Blizzard have finally given us a release date for the next chapter of the Starcraft series, Heart of the Swarm, and about time too. So mark your calendars up for March 12th 2013. It’s already been well over two years now since Blizzard first released Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty and quite frankly I’m surprised it’s taken Blizzard this long to release the next chapter. I know there are balance issues to address for the very competitive multiplayer side of things and of course you want to make sure the story is up to the same quality as the last instalment, but really three years between releases? Being the skeptical, cynical sort I can only assume its Blizzards way of milking our wallets as much as possible. Of course I’m not a developer either so what do I know?
That said, I do really enjoy the Starcraft series, if only for its story content, so it’s a guaranteed sale for me as I’m eager to see where they take us next. I never cared much for the multiplayer side of things, being far too reliant on how many clicks-per-minute you can do in what is essentially a rock, paper, scissors strategy game. I prefer my strategy to have more depth and longevity to it along the lines of Supreme Commander for example.
In case you have forgotten, the story of Wings of Liberty focused on the Terran side of things, specifically through the eyes of one Jim Raynor. Set four years after the events of Starcraft: Brood War, it followed Raynor as he leads his insurgent group against the Terran Dominion. Along the way, you’re tasked with picking up some mysterious Xel’Naga artifacts which may hold the key to stopping the Zerg swarm. You were also treated to a handful of special Protoss missions which gave you a glimpse of the apocalyptic future awaiting everyone. At the end of this game, you use these artifacts to destroy the main base of the Zerg on their homeworld and returns Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades of the Zerg, back into her human form. The last shot we see is of Raynor carrying a naked Kerrigan out across the battlefield.
Heart of the Swarm continues the story two years after these events, and will focus on the Zerg this time. Kerrigan will attempt to regain her leadership of the Zerg swarm and exact revenge on Arcturus Mengsk, the leader of the Terran Dominion who condemned her to her fate with the Zerg in the first place during the events of the first Starcraft game. Much more than this we don’t really know at this point and I’m content to wait until I play the whole thing. I am intrigued to see how it will all play out, particularly if Kerrigan remains an anti-hero to the story.
Gameplay wise, we’ll be treated to seven new multiplayer units whilst removing three others and changing the abilities of existing units and buildings. The single player is expected to have around 20 or so missions, which is similar to Wings of Liberty. There are various pricing packages starting with the basic purchase of the game itself, to a Digital Deluxe edition up to the full Collector’s Edition which has even more crap to waste your money on (behind the scenes DVD, soundtrack CD, Art Book and a mousepad).
Beyond this, I’m sure it will be the same Starcraft we know and love. I expect after the release of Heart of the Swarm, it’ll be another three years before we see the final chapter, Legacy of the Void, which focuses on the Protoss.