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We are currently working nonstop on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (and Blizzard All Stars) and hope to be able to get Heart of the Swarm out to the public to see sometime in the near future. While we believe we have some great things lined up for the single-player campaign, I wanted to take some time to give you an update on the recent changes and what cool things we have in store for multiplayer.
Terrans have undergone significant changes since we talked about them at BlizzCon. We have not kept the shredder, and even the warhound is in contention. The shredder was very confusing for players as well as being something that was easily used to kill a large number of workers with little to no warning. It was rarely used for its intended role of map control. The warhound still feels a little too much like a small thor, which is just not new enough to give terran players new strategies. We are still experimenting with a wide range of units, particularly from the factory, which we think is a little light on options. We have had a great deal of trouble with the terrans largely because they are such a flexible and effective race in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. We want to provide terran players with new strategies, however, so we will continue to work on them.
If we keep the Thor, we are currently experimenting with an anti-air spider mine that would give the terrans a way to get some factory-built anti-air into small places that a Thor has trouble reaching (like near your minerals). Whether this is meaningful, considering terrans have marines, is still in question. We are also experimenting with an extremely long-ranged terran missile launcher that can be used to break siege tank lines to make terran-vs.-terran factory-based games more dynamic.
Protoss have gone through some changes since BlizzCon as well. The oracle is still in and functioning as a protoss raider (as intended) that can give the protoss some reach in the mid-game to disrupt enemy plans. The replicant has been cut. He was causing enemy players to not build certain unit types and was actually removing diversity from the game instead of adding diversity.
The tempest was a powerful splash anti-air capital ship at BlizzCon. With the addition of the range upgrade on phoenix in Wings of Liberty we no longer feel like a splash anti-air weapon is necessary on the protoss, but we would still like to give the protoss some additional firepower in the air. The tempest is currently a very long-ranged aerial siege weapon that can strike both air and ground targets. This gives the protoss army some real reach to force an engagement on their terms in the end-game.
We’re also experimenting with some nexus abilities. One example is a mass recall that allows the protoss to be more aggressive. They can move out onto the map with their slower sentry/zealot force and, if things don’t work out, recall the force back to their base if and when things go wrong.
Zerg are the most stable and largely unchanged since BlizzCon. The swarm host is still serving well as a zerg siege unit that can burrow and pressure the enemy from a distance (in a very zergy way), but the viper has some slightly different new abilities. In addition to Abduct, the viper also has the ability to blind biological units in an area of effect. Blinded units have their range reduced to 1. This is obviously effective against terran infantry as well as zerg roach and hydra armies. The viper can also regain energy by feeding off of minerals. This locks up the mineral patch and prevents it from being harvested, so you want to use this ability away from your base.
We have decided to keep the overseer and make the viper a pure caster. We will be taking a look at the overseer to see what we can do to make his abilities more interesting.
We are also trying some additional abilities on the nydus network to allow you to spawn different types of nydus worms. The most interesting worms have been a worm that can spew creep across several screens to create a zerg assault highway, as well as a worm that attacks only enemy buildings, meant to be used as a ground-based zerg base raider.
We have some more work to do before we’re ready to begin beta testing Heart of the Swarm. We know that everybody wants a date for when they can play, and we know how important it is to get this out in front of the community as soon as possible. We’re working on it.
Also, this is awesome:
--Dustin Browder, Game Director, StarCraft II