After yesterday’s brief Heart of the Swarm campaign trailer one would be forgiven for believing that we would have to wait at least until Blizzcon 2011 for more StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm details. Not so.
On May 27 Blizzard held a Heart of the Swarm event at their HQ in Irvine, California, and the many juicy details are now hitting the net (though they raise as many questions as they provide answers).
We already knew that Kerrigan will be a controllable hero unit during HOTS, and that she is upgraded with battle focus ‘loadouts’ before each level. We expect these loadouts to change how she plays in fundamental ways. We also learned yesterday that the Zerg units will be upgradeable, much like the Terran units in Wings of Liberty (though this time we expect the upgrades are handled by the Zerg Army Mutator, called Abathur, seen briefly in the campaign and concept art trailers below).
You can see in the following video that varied level design is a priority for Blizzard – rather than simply sticking you on a planet with a patch of minerals as well as a gas geyser nearby and saying “go,” they seem to be focusing on making each HOTS level unique.
In the first level, flash frost forces the Protoss army to raise shields that protect them from the cold, but not from the claws and acid of Kerrigan’s roaches. This makes timing attacks especially important, since the Protoss forces are unable to fight back with their shields raised – but they look to be far greater in number than the Zerg. In the second level (the jungle), Kerrigan is racing to collect eggs against an especially intelligent rival Zerg Queen (called a brood mother), forcing the player to manage their base (if any), Kerrigan, and the clock. It looks like the player in the video was successful – considering the number of hatched banelings at the end.
You may remember the infested bunker unit from Blizzcon 2010. While these videos unfortunately do not show any new playable units, like that concept from last year, the Zerg Adjutant (called Izsha) from the following concept art video is particularly intriguing. The creature looks entirely biological, though its concept art has a metal plate on the side of its head. Did the Zerg swarm somehow assimilate a piece of Terran AI? Time will tell.
What about Kerrigan’s motives? We can speculate all day about her end game (if she even has one in the confused state hinted at in the campaign trailer), but this StarCraft fan has to admit some disappointment that she is apparently out to regain control of the swarm despite being de-Zergified at the end of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
From a storytelling perspective, a largely unchanged Kerrigan would be the least satisfying protagonist we could have, so let’s hope that isn’t the case (or that she is simply seeking to regain some familiar comfort from her past life – only to grow in different ways as the plot progresses).
Regardless of Kerrigan’s aims we have faith that Blizzard will deliver the goods at launch. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm may be released for PC around January 2012. If you’re unsure about the series be sure to check out our review of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Are you satisfied with how things are shaping up for Kerrigan? What would you like to see in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm?
Source: WellPlayed, IGN, Blizzard