Halo Wars GameWik

Halo Wars

Released February 26, 2009 · consists of 14 releases.

Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game for the Xbox 360. Join the Halo Wars crew on the UNSC ship CFV-88 Spirit of Fire and engage the Covenant head-on in an attempt to hold on to the recently taken human colony of Harvest. All Units!

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Halo Wars

First release date February 26, 2009
Platform Xbox 360 , Xbox 360 Games Store , PC , Xbox One
Developer Ensemble Studios
Publisher Xbox Game Studios
Genre Real-Time Strategy
Theme Sci-Fi
Franchises Halo
Aliases HW


Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game set in the Halo Universe. It begins in year 2531, twenty years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, and documents the Covenant eradication of the Outer Colonies during the Human-Covenant War.


The game was developed by Ensemble Studios, best known for their work on the Age of Empires series, and is an Xbox 360 exclusive. During the development, Ensemble Studios stayed in contact with Bungie, creators of the Halo series, to ensure the game retained the proper look and feel. Some of the specific graphical touches in the game, like getting a scoreboard at the end of each game, the menu system, basic UI and the style of multiplayer lobbies are evocative of other games in the series. Ensemble Studios also took extra care of the game's controls to ensure that the often-complex actions of an RTS are easy to deal with on the Xbox 360 controller.

Shortly after the release of the game, the news broke that Microsoft Studios was shutting down Ensemble Studios.

Two downloadable content packs were released for the game by Robot Studios, which handled post release support of the game, until March 2010 when the newly formed 343 Industries took over all support.


The game's story is told through in-game cut scenes, and in-game moments like games in the series. Halo Wars is set in 2531, giving it the earliest setting of the Halo game series, and focuses on the Marine forces of the UNSC ship CFV-88 Spirit of Fire as they engage Covenant ground forces after the discovery of an ancient artifact during a journey to Harvest.

The story begins with the UNSC's early battles on Harvest, but also features another colony world, Arcadia, which holds something of great interest to the Covenant. The Flood is significant in the storyline and several massive Forerunner structures are also explored.

Although the Master Chief doesn't make any appearance in Halo Wars, several other SPARTANs do, these are referred to as Red Team. Other key characters in Halo Wars include the A.I. Serina, Professor Ellen Anders, Sergeant John Forge and the Spirit of Fire's commander, Captain Cutter.


While Sergeant forge is patrolling the northern regions, Alpha Base is attacked and destroyed by the Covenant, with survivors fleeing to the countryside surrounding the area. Rounding up the survivors, Forge leads them in an assault to remove the covenant presence and re-establish Alpha Base. Forge then leads an attack on a relic site that the Covenant has occupied, eventually removing any remaining Covenant, and making it possible for Anders to examine the relic briefly. The Covenant makes a counter-attack, forcing the UNSC to retreat. However, the information Anders gathered from the relic shows that the Covenant has been pointed to a second UNSC colony, Arcadia.

Following the Covenant to Arcadia, they find that most of the orbital defence ships have been destroyed or damaged in battle with the Covenant. Forge and his forces are deployed to assist the Spartans from Red Team, in an effort to evacuate the civilians from Arcadia City. After they've evacuated, they withdraw to a safer position while waiting for back-up by Spartan Group Omega. Once the back-up arrives, they move in to find out why the Covenant came to Arcadia. Forge and Anders begin to study the area, but suddenly the Arbiter arrives, taking Anders prisoner and wounding Forge; Spartans arrive, but too late to save Anders.

The Arbiter uses Anders to activate the Apex (a Forerunner installation), revealing a fleet of Forerunner warships, which the Covenant plans to incorporate into their existing fleet. However, Anders manages to escape by using her stasis prison as a translocation device. She then links up with Forge and his Marines, who've managed to clear the area of Covenant forces and establish a base of operation on the Shield World. The UNSC removes the FTL Reactor from the Spirit of Fire and moves into the Apex, planning to detonate it - in hope of the chain-reaction will destroy the whole Forerunner installation and fleet. The Arbiter attempts to stop them, but his Honor Guards are killed by Red Team, and Forge himself manages to kill the Arbiter with one of his own Energy Swords. Forge stays behind to detonate the reactor, sacrificing himself, while the rest of the UNSC forces activate a portal, to get them out of the blast radius, and evacuates to the Spirit of Fire.

