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StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™ General

Q: What is StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™?

A: Heart of the Swarm™ is the first expansion set to Blizzard Entertainment's sci-fi real time strategy game StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty™. Heart of the Swarm continues the epic story from Wings of Liberty with an all-new campaign that focuses on Sarah Kerrigan, the former Queen of Blades. New multiplayer units and maps will also be included in the expansion, as well as new features and upgrades to the Battle.net® online platform.

 

Q: What features can we expect from the single-player campaign of Heart of the Swarm?

A: Heart of the Swarm's campaign will include 20 new missions. Players will be able to evolve their swarms with unique, campaign-only units and abilities, and this evolution will happen in an organic manner befitting of the expansion's zerg theme. As an example, zerglings can evolve into specialized sub-species of zerglings such as the swarmling, a variant that spawns three swarmlings per larva at an almost instantaneous rate instead of the standard two zerglings. The fearsome raptor is another evolutionary offshoot of the zergling that has more health and the ability to leap short distances to quickly close the gap on an enemy.

Another aspect of Heart of the Swarm that sets it apart from Wings of Liberty is that Kerrigan will play a major role in each of the battles as a powerful hero. Over the course of the campaign she gains in strength as well as new capabilities. Players will choose what abilities to enhance and powers to use from mission to mission.

Heart of the Swarm will also include a wider variety of locations, or sets, for players to explore between missions. These sets change dynamically as players complete missions, giving players a sense of an evolving world as Kerrigan makes her presence felt throughout the galaxy. Fully voiced cut scenes will round out the cinematic gaming experience in Heart of the Swarm's campaign, while a new online leveling system will unlock in-game rewards such as portraits and decals.

 

Q: Will there be any technical upgrades to the graphics engine?

A: We'll be making some improvements to the graphics, including upgrades to the look and behavior of zerg creep, as well as some changes that allow our artists to better showcase the new types of planets that Kerrigan will explore in Heart of the Swarm. An improved physics engine has also been added, which gives battles a more spectacular look and feel. We still plan to keep the minimum hardware requirements the same for this expansion set similar to what they were in Wings of Liberty.

 

Q: What approach is the development team taking toward multiplayer in Heart of the Swarm?

A: We're very pleased with the state of multiplayer in Wings of Liberty. Over the past year, the metagame has evolved as players are continuously developing new strategies and counters, while we've tried to make measured changes to game balance through patches. However, we recognize that there are still areas for improvement. Heart of the Swarm gives us an opportunity to address some of those needs through new units and abilities, which we're typically not willing to make outside of an expansion as they can have a serious effect on current tournaments.

With Heart of the Swarm, we've tried to locate the needs of each race and address them with new units and abilities. We're also trying to maintain -- and if possible, enhance -- the uniqueness of each race. The goal with everything we create for multiplayer Heart of the Swarm is to add new dimensions of strategy and gameplay to StarCraft, while maintaining balance and avoiding redundancy with existing units.

 

Q: What are some examples of new units, abilities, and game mechanics in multiplayer Heart of the Swarm?

A: With Heart of the Swarm still in beta, the following is a current snapshot of where multiplayer currently stands. These are just some examples of the new units and abilities coming in Heart of the Swarm.

For the zerg, the new Swarm Host will serve as a ground-based siege unit. When burrowed, the Swarm Host will spawn units that slowly move in a stream toward enemy units or structures. This will allow the zerg to apply pressure on entrenched enemy positions. The Viper is a flying support unit that has abilities that can manipulate the battlefield. As an example, Abduct allows the Viper to pull a unit toward it from a distance, which can be useful in making key enemy units more vulnerable, or pulling a friendly unit to safety.

The protoss will field an interesting new unit called the Oracle. This unit is a psionic warship, built from a Stargate, that uses unique abilities to raid and harass the enemy. The first is Pulsar Beam, which is energy-based and does devastating damage to light units on the ground. Another ability, Envision, grants temporary detection to the Oracle. The Tempest is a new capital ship that can fire at both ground and air targets from long range, doing additional damage to massive air units.

The terrans will have some new tricks as well. The Hellion will be given a new ability to transform into a walking battle mech, called the Hellbat. In this alternate form, Hellions will move slower, but gain health and deal higher damage in a wider arc of flame. The Widow Mine is a factory based unit that can burrow into the ground and periodically fire missiles that do splash damage. Medivacs will get a short cooldown-based speed-boost ability.

