Starcraft II Speculation

So in the wake of Blizzard's announcement of Starcraft II, everyone who's ever enjoyed RTS games wants to know - what's going to be in it?

So far, all that's confirmed on Blizzard's own Starcraft II site is that it'll have:

  • RTS gameplay, similar to the original, but improved
  • Protoss, Terran, and Zerg
  • New units and gameplay mechanics
  • "Groundbreaking" single-player campaign
  • New 3D-graphics engine
  • Multiplayer support
  • Mapmaking and scenario-building tools

Apart from the new graphics engine, which will have "support for dazzling visual effects and massive unit and army sizes", the description so far doesn't sound like much more than another expansion for the original game. Obviously, Blizzard aren't going to leave it at that, so what else might they include?

The first thing that might be included is something they've learned from World of Warcraft - guilds matter. Thus far in RTS games, there's been no inbuilt community functionality in the game. A chat channel, when playing on, guild banners or colours on your units, and a guild scoreboard would go a long way toward providing the kind of continuity and community that a guild offers.

Second, I'm predicting a far more complex tech tree, with choices to be made within each race's options. In the original game, you knew from the start what units your opponent could potentially field from the very start - with choices to be made, as well as a basic tree, there's less certainty and a wider range of tactics. This could function very much as talent points do in World of Warcraft.

There was some speculation about a fourth faction - I don't think that's going to happen, though. The game balance as it stands with three factions is absolutely excellent, and it's one of the best aspects of the game - I don't think Blizzard are going t go messing with that, any more than they'd add a third faction in Warcraft.

I would expect that there will be updated methods of storing and sharing created maps and scenarios. There's a huge mod community out there working with RPGs like the Baldur's Gate series, not to mention Neverwinter Nights. I'd expect to see the toolkit capable of producing storylines every bit as good as the main single-player campaign.

Finally, I'm guessing that there will be some form of trophies available - cosmetic changes to units and buildings based on tourament wins, the defeat of particularly difficult scenarios, etc. Essentially, these would things to show off how good a player you are, without handing over things that would give an actual mechanical advantage. The thing to remember in any speculation for Starcraft II is that, in a manner opposite to that of the usual MMO approach, skill must be more important than time.

Posted by Drew Shiel at May 21, 2007 8:20 AM

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