You might be wondering if the new StarCraft II prologue, Whispers of Oblivion, is any good. I am here to tell you that yes, sure. It's good! Short and sweet. The bigger question -- and one I'm still not sure about -- is whether you should pre-order Legacy of the Void to get it.
Let me explain.
Yesterday, Blizzard released three new StarCraft II missions that you can get right now if you pre-purchase the next game in the series, SCII: Legacy of the Void. The three missions will be free for everyone later this year, so this isn't one of those tacky Assassin's Creed costume-type deals, but if you want them right now, you'll have to pay $US40.
This mini-campaign -- Whispers of Oblivion -- is pretty standard StarCraft fare. Mission one has you build a protoss base and gradually take an army across the map, dodging a zerg swarm while you rescue templars from big bases full of protoss-terran hybrids. Mission two is set on a planet where vespene gas is in short supply. Mission three tasks you with guiding Zeratul and a small army through an obstacle-laden temple.
The campaign is nothing special -- don't expect any big plot revelations here -- but it makes for a good intro to the protoss campaign and it scratches that itch for new single-player SCII missions, which is always nice. With it you'll also get access to the Legacy of the Void multiplayer beta, which has sped up matches and changed the meta-game in a ton of ways. (Seriously, it feels like a different game now.)
So now we are at a dilemma. On one hand, pre-orders are gross and evil and big publishers tend to find shady ways to encourage them. Putting money down before you know whether a game is good -- or whether it even works -- is generally a bad move. Pre-ordering games like Assassin's Creed Unity or Arkham Knight on PC can lead to some seriously disappointing Christmases.
On the other hand, Legacy of the Void seems like one of the few games that's actually worth pre-ordering, for a number of compelling reasons:
1) You get these three single-player missions now.
2) You get to play LOTV online from now until whenever the beta ends -- I've been doing this since March and can confirm that it is great. (LOTV multiplayer starts you with double the workers, which makes games so much faster than they were in Heart of the Swarm. It's a small but incredible change.)
3) If you're a StarCraft fan, you're probably going to buy the game on launch anyway, so you'd might as well get these perks now.
4) Perhaps most importantly, Blizzard's got a pretty good track record. Although they have had some online stumbles -- Diablo III's fumbled launch comes to mind -- their games tend to be exceptionally polished and really good (cheesy writing aside), which is why it takes them so damn long to make everything.
So. Although I am generally on Team Never Pre-Order Video Games, I'll break ranks here and say that if you're interested in StarCraft, and you can afford to put the money down, this might be a decent time to break the NO PRE-ORDERS rule.