Halo Wars

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An RTS spin-off of the main Halo games by Ensemble Studios. Set 21 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, it follows the exploits of the UNSC warship Spirit of Fire and her crew as they struggle against the Covenant over the colony world of Harvest.

Released in 2009, it was toted as an ambitious attempt to bring the RTS genre to consoles--although critics are split on whether it did a good job at that. It was not the only console RTS game, though, with further examples including Stormrise, Universe At War, and arguably Supreme Commander 2.

A sequel, Halo Wars 2 was released in 2017, developed by Creative Assembly and 343 Industries, the latter having since taken the reins of the franchise from Bungie. Set almost 30 years after the events of the first game (and roughly around the same timeframe as Halo 5), it involves the UNSC forces aboard the Spirit of Fire awakening far from home, only to face a threatening force of ex-Covenant renegades, pirates and mercenaries known as the Banished, led by a powerful Brute chieftain called Atriox.

Tropes used in Halo Wars include:
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Halo Wars has a quite restrictive limit on the number of units you can have at a time.
  • Art Evolution: By Halo Wars 2, the overall art style is both reminiscent of the original Bungie games as well as that of the more recent 343 entries.
  • Axe Crazy: The former holder of the title Arbiter-the one in Halo Wars- is an example.
  • Badass Normal: Sergeant Forge. Not just any marine can face an Arbiter one-on-one and WIN.
    • That's not all. One of the game's unlockables hints he got into fight with a Spartan and held his own.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Spirit of Fire crew manage to destroy the Shield World and prevent the Covenant from acquiring the Forerunner ships on the planet, but they had to sacrifice the slipspace drive to do so, meaning that they have to go into cryo-stasis without anyway of getting home.
  • Bond One-Liner: "And for the record, I'd have kicked your ass the first time if the lady hadn't stopped me!"
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: By Halo Wars 2, a good chunk of the UNSC's arsenal (at least initially) would be seen as obsolete by "modern" standards. Justified in that the Spirit of Fire has been away for a long time, though it's subverted given Isabel's access to more modern military schematics.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Flood, after being absent for several games, makes a return in the Awakening the Nightmare DLC expansion for Halo Wars 2. The Brutes also make a comeback, making up a good chunk of the Banished.
  • Cold Sniper: Jerome-092 is listed as a Sniper in the game. He actually uses a Spartan Laser, but due to its long range and pinpoint accuracy it acts like a sniper rifle.
  • Clown Car Base: The Elephant. You can train 40 squads - that's 80 flamethrowers or 240 marines out of it. despite the fact it looks like it can hold no more than 20, maybe 30. and even that's pushing it. In fact, if you kill off your guys, you can train even more units out to infinity from this wondrous pachyderm. An achievement requires you to train 100 infantry out of an elephant in a campaign level.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Serina, much more so hilariously sarcastic than anything else. Where as Cortana was much more mild.

"Recalling surface squads so we can all die together, aye sir."

