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Halo Wars


Ensemble Studios/Robot Entertainment


Microsoft Game Studios

US date released

March 3, 2009[1]


Real-time Strategy

Game modes

ESRB rating

Mature (Australian Version rated M) (Or 16+) (In U.K. only) Teen (T) for Mild Blood, Mild Language, and Violence


Xbox 360


David Pottinger


Graeme Devine


Stephen Rippy




Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game in the Halo Universe. It begins in the year 2531, 21 years prior to Halo: Combat Evolved, during the Covenant eradication of the Outer Colonies in the Human-Covenant war. The game was developed by Ensemble Studios and is an Xbox 360 exclusive. Halo Wars has four modes: single-player Campaign, two-player cooperative Campaign, Skirmish, and multiplayer.

Downloadable content and support was being provided by Robot Entertainment, a studio founded by many ex-Ensemble Studios employees after its closing.[2] On February 28, 2010, Halo Wars and support was transferred to Halo Waypoint. On December 15, 2010, forums officially moved from to



A Spartan from SPARTAN Group Omega sporting an early concept design of the Mark IV armor in the Halo Wars announcement trailer.


The control scheme in Halo Wars.

In the Halo Wars Campaign, players command armies of UNSC units during its first encounters against the Covenant, a collection of alien races that threatens to wipe out all of humanity. With the guidance of the A.I. Serina of the CFV-88 UNSC Spirit of Fire, the player leads UNSC soldiers and vehicles against classic Covenant foes such as Grunts, Elites, Ghosts, and Banshees. Each faction has its own strengths and abilities in battle.

The Campaign consists of fifteen levels which tell the story of Halo Wars.

Image Mission Description
Alphabase1 Alpha Base Sergeant Forge rallies scattered UNSC forces in the area to take back the Covenant controlled Alpha Base.
Relic Approach Relic Approach UNSC forces on Harvest investigate the Covenant's interest in a Forerunner relic to the north of Alpha Base.
Relic Interior Relic Interior Two Grizzlies are sent into the Relic to rescue Sergeant ForgeProfessor Anders, and their accompanying Marines.
Vlcsnap-118798 Arcadia City UNSC forces protect civilians during the evacuation of Arcadia amid the Covenant attack.
Arcadiaoutskirts Arcadia Outskirts With the civilian evacuation complete, UNSC forces must safely withdraw from the city.
Dome o' Light Dome of Light UNSC forces attempt to break through a giant, dome-shaped Covenant Energy Shield to discover what lies within. 
Super Scarab Scarab After several Plasma-based Rhinos take down the dome, UNSC forces are sent inside to find out what the Covenant were protecting.
Anderssignal1 Anders' Signal After the UNSC Spirit of Fire finishes its Slipspace travel to pursue a Covenant ship holding Professor Anders, they enter into orbit around an unknown planet.
TheFlood12 The Flood UNSC forces encounter the Flood in an attempt to rescue Spartan Red Team.
ShieldWorldOpening Shield World The Spirit of Fire is suddenly locked in a field that is pulling it into a rift on the planet's surface. 
SofInShieldWorld Cleansing After the UNSC Spirit of Fire is pulled beneath the surface of an unknown planet, Sergeant Forge is tasked with cleaning the Flood off the ship's hull.
RepairsOpening Repairs After colliding with a Covenant destroyer UNSC forces must repair the ship's Power Core.
BeachheadOpening Beachhead After rescuing Professor Anders,  UNSC forces must capture and take control of nearby Covenant bases.
Reactor12 Reactor The crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire lay out a plan to destroy Shield 0459 and the Forerunner Dreadnought contained within it to prevent the Covenant from using them.
Eskape1 Escape Survivors have to open a portal so that the Spirit of Fire may escape Shield 0459 before Sergeant Forge activates the FTL drive.


Harvest Plasma Glassed

Harvest, just after the UNSC Spirit of Fire arrived in the system.

“At this point in time, the Covenant is at its most evil. They are hell-bent on the destruction of humanity, on scouring us from the universe.”
— Graeme Devine, Lead Writer, formerly Lead Developer.

The game's story is told through pre-rendered CGI scenes and in-game cutscenes. The game is set in 2531[3] and focuses around the Marine forces of the UNSC Spirit of Fire as they engage Covenant ground forces after the discovery of an ancient artifact during a journey to the partially glassed 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 planet is subsequently invaded by the Covenant and the UNSC must evacuate the planet while engaging the invasion force. The Flood is significant in the storyline and several massive Forerunner structures are also explored.

The Spirit of Fire is "full of new characters," such as the AI Serina, Professor Ellen Anders, Sergeant John Forge, and the Spirit of Fire's commander, Captain James Cutter.[4] Some of these characters go planetside to aid the player.

While Sergeant Forge is patrolling the northern regions, Alpha Base was attacked and destroyed by the Covenant, with survivors fleeing to the countryside surrounding the area. Rounding up these survivors, Forge leads them in an assault that removed the Covenant presence and reestablished Alpha Base, returning it to operational status.[5] Forge leads an assault on the relic site itself, removing the Covenant occupiers and preventing the enemy from destroying it to deny human access, and securing the site for Anders to examine it briefly before a Covenant counter-attack cuts them off from Alpha Base.[6] Grizzly tanks launched from the Spirit of Fire manage to cut through the Covenant, linking up with Forge and his Marines, and escorting them back out through the relic while forces from Alpha Base held off the Covenant. Information gathered from the Harvest relic shows that the Covenant have been pointed to a second UEG colony, Arcadia.[7]

Following the Covenant to Arcadia, they find that the most of the orbital defense ships have been either destroyed or damaged in battle with the Covenant (one of the many ships is the UNSC Pillar of Autumn which would be involved in the "Halo incident" twenty years later). Sgt. Forge and his forces deploy on the ground in order to assist the SPARTANs from Red Team in the effort to evacuate civilians from Arcadia City, via cargo transports.[8] Afterward, the UNSC forces withdraw to a defensible area on the city outskirts, holding off Covenant attacks long enough for SPARTAN Group Omega to arrive and assist in the destruction of local Covenant forces.[9] At the same time, the Covenant have erected a large energy shield generator around a site of importance, with undiscovered ruins surrounding the area, forcing the UNSC to deploy prototype Rhino plasma artillery to penetrate it.[10] Moving in to examine what was of such interest to the Covenant, they come under attack from a Super Scarab, only partially complete and annihilating any UNSC forces in its line of sight. Eventually managing to destroy it, Anders and Forge begin documenting the area, only for the Arbiter to arrive, taking Anders prisoner and wounding Sergeant Forge, with Red Team arriving too late to assist.[11] Rapidly heading out of the system aboard a starship, the Spirit of Fire follows, eventually emerging in orbit over a mysterious planet in an unknown location.

Deploying ground forces to search for Anders, the UNSC and Covenant forces come under attack from a previously undiscovered alien organism - the Flood.[12] Managing to regroup and hold a defensible location, the UNSC forces manage to locate the source of the signal - an apparent body of water.[13] The UNSC forces withdraw back to the Spirit of Fire as a concentrated Flood force begins to gather momentum, narrowly escaping annihilation, regrouping at the Spirit of Fire over the lake - which splits to reveal an entrance, and with swarms of Sentinels emerging to deal with the Flood.[14] The Spirit of Fire manages to enter, proceeding through a docking system, removing Flood growths and moving through a system of concentric rings that filters out Flood biomass,[15] the Spirit of Fire emerges inside a massive Shield World, immediately engaging a Covenant Destroyer and fending off attacks while conducting repairs.[16]

The Arbiter uses Anders to activate The Apex, revealing a fleet of Forerunner warships which the Covenant plans on reverse-engineering and incorporating into their existing naval forces to crush the humans quickly, without needing to dedicate all of their existing forces to the war. Anders manages to escape, using what had been her stasis prison as a translocation device, teleporting to the surface of the Shield World's interior, linking up with Forge and his Marines, who clear the area of Covenant forces and establish a base of operations on the Shield World.[17] Removing the Spirit of Fire's FTL Reactor, the UNSC move it into The Apex, planning to detonate it - the chain-reaction will send the Shield World's sun into a supernova, destroying the installation and the fleet, denying it to the Covenant and saving humanity from near total defeat and extinction. 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

Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee meets his demise in the Shield World.

of his own Energy Swords.[18] Forge stays behind to detonate the reactor, while the rest of the UNSC forces activate a portal out of the Shield World, evacuate to the Spirit of Fire, and manage to slingshot around the sun to build up enough speed to escape the supernova's blast radius and the range of the Shield World's debris.[19]

Now unable to return to UNSC space with the speed an FTL drive would have afforded them, the Spirit of Fire's crew enter cryonics storage. The ship begins its long journey home, likely to take many years or decades. Here, Sgt. Forge's cryo tube is closed by Captain Cutter, who briefly nods, upon which the camera pans down to find the words "Sgt. J. Forge," acknowledging the sacrifice of the valiant Marine Sergeant.

