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Lately, we’ve been given an inconsistent stream of mixed messages, in an almost “good news, bad news” fashion. The good news is that images ready for Beta and pre-Beta StarCraft 2 players have been found on Battle.net’s servers. The bad news is that despite the fact that it has been a week, no Blizzard representative has mentioned the find, but the images haven’t been pulled down either.

The existence of these images and the fact that Blizzard has not pulled them down might very well mean that there are people that are using Battle.net and are actually seeing these images.

Full Banner image and box
Pre-Beta StarCraft 2 box
Header image – see linked image name
Beta StarCraft 2 Box image

It’s plausible that these are the real images placed in interfaces that are used by people that have access to the pre-beta testing of StarCraft 2. This is what an account with pre-beta access may look like:

(Courtesy of StarCraftwire)

On Friday, 10th of April,  Blizzard has also released the much anticipated second StarCraft 2 Battle Report – which was pulled down minutes later, before anyone had managed to grab a copy. The report was available on StarCraft2.com, but now, all that remains is the image of the Blistering Sands map, on which the battle took place.

A day before the leak, Karune had assured us that the real Battle Report launch is right around the corner:

Localization is just about finished and we are clearing it through a few more legal channels, as certain countries are more cautious when it comes to gore in video games. I know I’ve been telling ya, but it shouldn’t be too much longer. Will keep you updated.

Another April Fools’ has gone by in wait for StarCraft 2. As expected, the fan sites’ beta tease was indeed bogus, and it appears that, in accordance with our analysis of the game’s state, the beta will not be released any time soon. In the latest BlizzCast, Dustin Browder, lead game designer, gives the word:

A lot of the stuff people are seeing in-game right now, I know we’re showing a lot of material, I know people are looking at it saying, “If this looks really good, it must be close to final.” That’s certainly not how the art team feels about it right and they’ve been going over it and hitting individual units as we go forward, individual races, and the Zerg in terms of their buildings and even their units are still the furthest behind in that respect. There is still a lot more work to go into the Zerg , for instance the hatchery, the lair, the hive are all going to go under massive revisions here in the next couple of weeks as we really punch up the art to really represent these iconic, critical, central buildings to a Zerg base.  So there is still a lot of work to go into it

It’s going to be a while before StarCraft 2 is widely available, unfortunately.

Something good did happen this April 1st, though. The Terran Terra-Tron!

TerranTerraTron

To create a truly comprehensive defense for high-priority, mineral-rich regions such as the volcanic uplands of Redstone, the terrans needed to devise an entirely new concept in battlefield strategy. Terran military engineers, led by Goraion Systems’ head of development Dr. Ron Volt, have been working day and night to design a new kind of base for the terran armies: the titanic Terra-tron.

The Terra-Tron, Blizzard’s April Fools’ unit for this year, is a true marvel. Composed out of the entire base, it’s equipped with enough armor and fire power to take down whole armies. While we won’t be seeing it in the normal version of the single- or multi-player game, Karune does confirm that just like last year’s April Fools’ unit, the Tron will make an appearance in the map editor. Make sure to watch the videos of it transforming and terrorizing the city.

Another StarCraft 2 related answer from the last BlizzCast deals with the game’s new air model. Here’s a summary of  Dustin’s comments:

  • Zerg Mutalisks are still used for fast raiding operations
  • In large groups, they are also useful for late-game direct assaults
  • The Terran Banshees can power right through base defenses with their powerful anti-ground attack
  • The Protoss Void Ray is similarly threatening
  • Protoss Carriers have a much longer range than in StarCraft 1
  • Dedicated anti air units, like the Zerg Corruptor and Protoss Phoenix, serve an important role to counter the aforementioned threats

Corruptors

Moving on, a new Terran Nighthawk ability has been revealed, along with some more news about the unit’s other ability. Here’s what we know about the Hunter-Seeker Missile:

  • Costs 75 energy, has no cooldown
  • Slowly moves towards a unit and detonates on impact, dealing 150 AoE damage
  • Meant to deal with slow units, such as spell casters or stationary ones
  • Requires the Fusion Core (prereq building for Battlecrusiers) to be researched
  • Runs out of fuel and harmlessly falls to the ground after 15 seconds

On paper, this cooldown-less ability sounds extremely powerful. With an energy upgrade, the Nighthawk can release three Hunter-Seekers one after the other, devastating entire Tier-1 armies or taking out key units from mixed armies. All this assuming, of course, that the enemy doesn’t immediately retreat his targeted unit to safety. It’s likely that the targeted unit will be marked so that it can be moved out of harm’s way by the player, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

Nighthawks

This ability overlaps somewhat with the Ghost’s Psi Round, another ability geared towards caster-hunting. It’s also interesting to note that all of the Nighthawk’s abilities have returned to being energy-dependent, with Auto-Turret only costing 50 minerals.

Finally, Karune answers a question about rallying troops into transports. Taking automation a step further, Karune confirms that units can be rallied directly into transports – a mechanism which will see plenty of use in the hands of a infantry drop-happy Terran. Karune also answers another question about what happens when an ally drops from the game:

1) Yup, you will be able to – and you can also rally straight into transport units like dropships as well.
2) Yes- though currently all the resources your ally makes after he leaves will go directly into your pool of resources. This is by no means final or balanced yet- there will be changes still.

With MBS and Dropship rally, a deadly infantry drop takes just a few clicks to prepare.

Medivac Dropship

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