Halo Wars 2 (opens in new tab), co-developed by 343 Industries and Creative Assembly and released in 2017, is a very decent RTS: A little too console-focused and strategically thin to really distinguish itself as a serious strategy game on PC, but that's not really what it's trying to be anyway.
"It's aimed less at the hardcore crowd that eagerly checks for announcements of a new Ashes of the Singularity expansion and more at the Halo shooter fans who'd like to see that universe from a perspective besides the sights of a rifle," we said in our 65% review (opens in new tab). "And most of the time, it does its job."
It continued to improve as 343 rolled out updates over 2017 adding new content and crossplay support, but that ground to a halt by the end of the year, and in a 2019 response to a petition calling for resumed Halo Wars 2 support, 343 said that it just wasn't possible.
"The same team that is currently working on bringing MCC to PC and Halo: Reach to MCC (the 343 Publishing Team) is also the team that helped make Halo Wars 2 a reality," the studio explained (opens in new tab). "With the large scope and immense amount of work surrounding MCC for PC, the resources that were previously focused on Halo Wars 2 have been pulled over to help support MCC and Halo: Reach development."
"This doesn’t mean the team won’t revisit Halo Wars 2 in the future—we’ll never say never—but it does mean that these requests are things the team is unable to commit to for the foreseeable future."
But now The Master Chief Collection is complete—Halo 4, the final piece of the puzzle, dropped on November 17 (opens in new tab)—and that has some fans asking if maybe now 343 will turn its attention back to Halo Wars 2. Sadly, the answer remains a firm "no."
"We always strive to be open, honest, and transparent with our community and we know many of you have been waiting, asking, and hoping for news about the future of Halo Wars 2," the studio wrote. "We want to acknowledge that we’ve heard you and make sure you know that this feedback and these topics do indeed get brought to the right folks across the studio for further evaluation."
"In the past, we’ve noted the Publishing Team was fully focused on MCC and we had no current plans to return to Halo Wars 2. Now, with all the titles on PC, we’ve seen these questions popping up again although the 343 Publishing Team is still working on more MCC seasonal content along with a variety of features and further improvements. It’s not always easy to be open and transparent—particularly when we expect it’s not an answer the community wants to hear—but we want to give it to you straight: 343 Industries has no current plans for further Halo Wars 2 work including content updates, balance patches, bringing the title to other platforms, or a new game in the series."
343 preemptively acknowledged its use of the word "currently," which implicitly suggests that maybe someday it could happen. And it could, in the same that I could win a million dollars or be abducted by aliens: Anything is possible, but don't hold your breath.
"If you told me back in the day that the totality of MCC would land on Steam or Halo 3 would get content updates 14 years after launch, I’d never have believed it and yet here we are," 343 wrote, echoing its "never say never" statement from 2019. "We know constantly waiting and wondering is equal parts frustrating and exhausting, so we hope this clarity helps alleviate some of that and we want to set clear expectations that there is no work happening on Halo Wars."
As for why it's not going back to that particular drawing board, it's simply a question of available time and resources: Most of the studio is focused on Halo Infinite, and "given the broader impact initiatives the studio is already committed to, we unfortunately can’t devote the time and attention we’d need to deliver additional updates and content for the Halo Wars franchise."