5 or The Master Chief Collection for random rounds of multiplayer. For a moment, I had found myself in tune with it but the sudden dedication to Splatoon 2 left me a bit crossed in my muscle memory. It made it hard to jump from one thing to another, especially in something so competitive as both franchises are.
Immediately upon completion of my seven game journey, I attempted to roll right from Halo 5: Guardians into Halo Wars. Despite seeing dozens of hours over the course of a few weeks, I was not yet sick of the universe and wanted more of it. It didn’t land so well, although not in any part to do with the game. It was the sudden shift in gameplay that triggered my brain to remember there were things other than first-person shooters. I jumped right from Halo into Metroid Prime and then pulled myself into weird areas, like Final Fantasy XIV. A few months have passed and as I did the dance of download, try, delete- I found it was time to return.
In the last week, I started and completed Halo Wars. Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe. It takes the right combination of gameplay, accessibility, and world to get me into an RTS. I play that genre once every five or so years when the itch gets bad enough. Thankfully, the itch grew and was scratched with Ensemble Studios’ entry into the world of Halo.
What I find most interesting about Halo Wars is the simple fact that it’s okay to expand beyond the main series of games. I love the core franchise, and I’m now anticipating the release of whatever Halo 6 ends up being. There’s nothing quite like the first-person action that Bungie so fantastically rounded out with Halo, and I love what 343 has continued to do with the series. I’ve learned that there’s so much more to Halo than just those games. Aside from the novels and comics and films, there are still games that could be made that exist outside of the core franchise.
Halo Wars gives the franchise the ability to become more than it already is and it has me excited for other genres to tap into the world of Halo. Since completing it, I started playing through its sequel, Halo Wars 2, and I found myself back in the multiplayer throws of the main series. Over the last few days in particular I’ve spent a healthy amount of time in Halo 2 and playing through Warzone in Halo 5. Between both, I’m having similar mistakes as I did switching between Splatoon 2, but It feels good to play the balance of both and see how they vary.
I’m continuing through Halo Wars 2 in the next week alternating between the main campaign and multiplayer. I haven’t tried Blitz as of this post, but I’m eager to see how it plays out against another human player. Blitz combines deck building into the RTS elements of the game, setting stage after the Warzone mode in Halo 5. So far, I find that Creative Assembly was able to maintain what Ensemble had done with the original game, and add enough into it that brings it into this generation of games.