In the final moments of the credits, Serina speaks the final words of the game, saying "Captain. Wake up. Something has happened," As the logo appears on the screen.

The ultimate fate of the Spirit of Fire is unknown. Investigations by the UNSC and ONI are officially closed a few years after it is officially designated MIA, but there is some evidence that the ship does at some point return to UNSC space, with the strongest argument being the number of Spartans present during the Fall of Reach; At the time, 25 of the remaining 28 are present on the planet, with the three missing identified as Gray Team and the remaining dead or missing all previously identified, leading credence to the idea that Red Team, do eventually reunite with the UNSC. However it is noted that since Spirit of Fire's crew were the first humans to encounter the Flood, information should have been reported to ONI, but the first recorded Human-Flood encounter was in 2552, 21 years later, on Halo Installation 04, meaning that either the Spirit of Fire did not come back or ONI kept the 2531 Human-Flood encounter a closely guarded secret.


Aside from CGI cut scenes and on-the-battlefield appearances, characters in Halo Wars often appear in talking head animations where a small view screen appears in the upper left corner showing the face of the character speaking at the moment.




Throughout the game several other characters are either mentioned or seen.



Units and Buildings

United Nations Space Command


Unsc marine

A squad of Marines.

  • SPARTAN-II: SPARTAN-IIs are individually-trained and are superior to all UNSC and Covenant infantry types. SPARTANs are equipped with a regenerating shield in addition to a health bar. The SPARTANs' starting weapons are dual-wielded SMGs.[20] When a SPARTAN takes control of an allied or enemy vehicle, the Spartan's rank is added to the vehicle's rank and the vehicle's stats are greatly increased. Spartans can also engage in hand-to-hand combat against certain enemies (Elite Honor Guards, Infection Forms, etc.). Only three SPARTANs can be deployed at a time and do not contribute to the player's population limit. They are outfitted with the MJOLNIR Mk. IV; the in-game units posses traits that are trademarks of the Mk. V armor, however, this is for gameplay considerations and is not accepted as canon.
    • Starting Special Attack: 'Jack, hijacks an enemy, or commandeers an allied ground vehicle or aircraft for their own. ('Jacking an enemy vehicle or aircraft takes time to complete while commandeering does not. During the time it takes to 'Jack a vehicle enemy troops can attack the hijacking spartan and possibly kill them. The enemy vehicle will also continue to attack you until the driver is thrown out and despite being attacked, allied forces will not retaliate against the vehicle during the hijacking process. Finally, fast moving targets such as warthogs or banshees are near impossible to 'Jack while in motion if you aren't quick or lucky enough.) The Scarab and Vulture gunship cannot be 'jacked for balance reasons.
    • Upgrade 1: Chain Gun, SPARTANs swap their SMGs for a machine gun turret for more damage.
    • Upgrade 2: Neural Implant, decreases the time it takes to 'jack enemy vehicles.
    • Upgrade 3: SPARTAN Laser, SPARTANs swap their machine gun turret for a SPARTAN Laser, for additional damage.
  • Hellbringers:[21] Also known as Flamethrowers, which are anti-infantry units for the UNSC. These Marines are hardcore pyromaniacs equipped with heavier armor and flame-throwers that can be used to torch entire infantry units. Flamethrowers cannot attack air units. They also run faster than standard marines. There are two per squad.[20]
    • Upgrade 1: Flash Bang, special attack, Flamethrowers are equipped with flash bang grenades that temporarily stun other infantry. This stops them from attacking or moving for a short time.
    • Upgrade 2: Napalm Adherent, attacked units will continue to burn for a short time after the initial attack.
    • Upgrade 3: Oxide Tank, Hotter flames from Flamethrowers increases damage.
  • UNSC Marines: Marines are the Main-Line infantry units of the UNSC who are armed with MA5 Series rifles. Without upgrades, there are four per squad.
    • Starting Special Attack: Throw Grenade, throws grenades at ground targets for extra damage. (Cannot throw grenades at Aircraft) [22]
    • Upgrade 1: New Blood, adds an extra marine to the squad for better combat capabilities. (5 Troopers total)
    • Upgrade 2: RPG, replaces and upgrades the Throw Grenade special attack for more damage. (Unlike the Throw Grenade special attack, the RPG special attack can be used on Aircraft.)
    • Upgrade 3: Medic, Adds a medic to the squad for healing after combat, the medic can heal wounded units, however the medic cannot resurrect dead soldiers. (6 soldiers total)
    • Orbital Drop Shock Troopers: Also known as "Helljumpers," in reference to the heat of the HEV pods they use to descend from orbit. This is an upgrade for marine squads unique to Captain Cutter and can be upgraded at the Barracks.[23] The upgrades allow the player to substitute standard marine squads with ODST teams (armed with M90 shotguns), as well as the HEV drop. The HEV drops can also be used as a weapon similar to the MAC Blast and must also be used in a visible area. To do so, the player must select the HEV drop ability and target the area that they wish to drop them in. ODST Squads have all the upgrades that were researched for marines. They are only available as the special upgrade for Captain Cutter but can also be found in various campaign missions. Effects include increased line of sight and hitpoints. (6 soldiers total)
  • Cyclops Exoskeleton:[21] The Cyclops is an anti-building unit. It is a re-appropriated support exoskeleton that can crush ground enemies in close combat, often finishing off infantry with impressive fatality moves. (Unique to Sergeant Forge) (1 per squad)
    • Starting Special Attack: Throw, after combat the Cyclops will pick up wreckage of destroyed buildings and vehicles, when ordered to perform the special attack the Cyclops throws the debris at the specified target.
    • Upgrade 1: Repair Kit, allows the Cyclops to repair friendly units. (vehicles and buildings only)
    • Upgrade 2: High-Torque Joint, improves the speed at which the Cyclops travels.


