Starcraft II Closed Beta Journal: Entry 2

BY The Editors  //  March 8, 2010

Taking in even greater quantities of Blizzard's RTS.


wo weeks pass, two more editors redeem beta keys. We reflect on 'Tossing the Zerg, and Terran our enemies a new one, in Blizzard's head-turning — yet tentative — real-time strategy sequel.

Jeremy Steeves

As I've continued to play through the beta I've found myself most comfortable using the Protoss. Their building efficiency tends to make up for my relative lack of micro-management skill. I like that Blizzard has already released patches addressing balancing issues that have been pointed out on the official forums, and am looking forward to additional content being unlocked soon. If there's anything I've learned from playing the beta (I wasn't big into the player-versus-player scene in the original OC) it's that, at a competitive level, this game is about who can apply a standardized strategy to a particular scenario the fastest. But isn't that what strategy is about? Even a sports team applies practiced tactics to observed conditions. Some will find this read and react style boring, but when players are balanced on both sides, I've found it fairly enjoyable.

Michael Ubaldi

Is Starcraft II for hardcore or casual players? Blizzard's answer: Yes. While holding press conferences in South Korea — where records for actions-per-minute stand unbroken — the developers have made a sweeping gesture toward less-competitive players with "novice maps" that discourage rushing, as well as treating beta participants to performance-derived matchmaking placement. Nevertheless, the opening moments of each match in this game are pivotal — maybe too much so, greatly distorting the value and balance of units when one opponent or team is even slightly favored.

As currently playable, Starcraft II rewards stringent pragmatists who seek to win games as quickly, if repetitively, as possible. We read complaints about wanton rushing. Are there specialized demolition units? Possibly, but immaterial: buildings fall just as easily to a sizable force of any composition. What about defensive structures? Casual players often try to fit them into their plans; the hotshots who'll have you beat in ten minutes or less don't touch them. In novice maps, earthen barriers stymie early ground sorties — but leaping up the tech tree to air power, and over those occlusions, is easy. Or might some time pass before armies clash? The only question is how slick and practiced those first fifty actions will be. For those who find blitzing to victory a little hollow: pray that matchmaking selects opponents who are precisely as skilled as you are. Or else look forward to single-player.

Ed Kirchgessner

I'm no expert on Blizzard lore — to me, Arthas is just that pale dude with the sweet house in the hills. Despite this, I'd love it if Starcraft II's multiplayer presented a few more references to the series' major players. When Warcraft III was released some eight years ago, it brought us "hero units" — legendary characters from Azeroth's rich history which fought alongside your army, be that in the single-player campaign or in multiplayer. Buffing your minions and bringing powerful spells and attacks to the battlefield, Archmages, Paladins and Blademasters made the RTS seem fresh again while injecting it with a healthy does of role-playing fun.

There are many reasons why Blizzard may have omitted hero classes in Starcraft II, though my guess is that series continuity has a great deal to do with the decision. Starcraft's battles always seemed to be epic in scale, catering to the frenetic sort of gamer who could micromanage three different fronts simultaneously. Contrast that with Warcraft III and that game's focus on smaller-scale tactics. It's probably pretty clear where my preference lies: for those of you able to handle Starcraft's steep learning curve and multitasking requirements, I think you're going to love the game that Blizzard's put together.

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