Blizzard recently surprised the media and long-time fans alike by announcing at BlizzCon that StarCraft 2 will be split into a trilogy, with each game focusing on the single-player campaign for one of the game’s three well-known races. This led to a flurry of speculation and more than a little consternation among wallet-conscious fans. The three games now have working titles for each campaign: Wings of Liberty for the Terrans, Heart of the Swarm for the Zerg, and Legacy of the Void for the Protoss. The plan is certainly an ambitious one, but it comes preloaded with plenty of confusion, 1up has compiled everything they know so far to give a clearer picture of what to expect from the newly dubbed StarCraft 2 trilogy. The full story after the jump.
These were the first and most important questions that stuck out in many minds when the trilogy was announced. In an interview on 1UP’s new PC gaming podcast, Blizzard’s Rob Pardo said it wasn’t long after the announcement that the company first saw the community expressing misgivings about the possible price tag. Though there aren’t details yet, Blizzard is conscious of the concern. As we’ve already heard, the trilogy could be released years apart, with an internal goal of one to two years between each game. This means that even if each game were full price, they won’t be released at the same time, which should reduce sticker shock. Blizzard hasn’t yet revealed details on how the trilogy games will work with each other, such as whether the first will be required for use of the other two like a traditional expansion set, but the company has promised that the Zerg and Protoss games will be priced according to how much value is in the box.
It’s important to note that this isn’t one game being split into three and released all at once. Instead, the games are being developed one at a time, with the development on the Zerg campaign starting once the Terran is wrapped up, and Protoss coming in turn after the Zerg. Due to this production decision, the company itself is still likely unsure on details such as timing, pricing, and how subsequent releases will expand the multiplayer.
Multiplayer matches with all three races will be available from the very first StarCraft 2 release. Though multiplayer matches will certainly be available from the Terran campaign, you can probably expect to see some new units and building types coming when the Zerg and Protoss campaigns release. The official StarCraft II FAQ notes that future releases “will add new content to each race for use in multiplayer matches. This could include additions such as new units, abilities, and structures, along with new maps and Battle.net updates.” The company is working on a lobby system to split users who have the expansion features from those who don’t. This is sure to be made more complex by the presence of two expansions and the company being unsure (so far) of whether the first game will serve as a necessary building block for the other two.
Different Game Types
One intriguing twist that the three separate games bring is the possibility of different game types. In the aforementioned podcast interview, Pardo explained that the company wants the races to have meta-gameplay concepts differentiating them from each other’s core gameplay. Terrans, for example, will be mercenaries using money to purchase upgrades and new units for Jim Raynor’s army. The Zerg may have more RPG-like elements as they try to upgrade their Queen. And the Protoss campaign is said to somehow focus more on politics and diplomacy. This could bring three very different game types all under the StarCraft 2 umbrella.
During the development of StarCraft 2, Blizzard’s scope eventually outreached its means to press it all to one disc. Each campaign is now set to be as large as the entire first game, with each game spanning 26-30 missions. The trilogy structure means each game’s story will lead into the next one with cleverly-placed cliffhangers. In addition, splitting the games into three parts will allow Blizzard to tell a more in-depth story for each race, as well as developing meta-game concepts like the mercenary Terrans mentioned above.
This makes the move almost resemble an episodic game release, with one continuous plot split into three distinct parts and released with time between each episode. Unlike an episodic game, however, there is no set schedule for each, with Blizzard sticking to its tried-and-true “when it’s done” release philosophy.
Changes to Battle.net
Blizzard has been promising “exciting new changes and features” to their online service, though fans were caught off-guard when the company suggested that it may become monetized in some way. Blizzard says they will stick to charging for smaller vanity purchases, citing name and server changes from World of Warcraft as a prime example that should alleviate fears of nickel-and-dime practices. The developer seems committed to keep from charging for anything that would give any player an advantage or anything that is part of the core user experience.
Blizzard is also looking into making revisions to its security on Battle.net to better catch and enforce against cheaters. Matchmaking will be emphasized in the new Battle.net, and users will only be allowed a certain number of accounts to ensure that players with higher skill levels don’t simply start a new account to get matched with inexperienced players. Finally, fans of the original StarCraft can rest easy, as it will remain playable on the revised Battle.net.
It all sounds rather epic, whether that “epic-ness” is going to show in our wallets though we will have to wait and see, I can’t honestly see this going down easy, but Blizzard have never been known to “Rip-off” the player and we all know Starcraft 2 is going to be awesome so we will just have to wait and see.
Last Updated: October 21, 2008