We're also testing a new gameplay mechanic for maps: destructible rock pillars that can create a blockade at a choke point. This mechanic will allow players to close off pathways, block themselves into expansion bases, or protect scouts holding position on an elevated Xel'Naga watch tower.

 

Q: What changes will come to Battle.net with Heart of the Swarm?

A: We've already released Arcade, which upgrades our custom map functionality on Battle.net. The mapmaking and modding community around StarCraft II has published tens of thousands of custom maps using the StarCraft II editor. The Arcade allows us to better showcase this wide variety of great new maps and mods to players who are looking for fun new gaming experiences. We want players to be able to more easily find, rate, and sort through all the great custom maps that have been created.

We have a huge list of features coming to StarCraft II around the time of launch, including a groups and clans system that includes private chat channels and news; multilanguage support; Global Play, to allow players to play on different regional servers; unranked matchmaking, so players can try playing different races or test new strategies without impacting their ladder ranking. Multi-viewer replay functionality and the ability to resume a multiplayer game from a replay will also be included.

The user interface has also been streamlined and improved, giving players faster and more convenient access to the facets of the online experience they use most. Advanced stat tracking and improved score screens will give players more information and tools to analyze their online play. Another optional feature, called "Players Near Me" will be added, allowing players to easily find and connect with other StarCraft II players on the same network. This feature will be particularly helpful to those who play from dorms or internet game rooms.

Heart of the Swarm will also include a number of features that help train and prepare players for competitive play. Training Mode is an objective-driven series of scenarios that teach players some of the basics for online play. The Versus AI functionality has also been revamped, allowing players to play against computer opponents that are tailored in difficulty to their skill level. It will even be possible to give simple commands to AI-controlled teammates in these types of games.

Finally, a new leveling system will be added that rewards players for participating in online matches, whether they win or lose. As players gain levels in the system, they unlock cosmetic upgrades like new decals and unit skins.

 

Q: Will Heart of the Swarm require players to own Wings of Liberty?

A: For the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, yes, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be required in order to play the Heart of the Swarm expansion. For other regions that have alternative access models, we’ll provide details at a later date.

 

Q: How much will Heart of the Swarm cost?

A: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will be available on DVD-ROM for Windows® XP/Windows Vista®/Windows® 7/Windows® 8 and Macintosh® at a suggested retail price of $39.99 USD. The expansion will also be available digitally directly from Blizzard’s StarCraft II website (www.StarCraft2.com) at an expected price of $39.99 USD.

Blizzard is offering a Collector's Edition of Heart of the Swarm loaded with digital and physical bonus items, available exclusively at select retail stores for a suggested retail price of $79.99 USD. Players will also have the option of purchasing a Digital Deluxe version of the expansion, which will include all of the digital items from the Collector's Edition. The Digital Deluxe version will be available directly from Blizzard via www.StarCraft2.com at an expected price of $59.99 USD. Players who purchase the standard edition digitally or at retail will have the option to upgrade to the Digital Deluxe version at any time (for as long as the standalone Digital Deluxe version remains available) for an additional $20 USD.

 

Q: Will there be a console version of Heart of the Swarm?

A: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is being developed for Windows and Mac. We currently have no plans to bring StarCraft II to any console platform.

 

Q: When is Heart of the Swarm coming out?

A: StarCraft II Heart of the Swarm launches globally on March 12, 2013.

 

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

starcraft legacy

Blizzard has posted news on the upcoming Blizzard Art Exhibit, taking place at Gallery Nucleus:

Gallery Nucleus has announced their first event of 2013, “The Art of Blizzard Entertainment Book Launch and Art Exhibition,” taking place January 12, 2013 – February 3, 2013. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 12, 2013 from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. Nucleus will be home to over 50 pieces of artwork from some of your favorite Blizzard games, including an extensive collection of concept art from the Diablo®, StarCraft®, and Warcraft® universes.


A $5 entrance fee will be collected at the door, but costumed guests get in for FREE!


