Halo Wars: Historic Battles comes with four new multiplayer maps along with individual achievements for each one. The maps range from specific 1 vs. 1 game play up to 3 vs. 3. Each map looks quite different and are set up to make any a good choice to play on. The four maps are Barrens, Blood River, Glacial Ravine and Memorial Basin.
Barrens is the first of the four maps and is probably one of the best. It’s specifically a 1 vs. 1 map and sets you and the opponent on the opposite ends of a winding path. The path causes you to have to keep your troupes tight and close together. This can lead to some very risky business when encountering the opponent. Also, you will encounter small none-player controlled enemies throughout the map that when defeated can be used to create new bases for you. Along with several gunner outposts and a facility for restoring health located directly in the center, this is a great map. Having it designed so well for strict 1 vs. 1 play is great and it comes through quite well.
Memorial Basin is the only 2 vs. 2 map and it is constructed to look almost like a huge letter X with a thick center. Each player starts on a different corner and has access to an addition base location a little farther out. This is a great set up for a four person game due to the layout. Your teammate will be positioned beside you (as opposed to diagonally across from you) so they can help you gain control of one entire half of the map. Separating the teams could have left you weak when being attacked and not having an ally to come to your aid. Though Memorial Basin does work for the 2 vs. 2 style of play, it does feel a little dull since it`s essentially a big open area. It would have been nice to have a bit more corridors and sections around the outer area so that there could have been more strategizing involved.
Blood River is the second 1 vs. 1 map and my personal favourite. It is set up by positioning both you and the opponent on opposite cliffs. You must work your way down them and then across either of the two small bridges before proceeding up the opposing cliff to the enemy. There are also several field generators and resourcing harvesting facilities you can take over to use. Along with the inclusion of an extra base on each side of the bridges, you can get quite an army going before ever having to cross onto the enemy’s side. This map is set up very well for the 1 vs. 1 style of play and is quite a lot of fun.
The last of the maps is the huge, snow covered Glacial Ravine. This is the only 3 vs. 3 map to come in the Historic Battles content. Each team is set up on one side of the map as huge mountain ranges split the field in two. There is only one opening in the very center to use in order to reach the enemy. There are also energy shields you can get a hold of in the center to hold off some of the enemy’s advances. This map can be very fun when having to cram your entire army through the narrow entrance. There are also non-player teams stationed around the map that you can destroy in order to obtain more base locations. Overall the map is great and the mountain ranges really give it some character. It was nice to see this map not just become one giant open area.
The content as a whole feels great and each stage is different enough from the next to lead to some great times. You can really tell the developers but some thought into each one when landscaping each stage. Though there isn’t really anything that stands out about them so buying the content pack isn’t a necessity if you’re looking for something drastically different. Though the maps are new, they still follow the same basic arrangement as the previous stages and offer nothing incredibly special or fresh.
One big downside is that you can’t choose to only play on these maps when doing an online game. Searching for a game will result in a random map being selected depending on which content packs each player has purchased. This means that you will most likely end up playing a stage that came with the disc since there are more of them and less people have bought each piece of downloadable content. This is a shame since you won’t be able to use your content as much as possible. It would have been much nicer to see some sort of option to only search for games that use specific content packs.
The Halo Wars: Historic Battles downloadable content is a good and solid addition to the game. The majority of the maps feel varied and fun. Each one is set up to allow for the strengths and weakness of the game type it was designed for. The only downside to the content is that there is no way to filter out other maps when playing online. This means you must play either private games or local games to ensure you’re playing with some new content. The Halo Wars: Historic Wars map pack is a good deal but can be passed if you’re not a die hard fan of the game.
When it comes to my verdict, it completely depends on how much you like the game and how often you play. If you just come to Halo Wars casually now and then I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t add anything new enough to warrant the purchase. However, if you play the game regularly then this new set of maps is a great buy and you’ll be in for a lot of fun.