Watch: The setting and characters of Halo Wars 2

'I think RTS players have higher expectations from story,' says 343 Industries' Dan Ayoub.

Halo lore is at least as dense as your average sprawling fantasy series, so it's exciting to see these spin-offs and side games explore its story universe beyond the scope of Master Chief and Cortana. In the above minidoc, 343 Industries studio head Dan Ayoub and narrative director Kevin Grace offer some insights into Halo Wars 2's campaign storyline, which follows the crew of the first game, waking up after 28 years in cryogenic suspension.

"We had a very specific story we wanted to tell, and in particular new characters we wanted to introduce," says Ayoub. "I think RTS players have higher expectations from story, and we wanted to make sure that we did that in the strongest way possible."

Two of the new characters in Halo Wars 2 are Atriox, an enemy commander, and Isabelle, a civilian logistics AI who -- because this is how strong AI works in Halo -- is based on the personality of a real person, and thus reacts to all the death and mayhem as you might expect a tiny holographic human to respond surrounded by a bunch of armored giants. She's in many ways the polar opposite of the military AI Serina who accompanied the player during the first Halo Wars.

"She shows up in a way we haven't seen AIs behave in Halo before," says Grace. "She's freaked out. She's seen all her friends die."

What we don't see in the above video is how these characters behave during any of the campaign maps -- but then, this is a story trailer, so sticking with cinematics footage is pretty understandable. We're likely to learn more about the game in a further interview with developers from Creative Assembly, the studio handling most of the game design.

Halo Wars 2 is due out in February, 2017 for Xbox One and Windows PC.