By GrimBrother One -
The penultimate payload of Halo Wars 2 Season Pass content has arrived, featuring two fun and exciting new story missions in Operation: SPEARBREAKER, and a beloved, digitally deceased but downloadably undeterred new Leader – the UNSC Spirit of Fire’s former on-board AI: Serina.
With Operation: SPEARBREAKER, players get to drop feet first into two brand-new story missions that expand upon the ongoing struggle for control of the Ark. Taking control of a hero squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, players must thwart the Banished’s latest plot to turn the tide of the conflict.
When you’re ready to dive back into multiplayer, stay calm, cool, and collected on the battlefield by taking command of Serina’s formidable frost-featured forces. No matter what your multiplayer persuasion is, Serina is an awesome new addition to the Halo Wars 2 Leader lineup that adds a new element of strategy for opponents to fend with.
Both Serina and the Operation: SPREARBREAKER story missions are available now for both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, or available for individual purchase at $5.99 USD each. You can also purchase a special 2-pack version that includes both pieces of content for $9.99 USD.
PURCHASE & DOWNLOAD
Serina Leader Pack
Halo Wars 2: Serina & Spearbreaker Bundle
Read on for more details of the Operation: SPEARBREAKER experience, explore the new units and abilities Serina brings to the battlefield, and check out an overview of broader balance changes coming to Halo Wars 2 with this latest update. Also, for a look at some of the expanded background lore that underpins this latest content, check out Issue 99 of our Canon Fodder series.
The Operation: SPEARBREAKER missions can be accessed via the Campaign menu in Halo Wars 2. The experience can be played in single-player, or in online two-player co-op!
MEET THE TEAM
ODST COMMAND SQUAD SUNRAY 1-1
1st Squad, 1st Platoon, B Company, 9th Shock Troops Battalion
Major Vaughan’s command squad, callsign Sunray 1-1, is the lead element of Boomerang Company, the UNSC’s most elite force of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (though that’s what they all say).
- Team Leader: Major Vaughan, CO of Boomerang Company
- Technical Liaison: Warrant Officer Quinn
- Medic: Petty Officer Gruss
- Drone Operator: Corporal Turpin
- Designated Marksman: Lance Corporal Sparks
The Spirit of Fire’s unusual situation makes Vaughan one of the highest-ranking UNSC officers in the Ark conflict, but he prefers to leave strategy and high-level operational planning to the experts. He’s a Helljumper, and his place is in a drop pod plunging feet-first and on fire into the cauldron of battle. In addition to coordinating Boomerang Company’s deployments and leading the command squad, Vaughn carries the squad’s SPNKr rocket launcher, which he occasionally uses as a blunt teaching instrument to knock sense into younger ODSTs.
WARRANT OFFICER QUINN
Signals Reconnaissance Specialist
Quinn and Major Vaughn have a long history of service together on board the Spirit of Fire. Quinn has no particular love for the ship itself—and despises its recycled air and the peculiar pull of the barracks’ artificial gravity—but she cares deeply for the crew and troops aboard it. When Quinn accompanies Vaugh on his Ark expeditions, she serves as the command squad’s technician and “Ark door opener,” in addition to handling a prototype target designator for the Spirit of Fire’s new EMP Ordnance support drop.
UNSC Navy Medic
In addition to her medical skill, Gruss has shown a remarkable talent for escape and evasion by avoiding the Marines’ many and varied attempts to induct her into their ranks as an honorary Helljumper. This irks some members of the battalion, but even ODSTs are not crazy enough to risk the ire of a medic (and Major Vaughan) by pressing the issue. When deployed with the command squad Doc patches up the team’s injuries with her medkit.
Turpin carriers the squad’s battlenet relay and operates a drone high-energy laser weapon platform designed by Isabel.
LANCE CORPORAL SPARKS
Sparks provides fire support for the command squad with his sniper rifle and assists Turpin by designating priority targets for her drone. He also contributes to the squad’s morale with his vast knowledge of terrible jokes and patently ridiculous (but completely true) “war stories” from his civilian days.
As a reminder, both Operation: SPEARBREAKER missions are available as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, but can also be purchased as a standalone item for $5.99 USD on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.
NEW LEADER: SERINA
To the crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire, the smart AI Serina was the heart and the brain and the quick-witted protector of their ship and home away from home. To the Spirit of Fire’s captain, she was also his most trusted friend and advisor. Rules governing the safe operation of AIs meant Serina had to shut herself down while her captain and crew slept on their long journey to the Ark, but what could go wrong with giving her one more chance to fight alongside her crew and perhaps teach a certain newfangled AI to respect her elders?
