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.


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


  1. Paul

    WARNING: Rant ahead.

    First sentence. Remove the comma.
    Rest of first section. Decent concise presentation of the history of the Starcraft 2 franchise. Why didn’t you italicize LotV? The other two SC2 versions are italicized.
    What is Starcraft section.
    Semi-colons are a bit pretentious. Wrongly used semi-colons are massively pretentious. Yours is the latter. A full sentence must come after a semi-colon.
    You missed a chance to talk about team games and the casual side of SC2 when talking about multiplayer.
    Good concise description of races.
    SC2 is not 3 standalone games. HoTS is an expansion of WoL. You need WoL and HoTS to play HoTS. LotV is standalone.
    Your comma use makes me scream. Adverbs like “essentially” don’t need to be surrounded by commas. They don’t even need to be used when you’re stating what you’ve already said anyway.
    Is it “single player” or “singleplayer”? You used both.
    LotV should not be talked about in the present tense. There is no release date for it and the public beta has been “scheduled” to start in 3-8 months.
    Where do I start? section.
    This is the third time you’ve mentioned the versions, without drilling down into them. It makes you repetitive and you don’t present any new information.
    Nobody can “choose” LotV right now. The game is not out and cannot be purchased.
    Your comma use continues to be halting and unreadable. The point of a comma is to provide a pause when necessary. The goal is to use as few commas as possibly, simply using them for structure.
    You forgot your last period.

    This reads like a high school teenager wrote an essay the the night before his deadline. It’s grammatically incorrect, not researched, and very repetitive. It has the content of a lacking clickbait article that provides no value to the reader, which has already affected my perception of the entire site. Lastly, there is no initiative or action item at the end. New users that are looking to start playing have had their time wasted by finding this article, as the information is not only lacking, but wrong.

    Journalism isn’t easy, but it really is quite commendable that you’re trying and putting yourself out there. For your next piece, proof read it, do some more research on specifics, and work on gathering accurate data.

    1. Post author
      Joseph Dwan

      Hi there, first of all, thanks for the response.

      I’m replying to this before editing so excuse me if you see this before the article is edited and the edited version is made available, just so you know I’ve seen your comment.

      The biggest point you’ve made, and my biggest mistake is unarguably the fact that HOTS is an expansion, I’ll be changing that first and foremost, teaches me not to double-check with a friend.

      The issue with italics is actually an error in communication, and won’t happen again. The semi-colon was an error in tenses, and again, similarly to the italics, a mistake I’ll make sure to prevent happening.

      It’s interesting how you mention the casual side of SC2 – in an initial draft of this I mentioned the Arcade and went into some detail on it, but the issue is it’s difficult to explain without writing a lot on it, or going into descriptions that use a lot of RTS/Starcraft-specific jargon.

      I’ll certainly note what you’ve said on comma use, since as far as I am aware, it’s not grammatically incorrect. I will be double-checking this, however.

      Singleplayer/single player is, again, proofreading done wrong. I’ll make sure to do this better.

      LOTV exists and is confirmed to have a beta test the general public can apply for, why would it not be in the present tense?

      Similarly to why the Arcade was hard to write about, I found describing the versions and their differences to be difficult. I will, however, be adding in the fact that the campaign focuses on a different race for each version and how that impact the singleplayer.

      I disagree, you can choose LOTV since it will be available. In the same way someone may have chosen Unity or Rogue prior to their releases if they had the budget for only one.

      Comma use, again, I will take note of, if it is so halting as you say, I will work on amending that, I will be looking for other perspectives on this.

      The last period is finally a proofreading error again.

      Thanks for the reply, this is my first article posted here and on any dedicated news site, I owe it to this site for giving me an opportunity. Proof reading and not trusting a friend’s “fact” are my biggest flaws currently!

  2. Paul

    > Comma use, again, I will take note of, if it is so halting as you say, I will work on amending that, I will be looking for other perspectives on this.

    Is this satire?

    Your biggest mistake was writing a Where to Start guide without sending people anywhere. If they’re coming to this page, some-to-many readers will be looking to take action, but they’re left hanging. Look to provide significant use to those who are encountering the game for the first time as well as those ready to get started. Heck, use an affiliate link to Amazon and send people to buy the products with a kickback to you or the site. Send them to a starter video series, or to the free version of the game. Much of my first comment is pedantry that’s easily fixed. But keep up the good efforts and try to picture your article from the perspective of those you are trying to reach.

  3. FraNcis

    The article actually leaves to nowhere, but the guy above is trying to do some syntax harrassing on the author.
    You should talked at least about Starcraft 2 Starter Edition that ACTUALLY is a start. You can play aganist A.I on Very Easy/Easy levels and 4 missions on single player. You did a great writing about the history of the game and made clear about the expansions, and as a starcraft fan I didn’t fell disrespected because of your comma use, but the title of the article kinda lie to the guy who comes here to read and encounter himself nowhere before the ending point.
    Take it easy Paul, the guy is not paid to write, and keep on improving

  4. Richard

    Paul is a hero fighting the good fight.
    This is pure fluff, you may have explained what Starcraft is, but anyone new to the game wanting to learn how to play is left in the cold. There is no point to this, just random ramblings about a subject. No lessons, nothing learned, just random trivia facts.

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