Guests attending on opening night will be able to participate in a number of games and activities, as well as have an opportunity to receive exclusive posters and other commemorative items. Additional details will be announced  at www.gallerynucleus.com. In addition, Nucleus will be among the first to offer advance copies of The Art of Blizzard Entertainment book for sale. Supplies will be limited, so guests should come early to secure their copy. Several Blizzard Entertainment artists featured in the book will be in attendance giving painting demos, signing books, and meeting with attendees. This event is a great way to get a behind-the-scenes look at Blizzard’s creative process and connect with talented artists.


Gallery Nucleus is located at 210 East Main St, Alhambra CA 91801.


Source:
Battle.net - The Art of Blizzard Book Launch and Art Exhibition

 

As posted earlier this month, the Battle.net World Championship Series is coming to Shanghai, China on November 17 and 18. The WCS site is up, with updates about the event set to be posted there. And, last but not least, we here at StarCraft: Legacy are giving out ten tickets for WCS via a simple giveaway.

 

The ten tickets we received from Blizzard are for entry into the event; flight tickets, hotel reservations, and any other type of travel expense is not paid for with the ticket. If you do win a ticket, you will have to acquire your own flight to Shanghai, China. With this in mind, all contestants are asked to participate only if they are able to travel to the event and also wish to attend the event. That being said, these ten tickets we are giving out are a must-get for eSports enthusiasts.

Here's what's going to happen: five questions about StarCraft will pop up on the StarCraft: Legacy Twitter page, one each day for five days, and two lucky people who answered the day's question correctly will each receive a ticket to the Battle.net World Championship Series! It's allowed for participants to answer as many questions as they want, but a single person may not win multiple tickets. For the best chance to win, one should answer all five questions correctly, then hope for the best. The first question will be posted later today, and contestants must send their answer to the StarCraft: Legacy Twitter for their chance to win.

Winners will be announced and contacted at the end of the giveaway; that is, a day or two after all five questions have been posted. For news on WCS, check out the WCS 2012 site and the official StarCraft II site. For those wishing to watch the WCS from home, the WCS Twitch.tv stream will be airing the event for everyone's convenience. For everyone participating in our giveaway, good luck, and check back to our Twitter daily for the questions!

StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of Blizzcon 2011's StarCraft II Mod and BlizzDotA Panel is up, with pictures and an overview on what was discussed.

Click here to read it.

Source:
StarCraft: Legacy - BlizzCon 2011 StarCraft II Mod and BlizzDotA Panel

StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of Blizzcon 2011's StarCraft II Campaign and Lore Panel has been posted, with a general recap of what was discussed and shown.

Click here to read it.

Source:
StarCraft: Legacy - BlizzCon 2011 StarCraft II Campaign and Lore Panel

StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of Blizzcon 2011's StarCraft II Mod and BlizzDotA Panel is up, with pictures and an overview on what was discussed.

Click here to read it.

Source:
StarCraft: Legacy - BlizzCon 2011 StarCraft II Mod and BlizzDotA Panel

StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of Blizzcon 2011's StarCraft II Multiplayer Panel is up, with pictures and a general synopsis of what was discussed at the panel. Below is a snippet of the article that includes info on the new units coming to Heart of the Swarm.

New units and abilities


TERRAN
  • New "battle mode" for hellion - transforms like a viking
    • Battle mode hellion has more hit points, moves more slowly
    • Shorter, wider arc on flame attack, and stronger
    • Gives terran a beefy front-line fighter in the late game

  • Warhound
    • Smaller, more nimble version of Thor
    • Effective anti-mech ground weapon to help break siege tank lines
    • Anti-air attack with splash damage

  • Shredder
    • Robot that emits channeled, area of effect damage when immobilized
    • Damage automatically shuts off when an ally moves into range
    • Gives terran cheap zone control, but can't be used near main army
    • Is still very work-in-progress

  • Thor
    • Moved to late game, more hit points and damage
    • Can only have one, like mothership from Wings of Liberty


ZERG
  • Ultralisk
    • Existing version is bulky and has difficulties engaging in battle
    • New burrow charge ability lets it dive underground and get into the fight easily

  • Viper
    • New caster unit with detection -- replaces overseer
    • Has abilities like blinding cloud to help break entrenched positions
    • Abduct ability allows it to pull units to itself -- pull siege tanks or colossus out of death balls

