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BlizzCon: Single Player Details, New Screenshots

BlizzCon, the yearly celebration of all things Blizzard, has come to a close. Unlike last year, in which Blizzard fleshed out many new details about the StarCraft 2 gameplay, in this event, the focus was mainly on the single player portion of the game.

Of course, as with all Blizzard events, the latest StarCraft 2 build was playable in the convention hall, and some changes to the gameplay and unit design have been spotted as well. Check out the last part of the post for the new screenshots.

BlizzCon 2009

The StarCraft 2 single player is going to be a completely different experience from StarCraft 1. As we now know, the three campaigns – Terran, Zerg and Protoss –  will be separated into three packages, and each is expected to offer as much content (if not more) than the entire original game.  The first package to be released will contain the Terran campaign, along with full multiplayer capability, featuring all three races, while the next two will be released as expansions in the future.

This new strategy gives Blizzard the opportunity to accomplish a few things, all quite positive (unless you were really anxious about playing all three campaigns without paying more than 50$ for it!):

  • The game, with full Battle.net 2.0 and multiplayer capability, will be released sooner
  • Blizzard will not attempt to rush the single player campaign to satisfy the anxious players waiting for the game’s multiplayer and esports aspects, having time to perfect it up to Blizzard standards
  • The single player campaign will offer a new, unique experience, instead of being a rehash of the same predictable formula we’ve been playing for more than 10 years
  • As full expansions for StarCraft 2, they will also introduce new units, make balance changes, and improve the StarCraft 2 multiplayer game

While this may be disappointing for players who were eager to get their hands on the Zerg or Protoss campaigns, the vast majority of players will likely be excited to be able to play StarCraft 2 sooner, rather than later, and have an assurance that two more expansions are coming in the not-too-distant future. Moreover, for those single player fans, the campaign should be much more satisfying than if it was released in cut-down form.

Quick poll: Would you want to trade places with that Hydralisk?

With beta keys for StarCraft 2 being handed out to BlizzCon attendees, it is safe to say that the beta is fast approaching. Blizzard have had a long time to develop all three races for multiplayer, and according to Chris Sigaty, lead producer, they are now finishing “Wings of Liberty“, the Terran campaign. Since the other campaigns will be released at a future time, the first package should not be far away itself – there isn’t much left to accomplish before it is released. Chris also puts the ballpark for each new expansion at around a year of development.

Zeratul about to kill someone (why else would he not be cloaked?)

Moving on from the technical details, we also have some fresh tidbits about the game and story:

In each campaign, the player will control a major character and follow it throughout the game. As you might have guessed, these will be Jim Raynor for the Terran, Kerrigan for the Zerg, and Zeratul for the Protoss. Controlling your character means more than just moving a hero around on the battlefield, though – the non-RTS portions of StarCraft will resemble more of an RPG.

SC2 Starmap

The game will also provide the player with choices to make about how to proceed in it and perhaps even pose dilemmas that will affect the course of action and plot, but likely not the final outcome. It will feature many more missions – some optional – and allow interested players to explore the StarCraft universe in greater depth and detail. For the Terran campaign, Blizzard have revealed the Starmap, with which the player will navigate and reach chosen missions.

Unfortunately, it is doubtful that this aspect of the game will reach the magnificence of other similarly themed games, such as the other SC2 – Star Control 2, and will more likely stay at the same level of the Command & Conquer inter mission breaks.

SC2 Starmap (?)

Throughout each campaign’s non-linear ~30 missions, the player will also gather resources, with which he will be able to purchase single player-specific upgrades and technology. Players will have to make smart choices with their upgrade paths and pick the right units and technology to fight their chosen battles with. Missions are promised to be much more diverse, as Blizzard tries to avoid the normal “build up a base and kill everything” dead-end formula.

The expanded campaigns will also include many other interesting characters, some of which we’ve seen before, and quite a few new ones. Some new names that have been mentioned are:

  • Valerian Mengsk, son of Arcturus Mengsk from the original StarCraft
  • Tychus Findlay, who we first met in the original StarCraft II cinematic
  • Rory Swann, a former Kel-Morian worker who lead a unsuccesfull revolt. Saved by Jim Raynor, he now serves on the Hyperion as the main engineer, trying to keep the war-torn battlecruiser in fighting shape
  • Gabriel Tosh, a Ghost with supposed ties to Nova of StarCraft: Ghost fame, provides Raynor with his expertise
  • Dr. Ariel Hanson, a young scientist who is also Raynor’s love interest (until he runs into Kerrigan again, at least)

Raynor and Tychus are all bummed out since their supply of alcohol ran out

Blizzard is trying to create something new and exciting for the single player portion of the game. This type of game development is new to Blizzard as well, and it is not surprising that it is taking a long while for them to meet their high standards. By separating the process and releasing the multiplayer game with only a portion of the single player campaign, they are giving themselves the opportunity to perfect the game without delaying it further. The result should please most fans, and provide everyone with a great gaming experience – or so Blizzard, and everyone else, hope.

