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New Halo Wars 2 video focuses on story and Brute villain Atriox

343 Industries discusses new characters at Comic-Con

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Halo developer 343 Industries revealed new details about its upcoming strategy game, Halo Wars 2, at San Diego Comic-Con today, shedding light on the game's intimidating antagonist, the Brute known as Atriox. After the panel, Microsoft and 343 released a new video that focuses on the upcoming Xbox One and Windows PC game's story.

343 Industries' Kiki Wolfkill, Frank O'Connor, Dan Ayoub and Kevin Grace were joined by Blur Studios' Dave Wilson and actress Erika Soto to discuss the characters and lore of Halo Wars 2. During the panel, the group unveiled a new, Blur Studios-developed cinematic trailer that focuses on the crew of the Spirit of Fire and a team of Spartans confronting Atriox.

Those three Spartans touch down on a UNSC research facility and find what appears to be the only survivor, Isabelle, Halo Wars 2's new smart AI played by Erika Soto.

Shortly after, the Spartan trio run into Atriox, who quickly displays his power, defeating all three in hand-to-hand combat and forcing the team to flee. It's a humbling, terrifying defeat.

343's Dave Wilson said that showing Atriox's power helps establish him as a powerful villain, which is important to telling a hero's story. "One of the things we were focusing on early was something for these superheroes to bump up against," Wilson said, "something to fear."

"We wanted to set the stakes and set them high," Kevin Grace said. He explained that the cinematic introducing Atriox was inspired by one from the original Halo Wars in which a team of Spartans fought their way through a bridge, handily dispatching enemy forces. Grace said the team wanted to throw Halo Wars 2's Spartans "up against a wall."

"We are worried about those Spartans at the end of this [video]," Grace said.

Isabelle is meant to serve as a conduit for the player. She'll help explain what's happened during the 28 years the crew of the Spirit of Fire has been in cryosleep and how Atriox's Banished clashed with the Covenant. Isabelle will also offer a different take on Halo's smart AIs.

"Isabelle has a slight naiveté about war," said Frank O'Connor. "She's scared ... curious. She has a very good reason to be upset with the Brutes ... and she's a very human character."

Soto said Isabelle will be portrayed differently from Halo Wars' AI character, Serina.

"She's raw, emotionally charged and passionate about protecting and preserving the people she cares about," Soto said of Isabelle. "She loves [people], really fiercely in a way. She's such a cool twist on the AI idea..."

Halo Wars 2 comes to Xbox One and Windows PC in February.

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