Good things come to those who wait – and those who have been waiting for the new announcement from Blizzard are in luck. The first few official glimpses of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm have just been released, including a shiny new trailer, some screenshots and a handy Q&A.
The screens are tucked away in our file library, so head over and take a look. While you’re waiting for them to load, here’s some of the questions that Blizzard think you’ll want to know the answers to:
Q: What is StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm?
A: Heart of the Swarm is the first expansion set to Blizzard Entertainment’s sci-fi real time strategy game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Heart of the Swarm continues the epic story from Wings of Liberty with an all-new campaign that focuses on Kerrigan, the erstwhile Queen of Blades. New multiplayer content will also be included in the expansion, as well as new features and upgrades to the Battle.net online platform.
[img_big]center,8016,2011-05-31/KaldirSet02.jpg,Heart of the Swarm[/img_big]
Q: What features can we expect from the single-player campaign of Heart of the Swarm?
A: Heart of the Swarm‘s campaign will include approximately 20 new missions. Players will be able to evolve their swarms with unique, campaign-only units and abilities, and this evolution will happen in an organic manner befitting of the expansion’s Zerg theme. As an example, zerglings can be induced to evolve the ability to split into broodlings upon death. Further evolution can yield specialized sub-species of zerglings such as the swarmling, a variant that spawns three swarmlings per larvae instead of the standard two zerglings. The fearsome raptor is another evolutionary offshoot of the zergling that has more health, and the ability to leap short distances to quickly close the gap on an enemy.
Another aspect of Heart of the Swarm that makes it unique from Wings of Liberty is that Kerrigan will play a major role in each of the battles as a powerful hero. Over the course of the campaign she gains in strength as well as new capabilities. Players will choose what abilities to enhance and powers to use from mission to mission.
Heart of the Swarm will also include a wider variety of sets for players to explore between missions — these sets change dynamically as players complete missions, giving a sense of a changing world as Kerrigan makes her presence felt throughout the galaxy. Fully-voiced cut-scenes will round out the cinematic gaming experience in Heart of the Swarm’s campaign, while a new array of achievements will unlock in-game rewards such as portraits and decals.
Q: Will there be any technical upgrades to the graphics engine?
A: We’ll be making some improvements to the graphics, including upgrades to the look and behavior of zerg creep, as well as some changes that allow our artists to better showcase the new types of planets that Kerrigan will explore in Heart of the Swarm. We still plan to keep the minimum hardware requirements the same for this expansion set as they were in Wings of Liberty.
[img_big]center,8016,2011-05-31/Charset04-Abathur_manages_the_evolution_of_your_swarm.jpg,Heart of the Swarm[/img_big]
Q: What are some of the changes made to multiplayer Heart of the Swarm?
A: While we’re not quite ready to go into detail about the new multiplayer content in Heart of the Swarm, we can say that this expansion set will include new units and new maps. We’ll have more details about multiplayer Heart of the Swarm content at BlizzCon.
Q: What changes will come to Battle.net with Heart of the Swarm?
A: As far as Battle.net improvements, one primary focus will be on getting the StarCraft Marketplace up and running at some point around the launch of Heart of the Swarm. The maps and mods community in StarCraft II has published tens of thousands of custom maps using the StarCraft II editor. Our goal with the new Marketplace design will be in upgrading the custom map UI to better showcase the wide variety of great new maps and mods to players who are looking for fun new gaming experiences. We want players to be able to more easily find, rate, and sort through all the great custom maps that have been created.
The Marketplace will also eventually include a commerce element that will allow mapmakers to charge a fee for their work. While there will always be a wealth of free content, we believe that allowing content creators to profit from their work will foster an environment for more complex and higher-quality custom maps. Our ultimate hope is that the StarCraft Marketplace will function and thrive in a similar manner as mobile “app-stores” — tons of free and premium content for players, and a limitless source of entertainment through StarCraft II and Battle.net.
We do have other Battle.net feature upgrades and improvements planned as well, and we’ll have more details on those at a later date.
Q: Will Heart of the Swarm require ownership of Wings of Liberty?
A: For the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, yes, Wings of Liberty will be required in order to play Heart of the Swarm. For other regions that have alternative access models, we’ll provide details at a later date.
[img_big]center,8016,2011-05-31/Kaldir03-native_fauna_play_a_role_on_the_planet_of_Kaldir.jpg,Heart of the Swarm[/img_big]
Q: How much will Heart of the Swarm cost?
A: We typically don’t provide details about pricing until the game is closer to release. We do view Heart of the Swarm as an expansion set, so for the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, we will price accordingly. For other regions that have alternative business models, we’ll provide details at a later date.
Q: Will there be a console version of Heart of the Swarm?
A: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is being developed for Windows and Mac. We have no current plans to bring StarCraft II to any console platform.
Q: When is Heart of the Swarm coming out?
A: It’s too early to talk about a specific release date at this point in time. As with all Blizzard games, our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience for our players, and we will take as much time as is needed to ensure that Heart of the Swarm meets the expectations of our players, as well as our own high standards.
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