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Overview of StarCraft: 2 Heart of the Swarm

By Harper - 21st March 2013 - 05:32 AM

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm (HOTS) has finally been released and the SC2 community is excited! This excitement may spawn from a new campaign to play or possibly rage over the new units. Not to mention, the opening cinematic trailer is just awesome. There is plenty of buzz about the new expansion and the forums are in no short supply of discussion over balance. With Heart Of The Swarm come many new things such as new units, rewards, maps, and a new in game clan/group system.

SC2: Heart of the Swarm Opening Cinematic. Kerrigans voice is done by Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica.

I plan to give an overview of what has happened with SC2 since the release of Heart Of The Swarm. This is for all of those who have not been able to keep up because of work or you have been desperately trying to finish the campaign on brutal.

New Additions to The Game with Heart Of The Swarm

If you are an active player and are well informed of what is new with Heart Of The Swarm units you may want to skip down to the debate section which follows. The additions brought on by Heart Of The Swarm are too numerous to describe in any sort of detail and thus, I'll be hitting a few of the bigger changes that were implemented.

There are a ton of new maps, 26 according to battle.net. The maps have an added perk of different seasons and terrain such as snow and ice upon them. Blizzard has also added special effects like dying units falling off of cliffs or sliding across the ice. While, I personally haven't gotten to see the effects in action, I plan to experiment extensively after I finish my Wings Of Liberty campaign.

The new social features are something that I, personally, find very exciting. While they began to show up before HOTS, they're full implementation came after. We can now create and join clans to get the cool tag before our names as well as join or make social groups. However, I was pretty used to the old Wings Of Liberty lobby and it was kind of frustrating to learn all of the new stuff, but definitely worth it.

Furthermore, the Campaign is obviously a big deal and many of my friends have come out of the wood works to spend all night to complete it on brutal. The concept of being able to use a hero throughout the new campaign as well as play Zerg make it all the more fun. Doesn't hurt that my favorite race is Zerg and I look forward to getting off of work to herd bugs. I have been working through the Wings Of Liberty campaign for a couple of weeks now on brutal. I played the first 2 missions of Heart Of The Swarm and found it very unique in comparison to Wings Of Liberty.

Below you can see a great list of the new units and if you click the link in the caption you can mouse over the name of the unit and click it to get a lot more information about the unit including stats and what they are good and bad against.

IPB Image
From the Battle.net website

The Balance Debate

Many in the community are fired up about the balance of the new units and some of the updates to already existing units. Another side to balance is that many believe that Blizzard is balancing the game for professional gamers, leaving the lower league players with a nightmare. For example, the Widow Mine, one of the said controversial units, is easy to make and manage, it's extremely difficult to counter, but very beneficial when done.

Thus, when gold level players compete, one of them creates the Widows efficiently and quickly, while the opponent has to deal with the excessively difficult countering of the unit causing a severe disadvantage. The changes in balance leave average players to try to play a game of catch up that only gets harder as the patches continue to balance for professionals.

Obviously there are always two sides to whether a unit needs a nerf or not, and those who have to play against it are, for the most part, for the nerf. I do believe that the unit needs to be out there for a bit until people learn to play against it. But just because pro gamers can beat it and leaves everyone diamond and below pulling their hair out doesn't seem like balance to me. However, I personally haven't had any more trouble with my bug herding procedures against Widow Mines than I have against the good ol' immortal sentry. But I haven't put many games in on ladder this season yet either. The widow mine example is one of the top debates and there is a great forum post about it in a thread labeled Starcraft II Widow Mines Discussion.

Another article that you may find very interested regarding overall balance can be found in the Interview with David Kim. This is an article that has been translated and posted on teamliquid.net. It is an interview with David Kim by Thud. One of the big highlights of this article is the statement "The game globally balanced, I repeat, the game is globally balanced. The modifications discussed here are minor and will only impact extremely high level of play. The team considers that the game balancing should be rated as a good 9/10".

Also in talking about the Widow Mine in Thud's article, it seems that it will be getting a nerf according to this statement, "The entire development team agrees to say that the Widow Mines are currently too strong. Even Martians were aware of this anyway. Where doubts lingers though, is the the nature of the nerf".

To end the balance section of this article I would like to direct you to this article on teamliquid.net. This article was posted before the release of Heart Of The Swarm but the first post consists of a quote from Blizzard and their thoughts on balance for Heart Of The Swarm and how they are going to go about it. Medivac afterburners did not change any from beta to release to my knowledge and is currently another one of those hot topics. If you read into the replies, just page one and two, you can see some thoughts on Medivac afterburners there. Also Blizzard in the quote commented on it.

There are always many debates on balance with just about any game. If you are for or against something it is great to voice your opinion.

Pro SC2 Gamer Scene

Since the release of Heart Of The Swarm, the pro gaming scene has been busy. The MLG Winter Championship is complete in Dallas, TX with Life as the winner. I watched some of the games towards the end and it was very exciting. There are so many new strategies with all of the changes lending a sense of newness to the game. There will be much more to add to this here at GameReplays.org as more tournaments come up. Also be sure and read JimRaynor's news articles on MLG posted here on this site.

There was a lot that happened in the launch events on the 12th of March. During the 4-player tournament at the launch event in France, Grubby beat Stephano 2-1 and WhiteRa 2-1 to win. You can find many of the launch event videos on the Official Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Global Invasion Page. Click on the European English button to watch the launch event in Versailles, France.

There is a lot going on with SC2 at the moment. If you are thinking of getting StarCraft or if you are a player that has been inactive for a while, then you should definitely pick it up and get into it. Blizzard has added a lot of new cool stuff for the community and a whole new segment of story has been added, which is what made StarCraft great since it's release.