  • M12 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (Warthog): A light ground unit available to UNSC used for scouting and assault. Can jump gaps, and has a ramming ability as its special attack which is strong enough to destroy a Ghost.[22] It may be upgraded so its passenger has a grenade launcher. Warthogs can also collect resources from crates found on the battlefield.
    • Starting Special Attack: Ramming, the warthog will ram any ground target.
    • Upgrade 1: The Warthog gains a marine mounted on the M41 LAAG turret.
    • Upgrade 2: The Warthog gains a Marine armed with a Grenade launcher.
    • Upgrade 3: The turret is upgraded to an M68 Gauss Cannon
  • M808B Main Battle Tank (Scorpion): The M808 Scorpion is the basic UNSC tank. It can be upgraded to the "Grizzly" variant.
    • Upgrade 1: The Scorpion gains the "canister shell" secondary ability which is superior against infantry.
    • Upgrade 2: The Scorpion has a faster turret rotation speed giving it better reaction time in battle.
    • Upgrade 3: Grizzly variant.[21] An upgrade of the Scorpion, it possesses two cannons and a machine gun. This upgrade is unique to the Sergeant Forge hero unit in Skirmish mode or multiplayer.
  • M312 Heavy Recovery Vehicle[21] (Elephant): The Elephant, as it is more commonly known, is a Mobile Mini-base, and can fulfill the role of a barracks in the field. During the campaign, it is used to tow the Spirit of Fire's Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine up a mountain to the Apex. During multiplayer and skirmish, it is Captain Cutter's unique unit. Note that the dialogue of the Elephant is drastically reduced after the "Defense Turret" upgrade is unlocked. (Only available if Captain Cutter is leader.)
    • Starting Special Attack: Deploy, Turns the Elephant into a mobile barracks, allowing you to train infantry out of it, any where on the battle field. (Note that infantry upgrades are not available from the elephant)
    • Upgrade 1: Twin Engine, increases movement speed.
    • Upgrade 2: Defense Turret, adds an autocannon to the Elephant whilst deployed.
    • Upgrade 3: Ceramic Armor, increases defensive capabilities.
  • Gremlin: A combat support vehicle unique to Professor Anders. It attacks with an EMP blast that disables vehicles or non-infantry units temporarily. The vehicle is armed with a fairly weak laser turret for offense against infantry and cannot attack aerial units.
    • Starting Special Attack: EMP Burst, disables a single near-by ground vehicle.
    • Upgrade 1: Focusing Lens, EMP Cannon causes more damage and has a longer range of attack.
    • Upgrade 2: Chain Amplifier, EMP Burst can "jump" from target to target causing damage to each and temporary shuts-down ground vehicles.
  • Rhino: The Rhino is a heavy tracked unit that has a greater defense but lower attack than the Scorpion. The Rhino is armed with a heavy prototype plasma cannon stolen from the Covenant that fires giant plasma bolts. The Rhino is only in the campaign and not available in Skirmish. It is incapable of attacking air units. During the campaign, it is used during Dome of Light to break through a Covenant energy shield on Arcadia.
    • Starting Special Attack: Lock-down, Locks the Rhino down for greater range and damage.
  • Wolverine: The Wolverine is a specialized anti-aircraft vehicle that uses guided missiles to shoot down enemy aircraft such as Banshees or Vampires. While powerful in this aspect, it is especially weak against infantry and anti-armor vehicles, and must be heavily protected.
    • Upgrade 1: Volley, special attack where the wolverine can attack ground units with its missiles.
    • Upgrade 2: Dual Launchers, doubles the amount of missile pods attached to the wolverine for increased damage.
  • Cobra:[21] The Cobra is a heavy anti-armor vehicle equipped with a pair of rail cannons which can easily tear apart enemy armor but not aerial targets.
    • Starting Special Attack: Lock-down, Locks the Cobra down to increase range and damage of rail cannon to massive proportions at the expense of mobility. Cannot shoot as far as the Covenant Locust.
      Cobra concept

      Concept art of the UNSC Cobra.

    • Upgrade 1: Deflection Plating, adds extra armor plating to the cobra for better defense when in lock down mode. (Deflection Plating can deflect other cobra shots as well as other large caliber bullets/plasma projectiles, however, whether or not the large caliber bullets/plasma projectiles are actually deflected seems to be up to chance).
    • Upgrade 2: Piercing Shot, upgrades rail guns so they can pass through more than one target while locked down.


  • D77-TC Pelican Dropship: The Pelican is used as a UNSC transportation ability that is called from the Spirit of Fire menu. The pickup area is selected, then the drop-off area. The Pelican can airlift multiple units at a time, up to 6 infantry squads and three vehicles. It cannot carry Elephants and if destroyed, all units being carried will be lost as well.
  • Shortsword Bomber: Shortsword bombers perform low-altitude bombing runs for support on the battlefield. It carries three different payloads; Sergeant Forge's carpet bomb, and Professor Anders' cryo bomb leader ability, as well as the disruption bomb which is available to all UNSC leaders.
  • Hornet:[21] The Hornet is the main-line air unit for the UNSC. It is a light aircraft that can carry two passengers to provide additional support on the battlefield. This unit does not have a special attack.
    • Upgrade 1: Wingmen, Adds two marines equipped with rocket launchers to the side seats of the Hornet for greater damage.
    • Upgrade 2: Chaff Pod, a passive ability that allows better avoidance of incoming missile attacks.
    • Upgrade 3: Hawk, an upgrade to the hornet unique to Professor Anders. The Hawk is an upgraded version of the Hornet that is equipped with a mounted laser for greater damage and replaces the two marines with dual auto-guns that have a slower rate of fire but increased damage per shot.
  • Vulture: The Vulture is a large gunship that can deliver massive amounts of fire against all targets. It is the UNSC "Über-unit," and though it is nowhere near as strong or resilient as the Scarab, it makes up for this by being a fraction of the cost of a Scarab in both population and resources.
    • Starting Special Attack: Barrage, launches a volley of missiles at a target.
    • Upgrade 1: Mega-Barrage, doubles the number of missiles during the Barrage special attack. (4 missiles fired before upgrade, 8 missiles fired after upgrade)
  • Pod: A dropship larger than both the Pelican and Vulture that delivers extremely large objects, such as sections of Firebases, to predetermined ground positions.
  • Darter: A short range shuttle craft designed to transport supplies to a ground based supply pad.


  • UNSC Base: Basic military structure of the UNSC with optional "add-on" buildings that can increase its usefulness. May be upgraded to a station and fortress variants for additional Buildpads. (Captain Cutter can drop in already upgraded stations and starts with a Fortress).
    • Firebase: Command Center and 3 Buildpads.
    • Station Upgrade: Command Center, 5 Buildpads, and 4 Turret Foundations.
    • Fortress Upgrade: Command Center, 7 Buildpads, and 4 Turret Foundations.
  • UNSC Reactor: The reactor provides power for a UNSC base to run on. (Adds to tech level)
    • Upgrade 1: Advanced Reactor, doubles the total energy output (worth two tech levels)
  • UNSC Air Pad: The air pad produces UNSC air units along with their upgrades.
  • Vehicle Depot: A vehicle depot provides heavier vehicles for the UNSC to use and upgrade.
  • Field Armory: A combination of machine shop and laboratory that provides high-tech upgrades for the UNSC.
  • UNSC Barracks: The barracks allow for the production of various infantry types and their upgrades.
  • UNSC Supply Pad: Supply Pads are used to get supplies from the Spirit of Fire via Darter dropships.
    • Upgrade 1: Heavy Supply Pad, Adds an extra landing pad so that more supplies can be processed at once. (In Skirmish mode, Sergeant Forge builds Heavy Supply Pads right away)
  • Base Turret: The basic defense structure of UNSC bases. It is initially armed with an M202 XP Machine Gun and only available to Station and Fortress Command bases.[24] They can be upgraded at the UNSC Field Armory and on-site for upgrades and improvements.
    • Upgrade 1: Medium Turret, Adds an extra M202 XP Machine Gun (1 before upgrade 2 after) for more damage, also increases hitpoints and range. (Researched at Field Armory.)
    • Upgrade 2: Large Turret, Adds an extra M202 XP Machine Guns (Totaling 3 after upgrade) for more damage, also increases health and range. (Researched at Field Armory.)
    • Note that the turret can also have extra fittings mounted to it for damage bonuses against unit types. These are researched on the turret itself and are as follows:
      • Flame Mortar: Damage bonus against infantry.
      • Rail Gun: Damage bonus against vehicles.
      • Missile Launcher: Damage bonus against aircraft.



OMG Duel Energy Swords!

Concept art of an Elite grasping two energy swords.

