StarCraft's Campaign Evolves in Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft's Campaign Evolves in Heart of the Swarm

image

In StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, the stakes get higher and the Swarm gets swarmier.

The true genius of StarCraft 2 is in its superb multiplayer, but the single-player campaign in Wings of Liberty was a blast and a half, too. It was an enjoyably cheesy space opera with some of the best mission design ever in an RTS, it had some cool ways to upgrade units - and obtain units not seen in the multiplayer - and you could always just mess around on the battlecruiser Hyperion chatting with NPCs and clicking on things like an adventure game.

Heart of the Swarm will be different, and game director Dustin Browder spilled the beans as to how everything will work over on the Battle.net blog.

For one, Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, is a very different protagonist from down-on-his-luck space cowboy Jim Raynor. Her existence is one of rage thanks to years of being "infested, tortured and hunted," and as the sole leader of the Zerg Kerrigan has dealt with things on a scope that Raynor could never conceive of. "To put things into perspective, Raynor is a central figure in the StarCraft story, but he remains just one man," said Browder. "Kerrigan became a goddess worshipped by billions of Zerg who would execute her every command without question." Kerrigan may now be (partially) uninfested, but she's still the Queen of Blades, and she's still pissed.

These differences between Raynor and the Queen of Blades will manifest themselves in how the Zerg units upgrade over the course of the campaign. While Raynor bought mercenaries and researched new tech via Protoss artifacts, Kerrigan's Zerg will evolve and mutate. "We are trying to focus the player on finding new DNA from exotic and strange creatures around the sector so that you really feel like the key to zerg success is finding and infesting the immense, deadly monsters that live on the most savage planets in the galaxy," said Browder.

Kerrigan will be able to mutate new abilities for her Zerg (as Raynor could purchase upgrades), but she can also evolve them into completely new units. The normal Zergling can evolve into a Swarmling, which spawn three-per-egg as opposed to the normal two, or it can evolve into a Raptor, which has a pounce attack that lets it close distance on prey more quickly. Once you evolve it, though, you're locked into that choice and can't go back.

Browder said that it was still too early to know what the final lineup of new Zerg units would be, but that the team was working on making many new evolutions and mutations of classic units, so that a player would feel like their Swarm was truly changing at the will of the Queen of Blades. (Does that mean we can have Lurkers back, guys?)

And speaking of the Queen of Blades, Browder said that while Raynor was a playable character in a handful of missions, Kerrigan would be on the battlefield in almost every mission leading her Swarm. Blizzard intends her to be used as an aggressive front-line unit, and she can be revived at any Hatchery if she's killed so that players won't feel the need to keep her in safety lest she die and the mission end.

The essence of the Zerg is "survival of the fittest," said Browder, and the new characters will hopefully make that clear, like Abathur the evolution master, who "controls the genetic vector" of the Swarm.

Browder also acknowledged that there were some challenges in creating the Heart of the Swarm campaign, because the Zerg economy - which consumes workers to build structures, and produces all units from the main Hatchery - was difficult for new players to learn. Units that were balanced for multiplayer, like Mutalisks and Banelings, often were imbalanced (one way or another) in the campaign, they found - and it was too soon in development to know how much else could go wrong.

Problems there may be, but I'm excited all the same. It's looking like Heart of the Swarm will indeed be rather different from Wings of Liberty, which should vindicate the developers' choice to turn the game into a trilogy. Not that it will stop the complainers, mind you.

The only thing that gets me is this: Why are we seeing all of this news now? Blizzard knows that E3 is next week, right?

(Battle.net Blog)

Permalink

I have every faith that Heart of the Swarm will be impeccably well Crafted
Can't wait to see what they unveil at E3

HankMan:
I have every faith that Heart of the Swarm will be impeccably well Crafted
Can't wait to see what they unveil at E3

You're such as star

This sounds really cool, but the biochemist in me died a little with the mention of DNA. Why would other worldly creatures has Earth style genetic information?

I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

LURKERS!LURKERS!LURKERS!
i want them back. i even switched races for multiplayer from sc1 to 2 because the zerg did not have lurkers.
while the system sounds interesting it sounds very similar to the one from wind of liberty, except it may give me lurkers back so it's waaaaaaaay better.

Shadow-Phoenix:
I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

I imagine many people, like me, dislike instant-fail mission objectives, like "Don't let Kerrigan die". I've always assumed that's the reason most later WoL missions didn't give you Raynor as a direct controllable unit.

Besides, there's nothing stopping you from being a careful planner and not letting Kerrigan die at all of your own free will. But since this is the zerg anyway, the rebirth thing isn't just a cheap mechanic, it's perfectly justifiable in-universe (much more justifiable than the all-might quick-save, quick-load power of most other game heroes).

messy:

HankMan:
I have every faith that Heart of the Swarm will be impeccably well Crafted
Can't wait to see what they unveil at E3

You're such as star

This sounds really cool, but the biochemist in me died a little with the mention of DNA. Why would other worldly creatures has Earth style genetic information?

You can see his comment came from the heart.

Shadow-Phoenix:
I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

But that's just the point, you're not supposed to be super careful with her. I mean, obviously you don't want to WASTE kerrigan, but she's supposed to be a frontline unit. She's the equivalent of a goddess; death is just a minor inconvenience.

The folks at Eurogamer have a great writeup of some of the game's missions.

