Starcraft II: Heart Of The Swarm isn’t even a month old, but that didn’t stop Blizzard from detailing the last expansion in the Starcraft II trilogy – Legacy Of The Void. GameVain has the scoop (along with the rest of the video game news world) and I’m happy as a pig in shit to detail it with you since I love the series.
*WARNING - Paragraph ahead contains minor plot spoilers to Heart Of The Swarm*
Picking up where the Heart of the Swarm campaign left off, Sarah Kerrigan – now an even more powerful Queen of Blades than before – sets off with her Swarm to hunt for the mysterious Amon, an ancient Xel’Naga being that supposedly predates the first Overmind and has been resurrected to take control of the entire universe. Well, at least the guy has ambition I’ll give him that much. To be honest, I’m rather excited to see the resolution to the whole story and the history of the Xel’Naga. Zeratul’s missions in Wings of Liberty, and his cryptic messages to Kerrigan have provided clues about what lie ahead for everyone in the upcoming expansion, but there are A LOT of unanswered questions with this race and Amon. Kerrigan supposedly has a role to play in Amon’s destruction, that much is known from Wings of Liberty where Zeratul himself told Raynor to spare her life else the entire universe is destroyed. My concern though is the main character for LotV – Zeratul. Whereas Raynor and Kerrigan had a lot of character development to support their actions, little is known about Zeratul save the fact he’s a badass Dark Templar who can go toe-to-toe with Kerrigan and live to tell the tale. Outcast from his race for reasons unknown, his story might be interesting, except half the entire Starcraft storyline has been about the relationship between Raynor and Kerrigan. It’ll be interesting to see where Blizzard takes it.
Blizzard’s creative director Ken Levine wasn’t exactly forthcoming about any plot spoilers either, although he did assure gamers that Zeratul would make for an interesting main character. “I understand people have this view of Zertaul that, while he’s a cool fighter and is so mysterious, he has the emotional capacity of Keanu Reeves” Levine said. “When you look at his backstory, you realize how much he was shitted on by his own race, and we’re confident gamers will gravitate towards him just like they did Raynor and Kerrigan.” Hey, as long as there’s more of him leaping in the air and kicking some Xel’Naga ass, I don’t mind! And speaking of the main bad guys you’re going against, what races exactly will be your enemy this time around? “Well the Xel’Naga used to actually subjugate all of the universe’s races, which is why they were after the Zerg to begin with. So in the main campaign, you’ll be seeing enemy forces with a mix of Terran, Protoss, and Zerg all in one” Levine explained. “This will actually make players really think about tactics in the campaign, as opposed to just going A and Right-clicking their way through the singleplayer campaign.”
But what about multiplayer? Here’s where things get a little annoying for the gaming community in general it seems. “We are doing a separate multiplayer and single-player release for this game” Levine stated. “I know fans are going to be angry, but we feel it’s best for the community as a whole.” Asked to elaborate, Levine went on the say, “We’re seeing HotS [Heart of the Swarm] sales doing alright, but when we take a closer look at the numbers, we’re actually seeing a massive discrepancy to the people who are online and playing, and the actual number of units moved. Basically, HotS turned out to be a very heavily pirated game despite what the sales figures tell you, so we’re making the shift to separate releases in order to have the multiplayer component require a constant internet connection [editor's note: aka DRM]. The singleplayer game won’t. We felt this was a nice compromise for players as opposed to them getting fucked over the way they were with Diablo 3 and SimCity. The pricing will reflect a change in the content, so each release will only cost $30 a piece as opposed to $40 for HotS.”
Unfortunately, that means people who want to buy both versions (and that includes pretty much everyone) will have to pony up $60 for the entire package. “Well console games cost $60 now, so why not this game? People will still buy it” Levine emphasized. Yes, people will still buy it, but that’s still a crappy way to market the game. Oy, I digress. That’s another topic for another day.
Asked about changes to multiplayer and release dates, Levine was more noncommittal. “Well we’re still working on tweaking the units and adding in new ones. We’re getting a lot of player feedback from HotS, especially with this expansion being Protoss-specific, we’re actually focus-testing the units first with Team Liquid” Levine stated. For those of you who don’t know, Team Liquid is a top-tier Starcraft clan whose players primarily specialize in Protoss strategies for online play. “We know they’re a huge group of dedicated, core players, and they’re the ones we want to appeal, not really anyone casual. So we’re taking their suggestions really to heart.” One of the newest confirmed units on the Protoss side apparently will be the Xel’Naga Fanatic, an evolved form of the Zealot. It looks like it’s Blizzard’s way of making the Zealot a viable late-game unit, as they are effective against both light AND armored opponents – something not really seen in the unit list very often. They will also have the ability to teleport to their target from long distance, enabling them to act as blitzing units and bounce from target to target in the blink of an eye (no pun intended). I guess we can officially say goodbye to that annoying MM ball the Terrans use…but probably not.
And finally here’s the kicker – the game is set to release in a year! “When we made the announcement several years ago that Starcraft II would be split into three games, there was a lot of negative emotion to say the least *chuckling*. Once we finished WoL, we set to work on the next two installments Peter Jackson-style and pushed to make them released within a year of one another.” When asked about giving gamers time to enjoy the game and the impact it would have on tournament scheduling, Levine just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Fuck it we just want the money.” I think he was dead serious too.
So all in all, the game sounds interesting, but I do have my reservations with the whole split package deal of the game. In my opinion, because that’s what you came here for, Blizzard needs to be careful about the timing of the game, especially the multiplayer. They could very well release the game, but only the singleplayer portion gets bought as the competitive players stick to HotS for a little while longer before diving into LotV. I guess time will tell though. Until then, we’ll be left until E3 of this year wanting for more details on units and gameplay.
In the meantime, check out the announcement trailer and full interview with Ken Levine in the link below. En Taro Tassadar baby!
Edit: If you haven’t figured it out by the link, yes, this is an April Fool’s joke. Rick Roll aside, Ken Levine is actually the creative director of by Bioshock franchise, the above template is actually for the Starcraft II Dark Templar, and the “unknown ships” in the picture above are in fact earlier models of the Carrier Protoss unit. And no, Blizzard wouldn’t be so stupid as to split their game into singleplayer and multiplayer packages…yet.