  • Death by Irony: After the Arbiter almost beats Forge to a pulp, he gets ready to run Forge through with an energy sword, when Forge tells him to look him in the eye. The Arbiter grabs Forge by his head, lifts him up, and says, "My face will be the last thing your pathetic eyes ever see." Forge promptly stabs the Arbiter in the face with a knife, steals the energy sword, and runs the Arbiter through with it, not only killing the Arbiter the same way the Arbiter intended to kill him, but making his face the last thing the Arbiter sees.
  • The Dragon: The previous Arbiter on Harvest seems to have taken up this role for Regret and the other Hierarchs.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom
  • Enemy Chatter: In true Halo fashion, units (infantry in particular) have a staggering array of context-sensitive lines - they complain about the cold on snow-filled maps, they cry out in panic when a friendy leader or powerful unit dies or an enemy leader attacks them, and they cheer when they're winning.
  • Expy: The Grizzly Tank=Mammoth Tank. They each have 4 sets of tracks, 2 cannons, and crush anything when deployed en masse.
  • Embarrassing First Name: The Arbiter's given name is jokingly stated to be 'Shirley' in the Main Menu tips. His real name is Ripa 'Moramee.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Subverted in Halo Wars 2. Captain Cutter of the Spirit of Fire makes a point to have everyone up to speed with what's happened in their absence as quickly as possible. He's also able to deduce early on, upon receiving a distress signal, that either the UNSC's winning the war or the war itself is already over.
  • Foil: Isabel, the AI introduced in Halo Wars 2 to Serina, the latter having self-terminated in the intervening years. Whereas Serina was from the get-go professional and military-minded, Isabel is a civilian AI (albeit one with a knack for logistics and improvisation) and is a lot more emotional.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told:..So far.
    • Downplayed but very much present in Halo Wars 2, given how the UNSC forces have to stop the threat posed by the Banished even as humanity at large remains oblivious to them.
  • Harder Than Hard: Heroic difficulty alone is enough to make experienced RTS gamers weep tears of frustration. What's that? Unlimited, endless respawns of Covenant dropships every minute or so dropping a dozen Hunters outside your base? Ensemble was sadistic.
    • Gold medals require no to lose none of your units. Anyone get those on Legendary? Anyone? Anyone?
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Unplanned Manual Detonation: Sergeant Forge stays behind to detonate the Shaw-Fujikawa drive bomb.
  • Hot Scientist: Anders is a decided example.
  • Humongous Mecha: Halo Wars 2 adds the Mantis and considerably larger Colossus for the UNSC forces, both of which fit much more closely to this trope. According to the lore, they're evolutions of the Cyclops, combined with the technological developments in MJOLNIR armor.
  • Improvised Weapon: Some of the new UNSC units in Halo Wars 2 can come across as this, being either repurposed civilian vehicles or versions of existing weapons modified with more "modern" technology.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Jerome to Sgt. Forge. Stands out because the game's unlockables hint the two got into a fight after Jerome suggested the ship kidnapping Anders should be fired upon.
    • Serina through a pre-recorded message in Halo Wars 2 says this before self-terminating.
  • Large and In Charge: The Arbiter is noticeably larger and more muscular than even the normal Elites, making him close to Hell Knight size.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Spirit of Fire", the Leitmotif of the eponymous ship.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Vultures especially after the upgrade. Likewise with the Wolverine units.
  • Mini-Mecha: The UNSC's Cyclops, which are mentioned as exoskeletons that were being developed prior to MJOLNIR Powered Armor.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Vultures and Scarabs are already so powerful that they can not be driven by Spartans (aside from one campaign mission for the latter.)
  • Orphaned Series: Or game at least, as soon as Robot Entertainment left 343 Industries treated it as a distraction at best. Averted however with the release of Halo Wars 2, eight years later.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Ensemble wasn't even going to consider having a Covenant campaign in Halo Wars unless they were some kind of rebel heretic faction, and therefore presumably not evil enough to fall under this trope.
    • Subverted for Halo Wars 2. Although the story still follows the UNSC forces, the DLC expansion Awakening the Nightmare features a campaign centered around Atriox and the Banished which involves the Flood.
  • Planar Shockwave: When the Shield World is destroyed.
  • Powered Armor: The Cyclops powered exoskeletons, and the Spartan MJOLNIR suits of course.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The perspective from which the game is played created some necessary exaggerations. For example, Spartans commandeering vehicles do a lot more elaborate gymnastics in the process of doing so, because more subtle animation would be hard to pick out at that scale. Likewise, the Cyclops's original design called for something similar to the early, pre-Spartan, MJOLNIR Powered Armor as Mighty Glacier infantry. However, this was changed to make it a Mini-Mecha because the scale made it difficult for players to identify them at a glance on a busy screen.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Arbiter, who is described by his own friends as "Evil" and picked up right out of prison, to boot.
  • Scavenger World: The Banished in Halo Wars 2 to a degree. Their units and structures are still clearly Covenant in origin, but have been substantially modified, armed and armored with whatever they could salvage.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Pillar of Autumn is mentioned when the Spirit Of Fire arrives at Arcadia.
    • The UNSC Vulture Gunship will sometimes say "Stay Frosty".
    • The scrap and salvage being mined by the Banished in Halo Wars 2 are mentioned as being Covenant wreckage left over from a battle towards the end of Halo 3, with Master Chief even mentioned.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Played with. By the time the Spirit of Fire finally comes to at the beginning of Halo Wars 2, the war against the Covenant had already been over for years, though the Banished are still in the process of bringing about an apocalyptic wave of terror of their own.
  • The Stinger
  • Stop Poking Me: Grunts will sometimes say "Yee! Tickles!" when they're selected.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Infantry are cheap Zerg Rushers who can fielded by the dozens, but are wiped out by vehicles who are rarer, more powerful, and durable. Said vehicles are then weak to aircraft, who tend to be weaker but faster with a healthy range of firepower, and then those aircraft are trumped by the infantry.
  • Units Not to Scale: Due to gameplay limitations, the scarab is much smaller here than in Halo 2 and 3, but everything else is the same size the rest of the series depicts it as.
  • Wake Up Call Mission: The first three missions won't give you too much trouble. Mission 4, Arcadia City, will come as a shock - protecting multiple fragile targets and managing at least 2 bases, all whilst under almost constant enemy attack, serves as a notice to players that things only get harder.
  • War Is Hell: The opening of the game really drives this home:

"Captain's Report, Feburary 4th, 2531: Five years. Five, long, years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back. At first it was going well. Then setback after setback, loss after loss, made what was going to be a quick and decisive win into five years of hell. Of course that's all Harvest is today. It's hell down there. But now it's ours again."

  • We ARE Struggling Together: Atriox in Halo Wars 2 seems to be the only one really keeping the Banished from killing each other.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Might be the fate of the crew of The Spirit Of Fire, which is further driven home by Halo Wars 2.