I trust Blizzard, unlike a certain Canadian developer, they know what to do with their games and not forgetting their audience.

John Funk:

The only thing that gets me is this: Why are we seeing all of this news now? Blizzard knows that E3 is next week, right?

Blizzard hasn't seemed to care about E3 since their first BlizzCon, really, though it seems.

I can't wait for the exclusive campaign Zerg units. The Terran units were pretty awesome and I wish some of those could be used in multiplayer matches.

John Funk:
The true genius of StarCraft 2 is in its superb multiplayer, but the single-player campaign in Wings of Liberty was a blast and a half, too. It was an enjoyably cheesy space opera with some of the best mission design ever in an RTS, it had some cool ways to upgrade units - and obtain units not seen in the multiplayer - and you could always just mess around on the battlecruiser Hyperion chatting with NPCs and clicking on things like an adventure game.

Wow, you know what, I think I get it. Blizzard waited so long to put out Starcraft II so that people would forget how great the story was, and then they could crank out a crap story and everybody would accept it. I really hope HotS can grow beyond "enjoyably cheesy space opera," but also avoids descending into overly-angsty internal brooding by Kerrigan (the pun is, unfortunately, unavoidable).

John Funk:

Shadow-Phoenix:
I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

But that's just the point, you're not supposed to be super careful with her. I mean, obviously you don't want to WASTE kerrigan, but she's supposed to be a frontline unit. She's the equivalent of a goddess; death is just a minor inconvenience.

The folks at Eurogamer have a great writeup of some of the game's missions.

Well i did like the last mission where you had to stop Kerrigan approaching your base and the artifact but i suppose using her as a frontline unit won't be so bad, and i'm hoping that this may finally be my chance to start playing as Zerg since they are the only race i never have played as, simply because they were organic.

Tzekelkan:

I imagine many people, like me, dislike instant-fail mission objectives, like "Don't let Kerrigan die". I've always assumed that's the reason most later WoL missions didn't give you Raynor as a direct controllable unit.

Besides, there's nothing stopping you from being a careful planner and not letting Kerrigan die at all of your own free will. But since this is the zerg anyway, the rebirth thing isn't just a cheap mechanic, it's perfectly justifiable in-universe (much more justifiable than the all-might quick-save, quick-load power of most other game heroes).

It's not just that you have to be careful it's because it would feel a little easier than you might think using her a lot of the time which i'm hoping she will be of minimal use.

Shadow-Phoenix:

Tzekelkan:

I imagine many people, like me, dislike instant-fail mission objectives, like "Don't let Kerrigan die". I've always assumed that's the reason most later WoL missions didn't give you Raynor as a direct controllable unit.

Besides, there's nothing stopping you from being a careful planner and not letting Kerrigan die at all of your own free will. But since this is the zerg anyway, the rebirth thing isn't just a cheap mechanic, it's perfectly justifiable in-universe (much more justifiable than the all-might quick-save, quick-load power of most other game heroes).

It's not just that you have to be careful it's because it would feel a little easier than you might think using her a lot of the time which i'm hoping she will be of minimal use.

By the sounds of it, the missions will be designed to make a lot of use out of Kerrigan. That's the impression I got from what Bowder said, but obviously, in the missions where you can build a base nothing stops you from massing an army and leaving her home to defend. She won't have an inventory or anything, it's not Warcraft III, but I don't think she will be exactly "of minimal use". They're talking about how she's going to be the most powerful hero unit in Starcraft II.

For those of you that want to see some actual gameplay.

Shadow-Phoenix:
I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

I doubt they'll let you revive her for free. At the very least there will be a timer. Either way, losing Kerrigan is going to have some penalty. Over-all I agree with the change. Go back and play the first Starcraft; anytime you have a mission with Jim Raynor as a unit, what do you do with him? You have him sit in the base the whole time. And why? Because it just isn't worth the risk to have your named units attacking. One thing goes wrong and the whole mission restarts. Letting Kerrigan respawn fixes that; letting the player actually want to bring that named unit to the front lines. It'll actually be worth the risk of having her leave the base because at worst you'll have to wait a little while and/or be down some minerals if she dies.

Shadow-Phoenix:
I'm still excited about the game but the whole mutation DNA factor is still the exact same concept from Wings of Liberty game and Kerrigan being able to respawn at the hatchery kinda defeats the point of being a careful planning gamer.

It'll probably be a lot like the hero system in Warcraft 3. Which came around because people hated being given a stronger than normal unit but being too scared to use him/her, stuff like that gets annoying. Plus there's always going to be the RPG-esque maps where you don't get to revive.

messy:

This sounds really cool, but the biochemist in me died a little with the mention of DNA. Why would other worldly creatures has Earth style genetic information?

That's a little pedantic... especially considering every know form of life has DNA in some form or another so they'd need to study biochemistry extensively and do a lot of independant research to come up with something plausible. And if they didn't have something plausible the biochemist in you would still be dying a little :)

So the important question, then: Will they change multiplayer so that you don't have to use battlenet to play? As in, will they allow regular-style LAN games and the like again?

Space Jawa:
So the important question, then: Will they change multiplayer so that you don't have to use battlenet to play? As in, will they allow regular-style LAN games and the like again?

Probably not. The good news is that for just playing the regular game, Bnet actually turned out to work pretty damn well. (Not without its severe issues, but they don't really come into play if you just want to start a match)

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here