First Look: StarCraft II
A brief look at what to expect from StarCraft II.
With the 2nd phase of the beta online again, we thought this would be a good time to talk a bit about StarCraft II before the game’s release on 27th July.
The singleplayer campaign takes place 4 years after the end of StarCraft: Brood War, following a tired Jim Raynor, who’s struggling to keep his mutinous crew together to take on the forces of Dominion. Thus the campaign for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty focuses only on the Terran side of things, but will also include a Protoss mini-campaign as it intertwines with Jim’s story. What makes the singleplayer more interesting, apart from the hopefully amazing story and incredible cinematics, is the way you get to explore and upgrade units that are not available in the multiplayer.
During the singleplayer campaign you can perform research into Protoss and Zerg tech which allows you to gain unit upgrades from either side, buffing up your own units in terms of sheer firepower. Obviously this mechanic isn’t available in the multiplayer where each and every unit must be finely tuned to perfection.
Speaking of multiplayer, if you were one of the lucky people to get the beta key for StarCraft II (or pre-ordered the game), then you already have a good idea of what to expect once the game ships at the end of this month. At least as far as the competitive scene is concerned. First off, Battle.net 2.0 is bringing about many changes, both visually and better coding in the background. Matchmaking, especially after the relaunch of the beta, is seriously fast. So no matter what ladder you choose (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 or Free For All) you’ll find yourself facing stiff competition faster than you can prepare yourself for the onslaught. And if you want to avoid getting massacred, then perhaps a couple of rounds with the A.I. in Custom matches is a good place to get things started.
Beyond the easy matchmaking, Battle.net 2.0 will also utilize the Real ID system which allows you to connect with your friends across any (future) Blizzard game and join them instantaneously, i.e. pretty much the social experiences that Steam and Xbox Live have become. So whether you want to challenge your friends to some random matches or group up with them to play against other people or the A.I., Battle.net 2.0 should keep you covered for all situations.
Finally, those of you who haven’t played the beta yet, StarCraft II plays pretty much like the original game. Obviously you will need to shift around certain units and play out certain parts of your strategy before or after you usually did them for the original StarCraft, but for the most part everything remains the same. You will still get harassed in the initial moments of a match, and you will always get Zerg rushed should the opportunity present itself. That said, the new units and changes introduced to the older units, coupled with the significant changes in the tech tree, means that StarCraft II will be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience for even the most seasoned StarCraft player. As always, Blizzard is continuously taking in community feedback and improving upon their game as evident with the 19 patches released for the beta at the time of this writing.
Looking at how things are progressing, we’re all in for one hell of a treat come 27th July. The 2nd phase of the beta ends 19th July, so get in as much practice as you can!