StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void, Bring a friend into the interstellar fray - Games Weekly

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void, Bring a friend into the interstellar fray

The StarCraft series has enjoyed tremendous global success since its launch in the ‘90s. The original RTS remained a competitive standby for decades, and StarCraft II continued that legacy while expanding the intricate intergalactic tale about unlikely racial alliances and a universal threat. The StarCraft saga concludes with the third and final entry, Legacy of the Void, but devotees of the beloved multiplayer mode have a lot to look forward to even after the credits roll.

I love so many things Blizzard has done, from SNES deep cuts like Blackthorne to World of Warcraft, but the celebrated StarCraft series has eluded me all these years. Thankfully, Blizzard is implementing a mode that’s perfect for slouches like me who are surrounded by skilled StarCraft players eager to bring more friends into the fold. The mode allows two-on-two multiplayer matches, where teammates share joint control of a single army.

I got my hands on this Archon mode during a demo at GDC 2015, where I was paired up with another journalist whose StarCraft play had lapsed a bit. Considering he had more experience, I dedicated myself to managing resource gathering, building out our Terran base, and creating units to grow our army. My ally (and the helpful Blizzard reps) offered me advice on how many SCV units to assign to collecting vespene gas and minerals needed to build useful stuff. Meanwhile, my partner began scouting the map for additional resources for future base expansion and locating the enemy.

Early on, my trial by fire was overwhelming. The deluge of jargon, micromanagement strategies, and tiered build order was a lot to take in. Things got even more heated when our marines and siege tanks started meeting up with the Protoss enemies mid-battlefield. Unit production and upgrading shifted to top priority, and my co-op partner eventually took on the duties of micromanaging combat while setting destination parts for freshly created soldiers. Alternatively, we each could’ve shared the responsibility for managing the combat and overwhelmed the Protoss base with a coordinated pincer attack. Regardless, we gradually defeated their forces and won the day.

We succeeded in our Archon mode match thanks to some powerhouse units, like the newly added Terran Cyclone. This treaded missile tank is great for kiting enemy units away from the fray and exposing them to an explosive barrage. Blizzard also revealed a new Protoss unit called the Adept. This second-tier ranged unit wields a glowing energy disk, which chains between targets for multiple kills. She also has psionic projection, which creates an ethereal doppelganger of herself which can be moved anywhere and automatically teleports her there after 10 seconds. The Adept joins another confirmed unit, the Disruptor, and the Zergs’ Lurker and Ravager.

Getting a handful of new units is awesome, but Blizzard also revealed the unfortunate news that a previously announced Terran unit, the Herc, has been canceled. These bipedal tanks were originally designed to withstand zergling/baneling attacks while their teammates offer counter resistance.

Blizzard senior designer David Kim offers explanation on the scrapped unit. “The Terran Herc didn’t work out because of its overlap with the Hellbat,” Kim says, referring to a similar Terran mech unit. “We tried our best to keep the two units distinct due to their mobility advantage and different armor types, but both were short range, splash-damage units that come online around the same tech level that counters very similar things. We try our best to not have unit overlaps in the game, and these two units just shared too many similarities. We are always exploring additional unit types with the balance of the game in mind, so this does not preclude an additional unit in the future for Terran players.”

While we lost a new Terran unit, there are some new maps on the way to shake up multiplayer. The Lerilak Crest is located on a Dark Templar planet amidst the ruins of an ancient race. Orbital Shipyard is a Terran starship repair platform that floats above the planet Korhal. Ruins of Seras is set on a mountainous region on the Protoss home-world, Aiur, and features ruins being overrun by the surrounding jungle.

Blizzard still hasn’t announced an official release date, but fans can look forward to an upcoming open beta to get their StarCraft fix. The first wave begins March 31, starting with a narrow selection of candidates before broadening its pool of testers. This beta should be an enticing option whether you’re a longtime fan interested in checking out the new maps and units, or a green recruit looking to learn the space-warring ropes alongside a seasoned friend.

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