Finally, Blizzard have also released a few amazing in-game screenshots, featuring new tilesets and giving us a glimpse at the newest unit redesigns.

Here are some notable excerpts:

* A Thor guarding the entrance to the Terran stronghold, completely surrounded by lava


* Jackals, now called Hellions, roasting a huge pack of Zerglings to a crisp with a few fell swoops

Hellion barbque

* The Battlecruiser unleashes its new Missile Barrage on a few poor Zerg fliers

Missile Barrage

* The Medivac Dropship in action, healing Marauders, who come under attack by Roaches

Roach Attack

Wish I had one of these healing rays at home

* A group of Nighthawks, the new design for the old Nomad, come under attach by Archons, who have also received a small facelift


* A few more shots of the new Nighthawks, which seem to have borrowed their design from the more sleek and less square and bulky Protoss, alongside their deployed Auto-Turrets


Nighthawks laying Auto-Turrets

That’s all for now. When the dust settles and all reports from our operatives are handed in, a complete gameplay follow-up piece will be published.

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29 Comments to “BlizzCon: Single Player Details, New Screenshots”

  1. SCV_Operator — October 13, 2008 @ 6:55 am

    All sounds very promising to me. I like playing Terran so having their single player released first suits me. I love Blizzard’s story-telling style, and they have made some great plots in the past, so I don’t see why this would be any different.

    Just hope that it doesn’t work out too expensive!

  2. Adisuki — October 13, 2008 @ 8:21 am

    The new Nighthawk looks sexy XD
    But really, it is much better then the old design, doe the old one looked like a real engineering facility :)
    This one is more like a Knight Rider with wings :)

    Anyways, tnx 4 the info :)

  3. Ledah — October 13, 2008 @ 8:31 am

    Juicy updates…gonna absorb it slowly….yum…

  4. martix — October 13, 2008 @ 11:12 am

    As long as content quality/quantity is kept the same(30 missions per race is an ambitious undertaking) I’m ok with releasing the campaigns separate.

  5. SteelVelocity — October 13, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    To make 40 quests with the same game engine, graphics, sounds, doodads, and balanced units completed should take… what, 1-2 months? They said it could take more than a year in between each release. I fail to see how making 30-40 quests with the same game is going to take a year.

  6. WayneInc — October 13, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

    dunno… but the nighthawks (/nomads) now look really tossy..#

  7. victorvndoom — October 13, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    love the starmap

  8. Lonia — October 13, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

    I am glad to see that thor is still in the game.

  9. Battlarmd — October 13, 2008 @ 7:27 pm

    Don’t like the nighthawk still, though it is a HUGE improvement from the original flying clamp. Right now, it looks very Protoss-like, and definitely doesn’t look like it can drop turrets. I would prefer to see more terran-like bulk to it.

    single campaigne wise, one word, Bravo.

  10. Dill — October 13, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

    How did the different racers play? (If you got a chance to play them)

  11. Nattaboy — October 13, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

    like i said in last post, don’t complain about the separation of the game, they are all full expansions, but stand-alone ones (LIKE DARK CRUSADE FOR Dawn of War)

  12. SCV_Operator — October 14, 2008 @ 5:13 am

    Did anyone see the competitive gaming match between yellow and sonkie? was great to see the game in action, although protoss seriously owned zerg. but yellow (protoss) made better use of the new features, like the stalkers ‘blink’, so maybe that made the difference.

    a couple of things I really liked were the animations for the ultralisks and the archons, the general look and feel of the landscape (very alive). I wasn’t keen on the attack animations for the collossi – the beam moves too quickly from one side to the other, I much prefered the slower searing quality of the beam in the original videos for this unit. I don’t like the attack for the roaches either; it just looks wrong.

    anyone else got thoughts on these or other units?

  13. Vogie — October 14, 2008 @ 9:06 am

    I’m confused… There are still so many questions left unanswered!
    Are the Ex-Nomads Called Nighthawks or Vulkans? Do they still have the Mines? Have they decided a place for the irradiate ability? Now that Missile Barrage is on the Battlecruisers, do Thors have an ability any more? I haven’t even touched the questions for the ‘Toss and Zerg… Why hasn’t Starcraft2.com had a meaningful update since March??

