Zerg Alert: StarCraft II international launch details

Blizzard has issued a grand invitation: March 11th will see the international launch of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, with events to be held in Australia, Brazil, France, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. If you can’t get there, don’t stress! A 21-hour launch broadcast is also planned, featuring Blizzard staff and noted eSports commentator Sean “Day[9]” Plott.

Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime explains:

The StarCraft community has been anticipating Heart of the Swarm for a long time. I believe you will find it was worth the wait. We’re looking forward to celebrating the release by hosting an awesome global launch party in two weeks and delivering our best StarCraft content to date.

Let me tell you about this global launch party. Starting off at 8pm March 11th, Australian Eastern Daylight Time (What’s that in my timezone?), the stream promises live coverage of Australian, French, South Korean and U.S. launch events, plus additional exclusive content, community-created videos and some pro-gaming “King of the Beta” matches.

Regardless of where in the world you are, the Heart of the Swarm events mean you’ll be given the opportunity to pick up the Standard Edition of the game, if that’s how you roll – or perhaps the retail-exclusive Collector’s Edition, packed with extra goodies:

  • Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-ray: Immerse yourself in the StarCraft universe with developer commentary, interviews with voice actors, and an in-depth historical retrospective on StarCraft’s eSports legacy narrated by key members of the community.
  • Collector’s Edition Soundtrack CD: Enhance your Heart of the Swarm musical experience with this collection of 11 tracks from the game.
  • Heart of the Swarm Hardcover Art Book: This 144-page tome features never-before-seen art from the expansion, including early concept sketches and meticulous 3D renderings.
  • Zerg Rush Mousepad: This Collector’s Edition mousepad depicts the Terran Dominion holding out desperately under the onslaught of the Swarm.
  • StarCraft II Torrasque: Crush the enemies of the Swarm with the indomitable Torrasque, a fearsome new look for your zerg Ultralisks.
  • StarCraft II Portraits and Decals: New Swarm-infested portraits and decals help you customize the look of your online profile and in-game army.
  • World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: The Baneling companion pet is bursting with enthusiasm and ready to explode onto the Pet Battles scene.
  • Diablo III Blade Wings and Banner Sigil: Grow zerg-like wings in honor of the Queen of Blades, and unfurl an exclusive banner sigil to mark your allegiance to the Swarm in Sanctuary.

If by now, you’re not familiar with what’s actually going on in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, here’s a quick recap: Picking up where Wings of Liberty left off, the new game focusses on Kerrigan’s quest to reunite the Swarm, taking her revenge on Arcturus Mengsk.

She has 20 campaign missions to work with, as players follow the Queen of Blades across the galaxy, picking up new zerg species as she goes, and growing in strength. Expect new abilities, mutated strains and subspecies, as well as a whole bunch of new stuff in the game’s multiplayer. We’re talking new units (including Protoss Tempests, Terran Hellbats and Zerg Swarm Hosts), and new upgrades and capabilities for those in Wings of Liberty.

[img_big]center,8016,2011-05-31/KerriganUpgrade02-each_battle_focus_has_a_different_set_of_abilities.jpg,StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm[/img_big]

There’s a bunch of extra bits and pieces added to the game itself – group and clan systems, Global Play, unranked matchmaking, stat tracking, multiplayer replays, a new levelling system, enhanced physics system and user interface improvements, to name just a few.

Now, if you’re not close enough to one of the nine official launch events, don’t stress – thousands of stores will be open at midnight around the globe, helping to welcome players and roll out the next chapter in the epic StarCraft II saga. Check with your preferred retailer to see what’s going on near you – and head to http://www.StarCraft2.com/SwarmLaunch for all the latest updates.

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