Blizzard has officially announced StarCraft Remastered, updating the classic real-time strategy game for the modern era. Blizzard's gone to great length to preserve the original gameplay of StarCraft, even going so far as to build the remaster on the original game's engine. The remaster will instead update StarCraft's visuals and audio, while implementing modern features including matchmaking, custom keybinds, and connecting the game to Blizzard's social systems. Expect StarCraft Remastered to launch this summer.
In preparation for StarCraft Remastered's launch, and as a sort of beta test, Blizzard will update the classic StarCraft: Brood War to patch 1.18 later this week. The patch will include many of the feature additions which will be part of StarCraft Remastered. Those include custom keybindings, observer mode, anti-cheat measures, and compatibility improvements for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. Even better, Blizzard will be making StarCraft Anthology, which packages both the original StarCraft and its Brood War expansion, completely free to download and play.
If Blizzard's releasing the non-remastered StarCraft for free, then they're definitely going to have to impress players with the premium StarCraft Remastered. According to Blizzard, all visuals within the game have been modernized with widescreen UHD support for up to 4K resolution. That includes updated campaign cinematics. Audio-wise, StarCraft's soundtrack and dialogue has been rerecorded. There's even a new addition: comic book-style interludes to flesh out the original story.
It deserves to be reiterated that Blizzard's core focus with StarCraft Remastered seems to entirely be preserving the gameplay and balance of the original game and its expansion. Here's Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime saying as much:
"StarCraft is a pure distillation of Blizzard’s DNA—its story, its balance, and all the little details reflect our long-running commitment to epic entertainment, and it’s been a staple in competitive gaming and esports for almost 20 years. With StarCraft: Remastered, we’re modernizing the original game’s visuals, audio, and online support to ensure that players can enjoy StarCraft for another 20 years and beyond."
The resulting package may not be as immediately appealing as if, say, the original StarCraft was instead ported into the StarCraft 2 engine. That kind of port would obviously be much more visually impressive, but it would not be the original StarCraft at heart. There's so many small details innate to the original StarCraft's engine and code that any experienced player would have immediately recognized the difference. This is really the only way Blizzard could remaster StarCraft without ruining it in the process.
StarCraft Remastered is planned for release this summer exclusively on PC.