  • Unggoy (Grunts): Canon fodder of the Covenant military usually found under the leadership of Sangheili or Jiralhanae or in their own squads.
  • Grunt Squad: A group of three Unggoy that fight in lances led by either a Minor Elite (Arbiter or Regret as leader) or a Minor Brute (if leader is the Brute Chieftain). (Totaling 3 grunts and 1 Elite or 1 Brute).[25]
    • Starting Special Attack: Plasma Grenade, the squad will throw plasma grenades at any ground target. The plasma grenades do not detonate on impact and will explode several seconds after being thrown.
    • Upgrade 1: Peons; adds an extra grunt to the squad for increased combat capabilities.
    • Upgrade 2: Needler; the grunts upgrade their plasma pistols to needlers for greater damage. (This upgrade also allows the squad very limited anti aircraft capabilities).
    • Upgrade 3: Deacon; adds a grunt deacon to the squad that boost combat values from their religion.
  • Suicide Grunts: A squad of Unggoy highly devoted to their religion that will go on a kamikaze rage upon command. A larger methane tank on their back will explode upon impact causing heavy damage to infantry, vehicles, and buildings. (4 grunts per squad)
    • Starting Special Attack: Suicide; the entire squad goes into suicide mode with increased speed towards the target. Upon close proximity, they explode, causing massive damage.
    • Upgrade 1: Zeal; speed is increased during suicide mode.
    • Upgrade 2: Defile; explosion causes extra splash damage.
  • Bomber Grunt: Unggoy that carry explosives that can eliminate an entire infantry squad. They only appear in Campaign.
  • Sangheili (Elites): In addition to leading Unggoy lances, Sangheili aka Elites, serve many other roles in the Covenant military such as pilots, special forces, and Arbiters.
  • Elite Honor Guard: Sangheili Honor Guards are powerful close combat anti-infantry units that are unique to the Prophet of Regret. They wield energy swords and are lethal against ground targets. (One per unit)
    • Upgrade 1: Cloak; enables the active camouflage ability making the honor guard invisible to foes for a short time or until ordered to attack.
    • Upgrade 2: Personal Shield; adds an energy shield to the honor guard for increased defensive capabilities
  • Elites: A pair of Sangheili equipped with Needlers and energy shields that appear in the campaign.
  • Ripa 'Moramee: An antagonist in the campaign and a leader unit in multiplayer. Also known as The Arbiter, Ripa starts with dual energy swords and rage special attack that drains resources but allows for heavy damage to all targets. Note that the Arbiter will face difficulty against sentinels, even in rage mode.
    • Leader Power: Rage; The Arbiter goes into a killing frenzy where the damage he does is greatly increased. This is the only instance in the game where the player can take direct control over a unit. These attacks are characterized by fast sword slashes and sudden powerful lunges. The Arbiter can be improved with the following upgrades.
    • Unit Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Fiendish Return; a percentage of the damage dealt to the Arbiter is reflected back to the attacker.
      • Upgrade 2: Vicious Blades; increases damage dealt and damage reflected.
      • Upgrade 3: Ghastly Vision; a permanent cloak is activated and increased damage is reflected.
    • Leader Power Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Defiant Rage; health is partially restored after every kill.
      • Upgrade 2: Spiteful Rage; rage mode costs less resources.
      • Upgrade 3: Blinding Rage; damage done in rage mode is greatly increased, nearby units will also gain combat bonuses while in proximity to the arbiter while he is raging.
  • Mgalekgolo (Hunters): Hunters are heavily armored units equipped with fuel rod cannons and are the Covenant's anti-vehicle infantry. (There are two Hunters per Squad)
    • Upgrade 1: Bonded Shield; adds the hunter's iconic shield which deflects many projectiles.
    • Upgrade 2: Spirit Bond; if both Hunters in a pair are alive, they will do greater damage. (The spirit bond will not reappear if one is killed and the squad is regenerated)
    • Upgrade 3: Assault Beam; the fuel rod cannon is upgraded to a powerful beam for increased damage.
  • Kig-Yar (Jackals): Jackals are light anti-infantry units armed with carbines that fight in pairs. While very effective against infantry, they have little defense against explosives and vehicles. There are two per unit and lack a special attack.
    • Upgrade 1: Defense Gauntlet; gives both jackals a hand-held energy shield that deflects incoming projectiles but will collapse after taking too much damage.
    • Upgrade 2: Beam Rifle; Jackals swap their carbines for beam sniper rifles for more damage.
    • Upgrade 3: Supreme Gauntlet; the defense gauntlet no longer collapses after taking damage.
  • Jiralhanae (Brutes): Brutes are heavy troops which similar functions as the Elites. In battle they wield Brute shots, which are devastating against infantry and effective against light vehicles. Due to their limited battlefield use prior to the events of Halo 2, they are apparently leader-specific units belonging to the Brute Chieftain.[26]
    • Upgrade 1: Jump Pack; gives brutes the jump pack ability, allowing them to fly for a short distance.
    • Upgrade 2: Electric Shot; adds a stun to the brute shot grenades that have a temporary effect on infantry units.
  • Brute Army Commander: The Brute Chieftain is a Covenant leader that wields a gravity hammer and is capable of super heavy melee damage. He uses the Vortex leader power and cannot attack aerial units without it.
    • Leader Power: Vortex; A localized area-of-effect damage range generated by the Chieftain's hammer that will explode upon termination, dealing massive damage to all targets.
    • Unit Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Inheritance; adds a stun feature to the gravity hammer.
      • Upgrade 2: Birthright; The Chieftain's gravity hammer can pull enemies toward him.
      • Upgrade 3: Destiny; Damage greatly increased.
    • Leader Power Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Tsunami; Larger vortex with increased area of effect and damage.
      • Upgrade 2: Hurricane; Larger vortex with increased area of effect and damage.
      • Upgrade 3: Singularity; Larger vortex with increased area of effect and damage.
  • Prophet of Regret: The Prophet of Regret is a San 'Shyuum Covenant Leader who fights from his Gravity Throne and is equipped with dual plasma cannons.[26] The Prophet uses the Cleansing Beam leader power which summons an orbital excavation beam that can be directed by the player.
    • Unit Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Blessed Immolation; Replaces the Prophet's plasma cannons for fuel rod guns with increased damage.
      • Upgrade 2: Ancestral Perversion; Two Sentinel Protectors help defend the Prophet from enemies.
      • Upgrade 3: Divine Absolution; The hover throne that the Prophet sits on gains full flight capabilities for increased mobility. (Note that this upgrade makes the Prophet more vulnerable to anti-air units, and is still also vulnerable to ranged anti-infantry units).
    • Leader Power Upgrades:
      • Upgrade 1: Regret's Sentence; Medium-sized cleansing beam covers a broader area and does greater damage.
      • Upgrade 2: Regret's Doom; Large cleansing beam covers an even larger area and does more damage.
      • Upgrade 3: Regret's Condemnation; Increased damage to large cleansing beam.


  • Type-47 Ultra Heavy Assault Platform (Scarab): The Scarab is a Covenant super-unit that can destroy infantry, ground vehicles, and aircraft with ease. The Scarab is extremely resilient to most weapons fire. Although both the Halo 2 and Halo 3 versions have been seen in promotional material, only the Halo 3 version appears in the finished game and demo. Spartans are unable to hijack Scarabs, with the exception of one campaign level in which the Covenant abandon a scarab and the player may choose to either use or destroy it. The Scarab is unique in its ability to traverse what is considered "rough terrain." In other words, the Scarab can climb over cliffs, mountains, and some structures because of its size and mobility. This makes it the only deployable ground unit in the game able to do so.[27] This unit does not have any upgrades due to its immense power and population cost of 20 per unit. As such, only two can be deployed at a time in standard skirmish matches, while up to four can be built in deathmatch.
    • Super Scarab: This variant is seen in the 7th campaign level and is larger and more powerful than a normal scarab. It's legs aren't yet complete and cannot be used, but relies on power generators scattered throughout the map for energy to turn its head. Despite the vulnerability of its power source, it is still a very dangerous threat capable of incinerating anything in moments.
  • Type-32 Rapid Assault Vehicle (Ghost): The Ghost is a light attack vehicle that excels against infantry but not other vehicles.
    • Upgrade 1: Boosted Ram Special Attack; similar to the Warthog's Ram ability the Ghost gains the ability to ram a target and is most effective when running over enemy infantry.
    • Upgrade 2: Strafe; the Ghost can evade incoming projectile attacks. (Rockets and Grenades)
    • Upgrade 3: Scout Shield; a light shield is installed on the Ghost allowing it to take more damage.
  • Type-25 Rapid Assault Vehicle (Chopper): The Chopper is a scout-class vehicle available only to the Brute Chieftain leader. The Chopper starts without any weapons and can only ram hostile ground targets. This unit takes the place of the Ghost when playing as the Chieftain. Unlike the ghost however, the chopper takes up two population to make up for its greater attack power and durability.[28]
    • Starting Special Attack: Run Over, same function of the Ghost's Boosted Ram ability or the Warthog's Ram ability, The Chopper with smash into a given target causing damage, most effective on infantry.
    • Upgrade 1: Autocannons; Adds a pair of explosive-shot cannons, granting additional attack.
    • Upgrade 2: Stabilizers; Improves accuracy of Chopper's guns and damage.
    • Upgrade 3: Ramming Targe; adds ceramic armor around front wheel base of Chopper, increasing Run Over damage and reducing damage taken.
  • Type-26 Assault Gun Carriage (Wraith): The Wraith is the main-line tank of the Covenant and is armed with a plasma mortar and a plasma turret capable of dealing heavy damage to ground targets.
    • Upgrade 1: Heavy Shield; an energy shield is added to the Wraith, which deflects damage from the health of the Wraith until it is depleted.
    • Upgrade 2: Scorch Special Ability; a superheated plasma projectile is shot at a target that does continuous damage after it has hit the ground.
    • Upgrade 3: Plasma Modulator; the normal plasma mortar is larger and causes more damage.
      • Honor Guard Wraith: This unique vehicle skin is exclusive to the Halo Wars special edition, and can be activated through the options menu.
  • Type-30 Light Excavation/Anti-Fortification Platform (Locust): A smaller counterpart to the Covenant Scarab which is described as a "building-killer." The Locust walks on four legs and looks similar to the Scarab but on a much smaller scale. It's Plasma Beam is Purple/Pink and does major damage to buildings but must be concentrated from multiple units to do damage to heavy vehicles.
    • Upgrade 1: Overdrive Special Ability; drains energy shield to increase power of plasma beam.
    • Upgrade 2: Shield Amplifier; restoration rate of energy shield is much quicker.