Since they had to rip out the FTL Reactor, the Spirit of Fire has lost its ability to go faster than light, making the journey home much, much longer than the crew could survive on their limited supplies. The crew therefore enter cryogenic storage. Here, Sergeant John Forge's cryo-tube is closed by Captain Cutter, who briefly nods, while the camera pans down on the words "Sgt. J. Forge", acknowledging the sacrifice he made.

Serina speaks the final words of the game, in the last moment of the credits over the game's logo, saying:

Captain. Wake up. Something has happened.

The ultimate fate of Spirit of Fire is unknown, and unfortunately will continue to remain unknown, as the game's lukewarm sales and the closing of Ensemble Studios make the possibility of a sequel to Halo Wars slim to nil.


Technology Advancement

Throughout the campaign and while playing skirmishes, the player must advance their technology in order to bring out heavier fire power. When technology is increased, more units, upgrades and buildings becomes available. For instance, infantry squads can receive additional members or stronger weapons. Field Armories or Temples, and their upgrades, can become available when technology is increased.

How to advance in technology is different from both factions. The UNSC has to build and upgrade reactors, while the Covenant has to advance in Ages by purchasing upgrades at the leader temple.

Veterancy Points

Veterancy Points, or stars, is a rank-like system that each unit has, they determine a unit's statistics such as attack damage, fire-rate and defense. They are gained after a unit kills an enemy, destroys a structure, blowing up a vehicles or other other combat related situations. They are also gained by upgrading the unit through buildings. A unit can have a maximum of 3 stars. Spartan-commandeered Tanks, Grizzlies, Hornets and Hawks can have a maximum of 14 stars, while all other Spartan-commandeered vehicles can have a maximum of 13 stars.

Leader Abilities

Like many RTS games, Halo Wars features special character abilities, unique powers that grant their respective sides a considerable bonus in a particular field.

UNSC Leaders

Captain Cutter

Main page: Captain James Gregory Cutter

Leader Power:

  • MAC Blast - Magnetic Accelerator Cannon blasts an enemy target.

Unique Unit:

  • Elephant - A mobile infantry trainer

Super Upgrade:

  • Marines can upgrade to Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) and then drop from Orbit anywhere on the map.

Economy Bonus:

  • Cutter's bases start with more building sites. (Starting base with 7 pads, other bases start with 5)

Sergeant John Forge

Main page: John Forge

Leader Power:

  • Carpet Bomb.

Unique Unit:

  • Cyclops - A multipurpose powered exoskeleton suit.

Super Upgrade:

  • Grizzly - A superior version of the Scorpion tank.

Economy Bonus:

  • All Supply Pads on Forge's bases start as Heavy Supply Pads.

Professor Ellen Anders

Main page: Ellen Ander

Leader Power:

  • Cryo Bomb - Freezes enemies in place.

Unique Unit:

  • Gremlin - Uses an EMP to stun enemy units.

Super Upgrade:

  • Hawk - a laser beam upgrade to the Hornet.

Economy Bonus:

  • Cost and research time for unit upgrades reduced by half. (Except for upgrade to Hawks)
Covenant Leaders

The Prophet of Regret

Main page: Prophet of Regret

Leader Power:

  • Plasma Cannon, Cleansing Ability

Unique Unit:

  • Elite Honor Guard

Combat Upgrades:

  • Blessed Immolation: Upgrades to fuel rod cannons for damage increase.
  • Ancestral Perversion: Dual protector units hover near Prophet and defend him.
  • Divine Absolution: Upgrades chair so Prophet becomes a full-fledged flying unit.

