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The second installment of the StarCraft 2 Battle Report series delivered. With both players being “StarCraft II team’s associate game balance designers“, there was little time wasted on figuring things out and both proceeded to pound each other aggressively throughout the game.

Battle Report 2

Just like the first Battle Report, the map chosen for this match also includes plenty of novelties which weren’t part of StarCraft I’s terrain:

The brand new Brush terrain acts as a line-of-sight barrier; an artificial cliff on plain ground. There are a few obvious usages for it:

  • Retreating units to find cover from ranged pursuers.
  • Approaching long-range heavy hitters without taking damage.
  • Ambushing with either Melee or Ranged units – without scouting, units can easily wander into a close range trap.

Blistering Sands StarCrarft 2 Map

*Green – Brush. *Yellow Squares = Starting Spots. *Yellow Circles = Natural Expansions. *Red = High Yield

Blistering Sands includes Brush on top of the second access ramp to the players’ bases, providing a secondary line of defense in case the ramp gets overtaken. Next to each ramp there is another Brush, which is used as a retreating path for attackers. The Zerg player puts it to good use at [8:41] to lose the pursuing Terran Reapers.

The game includes active use of the recently introduced Macro “Buffs” – and indeed, these are no longer chores but decisions made by players to alter their production and resource gathering rates. The Zerg Queens spawns additional larva at [5:13] to initiate a counter attack against the early Terran offensive, and the Terran puts the Mules to good use in his new expansion at [19:50].

StarCraft 2 Mules

The Battle includes several interesting battles, which shed a lot of light on the Terran’s new best friend – Splash Damage. We’ve mentioned before how the Terran appear to have a lot of Area of Effect attacks “on paper” … well, this match showcases this nicely, without even featuring any ground vehicles.

The Reaper’s Detonation Charges coupled with Banelings cause a mutual annihilation of armies at [10:25], a Nighthawk self-destructs on Banelings in what was confirmed to be a Hunter Seeker Missile mishap at [14:50], and Zerg dancing ensues when the Terran goes missile-happy at [18:30].

Mutual Destruction - Zerg and Terran in their natural enviroment

The Zerg got a chance to showcase many of their new abilities, with Banelings receiving plenty of air time throughout the whole game. With infantry receiving NO HEALING, the Banelings’ splash and the regenerating Roaches usually had the upper hand on the Terran M&M (that’s Marauders and Marines now), which later managed to push the Zerg back only with the help of some Aerial support.

Notable features, changes and abilities in this Battle Report include:

  • Infestors can spawn Infested Terrans (ranged Infantry unit), no infestation needed. Appear to pop out in groups of five.
  • Burrowing does not save you from Hunter-Seeker Missiles.
  • Each Marauder takes up two out of four slots when placed inside a bunker. [13:31]
  • Zerg Banelings don’t roll, but walk into targets.
  • The Zerg’s defensive structure, the Spine Crawler, has relatively fast movement speed, but long burrow-setup time [7:15]
  • Terran Mules insta-mine crystals, and emerge from drop-pods ralatively quickly when called for.
  • The Zerg Hydralisk appears to have a Melee attack now, and one is clearly seen here clawing away at a Terran Auto-Turret.

The map’s new qualities play an important and integral role throughout the match. Many battles are waged around the Xel’Naga watch towers as units tend to gravitate towards it to receive the benefit of its sight range. The Zerg player put constant pressure on the Terran’s secondary choke point in order to take out the barrier blocking the path leading directly into his base. The Brush was used effectively as a cut off point on open terrain and created another position of interest on the map that a skillful player could exploit.

Collectively, the new terrain features have a great impact on the way the game is played. Every map now comes with a well defined selection of key points which grant certain units and races an advantage by default. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard decides to introduce additional terrain features in the future, to take the game even further in this direction.

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