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StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Released

By on March 12th, 2013 2:05 pm

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm | Sci-fi real-time strategy

And here it is, Heart of the Swarm, the first expansion to Blizzard’s sci-fi RTS StarCraft 2, is now available for the PC and Mac.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm picks up the story where StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty left off. Your quest in this 20 campaign mission expansion is to follow Kerrigan, HotS’s hero, in her quest to reunite a variety of Zerg species into her brood. As the game progresses, you’ll be able to customize your hero with new abilities and unlock new Zerg species.

Other features include new units for multiplayer for all races (Human, Zerg and Protoss), while some existing units will be upgraded with new capabilities. There will be also several new features like “group and clan systems”, “training and versus-A.I. modes”, “unranked matchmaking”, “Global Play”, user interface improvements and an enhanced physics system.

You can buy Heart of the Swarm digitally directly from Blizzard or in retail in many countries (check here for the complete list). There’s also a Collector’s and Digital Deluxe Editions for a series of extra goodies. Check here for the details on their contents.

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty is required in order to play Heart of the Swarm, and you also need to have a account.

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  1. David says:

    One cannot imagine anything we would identify as life existing in this horrific universe of mechanical death dreamed-up by Blizzard.

  2. JohnR says:

    Yeah Adam, I was an original Starcraft/Brood War fanatic, so it’s maybe going to be a bit hard for me to pass on SC2:HOTS while everyone else will most likely be enjoying it. But I was so seriously disappointed in SC2:WOL that I would hope I would stick to my guns and sit this one out. Fortunately at the moment I’m totally absorbed by the very deep and rich Secret World MMO, an amazing game. :) I would say, however, that I do hope Kerrigan gets to do more this time out than get carried off in the arms of her man. lol ;)

    • Adam Solo says:

      Maybe it works in reverse in my case. Although I love many RTS games I didn’t manage to get into StarCraft. Maybe it was too much of a clickfest for me, maybe I was playing something else at the time. I dunno. I know there’s people who love SC2 and those who hate it. I’m curious to see where I’ll fit in.

      • JohnR says:

        I think the original clicked with me because I loved the perfectly balanced factions, the engaging story that kept me playing to find out what would happen next, the totally bizarre sense of humor that was way out in left field, and that the game was very unpretentious and never seemed to take itself too seriously. Ten years on though, SC2:WOL just didn’t have the same magic for me. :( In any event I eagerly await your review. In the meantime, back to the breathtaking Secret World. :)

  3. Alien JD says:

    I decided to pass on SCII:HOTS. Wings of Liberty’s single player campaign didn’t feel like a game to me. It felt like an extended tutorial for multiplayer. I don’t play multiplayer so I don’t see much point in another really long tutorial.

    • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

      I, on the contrary, found WoL single player campaign to be the best single player campaign of any rts I’ve ever played, and I didn’t really play multiplayer either. I really don’t see how you could consider it a multiplayer tutorial, given that nearly all of the units in it don’t appear in multiplayer at all (the couple of times I did try multiplayer, it was so very different, that I gave up because the units and such so very different) Not to mention all the special research options, upgrades, mercenary units, special hero units, and scripted selectable non linear missions that have nothing to do with multiplayer at all. There was a series of 9 single player missions that were in fact multiplayer tutorials, but they had nothing to do with the main campaign and were separately selectable.

      • JohnR says:

        You liked the WoL campaign? I thought it was abominable. It was worse than some Hollywood ‘B’ action adventure movie, with cliche ridden characters, a story that would insult the intelligence of the average twelve year old, and a dreadful ending. In fact this bothered me as much or more than the uninspired gameplay.

        • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

          The storyline was of a noticeably lesser quality than the original, that is for sure, but the innovative and intersting campaign gameplay more that made up for it, with non-linear missions, a money based upgrade system and multiple choice research system based on optional mission goals. So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

        • killias2 says:

          The campaign itself was quite good, but the story was, admittedly, terrible. In terms of gameplay, I really don’t know what RTS campaign competes.

        • Fimbul says:

          story wise it gets even worse. the poor weak woman. needs to be rescued of her man. *womit* the story is really poor!

        • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

          Actually that’s not the case. Raynor *thinks* he needs to rescue the poor helpless woman, but the “helpless” woman in question not only runs a space empire which was capable or bringing all the other space powers to their knees if she wasn’t preparing for something, but in HoTS, it’s Raynor who turns out to need rescuing by her. So yeah, Raynor may think that, but it’s very much not the case.