The Serina Leader Pack brings back old-school AI with powers and units including:
- Cryo-based abilities to slow or freeze your enemies
- Combo attacks to shatter frozen targets with proper timing and execution
- Ice Barriers let you divide (and conquer) the battlefield as you wish
- The Glacial Storm ultimate ability forces opponents to choose between retreat or a frozen death
A mind of ice and fire.
Serina was activated on January 7, 2530, by Daedalia Technology, a Martian firm well-known for the seeding and development of artificial intelligences for military and corporate markets. Serina was their greatest work of that era, an omni-capable second-generation “Smart AI” that displayed both impressive intellectual capacity and remarkable computational efficiency. Her assignment to the UNSC Spirit of Fire was fortuitous, despite a somewhat rocky period of acclimation to the ship’s unorthodox crew. Under the orders of Captain James Cutter, Serina administered the deployment of forces on Harvest’s surface, and successfully managed later campaigns on both Arcadia and the enigmatic Forerunner facility known as Shield 0459. Unfortunately, the life of a smart AI is limited, and their constructed minds cannot be slowed or stopped. While the Spirit of Fire drifted in the void after their victory over the Covenant at Shield 0459, Serina imagined, planned, and built for a future she would never see.
Serina had a remarkable aptitude for research and analysis, and her thoughts often turned to the work of Ellen Anders. In particular, the Professor’s early work on vacuum energy extraction—and it’s potentially useful side effects with regard to heat siphoning—fascinated Serina. Serina’s experimentation and engineering expertise gives her access to unique cryotech-enhanced units and abilities that can freeze targets and render them inert. Frozen targets are immobile and unable to perform any actions, but don’t take damage unless they are shattered. Frozen units that take a significant amount of damage or are targeted by certain special abilities (such as Seismic Charge) will shatter and immediately take a massive amount of damage. Frozen units that are left alone will thaw out after a short time, and do not suffer the damage spike.
Below are new combat mechanics, each unique to Serina – all of her unique abilities are built around these primary mechanics in some way.
Chill: A unit that is chilled is slowed not only by reduced movement speed, but they also capture points and zones slower, and do less damage. If units are not affected by a chill source for a short time, they will revert to normal behaviors. There are several sources of chill, including Cryo Troopers, The Bison, Frostraven, auras from Cryotech Advances or Ice Barrier and active leader powers.
Freeze: After a unit has accrued enough chill, they become frozen. They cannot move, attack or do any actions while in this state – this includes buildings. After a time, they will eventually thaw and go back to normal, suffering no further effects from being frozen. If a frozen unit is attacked, they will not be hurt unless they get shattered. Speaking of which…
Shatter: If a frozen unit takes enough damage or is attacked by certain weapons, they will be shattered. This will cause a large damage spike, but will also instantly thaw them, allowing them to move and attack as normal (assuming they’ve survived the attack).
Heavy-duty cryotech support vehicle.
The Tundra Bison is a hero vehicle available to Serina. In Serina’s employ it is a heavily-armored and shielded vehicle that synergizes well with other cryotech vehicles and abilities. It is fitted with a powerful Coldsnap launcher, which fires experimental cryo shells that damage and chill enemies caught in its area-of-effect. The launcher can be upgraded, which increases the launcher’s range, rate of fire, and chill effect. When the Tundra Bison deploys it leeches ambient heat energy to augment its defensive systems, creating a chill aura that affects nearby enemies. These systems can also be upgraded to further boost defenses and the area of the chill aura.
Death on frozen wings.
The Frostraven is an aerial support vehicle unique to Serina. It is equipped with a vacuum energy extractor, nicknamed the cryo ray, which chills and then freezes enemy units. The Frostraven can also unleash its special ability, a barrage of concussive seismic missiles> which slow and damage units in the target area, shattering any frozen enemies. With the Chill Out upgrade the Frostraven’s cryo ray becomes even more powerful, chilling and freezing the targeted unit faster.
Nerves of steel and hands of frost.
Cryo Troopers replace Hellbringers in Serina’s combat force. Fury runs hot and cold, as evidenced by Serina’s plans for a cadre of cryotech-equipped infantry. Cryo Troopers are armed with a portable cryo spray which deals damage and inflicts a chilling effect on enemy units. If the chill gets intense enough the target will be frozen. This can shut down enemy vehicles and structures (including turrets), temporarily shutting them down even if they are not subsequently shattered. They can be upgraded with advanced cryo systems, which increases the damage, range, and area covered by the chilling field of their spray.
Cryotech area denial system.
Serina learned much about warfare from monitoring the activities of Sergeant Forge and Captain Cutter, including the value of controlling the flow of battle by manipulating the terrain. Among her tools to accomplish this is the Ice Barrier leader power, which creates a frozen block at a target location. The block of ice can be used to bloc chokepoints and disrupt enemy formations and will chill nearby enemies. The barrier can be shattered by enemy attacks.
