Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm Preview
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is an upcoming sequel to the Sci-Fi Real Time Strategy game Startcraft II: Wings of Liberty. The game is the second chapter of the Starcraft II trilogy, the third one being Legacy of the Void. The game will have approximately 20 new missions in the campaign featuring the Zerg race. Many new units and multiplayer changes are expected to be included in this expansion.
The events of the game will take place two years after Wings of Liberty, in 2506. Sarah Kerrigan, who has recently returned to her human state, will be the main protagonist and the anti-hero. The campaign begins with Kerrigan’s quest to assume leadership of the swarm in her regained human form and exact her revenge on Arcturus Mengsk, Emperor of the Terran Dominion. The Zerg have split into several factions without her leadership, and she must take control of the various rival broods, headed by powerful queens, while General Warfield of the Dominion is attempting to eradicate the Zerg on Char.
Blizzard has announced 7 new units at the BlizzCon conference and also revealed about the removal of 3 existing units while making changes to the abilities of many other units in game. Changes as described at Blizzcon:
The Terran race was originally expected to feature two new units: the Shredder, and the Warhound. Internal testing revealed the Shredder was too flexible and powerful, and it was therefore cut. The Warhound is still being tested. The Thor will be changed to an “ultimate” unit, akin to the Protoss Mothership, limiting the player to having only one at any time. Its functionality is currently uncertain, although anti-air spider mines are currently being tested. The Hellion will have a new battle mode added, which allows it to transform into a heavier and more powerful unit. In battle mode the Hellion will do increased damage but in an arc in front of it instead of in a line. The Ghost will have its “Cloak” ability changed to be a one-time cost for a time-based duration rather than a constant energy cost over time. Reactivating “Cloak” while calling down a nuke will not interrupt the nuke strike. The Battlecruiser gains a “Redline Reactor” upgrade which acts as a cooldown-based speed boost. Lastly, the Reaper has its special building attack replaced by a passive health regeneration ability when out of combat.
The Protoss’ Replicant has been cut due to its tendency to stifle unit diversity, but the Oracle and Tempest remain as replacement to the Carrier and Mothership. The Oracle provides several abilities that are useful for economic harassment such as preventing mineral harvesting, granting vision of enemy buildings and stopping buildings from researching or producing. The Tempest’s role has changed since Blizzcon. While originally a capital ship designed to provide large amounts of air damage, it is now a long-range siege unit capable of hitting both the ground and air. The Mothership’s “Mass Recall” ability has been moved to the Nexus which will also gain an “Arc Shield” ability giving it some limited emergency defences.
For the Zerg, the Overseer has been re-added; the Viper and the Swarm Host also remain. The Viper has several abilities: a blinding ability which reduces the affected unit’s range to 1, “Abduct” pulls a unit to the Viper’s location, and the “Consume” ability allows the Viper to regain energy by siphoning minerals from any mineral patch. The Swarm Host still spawns a constant stream of slow-moving melee units called Locusts when burrowed. Ultralisks gain a “Burrow Charge” ability allowing them to quickly reach battle sites. Banelings will gain “Tunnelling Claws” similar to the Roach and the Hydralisk will have a researchable speed boost when travelling off-creep. Lastly, different types of Nydus worms are now planned. Some of the more effective worms that are being tested include ones that can quickly create a creep “highway,” and another that can attack enemy buildings.
The release date for the game hasn’t been announced yet, however, the beta testing is already underway and many gameplay videos have been released. By the looks of it, the game certainly seems promising. Starcraft has always been one of the finest games from Blizzard and is certainly one of the best (if not the best) RTS’s ever made. Hopefully, this title will be nothing less than legendary.