The closed beta for StarCraft II‘s second and final expansion, Legacy of the Void, launched two days ago, and while the game is in early development and it’s still evolving, there are already a lot of awesome ideas and changes in effect. After two days of playing, here are seven of my favourite ones.
The game starts instantly
No more downtime at the beginning of a multiplayer game. Matches before the beta used to really start at the 4 or 5 minute mark, when you finally had enough resources to build units. The first few minutes before that were about building workers and scouting. Now, the starting number of workers has been doubled, to 12, which really gets things going quickly. I could almost instantly go out and build my first building and plan where to expand my base.
“Archon mode” shakes things up
Despite all the new units, new maps and an upcoming Protoss campaign, “Archon mode” might be the single best thing coming in Legacy of the Void. It’s a multiplayer mode where you share your base and economy with another player — both of you can control any building or unit in the arsenal. Just think about all the possibilities here.
If you are new to the game, things get less stressful because there’s another player managing the same stuff who might even teach you things during battles. StarCraft has always had a crazy learning curve, which can alienate a lot of beginners or inexperienced players. “Archon mode” might be the way to get them back.
And the fun thing about it is that it doesn’t hurt complexity. If everyone is a pro in a match, everything becomes a lot faster. I honestly can’t wait to see “Archon mode” games with Korean Grandmasters non-stop harassing each other.
The video above is by StarCraft II veteran Husky who’s trying out this mode for the first time.
Protoss Adepts are awesome
The coolest thing added to the Protoss army is anything but one dimensional. With blinking Stalkers and invisible Dark Templars, it was already easy to confuse opponents, but the Adept’s abilities are even crazier: The Adept can send out a shade of itself to a target location. It can’t deal damage or be damaged, but can be moved just like any other ground unit. After a set duration the Adept will teleport to the location of its shade.
It’s awesome to mix them up with a couple of Dark Templars. Opponents won’t have a clue what the hell is going on.
Lurkers from the original StarCraft are back
A returning fan-favourite Zerg unit that can outrange those annoying Protoss cannons? Yes please.
No more hour-long Zerg vs Zerg matches
Heart of the Swarm introduced Swarm Hosts, a slow, burrowing Zerg unit that can automatically spawn an endless supply of small locusts. While this was an interesting concept, almost everyone hated it. It made certain games super-long and Zerg became sluggish instead of being the fastest of the three races.
Carbot’s short animation summarises the problem perfectly:
Yeah that’s not the Zerg I want to play.
Massing Swarm Hosts isn’t a viable strategy anymore. Locusts now have a longer spawn timer and they must be spawned manually. Also, with new units, new counters for everything and a faster start, Legacy feels like a totally new game for Zerg. So, problem solved, hopefully.
Zerg Ravager units can destroy Protoss force fields
Now this is something Protoss players will hate. An ability called “Corrosive Bile” can stomp through Protoss force fields and make those costly, sacred units behind them (Sentries) worthless. The upgrade is for the new Ravager unit and it’s relatively late in the tech tree. So it won’t help Zerg players rush Protoss ramps, but finally there’s something effective against those damn Protoss end-game death balls.
The Battlecruiser’s new ability looks cool as hell
The Terran capital ships are now capable of warping anywhere on the map. It’s too early to say how powerful this will be against other races (I had fun with it though, defending my expansions), but one things is for sure: the warp animation looks awesome!
Again, Legacy of the Void is in very early beta. We’ve seen Blizzard removing units and doing drastic redesigns right in the middle of Heart of the Swarm‘s public beta, so things will definitely change. But for now Legacy of the Void looks like the right direction for StarCraft II.