Halo Wars 2 is a fast-paced game - you don't waste time on gathering resources like in most real-time strategies. Here supplies and energy is generated in extensions of your base. The only way to obtain additional energy is to send your infantry to specific locations on the map.
New headquarters can be built in specific places that have already been selected for you. On one hand, it does not give you too much freedom, but on the other hand it lets you predict where the hostile base is located. When you combine all this with a simple economic system, you will realize that it's worth taking control of further facilities - you will be able to start production closer to the battlefield, or create additional places where resources can be generated. Buildings cannot be repaired! You need to use your commander's special ability or send a "medic". Each side has their flying units (Nightingale/Engineer) that can repair and heal friendly units, buildings or the very base.
Most units have special abilities, e.g. human infantry - Marines - once you upgrade them, they can throw grenades. In contrast to other strategy games, you do not select specific units via keyboard shortcuts. In Halo Wars 2 all your units use the same button - "R" - to perform an action. Furthermore, to speed up the process you use so-called "Quickcast", which means that when you select a unit, e.g. Marines, drag your mouse cursor on hostile units, and press "R", your soldiers will immediately proceed with the action. There is no need to select where the grenade ought to be thrown and confirm the action with the mouse button.
Your commander's special abilities are another unique feature. When you gain such a point, you can press "F", and access a wheel menu of the available abilities. Use the left mouse button to select new abilities, and the right one to upgrade the ones you already possess. You will also have to decide where you want to activate the selected ability. This does not refer to passive abilities, as they are active all the time, e.g. increased exp. gathering.
There are 4 types of units in the game: infantry, vehicles, flying units and structures. Each unit has its own weak and strong points. Before you purchase a unit or a vehicle, on the right side you can see its name, a larger white icon (which represents its type) and 4 icons in different colors. The green icon means that the unit is effective against t specific hostile troops. The red one indicates which troops it is going to be less effective against. The yellow one indicates balanced attack and defense. If the icon is grey, the given unit cannot deal damage, e.g. the UNSC sniper can easily eliminate hostile infantry but will not attack vehicles or flying units.
During missions and multiplayer duals, your troops will gain experience. You will notice a bar above such units and a number will define their current exp. level. One should watch out for such troops, as they are more effective and can deal more damage.
You won't come across specific statistics that describe attack value, armor or health bar. The experience that you gain will show how effective are given units. During the campaign, you will be able to test each troop that UNSC has to offer. One thing is for sure: the longer the green bar of a given unit, the more health points it has. Some units can use a shield - an additional white bar right under your health bar. It's the shield points that need to be destroyed first and they will restore over time on their own. It's best to place such troops in the front line, as they can take more damage. Just remember to give them enough time to restore their shields, and thus make them more effective on the battlefield.
Interface and controls
The tutorial will easily introduce controls the most essential aspects of the campaign. These include some of the basic stuff: LMB selects troops, RMB gives orders, "WSAD" keys move the screen ("Shift" can be used for rotation), and "Spacebar" takes you to the latest event, while a combination of "Ctrl" and a digit assigns a specific unit under this reference number.
What's so unique about this game is the way you select your troops. Units that are currently visible on the screen can be selected with Q. In order to select all the units on the map, press E. To activate special abilities press R. Press F to select special abilities of your commander. When you select your army, you can use the scroll button to illuminate a given type of troops. It's useful when you want to give orders to a specific group or activate their special abilities.
The interface is rather self-explanatory. There is a mini map on the right. During missions, certain parts of the map will not be accessible (marked with grey color) but it will be uncovered gradually. The star icon above the map informs you about commander special points that were not used. There are four pieces of information on the left of the map. Starting from the one on the top, you have population limit, supplies (basic currency), energy (required to build upgrades and create stronger troops) and the technology level.