        • Fimbul says:

          i felt different, in the main situation is she still the weak girl. in the end, the powerfull queen of blades needs to be rescued again from raynor because mengsk was “prepared”. what a crap.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Be careful with potential spoilers for people who haven’t played or reached the end.

      • Alien JD says:

        I didn’t really feel like I was playing a strategy game in SCII. There were too many times where I had to take direct control of units to have them accomplish a task. I couldn’t sent them to an area of the map and let them do their thing. I had to click on this guy, now this guy, now the vehicle. It was too many clicks. The first game wasn’t like that so I assumed they designed it that way to get people used to micromanaging individual units during multiplayer.

        Another thing that really bugged me was the upgrade system. I put all my points into upgrading defensive structures and then had almost no call to use them.

        • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

          Well it’s not really the same thing as a turn based strategy. Less thinking slow and more quick reactions.

          Anyhow the first game had LOADS of units you had to control individually to get the most out of their abilities. I have not found any different with this one and it really has nothing to do with multiplayer, it’s just the gamestyle they use.

          And yes, RTSs are SUPPOSED to be very clicky. It’s fast reaction/careful management, not slow careful strategy. Just may not be your type of game. It is mine, though.

  4. Jeff P says:

    Blizzard produces some very polished and technically wonderous games. But… I could never get into the clickfest that is Star Craft, and years of playing WoW innoculated me against any hint of interest in another Blizzard title.

    I’ll wait for StarDrive to get all buffed-up ready for prime time.

  5. TimmY says:

    My copy arrived today.
    Awesome campaign so far. Love playing with Kerrigan!

  6. zigzag says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. I’m don’t play multiplayer, but I enjoyed the singleplayer campaign. The missions play like Warcraft 3 missions more than Starcraft missions. They all revolve around Kerrigan or some other hero and involve some kind of twist that encourages the player to complete them as soon as possible. Personally, I enjoy the original’s slower pace, but I wasn’t disappointed. Although the story wasn’t fantastic, it was engaging enough to keep my attention. (If I wanted a compelling story, I wouldn’t be playing video games.)

    Now if only Blizzard could manage to release games more than once a decade…

    • Adam Solo says:

      I’m downloading it now. If it plays more like Warcraft 3 than StarCraft as you say than I’ll be very pleased.

      When you say “I enjoy the original’s slower pace”, you mean StarCraft or StarCraft 2 original. I suspect is the latter?

      • zigzag says:

        Starcraft 1, in terms of the campaign. Most of Starcraft 1’s missions used the standard build-a-base, build-lots-of-stuff, kill-enemy-with-stuff formula, but very few placed constraints on how long the player could take to kill the enemy with stuff. There were some timed missions and non-base-building missions, but they were infrequent. Starcraft 2 WOL tried to make missions unique by adding to the standard formula and HOTS continues that. I understand why they did it – standard formula missions get repetitive – but I miss taking my time and not worrying about capturing the thinggummie before the enemy did. That said, HOTS’ campaign is still really fun.

        • killias2 says:

          I’m really digging HotS’s campaign. My only fault is that I wish it was longer, but that’s pretty much always going to be true. I played through almost all of it in one long sitting, haha. I just couldn’t stop.

          I agree with you that, like SC Vanilla, they should’ve thrown in a few more build a base missions. I enjoy the variety, but I think that’s the heart and soul of the genre. They could definitely stand to put more missions in there like that. It’s almost like the campaign is over-developed or something. Sometimes, you just need a few minerals and a goal to destroy.

          Brood War, IMO, hit the right balance. Unlike SC Vanilla and War2, there weren’t too many build-a-base missions, and the other missions were -much- more fun than their counterparts in SC Vanilla. Let’s face it, the RP-style missions in SC Vanilla blew ass. However, BW didn’t do quite as much hand-holding as WoL, and it had more build-a-base missions than either WoL or HotS. They could really use both.

          Nonetheless, I’m really digging it. I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’m also liking the story more than in WoL. It still isn’t up to BW’s story (which really still stands the test of time, IMO), but it’s better than WoL’s cringe-inducing nonsense.

  7. CptKork says:

    Awesome game, just like WoL. Best RTS single player campaigns so far
    playing right now :D

  8. Lens Flares Suck says:

    I don’t feel like I’m playing a game when I play an RTS. I feel like the game is playing me. The decisions have been made…by the game… and I just have to figure them out.

    It’s not a good experience.

