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StarCraft 2 Beta: First Gameplay and Battle.net Impressions

Blizzard has delivered. Thousands of people have already downloaded and installed the StarCraft 2 Beta, the Battle.net 2.0 platform is online and fully operational (where it counts), maps are downloaded swiftly, and finding a match takes seconds.

In general, the beta seems to be going very smoothly. Many players already populate the various leagues, the interface is smooth and quite intuitive, and is, amazingly, integrated into every part of the game in a very unobtrusive and efficient way. Some complaints about unused space have been made, but where it matters – inside the game – it functions beautifully.

Download Count Error - Over 16777% !

Ten Blizzard maps have been made available, all in either 1v1 or 2v2 sizes, on a variety of tilesets:

  • Blistering Sands
  • Desert Oasis
  • Scrap Station
  • Steppes of War
  • Kulas Ravine
  • Lost Temple
  • Metropolis
  • Twilight Fortress
  • Shakruras Plateau

Some maps come in two flavors – novice and normal. Novice type maps have a slightly modified topography and provide players with conditions conducive to less eventful early games.

Novice And Regular StarCraft 2 Maps

Battle.net’s post-match screen includes a very informative tab that provides a clear summary of each players’ build orders, directly compared to each other. This second-by-second view provides a great insight into the first crucial minutes of the game and will help players understand where exactly they might have gone wrong without taking the time to go over the replay.

Build Order for the win!

Next on today’s agenda, we’ve compiled a short list of changes to the game we haven’t heard about before the beta began:

  • When a Protoss player has one or more Warpgates, hitting “W” will select all of them, making warping units to the field a button-click away at all times.
  • Lurkers are no longer a part of the game. The unit is completely gone.
  • The Protoss macro mechanic has been replaced. Instead of the periodic Probe mining bonus, the Nexus now has “Chrono Boost“, a 25-energy ability that the Nexus can use on ANY building, including those of allies, to increase the speed of unit production and research. Extremely useful in all situations, from the beginning of the game (build Probes faster) to the end (Build Mothership faster).
  • Speaking of the Mothership, its “Black Hole” ability now functions as a souped-up Stasis Field, sucking up all units around the area of effect and keeping them trapped in another dimension for a short period before spitting them all out when it dissipates. Use with a well-timed Nuke for bonus points.
  • Mentioned just a couple of days before the beta, Banelings can now again be used as underground mines, detonating while burrowed. However, the favorite strategy with Banelings is currently “get a lot of them and roll into the enemy base”.
  • There is NO chat on battle.net besides that with your friends and the “parties” you form with them. No regional or global channels like in StarCraft 1, and no chat gem either.
  • The Battlecruiser no longer has different abilities to choose from. Instead, only the Yamato Cannon is available after being researched at the Fusion Core.

Battlecrusiers Yamatoing

  • When a player losses all his main structures (Command Center, Hatchery, Nexus), all his units and structures are revealed to the enemy. This measure was implemented to prevent players from abusing the players who just beat them by playing Pylon hide-and-seek. However, it is already raising some concern about end-case situations (stalemates, players still having enough money, etc). The SC2Blog recommends turning this feature off in tournaments and other high-level competitions.

If you’re having a hard time letting go of your recently acquired StarCraft 2 Beta, you can now enjoy its theme music even when doing what you should have been doing instead of playing:
Terran theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcghLSIpZlM
Zerg theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ivYHY8V-XA
Protoss theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuh96ogWoAc
Menu theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVNyU-BF9wg

For players who are not in the beta and are eager for some action, here are some new high-definition gameplay videos. If you’re looking for more, stay tuned and keep an eye over our Facebook page – it will periodically be updated with noteworthy live streams, as they occur.

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