Are you one of the lucky ones? Blizzard has just confirmed that the StarCraft II closed beta test has started! They’re sending out invitations to thousands of gamers around the world, offering them the chance to be among the first to play this highly-anticipated real-time strategy offering.
It’s not all fun and games though (heh) – beta testers are also being asked to give feedback on StarCraft II, with a focus on multiplayer balance; but they’re also being given a first look at the freshly rebuilt Battle.net service. First discussed properly at last year’s BlizzCon, the new Battle.net will soon be the online platform for all of Blizzard‘s games, including World of Warcraft.
Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment (and decent bass player), explains:
“Gathering concentrated feedback from our players is an important step for us as we head into the final stretch of development for StarCraft II and the new Battle.net service.
We look forward to having our players’ help in polishing the overall experience and preparing for launch.”
Living under a rock? Here’s the lowdown:
StarCraft II is the sequel to the 1998 smash StarCraft, which is still considered one of the best real-time strategy games of all time, more than a decade later. The problem with such a great leadup is that the original plans for a sequel proved to be too much, and StarCraft II has now been split into three fully-featured games. The first, Wings of Liberty will focus largely on the Terran side of the story (don’t worry! The Zerg and Protoss will still be involved – their stories will be fully explored in the remaining two titles, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void).
The game itself has been polished up and now sports a stunning new 3D graphics engine, but the gameplay we’ve come to know and love is still intact. Each side will feature an arsenal of veteran unit types, as well as some which have been upgraded, and still more that are brand new for the sequel.
Then, there’s Battle.net, which is shaping up to be something pretty awesome indeed. The entire system has been completely overhauled, with the new version launching alongside StarCraft II, boasting a bunch of new enhancements and features, sure to set it apart as the premier online gaming destination for Blizzard fans.
All of this is due to launch “some time” this year, but I’d put my money on that being later, rather than sooner. There have been no revelations on how long the beta will run, how many people will be involved and whether or not an Open beta will follow, so – maybe don’t hold your breath.
If you’ve gotten this far and are now champing at the bit – but don’t have a beta key – don’t stress. To get more information about what’s in store, head over to the official StarCraft II website, or – to set up a Battle.net account (and effectively sign up for your chance to get into the beta test), then you’re probably better off going to Battle.net’s site instead.