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Just in case you’ve been away for a while (as in very, very far away, away from any kind of communications device), StarCraft fever has been sweeping the gaming community. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was released two weeks ago after over a decade of eager anticipation to critical and commercial success. Wings of Liberty is only part of the story, though: one third to be precise. The StarCraft universe contains three races: the Terrans, Zerg and Protoss, and Wings of Liberty only covers the Terran front, campaign-wise. The StarCraft 2 model is thus: Wings of Liberty, as the first release, contains the Terran campaign and full multiplayer suite, and two expansions will be released to add Zerg and Protoss campaigns. Very little is known at this point about the two expansions, but there are small nuggets of information plus a lot of speculation – so here’s a roundup of some of the most interesting.
Heart of the Swarm
It has been confirmed that the first expansion, titled “Heart of the Swarm,” will include the Zerg campaign. Story details remain under wraps, though it is known that players will control Kerrigan, Queen of Blades, and earn mutations to increase in power. As Kerrigan increases in power, RPG-style, more and more Zerg will join her. Players would do well, then, to beat as many missions to total completion as possible; grinding, as it were, to maximise their forces.
In Wings of Liberty, players get to play as Zerutal and control Protoss forces a very small amount. This gives a slightly different perspective on things, story-wise, and Blizzard VP of Creative Development, Chris Metzen, suggests that Heart of the Swarm is “Zerg heavy, then it’s like you’ll have kind of like a mini-campaign of one of the other races that kind of is contrasting certain story elements that are taking place that you would not see as the Zerg player.”
Legacy of the Void
The second expansion, titled “Legacy of the Void,” will follow the fortunes of the Protoss. Players will take on the role of Zerutal, and their task will be to unite the fractured Protoss species. Diplomacy is the aim of the game here, as friendliness with certain Tribes will alienate others, or perhaps even ignite hostilities. Due to the mission-tree structure, Legacy of the Void will have the most variable campaign of the three, with plenty of replay value.
There is no official word on release dates for the expansions, though Blizzard have suggested 18 months as a timeframe for each. “That’s purely speculative, honestly. Historically, it’s taken us about a year-WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne is a good example-but you’ll see the sum-total package [in Wings of Liberty] has raised the bar and there’s a lot more to do with StarCraft II’s expansions. I think 18 months is probably fairly accurate,” lead producer Chris Sigaty told Shacknews.
The price for Wings of Liberty was, initially at least, a bit of a sore spot for many gamers. Full price for a third of a game? Fortunately, Blizzard delivered a rich and lengthy campaign to silence the naysayers and justify the full-game price tag. So how will Blizzard handle the expansions? All accounts suggest that Blizzard are treating the games as expansions, meaning they will retail at a reduced price. But will that affect how much content they have? Obviously, the reduced cost takes into account the fact that players don’t need to pay for the full multiplayer suite again, though it’ll be interesting to see if the campaigns are as long as the Terran entry, as well as whether or not the expansions contain multiplayer additions, such as new gametypes, maps or units.
A Fourth Race
Finally, this rumour is almost certainly out of date now, but could still be relevant and is definitely the furthest “out there”. Before StarCraft 2 was split into three games, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce told VideoGaming247: “We don’t have the resources or time to add a fourth race to the launch of StarCraft II, but I’m sure in the event that we decide to do an expansion set it’s a feature that’ll come up for discussion.” StarCraft 2 has received some criticism for being too similar to the original, so perhaps a fourth race would mix things up a little? Or perhaps it would spoil the formula.