  • Type-26 Ground Support Aircraft (Banshee): The Banshee is the main Covenant air unit and is equipped with twin Plasma Cannons and a single Fuel Rod Cannon. This allows it to attack any target effectively, though the Fuel Rod Cannon is not used on other aircraft.
    • Upgrade 1: Boost; enables the Banshee to travel across a distance at great speed. Note the Banshee cannot attack while boosting.
    • Upgrade 2: Repeating Cannon; the Banshee's plasma cannons fire at a faster rate, increasing damage done over time.
    • Upgrade 3: Sacrifice; when the Banshee is heavily damaged, it will attempt to kamikaze into nearby ground targets.
  • Type-25 Troop Carrier (Spirit): The Spirit dropship is the Covenant equivalent of the UNSC Pelican, capable of transporting vehicles and infantry in addition to giving them fire support. Unlike the Pelican though, the Spirit cannot be called in multiplayer or skirmish matches. Instead, it is replaced with the Gravity Pads which appear at each Covenant base and can provide quick transportation to the Covenant leader's location.
  • Type-29 Close Support Fighter (Vampire): A fast, maneuverable Covenant Aircraft. Armed with a pair of plasma guns, a Heavy Anti-Air Needler, and a Stasis Beam.
    • Upgrade 1: Stasis Drain; adds the Stasis special attack which locks down air targets and drains their health to repair the Vampire. Note that targets can still fight back during stasis.
    • Upgrade 2: Stasis Bomb; Targets fully drained by Stasis, will explode with a large area of effect.
  • Huragok (Engineers): Engineers are a race utilized by the Covenant to repair damaged vehicles and structures, as well as heal squads of infantry. Though often sent into combat zones, Engineers lack any offensive abilities. They may be used to heal other Engineers, but not themselves.[29]
    • Upgrade 1: State of Grace; repair/healing rate of the Engineer is increased.
    • Upgrade 2: Harmonious Digestion; Engineers have increased mobility.


  • Covenant Base: The basic command structure of the Covenant with optional 'add on' buildings that can increase its usefulness. Outpost can be upgraded to Keep and then to a Citadel.
    • Outpost: Command Center and 3 building pads.
    • Keep: Command Center, 5 building pads, and 4 turret pads.
    • Citadel: Command Center, 7 building pads, and 4 turret pads.
  • Shield Generator: Provides an energy shield that envelops the entire base. Multiple generators will amplify the effect and make the shield stronger.
  • Warehouse: The warehouse is the Covenant equivalent of the UNSC supply pad. It provides continuous resources and can be upgraded for increased output.
    • Upgrade 1: Blessed Warehouse; Production capacity increased over time.
  • Plasma Turret: The main defensive structures of a Covenant base. Turrets start out with a single plasma cannon. Like the UNSC however, turrets can be upgraded and improved to optimize defensive capabilities.
    • Upgrade 1: Medium Turret; Turret damage increased. (Researched at Temple)
    • Upgrade 2: Heavy Turret; Turret damage increased. (Researched at Temple)
    • Turret can also be improved for damage bonuses against desired unit types. These are researched on the turret itself and are as follows:
      • Plasma Mortar: A Plasma Mortar is mounted to the turret for a bonus against infantry.
      • Fuel Rod Cannon: A twin set of Fuel Rod Guns are mounted to the turret for a bonus against vehicles.
      • Heavy Needler: Two heavy Needlers are mounted to the turret for a bonus against Aircraft.
  • Temple: A Covenant cultural and scientific research building. Functions as the equivalent of the UNSC Field Armory and Reactor. Provides expensive but powerful upgrades in addition to tech level.
  • Summit: Covenant air building, the Summit builds Banshees, Vampires, Engineers, and their upgrades.
  • Hall: Covenant infantry building, builds Grunt lances, Jackal and Hunter pairs, and accompanying upgrades.
  • Factory: Covenant vehicle building. The Factory builds Ghosts, Wraiths, Locusts, and their upgrades.
  • Anti-Vehicle Barrier: A device used to bar passage to certain areas, as seen on the level Tsavo Highway in Halo 3. Another variant is also present that must be garrisoned similar to a Deployable lookout tower in order to be activated.[30]
  • Type-29 ASG (Shade): The Halo: Combat Evolved variant of the Shade turret is present as a defensive structure. This is only seen in the Campaign.[31]
  • Deployable lookout tower: A structure that can be garrisoned with infantry units to increase their combat capabilities as well as line-of-sight.
  • Mega Turret: A massive offensive structure present in campaign and the multiplayer map Tundra. In the campaign it can be destroyed, but on Tundra is a neutral structure which can be garrisoned by a player to control it. It fires in three round bursts and can inflict massive damage to any target, to account for this, its recharge time is quite long.
  • Gravity Lift: Each Covenant base has a Gravity Lift at its front. Gravity lifts allow the Covenant to "Hot Drop" forces (all units except the Scarab) directly to their Leader's location.[32] If the players leader is in close proximity to a base's gravity lift or near a disruption bomb, it will not be active. Rally points can also be set on the Gravity lift so that units released from the base are quickly teleported to your leader.

Non-Playable Factions


  • Insurrectionist Infantry: Can be found occupying neutral base sites, and the area around any Forerunner structures and/or garrisonable areas that give bonuses such as supply elevators, bonus reactors, etc. They are usually armed with assault rifles, but may also use rocket launchers and snipers to deadly effect.


  • Sentinel: Standard Sentinel, fires a beam that does moderate damage. Found at Forerunner base sites and Sentinel factories.
  • Super Sentinel: Slow, powerful sentinel that can stun ground targets and deal heavier damage.
  • Protector Sentinel: Able to be "attached" to units, providing either a rechargeable energy shield, replenishing health, or a pulse laser weapon depending on the type of Protector. The "Ancestral Perversion" upgrade gives the Prophet of Regret two of the pulse laser types on any map.
  • Sentinel Shop: Produces Sentinels for the player who stands near it. Only found on the multiplayer levels Repository and Glacial Ravine.
  • Forerunner elevator: Produces supplies when infantry are garrisoned inside it. Equivalent to an additional Supply Pad or Warehouse. Means you can build one less Supply Pad/Warehouse.
  • Forerunner Spire of Healing: Heals any friendly units nearby for the player who controls it. Only found on multiplayer levels Frozen Valley and Barrens.
  • Forerunner Teleporter: Instantly sends units to another teleporter location. In most maps, these are just one way.
  • Forerunner Bonus Reactor: Increases tech level of any player that controls it. This will mean you can have an extra slot on open in a base for other usage.
  • Forerunner Life Support Pod: Increases the max population for any player who controls it. Only found on the multiplayer level Beasley's Plateau.
  • Forerunner Fort: Outpost guarded by automated systems, including laser turrets and a shield wall. Retracts in on itself after sustaining enough damage.
  • Protector Plant: Produces three types of Protectors for the player who stands near it. Only found on the multiplayer level Labyrinth.
  • Energy Wall: Generates an impassable energy wall when garrisoned with troops. Found on the multiplayer maps Glacial Ravine, Fort Deen and Tundra and on the campaign level Escape.
  • Relic: Releases Flood upon an enemy when infantry are garrisoned inside it. Only found on the multiplayer level Release.

