Blizzcon 2017: Starcraft II Summary

With Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty having been released July 27th, 2010 and its final expansion, Legacy of the Void, being released on November 10th, 2015, many Starcraft II fans have been wondering what’s next for their favorite real-time strategy video game. With so many favorite characters now removed from the camping aspect of the game (via death or story wrap up) it certainly feels like the story has seen its end. However, SCII offers a variety of other game modes for players to participate in. Blizzard is making improvements and changes to these game modes to improve the game’s overall quality going forward.

Starcraft II Is Evolving
SCII is evolving in a number of ways. These evolutions will affect the game’s very name, modes and the way new players start out.

The Name Is Changing
First and foremost, the game name is changing. Currently, the game is broken down into three subtitles: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void. All of these subtitles are being combined into one overall title: Starcraft II. The hope is that this change will make things less confusing, especially for new players.

Mode Name Changes
Multiplayer mode is being retitled to Versus mode. The purpose of this change is to help clarify the confusion that exists between Co-Op and Multiplayer mode meanings.

Free To Play
Easily the most exciting change, Starcraft II is going Free-To-Play! What does this mean for new players? New players will have full access to the Wings of Liberty campaign mode, including all missions, achievements, and rewards. Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void and Nova Covert Ops campaign modes have had their prices significantly reduced from launch and will still need to be purchased to be played.

Unranked and Versus modes will be 100% and available immediately to all players. Ranked will also be free, but will have to be unlocked in order to discourage bad behavior. The commanders Raynor, Kerrigan and Artanis are still free with no level limit; however, other commanders will only be free up to level 5. Swan, Vorazun, Karax, and Zagara are still ‘free’ with the purchase of Digital Deluxe game versions.

Commanders being free up to level 5 is meant to act as a way to test out new commanders in real game battle conditions. You can continue playing them even once level capped at 5, but they will not continue to earn experience. XP will not be banked and applied later should you decide to purchase a commander. This is an intended feature and is meant to ensure that players learn their commander abilities as they level, rather than skipping levels with banked XP and having multiple new abilities to learn all at once.

Digital Deluxe rewards such as Battle Pets will still require the purchase of the Digital Deluxe game versions.

New Stuff
SCII continues to see new additions such as commanders, maps and skins.

New Commander
A new commander will be making their way into the game: Han and Horner! Mira Han and Matt Horner are the first dual-commander for the game. Thanks to their unique situation in the SC2 universe, they are perfect for this sort of tag-team setup.

A brief history of the pair: Matt Horner had made a stop at Deadman’s Port, a settlement on Deadman’s Rock. While here he participated in a poker game, not knowing that the prize was a wife: Mira Han. He had no interest in marrying her but was forced to upon winning the poker game. Since then he has actively avoided her. Mira, however, is far more into the marriage than he. There are some excellent interactions between the two during campaigns and such in the game and in the lore.

To learn more about this new commander duo, check out their introductory cinematic.

New Map
The winning submission from the Rock the Cabinet 2017 community map contest will be joining SC2 in the form of a new Co-op Mission: Part and Parcel. The goal of this mission is to collect parts, repair the Balius weapon and then fight with it to destroy hybrid enemies under the command of new map announcer General Davis.

New Skins
Each faction has a number of new skins in design and are coming soon. All new skins will include custom sounds, particle effects and portraits. {IMAGE 2}

Terran

  • Junker
  • Umojan
  • Mecha

Protoss

  • Shakuras
  • Judicator
  • Frost

Zerg

  • Aquatic
  • Feral
  • Jungle

Random Commander
A new random commander option is coming to the game’s Co-op mode as well. This will allow you to queue up all of the commands and have one be selected at random for you to enter the game with. As all commanders have radically different skillsets and playstyles, this should add an interesting element of surprise for players. Mutation challenges will no longer require level 5 so you can make the most of the unleveled commanders with the random option.

Mechanic Changes

  • The multiplayer design team has been working on a number of unit balance changes. Their overall goals currently include:
  • Reduce sudden game-ending moments.
  • Make support units effective in smaller numbers.
  • Promote player control over the game state.
  • Ensure units have a unique role.

Highlights from these goals include the removal of mothership cores and shield battery structures being added for the Protoss. The Terran Raven unit has been redesigned with three new added abilities including Repair Drone, Anti-Armor Missile and Interference Matrix. Lastly, the Zerg Infestor is undergoing several ability changes including Fungal Growth now slowing targets instead of rooting them and upcoming changes to Infest Terran.

War Chests
The contents of the second War Chest have also been announced. it will include three new army skins: Purifier Protoss, Primal Zerg and Mira’s Marauders. In addition to the skins, the next three issues of the Shadow Wars comics will be included.
{IMAGE 3} The Shadow Wars comics will continue the story forward in the Starcraft universe. Some interesting lore figures that will be making an appearance in future comics include leader Urun for the Protoss, mercenary Elms for the Terrans and broodmother Niadra for the Zerg as the story is continued on the planet Adena in the demilitarized zone. We’re to expect some older familiar faces later in the story as well. The next three issues will have more pages, eight pages each, and will feature the artwork of Miguel Sepulveda.

Everything Else
There is a final list of changes and goals worth noting for SCII and SCII players.

  • The design patch release isn’t the end, it’s the start of balance tuning.
  • Big yearly patches aren’t going to be a goal. Instead, they will only be released as warranted.
  • Balancing will continue to be done as needed.
  • SCII developers are aiming to respect the player’s time investments with the game.
  • Stimpacks will be released for players to use in Co-op mode.
  • Developers are looking into a leaderboard format as well as ways to provide players with feedback about their skill growth and development.

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