With StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty, we set out to advance StarCraft’s carefully balanced and tactically challenging real-time strategy model by adding better matchmaking, advanced social features, new units, and a sweeping cinematic campaign. In Heart of the Swarm, we’re pushing StarCraft even further — to the edges of the galaxy.
We’ll take you to uncharted worlds, delve deeper into the hive mind of the zerg than ever before, and improve the competitive play experience on Battle.net. We're also bringing content made by our community of fans to the fore, and unearthing a playground of new maps. Here’s what’s emerging from the war room in HotS:
Heart of the Swarm continues the story of StarCraft II: the conflict between the humanoid terrans, the ravenous zerg, and the psionic protoss. As these races struggle, the specter of alien gods threatens to sweep aside what fragile stability still exists in the galaxy.
Sarah Kerrigan, the former zerg Queen of Blades, has seen her humanity restored by an ancient artifact, but she remains a threat to all she encounters. The memory of her time as the mutant leader of the swarm lingers — as does her yearning for revenge.
As the zerg surge through the galaxy, you’ll control their vengeful avatar, and destroy your targets with Kerrigan’s powerful psionic abilities and years of spec-ops ghost training.
Kerrigan will continually grow stronger while she fights to reassemble and change the zerg swarm. By completing missions and advanced bonus objectives, you can unlock powers that strengthen the Queen (like regeneration and destructive psionics) or bolster the swarm itself with the ability to spawn banelings from beneath the ground or reconstitute slain zerglings at your base.
Kerrigan’s presence on the battlefield demands a clash of the titans. You’ll send her brood crashing against whole armies, but you’ll also pit the former Queen of Blades and her retinue against immense threats – ancient zerg who refuse to swear fealty, tank-destroying overmechs, and more – in intense ‘boss’ battles unlike any we’ve deployed before in StarCraft.
The zerg swarm is ever-growing, ever-evolving – and you can shape it to your whims in Kerrigan’s evolution pit. Digest biomass on planets you’ve dominated, and you’ll unlock the ability to evolve zerg strains in one of two directions. You might transform your zerglings into leaping raptors or proliferative swarmlings, focusing your army on harassment or pure numbers…and leaving the swarm forever changed.
You’ll also be able to tweak zerg strains on the fly by mutating your units between missions, like making your zerglings attack faster if you’re going up against armored targets.
New developments, new recruits and a few desperate measures are changing the face of war. Fresh units like the tempest, viper, and widow mine are dropping in for each race, adding more dynamics to the diverse confrontations in the Koprulu sector.
Meanwhile, some veteran units are being retrofitted for the fight. For example, fire-blasting hellions can transform into hellbats to engage in close combat, and the protoss mothership can now be built from the stripped-down mothership core, a structure able to recall entire armies to the protoss base or purify invaders with a psionic cannon. That’s just the beginning.
We’ve readied a revised training mode to get you accustomed; it’ll include detailed walkthrough elements and race-specific challenges to really help you step up your game, one order and hotkey at a time. We’re also improving unit AI in a variety of ways by adding new difficulty levels to play against and the ability to command AI allies.
And, at last, our alien warriors and doomed soldiers have new dances.
In a contest of wills, the board you play on is every bit as important as the pieces you play with. Heart of the Swarm adds new official multiplayer maps to StarCraft II to shake up the play experience for ladder and custom games alike. These maps bring new tilesets: protoss space stations, icy wastelands, terran metropolises, vine-covered jungles and more. We’re also changing the rules of engagement with fresh terrain features, like collapsible rocks that can be used to block areas of a map.
You’ll see tuned and tweaked art and physics throughout HotS maps new and old – grotesque purple creep now crawls up structures, and defeated units uniquely explode, burst apart or collapse thanks to dynamic new death animations.
Heart of the Swarm’s bringing a major overhaul to the StarCraft multiplayer experience. Groups (parties focused around a specific activity or fandom) and clans (competition-oriented teams) give you the chance to join together for practice or team play, communicate easily in private chat channels, meet like-minded players and share your strategies. You’ll also be able to play on the multiplayer ladders of any region while still playing in your native language.
We’ve given you total control over your game state. The take command option will allow you to pick up a game from a saved replay, including reenacting famous games between pro players. In addition, you'll be able to watch any replay together with your friends in real time, and count on the recover game feature to save your in-progress multiplayer game (in case of a dropped connection or hardware failure).
If you want to be pitted against players of your skill level, but don’t want to worry about your ladder ranking, you can participate in unranked matchmaking. Heart of the Swarm multiplayer games (and single-player custom games) will also incorporate a leveling system that’ll let you show off your style with unlocked portraits, decals, dances and unit skins representing the battles you’ve fought.
Battle.net will have a revamped interface to make each of these new features (and the ones you already rely on) quicker and easier to use.
Major improvements to the already-powerful StarCraft II editor are underway. The current editor can produce extreme variations on existing maps and playstyles, along with puzzle games, fighting games, platform-action games, and more.
Prior to the release of Heart of the Swarm, we’re upgrading the editor so it’s even easier to use: advanced functionality for your game cinematics, superior UI editing, new animations and models, improvements to working with terrain and triggers, and libraries of functions to ensure that making your own maps and mods is faster and deeper, as well as a fine-tuned arcade to make community maps easier to find, publish and upvote.
To give you a head-start, we’re making several of these community and multiplayer features available to all Wings of Liberty owners prior to the release of Heart of the Swarm, with Patch 2.0.
We want Heart of the Swarm to warp you directly into the epic StarCraft universe, prepare you for multiplayer battles with friends old and new, and coax out the galactic conqueror living deep in your heart. Check your rifles, charge your psionic blades and uncoil your proboscises. We can’t wait to meet you on the frontlines.