Ice Barriers are weaponized versions of an Ander’s early, ultimately unsuccessful, experiment with creating compact, zero-point energy condensers. Activation overloads the delicate barrier generators, but not before the area around them are drained of thermal energy.
Does an initial impact with damage and chill, and then spreads out to cover a fairly large area, chilling any units in its vicinity over a healthy duration of time.
Highly effective mine detonation, which both deals damage, then freezes any unit enemy caught in the blast.
Causes a small amount of damage and freezes anything short of a hero and uber units caught in the blast.
Does mild damage by itself, but shatters any frozen units in the vicinity for large damage.
Cryotech Advances: Gives chill abilities to various units
- Turrets, Drop Turrets and Energy points gain a chill aura.
- Cryo Troopers gain a shield and a chill aura
- Kodiaks and Siege Turrets do chill with each shot
Cryo Drop: Drops 2 squads of Cryo Troopers, 2 Scorpions and a Frostraven.
- Accompanied by 3 seismic blasts to damage or shatter any squads in the area
OVERALL STRATEGY & COMBAT THEMES
- Devil May Cryo: All of her abilities and units are related to cryogenic technology in some manner – making use of her extensive knowledge of the cryo pods on board the Spirit of Fire, on top of repurposing and refining Anders’ own cryo research and weaponry.
- Battle Control: Serina’s leader powers and units are very good at controlling the battlefield and give many avenues for area denial. Ice Barrier, Cryogenic Detonators, Cryo Bomb, Glacial Storm, Cryotech Advances and the Bison’s Aura all give the Serina player strong ways to decide where and when they will fight, and to give them advantages in those fights. While they don’t do a great deal of damage by themselves the combination with a strong army or other abilities is very dangerous. Using a Cryo Bomb to catch units and then marching an army up to them, attacking a base with Glacial Storm to make any retaliation from an army much slower, or taking a point in Blitz and then guarding that position with the Bison to make opposing advances incredibly difficult are all very strong ways of using Serina’s unique abilities.
- C-C-C-Combos: Serina has very powerful combinations and support abilities, allowing her to help allies and combine with their abilities for powerful effect. Try using a Cryo Bomb and shattering them with Frostravens or a Seismic Blast, or using a Glacial Storm on your allies to give them an advantage over enemies caught in the area. Or maybe you’ll opt to lay some Cryogenic Detonators down, waiting for the enemy to hit them before firing a few seismic missiles from a Frostravens. With Serina, it’s all about the combo potential, and the possibilities are numerous.
Halo Wars 2’s latest DLC also brings along a handful of new Achievements to chase down – three for Operation: SPEARBREAKER, and three more specific to the newest Leader, Serina. Together, there are eight new Achievements totaling an additional 70 Gamerscore for players to chase down!
- Spear: Broken: Complete Operation – Complete Spearbreaker – 5 GS
- Send in the Experts: Complete Operation – Complete Spearbreaker on Heroic – 10 GS
- We go Feet First: Complete Operation – Complete Spearbreaker on Legendary – 15 GS
- Vidmaster Challenge: 100 drops – Gain Gold medal and complete all objectives in ‘Gatecrashers’ on Legendary – 5 GS
- Vidmaster Challenge: No fly zone – Gain Gold medal and complete all objectives in ‘Not on my Watch’ on Legendary – 5 GS
- Nothing too difficult, then? – Win 3 matches as Serina (Multiplayer, Skirmish or Blitz) – 10 GS
- Freeze! – Freeze 50 squads with Cryo Abilities (Multiplayer, Skirmish or Blitz) – 10 GS
- Insult upon injury – Shatter 20 squads that have been Frozen. (Multiplayer, Skirmish or Blitz) – 10 GS
PATCH NOTES & BALANCE CHANGES
Included with this latest content for Halo Wars 2 is a collection of updates and bug fixes, all designed to improve player experience in a wide range of areas. Areas addressed include UI/Navigation, AI, Unit balancing, campaign bug fixes, Leader power fixes and adjustments, engine improvements, audio issues, and more. For the full patch notes, check out all the details on our official support forum thread HERE!
Both Operation: SPEARBREAKER and new Leader, Serina, are out NOW for both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC! Both experiences are available as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, or available for individual purchase at $5.99 USD each. You can also purchase a special bundled version that includes both pieces of DLC for $9.99 USD.
As a reminder, if you missed last month’s new content – Commander Jerome-092 and Arbiter Ripa ‘Moramee – you can read more about the iconic combo RIGHT HERE.