  9. Adam Solo says:

    I played the first few missions of SC2:WOL and I’m having a nice ride. I’m enjoying the fact that there seems to be a lot to do with the mercenaries, upgrades, and I didn’t unlock the lab yet. And, I like the fact that you need to choose the order on how the campaign plays out, which leads to unit unlocks being made in a specific order. The cinematics are superb by the way. The missions themselves are quite trivial and small (playing on normal), but they’re entertaining enough, I guess. Only played the first few yet though. Hope there’s some massive missions with intensive base building later on.

    Mind you that I never played SC2 before and didn’t get into SC. So far, I’m liking the experience. The idea is to finish WOL and then go to HOTS and review that expansion alone. But, I’ll inject some analysis for people who may be undecided about Wings of Liberty as well, because after all, you need WOL to play HOTS.

    • Adnan Doric says:

      Playing HoTs in Brutal ATM trying to get all achievements, it is really fun and hard, normal is way to easy unless it is your first time with a mouse which I doubt :)
      You should at least play hard mode, it is the new “normal”.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Yea, I know. I usually play all my games in Hard or above. But, for the sake of a review, and since these were my first strides in SC2, I needed to start on Normal. I will definitely switch to harder difficulties later on.

    • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

      The two games are, in spite of similar actual basic gameplayer, vastly different in terms of the campaigns and their styles. This is perhaps why a lot of the fans of the original hate the sequal. I personally like both the story based style and the more open style, and do like the more scripted mission of the 2nd more than the just, here’s a map just kill everything approach of the first, although I like that gameplay okay too.

      The only RTS campaign that can really compare with those two is Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, which is a completely different style again from either of those too and also highly recommended.

      • zigzag says:

        Definitely agree about Dark Crusade. I liked that much more than the newer Relic-style RTSs.

      • killias2 says:

        I think there’s a bit of a continuum. In War2 you had almost entirely build-a-base missions. SC Vanilla had mostly build-a-base, with a few badly designed RP-style missions. BW had a lot more variety, only these missions were -far- superior to SC Vanilla. Go back and play, say, the mission where you learn to use medics. Or the one where the Protoss have to break that blockade. They are just -fun- to play.

        Warcraft 3 introduced a lot more insanity, and definitely distanced the campaign a bit from the multiplayer. However, overall, it just continued the trends already in place. WoL and HotS continue it further.

        Honestly, I think the campaigns would be about perfect if they just included a handful more classic build-a-base missions with challenging enemies. Other than that (and the story), I have no real issues. The game could probably be more challenging I guess, but, for someone who has played as much as I have, I’m guessing it’s hard to hit the right difficulty level.

  10. catwhowalksbyhimself says:

    Okay, having played this a bit more, I can say that the story is MUCH better than in WOL, while still retaining some excellent campaign play, although a bit different to fit the Zerg more. The ending of WoL may not have been well loved, but it turns out to have been a bit setup for this one. We also have a LOT of revelation about the Zerg, some truly fascinating Zerg characters that are definitely not rubber-foreheaded aliens, and a much more interesting version of Kerigan. I’d say that people who were disappointed with Liberty’s story should consider giving this one a shot.

    • killias2 says:

      Agreed, much better story than WoL. I still think the shift in Kerrigan was a bit of a miss-step, as I -loved- the Kerrigan of Brood War. She made that game -her- game, and she was probably the most interesting character out of a Blizzard game. That said, they’ve really turned things around after the end of WoL. Rather than fuming with rage, I actually felt.. -emotions- at times! I also loved the primal Zerg stuff, even if it was a bit of a retcon.

      I basically played the game until I beat it. I really think the negativity against Blizzard is way overdone. Sure, Diablo 3 has some problems, but this is still a company that is very talented and has access to huge resources.

      • catwhowalksbyhimself says:

        Development companies are’t well suited to turning into huge organizations that have a run something large and get distracted from doing their original job. Blizzard does WoW full time now, which takes most of their time and efforts, so development on everything else has slowed to a painfully slow crawl. Similar think happened to Stardock when Impulse did pretty well, only instead of slowing them down, it just helped result in them putting out a really low quality product. That and the fact that they never learned to properly develop in the first place having been a utility software company that was trying to develop games the same way.

        But yes, Blizzard is still talented and can do some great stuff whenever they find the time to pull their talent away from their main cash cow.

        I suspect though that part of the long development time of this expansion was due to them going back and reworking the story after the first game. Parts of it seem like it was originally slapped together like WoL with more interesting bits tacked on later. I suspect the last one will be markedly better, since they will focus on better story writing from the get go, hopefully.

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