  14. Anonymous — October 14, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    the nighthawk is a BIG improvement from the nomad! props to blizz!

  15. Anonymous — October 14, 2008 @ 10:23 am

    a funny thought came to mind..:D anyone else thinks that the nighthawk looks like johnny 5? =P don’t get me wrong, i love the new nighthawk.

  16. halflotus — October 14, 2008 @ 10:36 am

    The expectation for a finished and complete game is already set. That is the Blizzard mantra: “It’s done when it’s done.” So explaining away this 3 part expansion system with the idea that it will be ‘more finished’ rings hollow.

    It seems to me more of a trend toward to consistent revenue streams – like WoW’s subscription. This is the middle ground.

    Following WotLK’s development very closely, it is apparent that the corporate money hogs have gotten the better of the ‘it’s done when it’s done’ game designers. WotLK is being shipped unfinished (specifically the Hunter class) and with minimal PvP testing. WoW is making SO much money, it is no surprise that things are being rushed to meet the holiday sales period.

    That said, I am sure SC2 and WotLK will both be fantastic games. I have quit WoW due to my disappointment with weak Hunter design development. I intend to play SC2 for quite a very long time though.

    It’s just a little sad to see Blizzard finally cave in to the typical ‘money > quality’ trend that guides the gaming industry and indeed nearly every industry.

    Customers need to talk with their wallets. If game designers are releasing unfinished products, do NOT buy them.

  17. JMM — October 14, 2008 @ 11:37 am

    Nighthawks are super sexy.

  18. Anonymous — October 14, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    Haha I fully agree with comment re looking like Johnny 5!! Saw new nomad first and didnt think twice but saw J 5 on tv the other day, came back to this site and couldnt stop thinking bout the comparison!

  19. THE_BANANA_REPUBLIC — October 14, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

    I would totally change places with that Hydralisk.

  20. victorvndoom — October 14, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

    wonder if the release of the three games (starcraft II part 1, part2, part3) is spreaded ?

  21. POOSTER — October 14, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

    I’ve got to agree with SCV_Operator’s post where he says the roaches’ attack animation is odd. It’s spitting and clawing at the same time when it attacks, even if there’s nothing in front of it to claw at when it’s fighting a ranged unit. Hopefully they’ll fix that. The colossus looks a little weak in the sc2 match they showed, although I’m not sure if it’s because he was using it wrong.

    Other than that, the zerg creep looks awesome. The zerg building still look a little odd. Maybe they could make the buildings sink and merge with the creep more so that it doesn’t look like a separate structure plopped down on the creep.

    Here’s the sc2 match they showed at blizzcon if anyone wants to watch. It’s Sonkie vs. Yellow:


  22. Ged — October 15, 2008 @ 4:59 am

    StarControl2 was great indeed. And when they first announced a non linear single-player campaign, I hoped they’d do something SControl2-like. I hope they manage to do something as fun. Unfortunately part of the fun of SControl2 was all the different races and their different personalities, which (AFAIK) doesn’t fit well in the SC2 universe since the races are pretty much locked to the 3 known ones.

  23. George — October 17, 2008 @ 4:10 pm

    Would trade places with that Hydralisk without thinking twice.

  24. A Zerg Player — October 21, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

    That Hydralisk tier drop really pisses me off, if anything they should of made them stronger because roaches already have the ranged/speciality thing down for the zerg

  25. Silent Minstrel — November 2, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

    Wow, that Nighthawk look so hi-tech that it is so out of place..Viking should look like that IMHO.

  26. Dan — November 5, 2008 @ 9:44 am

    Everything looks SOOO great! I’m glad to see the Thor still and I must say that the nighthawk is pretty pimp. I do not like however the multiple release dates. I agree with Halflotus’s comments on 16 post. I mean, i want to play as much as anybody, but I am willing to wait for an entirely finished game with all 3 races on one disc. $150 bucks, who cares!? C’mon Blizzard hook us up right!!

  27. nfx — November 8, 2008 @ 2:45 am

    yeah..me 2 man… i thought it would be release this October…ever since i watched the “Demo” that makes really makes me happy!im sick of playing the orginalStarcraft:Brood war game coz ,my friends keep laughing at me when i play that game..until now…but when i heard that they are GOING to RELEASE the SC2 game this 2009(I guess??)man!!i really cant wait to show my friends about this!This GAME is really WICKED! totally! i really hope they will release the game as fast as possible!i dont want anymore DELAY! if i have to EMPTY my Wallet!i will! BRinG it on! BLizZard!

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