Heart of the Swarm may appeal to casuals, but still delivers some fun
After 2 ½ years of waiting, the hotly anticipated expansion for Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm is finally released to the public. This was preceded by launch events happening everywhere on the globe, from Irvine, California to Melbourne, Australia.
When Starcraft 2 came out in late 2010, its meteoric rise in popularity in the west created the foundation for e-sports to become popular in North America, catching up to Europe and Asia. With a new game to learn, can HOTS live up to the hype?
The basis of the gameplay remains the same, with having three unique factions, the human Terran, the robotic psychic Protoss, and the parasitic alien Zerg, players can choose and fight across different battlefields over many different environments. New units were introduced to each of the factions, bringing in new strategies and tactics at the players’ disposal.
The single player gameplay focuses on the Zerg. The former Queen of Blades, Sarah Kerrigan, having been recently turned human again through Jim Raynor’s exploits in Wings of Liberty, finds herself inside a lab, which is quickly assaulted by the Terran Dominion. From there, the player begins Kerrigan’s transformation again as the Queen of Blades, to reform the Zerg Swarm, and get revenge on the Dominion Leader, Arcturus Mengsk. It is apparent that Kerrigan suffers from amnesia, torn by her past as the genocidal leader of the Zerg, as well as her past relationship with Raynor when she was human, giving the player a sense of sympathy towards her, given her checkered past.
On the multiplayer side, several changes have been implemented. Aside from the added/modified units, some in-game functions have been streamlined. On each race’s respective “headquarters” building, there is a worker counter showing how many workers are needed until optimal saturation (read: income) is achieved. There is now unranked matchmaking, which is a change to help players enjoy PvP more without the pressure of having a rank attached to it. There is also a new leveling system associated with each race, rewarding the player at certain thresholds with new unit skins, dances, and portraits.
Many of the more hardcore players feel that a lot of the new features are appealing to the casuals too much, myself included in this. However, I feel that in order to appeal to a wider audience, these changes will draw more people in to the game, and an e-sport is not an e-sport without a legion of fans to follow it. I suggest this game to anyone who is a fan of strategy and mind games, and to anyone who likes to smash noobs on the ladder.