The Flood

Halo Wars Flood

Flood biomass and tentacles ensnare an Elephant, with Flood Infection Forms and Combat Forms in the background.

“There is quite a bit of concern regarding how we’re going to fit the Flood into our game and keep it in canon which surprised me, but I promised them all that the Halo 1 canon is intact and that they would have to wait and see how we integrate the Flood.”
— Graeme Devine[33]

The Flood gain units by taking over Human and Covenant troops.

Flood Infection Forms, Combat Forms, and Carrier Forms are the Flood's main attack force. In the February issue of GamePro, it was confirmed that there would be new Flood forms in Halo Wars. These include the Bomber, Swarm, and Thrasher Forms. Though they cannot be controlled, in the multiplayer map Release, they can be released at opposite ends of the map to menace enemy units

In respect to keeping the appearance of the Flood in canon with the rest of the series, the game has the Spirit of Fire traveling back to Earth at speeds slower than light after its mission had ended, making it impossible for them to report the existence of the Flood. However, this raises further controversy over the presence of the Spartans on board the Spirit of Fire.

Ground Forms
  • Infection Forms are highly mobile have the ability to crawl over walls. When infantry units encounter Infection forms, they are vulnerable to infection and may turn on friendly forces. (All but special units such as hunters, heroes, and Spartans are immune to infection)
  • Combat Forms: The standard unit of the Flood. There are six variants of combat forms; Infected Marines, Flamethrowers, Elites, Brutes, Jackals, and Grunts. Note that the Veterancy of infected units will be inherited by the Flood.
  • Infected Marines: Marines or ODSTs (and possibly Medics) that have been infected by the Flood. They come in squads of four (or, in one mission, six) when they spawn on campaign and skirmish maps, or individually when they were formerly owned by a player and then infected. They always wield Assault rifles and Shotguns despite previous equipment.
  • Infected Flamethrowers: Flamethrower marines that were once owned by a player and then infected. They always wield Flamethrowers, as with living UNSC Flamethrower Marines. Infected Flamethrowers are a bit of a sub-category of Infected Marines, as they are exactly like Infected Marines but just wield Flamethrowers.
  • Infected Elites: Elites that were infected by the Flood. They come in pairs and use a melee attack instead of weaponry when they spawn, or individually when they were formerly owned by a player and then infected. They are the only Combat Form with a Melee attack.
  • Infected Brutes: Brutes that were infected by the Flood. They come in pairs when they spawn in campaign, or individually when they were formerly owned by a player and then infected. They always wield Brute Shots, as with living Covenant brutes.
  • Infected Grunts: Grunts that were once owned by a player and then infected. Depending on their previous weaponry they will always wield either Plasma Pistols or Needlers. They also retain the ability to throw plasma grenades.
  • Infected Jackals: Jackals that have been infected by the Flood. They come in pairs when they spawn on skirmish maps, or individually when they were owned by a player and then infected. They always wield Carbines and Defense gauntlets (that can be overloaded) when infected by player controlled Jackals, despite previous weaponry, but have been encountered with Beam Rifles when they are in scripted positions (i.e. additional reactors on flood levels).
    • Carrier Forms: A unit that charges targets and explodes on close proximity, thus delivering its payload of Infection forms directly into enemy lines.
  • Flood Growth Pods: Flood biomass which upon destruction may contain resources, infection forms, spores, or nothing at all. They usually have the appearance of a large egg and may be the size of vehicles.
  • Flood Thrasher Forms: The Thrasher form is a heavy flood type that inflicts excessive melee damage. Flood swarms are made up of several units that spit acid at targets.
  • Flood spores: A cloud of spores capable of infecting and damaging units, especially infantry. It should be noted that these can not be killed (except by flamethrowers) but rather expire after a short time.
Air Forms
  • Flood Swarms: The first seen flying incarnation of the Flood, described by developers as "infected buzzards crossed with evil bats." These creatures travel in airborne packs, and can emit acidic dart-like projectiles to puncture enemies.
  • Flood Bomber Forms: Large, bloated, airborne Flood forms. They attack by dropping Flood Growth Pods full of Infection Forms onto enemies.
  • Flood Barracks: Flood biomass structures that ceaselessly churn out a variety of forms. They cannot be destroyed, but can be damaged enough to enter a weakened dormant state. The effect is only temporary and they will regenerate given enough time.
  • Flood Root: A defensive tentacle unit that smashes or grabs units that get close to it.[34]
  • Flood Colony: A large structure found in heavily infested areas. Used as a "base" by the Flood.[34] Regenerates only in the Campaign mode, otherwise opens up new base slots when killed.
  • Proto-Gravemind: The Flood's "command center" it appears to be connected to the Colony Forms, and only appears in Campaign.[34]
  • Flood Nest: A small organic building which creates Infection and Carrier Forms.[34]
  • Flood Launcher: Stationary tower-like forms that fire globs of biomass at enemies. These glob-like projectiles will release a spore cloud.
  • Flood Den: A medium-sized building form which Flood Swarms and Flood Thrasher Forms come out of.
  • Flood Vent: Large vents covered in Flood biomass which releases Flood Bomber Forms.

Game Concepts

Technology Advancement

Throughout the campaign and in Skirmishes, the player must advance their technology in order to increase their army's power. When technology is increased, more units, upgrades, and buildings become available. For instance, infantry units can receive additional members or stronger weaponry. Field Armories or Temples (and the upgrades within them) can become available with increased technology as well.

The tech tree is different for the two playable factions. When playing as the UNSC, the player advances by building and upgrading reactors. The Covenant moves through the tech-tree in Ages by purchasing upgrades at the leader temple; players can advance to the Ages of Doubt and the Ages of Reclamation respectively. Players can also advance by capturing Forerunner Bonus Reactors.

When a Reactor is built or an Age is researched, OR a Bonus Reactor is claimed, the tech number on the top right of the screen goes up. If, say, a reactor is destroyed, the number goes down. Different buildings, units, and upgrades require different tech levels to use.

Veterancy Points

Veterancy points increases a unit's statistics, such as attack, attack speed, defense, etc. This number can be calculated by counting how many stars a unit has above their health bar. This is the number of veterancy points said unit has. The stars, or Veterancy Points. are acquired only after a unit or a group of units have defeated enemy structures, units, vehicles, or other combat related situations. They are also gained by upgrading the unit. A unit has a maximum of 3 stars, except a Spartan-Commandeered vehicle, which has a maximum of 14 "Veterancy Points" for Tanks/Grizzlies and Hornets/Hawks. All other Spartan-Commandeered vehicles have a maximum of 13 "Veterancy Points." Some special player units in campaign mode (example: ODSTs in the level Anders' Signal) that have a maximum of 5 Veterancy Points. A mist effect appears briefly over a unit when it gains a veterancy point, though this is hard to see unless closely watching the unit. When a unit gains more veterancy it grows stronger; for example it can take over 4 MAC rounds to destroy a 14 veterancy scorpion.However under special conditions the maximum number of veterancy stars is 17.

