Users who purchase Halo: Spartan Strike aren’t just getting a top-down shooter for smartphones, tablets and PCs. Those who complete the game stand to get extras for the next major game in the franchise: Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Microsoft revealed Halo: Spartan Strike earlier this week, but we’re only now getting a look at the game thanks to press materials and footage.
When it debuts on December 12th, Halo: Spartan Strike will let owners of devices running Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 dive back into the world of Spartans fighting The Covenant. In this new game, players will attempt to lead a team to victory against The Covenant’s many alien races in the City of New Mombasa. Longtime series fans will recognize New Mombasa, it’s the same city that features heavily in Halo 3: ODST and Halo 2. In fact, the game takes place during Master Chief’s struggles in Halo 2.
Microsoft says that Halo Spartan Strike will let users earn Xbox Live Achievements and “unlock content for the upcoming ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’.” That’s huge as Halo: The Master Chief Collection is one of the high-profile games Microsoft has planned for the Xbox One this year. Microsoft is already saying that these achievements will include a special emblem, nameplate and avatar.
Starting with the first Xbox console, Halo has been Microsoft’s premiere gaming franchise. Microsoft actually purchased Bungie Studios so that it could keep the franchise exclusive to its platforms. On living room consoles there has been Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach and Halo 4. Last year’s Halo: Spartan Assault was the first of the franchise to go beyond a living room gaming console. It was – and still – available on Windows Phone and Windows 8. It’s also available on the Xbox One now too. Earlier this year Microsoft revealed Halo 5: The Guardians, an Xbox One exclusive entry into the franchise coming next year.
With Halo on Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Microsoft is clearly trying to boost those ecosystem’s profile with gamers. That makes sense, if there was ever a reason to buy a Windows Phone over the competition, it would be that users can earn Xbox Live achievements even on their phone. Luckily for those who aren’t interested in switching platforms to get their hands on the game, Microsoft plans on making the Halo: Spartan Strike available through Steam. Steam is the PC gaming service that used to rival Microsoft’s own Games For Windows Live before it was killed off.
Halo: Spartan Strike will have vehicles in addition to the customary battle rifle and weapons. Developer Vanguard Games has also added a few new Spartan Abilities to the franchise as well. Halo: Spartan Strike players can expect to be able to launch bubble shields, teleport and airstrikes.
Last year’s Halo: Spartan Assault was well received, but the game – like many top-down shooters – was very hard to play. Vanguard is hoping that changes in the way touch screen controls work and extra input options will help make Halo: Spartan Strike a bit easier to move in and out of successfully. Keyboard and mouse play will be supported. So too will touch, and those with an Xbox One or Xbox 360 USB controller will be able to use those devices too.
Halo: Spartan Assault at least appears to have all the necessary ingredients it needs to be successful. 30 different missions to complete mean users are definitely getting the most out of the $5.99 they have to spend on the game.
With the Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 updates Microsoft added options for developers to link purchases between the platforms. In practice, that meant that users could purchase an app on one and get a companion app on the other for free. Halo: Spartan Strike won’t use this at all. Instead users will need to pay for the Windows, Windows Phone and Stream versions of the game separately. Microsoft doesn’t say whether progress in one version of the game will sync between the other or if it has plans to launch Halo: Spartan Strike on Xbox One like it did with Halo: Spartan Assault.