Patch 1.5.0 Arcade has finally arrived, and it brings sweeping changes to the Battle.net experience. The new Arcade offers the StarCraft community an exciting new way to discover, rate, and play a wide array of community and Blizzard created games, as well as a plethora of options that will help you swiftly find the kinds of experiences you’re looking for. Meanwhile, the StarCraft menu has consolidated all the competitive and cooperative StarCraft II gameplay you’re familiar with into one easy to navigate place. With the new Battle.net UI, menus are now easier and faster to navigate, and a suite of new Editor tools provide game creators the power to bring their visions to life like never before.
Let’s break down what the Arcade and all the improvements in patch 1.5.0 have to offer.
First of all, you might notice that patching is a little different this time around. That’s because patch 1.5.0 introduces a new streaming client to StarCraft II (just like the ones Diablo III and World of Warcraft already use) so you don’t have to wait for the entire patch to install before you can start playing. After you stream enough of the patch to launch the game, you’ll see that much of the UI remains familiar, but there have been some key changes. On the upper left, where Single Player and Multiplayer once were, you’ll now find large menu buttons that point to StarCraft and Arcade. The StarCraft button provides fast access to all the classic single-player and competitive multiplayer gameplay experiences you already know, including Quick Match, Co-op play, the StarCraft II Campaign, Challenges, and more. The Arcade button, on the other hand, unlocks an entirely new world of games created by talented developers in the community.
The StarCraft button brings all the StarCraft II gameplay modes together into one place. This menu is where you’ll find all the competitive and cooperative multiplayer destinations you’re familiar with, including Quick Match, Co-op vs. AI, Team Games, and Melee custom games. You’ll also find the single-player campaign, Challenges, and Vs. AI matches here.
Clicking the Arcade button leads you to a huge variety of unique game experiences. You’ll find games created by Blizzard, as well as those from developers in the StarCraft II community. The Arcade menu is designed to help players find the games they want to play quickly and easily, while also making it simple for the creators of those games to promote them. The left side of the Arcade main menu is composed of a series of buttons: Spotlight, Browse, Open Games, Fun or Not, Bookmarks, and Recently Played, each offering different ways to access Arcade games. There’s also an Arcade chat button up top and a search bar so you can jump right to a game if you know its name.
Just about every part of the Arcade interface offers easy access to information about the games available. If you mouse over a game you’re curious about, an Overview window will appear that shows a game’s average star rating along with the number of reviews, your star rating (if you’ve played the game and rated it), genre, maximum number of players, and a description of the game. Clicking on a game will take you to that game’s Game Info page. On the upper left is the game’s title and author. There’s also How to Play, which are instructions the game maker can provide on how to play before you get into the thick of things. The Patch Notes will help you identify which version you’re playing, and what might be different since the last time you played. From the Game Info page you can also join game specific chat channels to find opponents or compatriots, Bookmark a game, play a public game, or create a private game for you and your friends. Game makers also have the ability to create a Tutorial, which launches a hands-on instructional tour of their game.
The Spotlight is where you’ll find a short list of new or up-and-coming games that have proven themselves to be worth checking out. On the right is a list of games that you can sort by Top Played or Top Rated, which can often be the fastest way of finding a match to jump into.
Supposing that you want to find a specific type of game, clicking Browse will give you the tools to find just what you’re looking for. The drop-down window on the left allows you choose games by category, including Top Played, Top Rated, Up & Coming, Newest, and Starter Edition. If you choose Newest, you’ll also get the option to checkmark a box labeled ‘Has High Rating’ which can help you find the hottest new games. If you’re willing to be a trailblazer, you can uncheck the box and see if you can discover the next five-star game before anyone else. Along with your choice of category, you can choose from 10 genres, ranging from Action to RPG to Tower Defense and beyond. After you’ve chosen how to sort the games, their icons are displayed in this window, and you can easily flip through pages and page of games.
Perhaps you’d rather jump straight into a game without waiting around for other players. If that’s your cup of tea, then it’s worthwhile to head straight to the Open Games list, which displays a list of games that contain players waiting for more to join. You’ll see games organized by title, genre, mode, and star rating on this list. You can highlight a game on the list to bring up Game Info for a more detailed look at what awaits you.
Fun or Not
Maybe all that searching around isn’t your thing. Hop over to Fun or Not and click the Find Game button to be placed directly into a new game with other players. Then, after you’re done playing, rate and review the game to help shape the experience that other players will have on the Arcade. You’ll also be able to try Fun or Not in a Party with your friends.
Bookmarking your favorite games makes it convenient and easy to return to them again and again. You can bookmark a game from the Game Info page, as well as the score screen after a match. Bookmarked games will appear in the Bookmarks menu, where you can sort them by name, or when you last played.
Just played a game you thought was awesome, but forgot to bookmark it, and now you can’t remember the name? Never fear -- just check your Recently Played tab to refresh your memory.
The Battle.net user interface has been reworked to provide a cleaner and more intuitive feel, and patch 1.5.0 makes the UI easier to navigate too. One of the handiest new tools you’ll find is the Quicknav button on the lower left. Quicknav lets you easily bind a wide range of useful destinations to the F1 through F5 keys. Want to jump straight to Quick Match to find an opponent? No problem. Want to head straight over to your Bookmarks, a specific Arcade game, Co-op vs. AI, or the games you’ve created and uploaded to the Arcade? Now these destinations and more are just a customizable click away.
We’ve improved the Editor with patch 1.5.0 so that game creators can now deliver more intense, varied, and fun gameplay experiences than ever before. In addition to dozens of small improvements (check the 1.5.0 patch notes for details), here’s a round-up of the biggest new features:
The new Cutscene Editor allows game creators to play ‘director’ and craft epic cinematic experiences that can be played back in-game. Cutscenes created with the editor can range from simple camera, light, or animation changes to grand, sweeping scenes that wouldn’t seem too out of place in a summer blockbuster. It should also prove to be an especially powerful tool in the hands of the machinima auteurs out there, so keep your eyes open for their creations in the coming months.
Don’t underestimate a smart foe. The AI Module has been added to make it easier to manage and visualize attack wave timings and unit compositions for NPCs. It also makes it possible to attach event triggers to attack waves. The new module offers better options to shape more engaging and varied gameplay, which means more tightly crafted games than ever before.
The basic game UI is great for StarCraft II, but it’s not always the right fit for an Arcade game. The UI Module gives game creators the tools they need to change up the game UI to better fit the experience they’re trying to deliver to the community. The initial release of this module will offer the ability to make relatively small changes, but further options are planned for the future.
It all adds up to a fresh Battle.net experience. The patch will soon be live, and we welcome you to dive in, explore the new features, and have a blast.
See you in game!