The release includes new mutliplayer features and mission styles
There comes a moment in every gamers’ life when they experience an engrossing sense of anticipation. This is precisely how I felt while eagerly waiting for StarCraft’s Heart of the Swarm expansion to be released. Before I knew it, I was cheering at my computer screen as the countdown timer finally reached zero.
Two years ago, Blizzard launched StarCraft 2 and revitalized the real-time strategy (RTS) genre by creating a new, vibrant landscape for eSports. On Tuesday, Blizzard launched the first of two expansions for StarCraft 2, titled Heart of the Swarm (HotS).
The launch was preceded Monday with an all-day stream of events culminating in a show match between a French player, Stephano, and a Dutch player named Grubby that peaked at over 100,000 views on Twitch TV — an online gaming entertainment community.
The expansion was released in two versions: a standard version for $40 and a collector’s edition priced around $80 that includes tons of extras and goodies. The expansion’s new campaign focuses on the Zerg, thus shedding light on anti-heroine Kerrigan’s struggle between humanity and her role as the Zerg’s Queen of Blades.
Following in the footsteps of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (WOL), HotS’ campaign offers varied mission styles that incorporate more role-playing game (RPG) elements than traditional RTS missions. Players can control the Zerg swarm and can, by upgrading units in WoL’s latest campaign, mutate Zerg units to form the perfect swarm.
For example, the staple Zerg unit called the Zergling can be mutated into either the Raptors-Zerglings or the Swarmling, both of which have their fair advantages. The Raptors-Zerglings come equipped with wings that allow them to leap over cliffs, while the Swarmlings are capable of producing more Zerglings than usual from an egg.
The game’s campaign has perfect pacing. Though multiplayer is something I usually avoid since I tend to psych myself out during ranked games, HotS alleviates such stress by adding in an experience-based system that allows players to gain levels for each race. Players can gain experience by simply playing games with a certain race, which will unlock rewards such as portraits or a variety of character skins.
Before long, I stopped becoming fixated on my ladder standings and became far more fixated on playing better in order to earn experience, while having fun with the new units. Terran Widow Mines, a reimagined version StarCraft’s Spider Mine, and the Zerg’s Swarm Hosts definitely make for new favorites due to their sheer ability to annoy fellow players. The new units also put all the pros of gaming on a level playing field, allowing for the first months following the expansion’s release to be full of interesting competitive play.
HotS offers a gaming experience for just about everybody by blending a unique story with competitive gaming, while also considering gamers who simply wish to have fun.