Special Upgrades:

  • Regret's Sentence: Medium cleansing beam which does more damage.
  • Regret's Doom: Large cleansing beam for even more damage.
  • Regret's Condemnation: Increases damage of beam.

Brute Chieftain

Leader Power:

Gravity Hammer, Vortex Ability

Unique Unit:

  • Brutes, Brute Chopper
Combat Upgrades:
  • Inheritance: Adds passive stun ability to normal attacks.
  • Birthright: Chieftain can pull enemies to him during combat.
  • Destiny: Adds an area of effect (AOE) stun to Gravity Hammer.

Special Upgrades:
  • Tsunami: Increases Vortex damage and AOE.
  • Hurricane: Increases Vortex damage and AOE.
  • Singularity. Increases Vortex damage and AOE.

The Arbiter ( Ripa 'Moramee)

Leader Power:
  • Dual Energy Swords, Rage Special Attack

Unique Unit:
  • Suicide Grunts

Combat Upgrades:
  • Fiendish Return: Arbiter armor reflects a portion of incoming damage back to attacker.
  • Vicious Blades: Adds damage to attack and increases damage reflected.
  • Ghastly Vision: Permanent cloak enabled and damage reflection increased.

Special Upgrades:
  • Defiant Rage: Health partially restored with every inflicted fatality.
  • Spiteful Rage: Rage mode costs less to maintain.
  • Blinding Rage: Rage damage massively increased, also increases the attack power of surrounding allies.


In the past, real-time strategy games have been ported to consoles, examples being StarCraft for the Nintendo 64 and the Xbox 360 versions of Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth II and Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. While controls have been steadily improving, particularly with Electronic Arts Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath stand-alone expansion, the RTS community has traditionally seen console ports as a poor version of their PC originals. Halo Wars has received praise for its innovative controls. Many even claim that Halo Wars has done for console RTS what Halo:CE did for FPS on the console.

  • Left-stick - Moving around
  • Right-stick - Zooming In & Out (up/down), turns point of view (left/right).
  • A button - select a Unit (hold down to select with a circle)
  • A button (Double click) - select all units of the same type
  • X button - target enemy, move units
  • Y button - Alternative Fire
  • Right Bumper - select all units on-screen
  • Left Bumper - select every unit on map
  • D-Pad- Each direction on the d-pad is mapped to a somewhere with one direction cycling through your bases, one cycles through your troops, another shows you all known enemy units, and the last calls brings up the leader powers menu or if playing as Covenant goes directly to your command unit.
  • Left Trigger - When held down the movement around map (Left-stick) is sped up, allowing for more rapid movement around the map).
  • Right Trigger - When all units (Left Bumper), or units on-screen (Right Bumper) are selected the right trigger can be pulled to select types of units form those selected.

Halo Wars Maps

There are 14 maps available in Skirmish. The maps are as follows:

  • Chasms (available to play in the demo of Halo Wars as of 2.5.09) {1v1}
  • Blood Gulch {1v1}
  • Pirth Outskirts {1v1}
  • Release {1v1}
  • Tundra {1v1}
  • Beasley's Plateau {2v2}
  • Crevice {2v2}
  • The Docks {2v2}
  • Labyrinth {2v2}
  • Repository {2v2}
  • Terminal Moraine {2v2}
  • Exile {3v3}
  • Fort Deen {3v3}
  • Frozen Valley {3v3}

Downloadable Content for Halo Wars

Despite the fact that Halo Wars is the last game by Ensemble studios, Robot Entertainment confirmed that they would continue to support the game and have DLC packs. The first DLC for Halo Wars was the "Strategic Options" pack which includes three new Game Modes and four new Achievements. The Strategic Options DLC was released on May 19th, 2009.

