I have been extremely excited for StarCraft 2 ever since it was announced back in 2006. Even though I sort of had a rough relationship with the first one, for some reason the second always felt like a game I would thoroughly enjoy. Maybe it was because coming to StarCraft so late in its life, there was always a sense of being unforgivably late to a really awesome party and discovering the tone had shifted from “let’s have a good time” to the inevitable “I don’t want to go home alone.”
However, I got the chance to come into StarCraft 2 as one of the few people in the world with the chance to actually play it, and though a lot of strategies from the original are present, there is certainly the opportunity for new players to jump in and compete, as I will discuss later in this preview.
But enough about that. How does the new Battle.Net look and feel? Pretty dang good, actually. It’s sleek, well-designed, and a real treat to maneuver. It’s also easy to see how the revamped service will become the backbone for Blizzard‘s games in the future. The influence of other online services such as Steam is readily apparent, and from what we’ve heard, the social community will be fairly robust even though the tab associated with it is currently inaccessible.
So, let’s take a quick look over the new Battle.Net interface and how StarCraft 2 is integrated!
The Main Screen
Take a quick glance at the header image of this preview, as that is the first thing you will see when you jump into the StarCraft 2 beta. The top left has tabs for Single-player and Muliplayer (only the multiplayer tab is accessible right now), as well as tabs, from left to right under the gameplay tabs, for Home, Replays, Ladder, Social (grayed out), Achievements (grayed out), Profile, and Help (also grayed out).
In the upper-right corner, you can see my nickname and my profile picture. And if you look to the bottom, you will see your Options menu to the left and buttons for muting your microphone, opening your Friend’s List, and a clock on the right.
The Friend’s List is pretty nifty, and though I don’t have any friends yet (/tear), it will be a really nice utility once StarCraft 2 is released. Through the Friend’s List, users will be able to chat, see what games their friends are playing (WoW, Diablo III, SC2, whatever else Blizzard drops in the future), and invite them to competitive matches in StarCraft 2. The chat will also be cross-game, where someone playing World of Warcraft can talk, through Battle.net, to a friend playing StarCraft 2 for example. Anyone who has used Steam knows how this works, but it’s nice to get that functionality in the new Battle.net. Supposedly, World of Warcraft will get a patch around the time StarCraft 2 is released to enable this feature.
The profile page offers a nice snapshot of everything pertinent to your StarCraft 2 existence. On the left side, you will find tabs for many features that aren’t currently in the game, except for the option to change your profile picture as well as access your specific ladder. Some of the things on the left can be seen in other places (such as replays) but we don’t yet have access to things like achievements or player maps, which I assume is where a player will be able to see all the maps they’ve created and uploaded using the map editor that we may or may not see during the beta.
In the middle, you get a quick snapshot of your statistics, with career wins, your best map, the highest rank you’ve achieved in your league, and your best race. It also shows your current rank on your ladder. The little arrows in the top right of the box allow you to switch between statistics for 1v1, 2v2, FFA, etc.
Underneath that is a summary of your last five matches. As you can see, I played all 1v1 matches and won three out of the five. If you double-click on any of the games, you are able to see specific game statistics, economic breakdown, and build order for all players.