Starcraft 2: A Newcomer’s Guide

Starcraft 2: A Newcomer’s Guide

BlizzCon has just finished, and one of the major announcements from it was a number of details on Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void.

But wait, isn’t this the third Starcraft 2 game? Are they all expansions on a base game? Where does a new person start? Why does a multiplayer, esports-focused game require multiple full releases?

The Starcraft 2 trilogy started in 2010, with Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Then, in 2013, its sequel, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm was released. These two, in combination with Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, create a full trilogy.

artwork-zerg

The Zerg units are pretty in their own horrible way

What is Starcraft?

For those who are completely new to Starcraft, it is a real-time strategy game, with a focus on base building and expansion, with the multiplayer played to a professional level; the Starcraft 2 world championship series had a $1.6 million (£1,009,000/€1,285,000) prize pool this last year.The multiplayer is generally played as a 1-on-1 game of annihilation.

Three races are playable, each with specific playstyles, but all are as viable as each other. These are the Terrans (slightly evolved humans with psionic), the Zerg (mutant aliens who are constantly evolving at a rapid rate, with an aim to conquer) and the Protoss (a highly advanced alien race, but also highly unstable in culture and politics).

The Starcraft 2 trilogy is, essentially, 3 games. Despite sharing the Starcraft 2 title, Wings of Liberty is standalone, Heart of the Swarm requires Wings of Liberty to run, and it appears Legacy of the Void will be standalone (although this is subject to change, as the game has no release date and may change dramatically). From a singleplayer perspective, the games are all very different. Each game has a different focus, with each one having a specific race playable in singleplayer, and Legacy of the Void continues on where Heart of the Swarm left off. The multiplayer, however, is an evolution of a long-standing formula. The original Starcraft came out in 1998, and is one of the most-sold PC games ever, some people still play the multiplayer of its expansion: Brood War.

For a newcomer, what does this mean? Well, if you’re interested in Starcraft, it means you have so, so many options for what you want. Firstly, what do you want? A solid, singleplayer experience? A compelling story and universe? A multiplayer scene that is popular with good reason, with an esports scene to back that claim?

‘Dear’, the winner of the 2013 World Championship Series

Where do I start?

If you want a singleplayer experience, you have the most choice. You can choose Wings of Liberty (and possibly wait for Heart of the Swarm on top of that) or wait for Legacy of the Void. While they have different playable characters, units and missions, the gameplay is similar, and different playstyles are catered to. Wings of Liberty focuses on the protagonist Jim Raynor, a Terran ex-military rebel. The game begins with his band of revolutionaries going all Firefly and completing jobs for money in order to fund their revolution. Heart of the Swarm revolves around the Queen of Blades, the leader of a Zerg army, helping the “Swarm” to evolve. Legacy of the Void is aiming to be an epic, interstellar fight for the survival of all living things, following the Protoss High Templar Artanis, If you are looking for a compelling sci-fi universe, I would highly recommend starting from the beginning of this trilogy (or even going back to the original game), there’s enough background lore to keep the most hungry readers happy, and even a large amount of content in an expanded universe.

Finally, those who want a complex strategy game with a skill cap most players won’t even be able to get close to might want to wait for Legacy of the Void: new units, a new coaching system and co-op play are being brought in, which will help newcomers learn the game. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of real-time strategy games or a newcomer, there are features that can suit you. Legacy of the Void will be adding a system allowing players to help each other, working together on one base, and it will continue to support the arcade system of mods, expanding upon existing mechanics in strange and different ways. The price of Legacy of the Void has not been revealed, so I can’t say whether waiting for it would be cheaper or more expensive than buying Heart of the Swarm and Wings of Liberty, although, since Legacy of the Void will more than likely have the most bustling multiplayer scene.

I believe everyone has a favourite Blizzard game. For some, it’s the truly massive World of Warcraft, for others it might be the looting of Diablo, for me, and many others, it’s Starcraft 2, and Legacy of the Void hopes to bring that love to a peak. Legacy of the Void is the evolution of Starcraft 2, everything Blizzard has learnt about the genre and universe culminated into something that is hopefully fantastic