Leader Abilities

Certain characters belonging to both the Covenant and the UNSC have been confirmed to be "leader factions," which are sub-factions with unique units and bonuses. All of the Covenant leaders appear on the battlefield and have unique in-game abilities. The UNSC leaders on the other hand do not appear on the battlefield but instead have economic bonuses and "super units" (upgrades of normal units). Currently known leaders are Captain James Cutter, Sergeant John Forge, Professor Ellen Anders, Ripa 'Moramee, an unknown Brute Army Commander and the Prophet of Regret. Each leader has a number of unique features, for the UNSC it's "super units," economic bonuses, unique units (Cutter's Elephant, Forge's Cyclops and Anders' Gremlin.) and leader powers (ODST Drop/MAC Blast, Carpet bomb and Cryo bomb, respectively to leaders stated previously) that can be called from the Spirit of Fire. The Covenant on the other hand have a unique unit (two for the brute leader) and a "hero unit" (their leader) with their leader power attached to the "hero unit." The Prophet of Regret's ability is to glass enemy forces (known as the "Cleansing Beam" in Halo Wars), which causes significant damage to both structures and units, however it also drains resources while active. His unique units are Elite Honor Guards. Ripa Moramee's leader power is "Rage Mode," which can empower nearby friendly units, but at the cost of draining resources for every second this mode is active. He can also upgrade to infinitely cloak himself.[35] Ripa Moramee will also have the ability to train Suicidal Grunts. The Brute Chieftain can use his Gravity Hammer to create a vortex which sucks in infantry, then the player can press the A button to create a massive explosion. The Brute Chieftain's unique units are a pair of Brutes wielding Brute Shots (which can be upgraded to have jet packs) and the Chopper.

Although Covenant leaders are limited to one unit at a time, they are some of the strongest units in the entire game and are immune to stun effects.

UNSC Leader Powers

  • Transport: Call a Pelican down to transport selected units (maximum of three vehicles and six infantry units) to a selected area of the map. Transport costs 200 resources and does not have a recharge time.
  • Disruption Bomb: A bomb that deactivates any leader powers and prevents others being activated in a short radius during the effect.[27]
  • Heal and Repair: Heals all units and repairs all structures in a selected area. Heal and Repair costs 350 resources and will only heal/repair friendly units and buildings.[36]
  • MAC Blast: Calls down a MAC blast from Spirit of Fire's' onboard MAC. Upgrades allow for more shots before the power has to recharge. This power can only be used by Captain Cutter. MAC Blast costs 600 resources.
  • ODST Drop: ODST pods, individually aimed by the user, are called down at 100 resources each. The pods will spawn a whole ODST squad. Note that it is much faster to drop them from their pods than producing them in a Barracks or via the Elephant, but beware; if your reactors are destroyed or a bonus reactor garrison squad is killed you won't be able to drop more.[37] (Unique to Captain Cutter)
  • Cryo Bomb: The Cryo Bomb freezes any units and buildings within the blast radius. Units are unable to move when frozen, and buildings halt all activity. When frozen, air units have a chance of falling to the ground, shattering instantly. The more the Cryo Bomb is upgraded, the freeze time and the chance to make air units fall increases. Note that this also has an effect on your team. (Unique to Professor Anders). Any units that are equipped with shields fare better against the cyro bomb and also have extra time escaping than other ground units. Cryo Bomb costs 600 resources.
  • Carpet Bomb: Calls in a bomber to wipe out a large area. Effective against mass infantry or ground vehicles. The more times it is upgraded, the stronger and larger the carpet bomb is. Carpet Bomb costs 600 resources and does not damage air units. Note that this also kills any friendly units caught in the line of fire. (Unique to Sergeant Forge)

Black Boxes

Main article: Black Box (Halo Wars)

Black boxes are a new feature in the game. Black Boxes are collectibles in the Halo Wars campaign that when collected, they add new events in the Halo Wars Timeline. They look like black boxes with yellow stripes on them and can be picked up by any unit. When you collect one you can just resign straight away and you will still have it. The timeline covers many of the important events from the games and the novels. There is only one black box on each level in the game.

Cut Content


A concept of a Covenant mining facility cut from the final game.

Six units, the UNSC Cougar, UNSC Fox Cannon, Covenant Air Artillery, Covenant Gorgon, the UNSC Falcon, and the UNSC Leviathan were under development early in the game along with the ability to actually construct individual buildings. The developers later announced that these units been cut, as they had decided to focus on more recognizable Halo units and simpler gameplay.

Before Ensemble conceived the idea for The Apex, the storyline was supposed to feature a Covenant mining asteroid that was located at a Forerunner ore refining mechanism. This concept tries to show the scale of the large Forerunner machinery in place with machines that are still operational, although now controlled by the Covenant. In the end the mining aspect of the story was removed from the game.[38]

Ambient life forms were planned to be encountered during gameplay.[39] Examples include the Space Owl, the Harvest Whale, the Arctic Beast, Ice Hound and some sort of eel-snake creature that has yet to be named.


This section requires expansion.
1209090473 Screenshots 1280 003

Covenant forces engage humans on the level Chasms.

Halo Wars supports voice communication, online leaderboards, and up to six players. Vehicle and unit armor will change to the color of the player. Players are able to achieve the ranks of Recruit, Lieutenant, Major, Commander, Colonel, Brigadier, and General.


Each multiplayer map takes place on a different "world," each with its own musical theme and playlist.[40] The Halo Rings won't be in the story, but may be included in future maps for multiplayer.

Historic Battle Map Pack

Main article: Historic Battle map pack

The Historic Battle Map Pack was released on the Xbox Live Marketplace on July 21, 2009, for 800 Microsoft Points.


Halo Wars features a "Skirmish Mode," where the player can battle on multiplayer maps against an AI opponent in 1vs1, 2vs2 and 3vs3 match. There are 14 skirmish and multiplayer maps.[44] There are two modes in Skirmish, Standard and Deathmatch. Three more modes are available if you have the Strategic Options DLC (800 Microsoft Points): Keepaway, Tug of War, and Reinforcements.

In Standard mode, you start off with 0 tech level and 800 resources. All units must be upgraded including turrets and leader abilities. The population limit starts at 30 for the UNSC and 40 for the Covenant. In Deathmatch, you start with 15,000 resources and a tech level of 4 for the UNSC, and 3 for the Covenant (Building a Temple increases your tech level to six, but more importantly gives you a leader). All your units, buildings and leader abilities are already fully upgraded. Your population starts at 15 and you gain 10 population for taking over a base, up to 99. When you lose a base, the population limit goes down by 10.

Strategic Options Add-on Pack

Main article: Strategic Options Pack

The Strategic Options Add-on pack was released on the Xbox Live Market place for 800 Microsoft points. It contains 3 new gametypes

  • Keepaway In this mode, you capture the flag from your opponent and bring it back to your base.
  • Tug of War The objective is to field and maintain the strongest army to win.
  • Reinforcement Mode This mode requires you to adapt your tactics as you are granted waves of troops, much like an endurance battle.


Main article: Halo Wars: Original Soundtrack

Ensemble Studios began recording the music for the game in March 2008, with Ensemble's Music and Sound Director, Stephen Rippy, flying to Prague for the orchestral and choral parts and to Seattle for the piano and mixing.[45][46][47] Additional music was composed by his long-time collaborator and game Audio Lead Kevin McMullan. It was recorded in Prague, Czech Republic by 45 members of the FILMHarmonic Orchestra and a 21 voice choir at CNSO Studio No. 1.[48][49] The score was released as a single CD package with a bonus DVD containing additional tracks, 5.1 surround sound mixes of some cues and a behind the scenes video showing the recording sessions of the Halo Wars main theme and various trailers for the game.[50] It was also put up for retail as a digital download over iTunes and Sumthing Digital.[51][52] The response to the score was almost universally enthusiastic, with most critics praising Stephen Rippy's taking the series into new stylistic territory while still paying homage to and reworking classic themes and ideas.[53][54][55]

Marketing Promotions and Release

The game was featured at the 2008 E3 event, held in July. It was shown on G4's E3 08 LIVE, showing a hands-on demo.[56] Some newer off-screen demos were released, showing how the controls work and how battles proceed.[57]

Alpha Test

1211353155 Halowarsalpha

A screenshot taken of an Alpha playtester.