The three new modes are:

  • Keepaway Mode: In this adaptation of Capture the Flag, teams battle it out to capture and hold a free-roaming Forerunner Sentinel to score points before the other team. The number of Sentinels needed to win scales with the number of players.
  • Tug of War Mode: Players must build a stronger army than their opponents to succeed. Defeating enemies is essential, but success is determined by a combination of the army, buildings and resources left standing in the end.
  • Reinforcement Mode: Players must adapt their tactics and use the ever changing set of units to outwit and outlast the enemy, all the while facing successive waves of incoming enemy units.

The four new achievements are:

  • One and Done (30 points): Score the winning point on a game of Keepaway against the Legendary A.I.'s
  • Pull Hard, Pull Deep (20 Points): Win and never trail in a Tug of War game
  • Freak on a Streak (20 points): Gain at least 15 population from a single wave in a Reinforcement game
  • Living Loving Bug (30 points): Obtain a Scarab during a Reinforcement game

On July 1, 2009 the second DLC for Halo Wars, called the "Historical Battle Map Pack Add-on", was released. It costs 800 Microsoft Points and adds four new maps and four new Achievements totaling 100 points.

The four new Maps are:

  • Memorial Basin
  • Glacial Ravine
  • Barrens
  • Blood River

The four new Achievements are:

  • Tour Coming Through (30 points): Hot drop 50 squads to your Covenant Leader in a single game on Barrens.
  • Never Leave a Man Behind (15 points): Finish with 5000 net resources tributed to your teammates on Memorial Basin except in Deathmatch.
  • Drain Cleaner (30 points): Kill 20 enemy squads with a continuous Covenant Leader Power on Memorial Basin.
  • Killjoy (25 points): Disrupt 5 active Leader Powers in a single game on Blood River.

Halo Wars Limited Edition

In addition to the standard edition of the game being sold in stores, a limited collectors edition is also be available. This package includes:

  • The Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3, which contains the maps Orbital, Sandbox, and Assembly
  • Halo Wars: Genesis, a graphic novel about the Spirit of Fire's campaign against the Covenant
  • A unique, in-game Honor Guard Wraith
  • Six "Leader Cards" with pictures and information about major characters in the game
  • A Spirit of Fire crew patch... which is more of a rubber coaster.

A tin game case featuring the Arbiter and Elites on one side, and the traditional spartan box art on the other.

Definitive Edition

Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is an enhanced version of the original Halo Wars that runs natively on Xbox One and Windows 10 that includes improved graphics and all of the game's DLC. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition will be included in the Ultimate Edition of Halo Wars 2. The Definitive edition was eventually given a standalone release, on both Xbox Games Store , Windows Store, and Steam.

Halo Wars Soundtrack

A Halo Wars soundtrack is available to buy. It contains a soundtrack CD, and a bonus DVD. The CD contains the following songs:

  1. Spirit Of Fire
  2. Bad Here Day
  3. Perspective
  4. Money Or Meteors
  5. Flollo
  6. Just Ad Nauseum
  7. Unusually Quiet
  8. Flip And Sizzle
  9. Put The Lady Down
  10. Six-Armed Robbing Suit
  11. Action Figure Hands
  12. Status Quo Show
  13. Part Of The Plan
  14. Work Burns And Runaway Grunts
  15. Freaked Out
  16. Rescued Or Not
  17. Best Guess At Best
  18. One Problem At A Time
  19. De Facto The Matter
  20. Part Of The Problem
  21. Fingerprints Are Broken
  22. Out Of There Alive
  23. Through Your Hoops
  24. Under Your Hurdles
  25. Insignificantia (All SloppyNo Joe)


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Specific release details

Halo Wars: Definitive Edition
Halo Wars: Definitive Edition
Platform Xbox One
Region United States
Release date February 17, 2017
Product code None
Company code None
Rating ESRB: T
Minimum Players 1
Maximum Players N/A
Resolutions N/A
Sound Systems N/A
Single player Features N/A
Multi player Features N/A
Widescreen Support Yes
Notes N/A

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