When Blizzard announced, several years ago, that the story of StarCraft II would be divided into three parts (base game plus two expansions), opinion among the fans was naturally split. Not only would this require players to spend more money, but knowing Blizzard, it would be necessary to wait a long time for the complete collection. The first fear was quickly overcome, as each part of StarCraft II has presented a level of content and quality that completely justifies the price, but it has not been as easy to wait for each chapter - Wings of Liberty was released over four years ago.
At least they have now started talking about the last expansion, Legacy of the Void. All we knew before BlizzCon was that this would be the end of the story and it would focus on the Protoss faction. Blizzard's annual event brought us new information about the game, starting with the moment when Dustin Browder took the stage to reveal a surprising piece of news.
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void will not be treated as an expansion for Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm, but as a standalone product. This means players don't have to own the previous two chapters to buy and enjoy the Legacy of the Void. Heart of the Swarm, on the other hand, requires Wings of Liberty.
Other than that Legacy of the Void is inline with what's expected: it will consist of a campaign dedicated to the Protoss, which will complete the trilogy and introduce new features for the multiplayer mode. Some units will be specific to the solo mode, but the three races will receive updates to their online composition.
In the campaign players will take the role of Heirarch Artanis, a character that appeared briefly in Wings of Liberty. In short, he's an important figure in the world of the Protoss. In Wings of Liberty players used the Hyperion, in Heart of the Swarm they were aboard a Leviathan, but in Legacy of the Void you will control operations from the Spear of Adun. This is a massive ship and a wonder of technology - even by the ridiculous standards set by the Protoss - despite being ancient.
Amon, the last remnant of the old Xel'naga race, is preparing to exterminate all life with an army of Protoss and Zerg hybrids, and everyone will need to join forces to deal with this threath. StarCraft II has been building up to this conflict, and players will finally have the chance to experience it.
Before reaching what we assume will be a massive last battle, you will need to perform several other tasks. During BlizzCon we had the opportunity to try one of these missions. In fact, this will be one of the first missions of the game. Spear of Adun is not in the best condition, but you will need to protect the evacuation of the Protoss population on a planet that succumbed to the might of the Zerg. The level structure is classic StarCraft II, instructing us to protect some Warpgates while we are attacked regularly by Zerg - sometimes accompanied by a massive underground monster.
It's easy to get discouraged when this happens, as it seems an impossible task to deal with these Zerg forces and evacuate all the people. Good thing that the weapons of the Spear of Adun - in orbit - are finally online. This allows us to execute a massive attack that will destroy most Zerg forces, an option we hope will endure throughout the course of the campaign.
Another feature of this mission is that it allows the summoning of Pylons - the crystal used to feed power to the Protoss buildings - sporadically, without requiring a construction unit. In other words, you can bypass all the usual logistics and gather resources more quickly.
As was the case in the previous two chapters, you will be able to talk to several characters during missions, collecting new details about the story. You can also evolve several units and buildings, but the Protoss stand out from the previous two in this regard. A choice was usually final in previous chapters, but in Legacy of the Void you may change these mission skills between missions. A Zealot, for example, may receive a new whirling attack that damages multiple enemies at once, or can gain a skill that allows him to perform an attack while invisible. The Stalkers can also be improved to a form that resemble the classic Dragoons, from StarCraft: Brood War.
This brings us to the multiplayer mode, which will receive another old favourite from the Brood War expansion, the Lurker. This is a evolution from the Hydralisk, with the ability to go underground and deploy powerful attacks to various units. The Zerg also have another - the Ravager - that will evolve from the Roach. The Ravager can trigger very powerful long-range attacks, but is weak at close range.
Terrans will have access to a new unit called Herc, a unit with lots of health, but little armour, making it ideal for handling enemy units like Immortals. The Herc also has access to a grappling hook, and that allows them to close-in quickly on the enemy.
As for the new multiplayer units for the Protoss, Blizzard only showed the Disruptor. It's a peculiar unit in the sense that it has no continuous attacks, but can store energy for four seconds and then release a massive area attack around it. The Carrier has also undergone some changes, as you can now control the fate of ships it carries, and the Carrier itself independently.
Some of the biggest news will be implemented in the economy. Each player now starts with twelve workers instead of six. This removes some of the most boring parts of the early game, accelerating the pace of matches. Another change is that there are now less minerals in each area, forcing players to expand their bases across the map.
Before we finish, we must talk about the new Archon mode. This mode puts two teams of two players against each other, but there are only two factions. Basically, two players will control the same faction, instead of running two allied factions. We are curious to see how this might work with well-coordinated players.
It's good that Blizzard are already talking about Legacy of the Void, although they maintain the release date as a very vague "soon." Our thoughts? The beta testing phase should start in the first months of the year, and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void will be released sometime during the second or third quarter of next year.