Heart of the Swarm is the first expansion set to Blizzard Entertainment’s sci-fi real time strategy game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Heart of the Swarm continues the epic story from Wings of Liberty with an all-new campaign that focuses on Kerrigan, the former Queen of Blades. New multiplayer content will also be included in the expansion, as well as new features and upgrades to the Battle.net online platform.
Heart of the Swarm’s campaign will include approximately 20 new missions. Players will be able to evolve their swarms with unique, campaign-only units and abilities, and this evolution will happen in an organic manner befitting of the expansion’s zerg theme. As an example, zerglings can be mutated, developing the ability to move faster, attack faster or survive more damage. Permanent evolution can yield specialized sub-species of zerglings such as the swarmling, a variant that near-instantly spawns three swarmlings per larvae instead of the standard two zerglings. The fearsome raptor is another evolutionary offshoot of the zergling that possesses the ability to leap short distances to quickly close the gap on an enemy, and also deals more damage with its attacks.
We’ll be making some improvements to the graphics, including upgrades to the look and behavior of zerg creep, as well as some changes that allow our artists to better showcase the new types of planets that Kerrigan will explore in Heart of the Swarm. We still plan to keep the minimum hardware requirements the same for this expansion set as they were in Wings of Liberty – details can be found on the Blizzard Support site.
Heart of the Swarm will include new units and new multiplayer maps, but we’re also adding groups and clans to allow you to form parties with friends and teammates, and communicate in private chat channels. The resume from replay feature will save your in-progress multiplayer game (in case of a dropped connection or hardware failure) and it’ll let you experiment with endless variations on in-progress game states. 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. Lastly, Heart of the Swarm multiplayer will incorporate a leveling system that’ll let you show off your style with unlocked portraits and decals representing the battles you’ve fought.
As far as Battle.net improvements, our primary focus will be on further improving the arcade experience around the launch of Heart of the Swarm, following on the heels of the significant overhaul in patch 1.5.0. The maps and mods community for StarCraft II has published tens of thousands of custom maps using the StarCraft II editor. Our goal with the new design will be in upgrading the custom map UI to better showcase the wide variety of great new maps and mods to players who are looking for fun new gaming experiences. We want players to be able to more easily find, rate, and sort through all the great custom maps that have been created.
For the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, yes, Wings of Liberty will be required in order to play Heart of the Swarm. Further details (and bundles that contain both games at a discount) can be found on the Heart of the Swarm product page.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is developed for Windows and Mac. We have no current plans to bring StarCraft II to any console platform.
We plan to release Heart of the Swarm on 3/12/2013.