Q: What is StarCraft II?
A: StarCraft II is the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game, and the sequel to the hit original, StarCraft. The game will include three completely distinct and balanced races, the protoss, terran, and zerg, which have been overhauled and re-imagined with a number of new units for each, as well as new tricks for some of the classic units that are returning.
Q: When is the game coming out?
A: Our release target for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the first half of 2010. As with all Blizzard Entertainment games, we will take as much time as needed to ensure the game is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible.
Q: When will you begin the beta test for StarCraft II?
A: We’re not ready to give an exact date, but we’re working hard to release the beta as soon as possible.
Q: How will StarCraft II be different from StarCraft?
A: StarCraft II will run on a vibrant new 3D-graphics engine capable of rendering beautiful landscapes as well as massive army sizes. The speed, responsiveness, and epic-scale battles that made the original StarCraft such a memorable game are all realized in 3D with this brand-new engine.
We’re also introducing a number of distinct new units to the protoss, terran, and zerg, and some of the familiar units that return in StarCraft II will have new tricks up their sleeves, which will give the game its own unique flavor. The maps themselves will also offer new interactive elements that enhance the strategic nature of the game and create more tactical points of interest for players to contest. One example of this is the Xel’Naga watchtower structure—when captured, it reveals line of sight over a large area of the map, creating an advantage for the player in control of the tower.
In addition, Battle.net will be overhauled with some new and exciting features to enhance online play and competition, while the single-player campaign will also offer some unique aspects for players to enjoy. The single-player campaign in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty features branching missions and the ability to customize your army by purchasing special units and upgrades that persist between missions.
Q: How do players customize their army in the single-player campaign of Wings of Liberty?
A: The campaign offers players different ways to customize their armies to suit their playing style and better tackle the challenges within the missions. Credits earned from completing missions can be used to buy the services of mercenary units that players can deploy in battle. Mercenaries are more powerful versions of standard units in the game; for example, Kel’Morian mercenary marines have higher armor and damage output than a regular marine. Any skilled mercenaries that players opt to unlock can be built from the merc haven structure within each mission.
Additionally, players can opt to buy campaign-only technology upgrades for their units. Examples of upgrades that might be available for purchase include improved bunkers with gun turrets and upgraded flamethrowers that allow firebats to attack a wider radius.
Q: How do missions work in the single-player campaign?
A: As players make their way through the campaign, they’ll interact with a number of different non-player characters (NPCs) who will offer a variety of missions. In many cases, players will choose from a few different NPCs at the same time. Some of these missions will advance the main story, while others lead to interesting subplots. Players will be able to view briefings that detail mission objectives, show how many credits are rewarded for completion, and tell you which new unit, if any, is unlocked by taking on the mission.
More than 25 missions will be available in the Wings of Liberty campaign, and each mission will offer different objectives and gameplay elements. For example, one mission will have players roving around a map to intercept and rob Dominion cargo trains moving along different railroad tracks. Another mission will take place in a volcanically unstable area. Lava will periodically flood the lower elevations of the map, requiring players to exercise extra caution in their mining operations and troop movement.
Many missions also offer optional research objectives, such as exploring maps to find lost protoss artifacts or a hidden zerg chrysalis. When players collect enough of these research objects over the course of a few missions, they can earn upgrades and improvements for their units that carry over for the rest of the campaign.
Q: How will players interact with NPCs and explore in between missions?
A: In between each mission, players will be able to explore various sets within the game. These include the bar on Mar Sara and the Hyperion battlecruiser that acts as Raynor’s flagship. Players can click on different characters in these environments to converse with them and get additional details about the story. These conversations are fully voice-acted, and the characters and sets are animated in detail in the game engine.
Sets will also contain interactive objects that players can click to receive extra information and story details. Televisions, for example, will show news reports that detail happenings around the galaxy. Console units, such as the one in the armory on board the Hyperion, allow players to access the tech-purchasing interface. The star map on the bridge of the Hyperion lets players choose from various mission briefings.
All of these elements are designed to help bring players closer to the characters in the game and offer additional story avenues for those who wish to immerse themselves in the game’s epic plot.
Q: How many races are in StarCraft II?
A: In StarCraft II, players will see the return of the protoss, terran, and zerg races. Our goal is to ensure that all of the factions in the game play even more distinctly from one another than in the original StarCraft, while still maintaining the fine balance that helped make StarCraft a classic. We’re also introducing a number of new units to each race, as well as modifying some of the familiar units returning in StarCraft II. With these design refinements and the new features we have planned for the single-player and multiplayer elements of the game, StarCraft II will offer a next-generation StarCraft experience.
Q: Can you give some examples of the newest changes in StarCraft II?
A: The most significant changes we’ve made recently are some new game mechanics that impact the economic efficiency of each of the races. The protoss can create a structure called the obelisk with a “proton charge” ability, which temporarily speeds up the rate at which probes can harvest minerals. If used properly, this ability can noticeably increase the protoss’ income.
The terrans have a new unit called the mule, which can be summoned from the orbital command building. Mules harvest minerals much like SCVs, but at a much faster rate — however, they only last for a specific amount of time. Since the ability costs energy, terran players must decide how much of their energy to spend calling down mules and how much to save for the orbital command’s other ability, the comsat scan.
Finally, the zerg can boost their production capability by using the queen to spawn extra larvae periodically in hatcheries, allowing them to quickly field large armies.
Q: It seems like there are sweeping balance changes almost every time I read about StarCraft II. What are the reasons for the changes?
A: As we go through various testing stages, the development team experiments a lot with the game balance. This can include adding, removing, and/or modifying various units, buildings, and special abilities within the game. Frequent changes to units and abilities are a natural part of our iterative development process as we strive to make StarCraft II as balanced and fun as possible.
Q: Will Battle.net be overhauled? Will there be new features?
A: There will be some exciting new changes and features to Battle.net that will help us ensure that StarCraft II will be the ultimate competitive online real-time strategy game. Some of the areas we’re working on include features that support online tournaments, eSports, and enhanced communication between players.
Q: What steps are being taken to prevent cheating in multiplayer games?
A: We don’t want to tip our hand to the people who may try to cheat on Battle.net, so we can’t go into too much detail, but rest assured that security is one of our top priorities as we redesign and overhaul Battle.net, and we will take every precaution to ensure fairness in our online games. We’ve taken an aggressive stance against cheating in all of our games, and our players have overwhelmingly supported us in that, so we don’t have any intention to make any changes in that regard.
Q: What are the system requirements for StarCraft II?
A: We’ll have more details on specific system requirements closer to the release date. For now, we can say that the game will require a graphics processor that is Pixel Shader 2.0 compatible.
Q: Will StarCraft II include a map editor?
A: Yes, it will. We’ll have more details on the features of the StarCraft II map editor at a later date.
Q: Will there be a console version of StarCraft II?
A: StarCraft II is being developed for Windows and Mac. We have no current plans to bring the game to any console platform.
You can read more by Gareth at Skewed and Reviewed.