An Alpha test was done for Halo Wars,[47] concluding during May 2008. The test was open only to several thousand Microsoft employees, including Bungie Studios, in order to locate any bugs or glitches, and to test its performance over Xbox Live. It consisted of a brief "tutorial" and multiplayer, and was "limited to a specific set of units." It is unknown how long the Alpha test was conducted, or when it began.[58]

During the Alpha test, anti-air units were glitching so that their effectiveness was lessened, and Scorpion tanks and aircraft were extremely powerful. Aircraft strength was lessened to prevent players from sending in air-strikes against the enemy Command Center and crippling them too easily, ruining many a protocol player's chances of victory.[40] This actually isn't an element of the game, but in fact a "balance issue."


Main article: Halo Wars Demo

On February 5, a demo for Halo Wars was released on Xbox Live for Xbox Live Gold Subscribers. The demo was made available to non-Gold subscribers on February 12. The demo also set a record for the most downloaded demo in one day.


E3 2008 Trailer

Main article: Five Long Years Cinematic

Five Long Years is a Halo Wars cinematic preview released on the July 14th of 2008 depicting the five year long struggle to reclaim Harvest from the Covenant, as well as being the first cutscene for the game. The trailer can be downloaded from the Halo Wars official website or here.

Field Trip To Harvest

Field Trip To Harvest is a cinematic preview that was released to the public on October 3, 2008 showing the UNSC's retaking of the planet Harvest and the Covenant's finding of a Forerunner structure. Also, in the conversation between a Zealot and the Arbiter, there is mention of "the Infection." This was speculated to be an introduction to the Flood in Halo Wars before the release of the game, but because no Flood were encountered on Harvest, it is almost certainly just a name for the Humans on Harvest.

The Call To Battle

The Call to Battle is a collection of already known cinematics, but it also shows some campaign maps. You can also see that you can make a lot more units than in the demo.

Unknown Trailer Video

On February 8, 2009, the Taiwanese Xbox Live website released a four-minute-long trailer which contained spoilers detailing the later story of Halo Wars. It was soon taken down, and other sites which put it up, including, who removed it at the request of Microsoft Game Studios. However, several sites still have the video. The music from the trailer is "Optimus vs. Megatron," a song from the Transformers movie. It can be watched here.

ViDoc: Halo Times Ten

Main article: Halo Wars ViDoc: Halo Times Ten

On January 23, 2009, the first ViDoc of Halo Wars was released on Xbox Live marketplace. It tells how a different perspective can change the gameplay and an announcement of the demo planned for February the 5th.

ViDoc: Expanding The Arsenal

Main article: Halo Wars ViDoc: Expanding The Arsenal

On February 3, 2009, the second Halo Wars ViDoc was released. It tells about Spartans and hero unit abilities.

ViDoc: Strategy on Xbox

Main article: Halo Wars ViDoc: Strategy on Xbox

On February 12, 2009 the third Halo Wars ViDoc was released. It describes the controls featured and what expectation there are of the game. Like the previous ViDocs, this one features cinematic scenes.

ViDoc: Jaws of Victory

Main article: Halo Wars ViDoc: Jaws of Victory

On February 19, 2009 the fourth Halo Wars ViDoc was released. It informs the viewer about tactics, including multiplayer and the developers' tactics.


  • All of the pre-rendered CGI sequences were created by Blur Studios.
  • Halo Wars is the first Halo game to receive an ESRB rating of "T" for Teen.
  • The Doritos snack food company held a sweepstakes where the winner got a voice role in the game.[59]
  • Halo Wars didn't start as a Halo game. Six months were spent developing a control scheme for a viable RTS for the Xbox 360, which was later pitched to Microsoft, asking to use the Halo IP, to which Microsoft agreed.[60]
  • There are Skulls in the campaign like in Halo 2 and Halo 3, which add replay value. They may increase or decrease the score, and there is an achievement for getting Gold on a mission with all "Rebel" skulls which make gameplay harder when turned on.[61]
  • Unlike Halo 3's skulls (and most of Halo 2's), you need to achieve a certain goal to make the skulls appear.
  • During the introductory level in the E3 demonstration video, UNSC Marines were shown doing push-ups behind the barracks, being drilled by a Drill Instructor. This was cut from the final version.[62]
  • An article released by ShackNews states that Halo Wars is Ensemble's last game, and that they are laying off any personnel not essential to the game's completion.[63] In fact, the supposed layoffs were confirmed merely as a rumor, and that while Ensemble was indeed shutting down after the shipment of Halo Wars, layoffs had not begun. However, some of Ensemble's employees had started the company Robot Entertainment, and offered the executives at Ensemble a job there.
  • There have been several bugs in the game since the first Xbox Live update. One particularly irritating bug is when in game lobbies, every button except the analog sticks are rendered useless for a variable amount of time.
  • The demo had been downloaded over two million times in the week following its debut, setting a "day one record" in its initial release.[64]
  • On the cover of Halo Wars, the helmet visor of the front most Spartan reflects the Arbiter and part of the honor stave on cover of the Limited Collector's Edition of Halo Wars, implying that the two sides are meant to be "facing" each other.
  • Canada-based Mega Bloks has released several Halo Wars construction sets.
  • In-game, it is possible to train one more Marine or Grunt squad than the population allows. This cannot be done with any other units.
  • The "Peons" upgrade for the Grunt squad adds two extra Grunts to the squad according to the manual and the icon for the upgrade shows two grunts, but in-game, only one extra grunt is added.
  • Halo Wars is the first strategy game in the Halo series.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved was originally planned to be a real-time strategy game, but was changed early on in the design stage of development.
  • The game's reticle is similar to the Assault rifle's from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • On November 16, 2010, 343 Industries announced that Halo Wars Online Stat Tracking will no longer be supported.[65] 343 Industries announced a reversal in their decision on December 8, 2010, stating that they were "always uncomfortable with the idea" and had "decided that the current plan of action was not in line with how we have always intended to support Halo games and the Halo franchise in general."[66]



  2. [1]
  4. Interview-Graeme Devine
  5. Halo Wars, Alpha Base
  6. Halo Wars, Relic Approach
  7. Halo Wars, Relic Interior
  8. Halo Wars, Arcadia City
  9. Halo Wars, Arcadia Outskirts
  10. Halo Wars, Dome of Light
  11. Halo Wars, Scarab
  12. Halo Wars, Anders' Signal
  13. Halo Wars, The Flood
  14. Halo Wars, Shield World
  15. Halo Wars, Cleansing
  16. Halo Wars, Repairs
  17. Halo Wars, Beachhead
  18. Halo Wars, Reactor
  19. Halo Wars, Escape
  20. 20.0 20.1 E3 2008: Halo Wars Hands-on. Alex Simmons. Accessed on 2008-17-07
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5
  22. 22.0 22.1 Halo Wars CES 09 Cam Footage. G4. Accessed on 2009-01-20
  23. January 2009, Official Xbox Magazine, pp 38-43
  24. [2]
  26. 26.0 26.1
  27. 27.0 27.1
  32. 1
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3
  35. OXM January 2009 article
  36. 2008-04-11, TGS08: Halo Wars Gameplay Presentation. Gamereactor TV. Accessed on 2008-17-12
  38. Halo Wars Update: On an Asteroid Far, far away...
  39. Halo Wars Update; 2008-02-07, Ambient Life.
  40. 40.0 40.1
  43. Official Xbox Magazine, January 2009 Article
  44. [3]
  45. Halo Wars Monthly Update 03/27/08
  46. Interview-Graeme Divine.
  47. 47.0 47.1
  48. [4]
  49. [5]
  50. [6]
  51. [7]
  52. [8]
  53. [9]
  54. [10]
  55. [11]
  56. 2008-05-07, Next-Gen’s 30 Most Anticipated Games of E3. Joe Keiser. Accessed on 2008-13-07
  59. Official Xbox Magazine, Issue 74, page 32
  60. Xbox 360: Australia's 100% Game Magazine Issue 28 p28/29
  61. Official Xbox Magazine January 2009 Edition
  62. Xbox World 360 Issue 63 p8
  64. 2009-02-13, Halo Wars Demo Downloaded Over 2 Million
  65. Halo Waypoint Transitions (Please Read)
  66. Halo Wars Stat-Tracking To Continue

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