  • Swarm host
    • Zerg artillery for map control and siege
    • Burrows into the ground, and continuously generates small creatures to attack
    • Feels very zerg-y


PROTOSS
  • Tempest
    • New protoss capital ship, replaces carrier
    • Anti-air splash damage for mutalisks and other aircraft
    • Has direct air-to-ground attack as well that isn't splash

  • Replicant
    • Special unit that can clone itself into any non-massive unit
    • Allows protoss to also take siege tanks or infestors from enemies
    • Is very expensive
    • Still very much a work-in-progress, not-final unit

  • Oracle
    • Caster unit used for raiding and harassment
    • Can disable enemy structures, or prevent miningwith its abilities
    • Doesn't actually kill or damage anything
    • Mothership is cut in favor of this unit

 

To see the full coverage article, click here.

Source:
StarCraft: Legacy - BlizzCon 2011 StarCraft II Multiplayer Panel

The Friday and Saturday schedules are out on the BlizzCon site, along with the floor plan. The StarCraft-related panels are outlined below, all of which take place at Stage A, the Panel Discussion Stage:

Friday

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Campaign and Lore Q&A

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM PDT
Get an overview of the campaign and have your questions answered about StarCraft lore.

 

StarCraft II Multiplayer

3:15 PM – 4:15 PM PDT
Find out what the designers think about the state of Wings of Liberty’s multiplayer balance, and get a glimpse at new units planned for Heart of the Swarm.


Saturday

StarCraft II – Blizzard DOTA & Mod Tools

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM PDT
Dive into what’s new for map tools in Heart of the Swarm and learn more about the philosophies and gameplay concepts behind Blizzard’s next mod: Blizzard DOTA.

 

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Art & Technology

1:45 PM – 2:45 PM PDT
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of in-game and cinematic artwork and effects for the next StarCraft II expansion set.

 

The full schedules can be seen here. There are also StarCraft II discussions in the Lore Zone, one on Friday from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM PDT, and one on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM PDT. The floor plan can be seen below, and can be enlarged by clicking on it:

 

There is also a free BlizzCon 2011 Guide mobile app available here, which has the full schedules, event alarms, a personalizable BlizzCon calendar, and the floor plan. Definitely a must-get for anyone personally attending and wanting to see the most of what they want at BlizzCon.

Sources:
BlizzCon - Friday Schedule
BlizzCon - Saturday Schedule
BlizzCon - Floor Map
BlizzCon - Mobile App

As with every BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2011 will feature competitive tournaments with players from around the world. The tournament bracket for StarCraft II is up on the BlizzCon site. The competitors, two from each region, can be seen below.

North America
[Terran] Kyeonghyun "SeleCT" Ryoo
[Zerg] Shawn "Sheth" Simon

Latin America
[Terran] Juan "terran" Tena
[Zerg] Felipe "KiLLeR" Zúñiga

Europe
[Zerg] Jos "Ret" de Kroon
[Protoss] Johan "NaNiwa" Lucchesi

Russia
[Zerg] Dmytro "Dimaga" Filipchuk
[Terran] Pavel "Brat_OK" Kuznetcov

Korea
[Zerg] Jaeduk "NesTea" Lim
[Terran] Jonghyun "Mvp" Jung

Taiwan
[Zerg] Yang "Sen" Chia Cheng
[Protoss] Liu "Nifi" Yi-Ting

SEA/ANZ

[Zerg] Andrew "mOOnGLaDe" Pender
[Zerg] Thomas "JazBas" Cho

China
[Terran] Dai "Loner" Yi
[Zerg] Huang "ToodMing" Huiming

 

The bracket can be seen here.

Sources:
BlizzCon - Meet the Competitors
BlizzCon - 2011 Global Battle.net Invitational

There's a sneak peek for what's in the 2011 BlizzCon goody bag, showing of a Mini Tyrael from the Diablo franchise for attendees to take home.

Each meticulously crafted Mini Tyrael piece comes complete with a stamped base and is ready for display on your archive shelves. This figure is a limited-edition, exclusive gift for BlizzCon 2011 attendees, created to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Diablo series and the upcoming release of Diablo III, and it will never be reproduced for commercial sale.

 

You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it.

Source:
BlizzCon - Goody Bag

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