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February 3, 2019 in Games
The first chapter in the StarCraft II trilogy focuses on the struggles of the Terran race, as seen through the eyes of Commander Jim Raynor, leader of the rebel group Raynor's Raiders.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is Blizzard Entertainment's 2010 follow-up to one of the most popular strategy games of all time. The games return to a galaxy in turmoil between three warring species; the Terrans, the future form of the Human race, the Protoss, an ancient race possessing incredibly powerful psionic abilities, and the Zerg, an insect-like, bestial race consisting of billions of mindless 'soldiers' controlled by a single guiding intelligence. Unlike the original StarCraft, StarCraft II only includes a singleplayer campaign for the Terran faction, consisting of roughly 30 missions. All three races are available for multiplayer, however. It was announced prior to release that instead, the singleplayer campaign would be extended through expansion packs which focus exclusively on the other two playable races in turn; StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which focuses on the Zerg and was released in 2013, and StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, which will focus on the Protoss and has not yet been released. Wings of Liberty was released alongside Battle.net 2.0, an updated version of Blizzard's online system.
The story of the Wings of Liberty chapter takes place roughly four years after the events of 1998's expansion pack, StarCraft: Brood War, and finds the Koprulu Sector, an area of the galaxy colonized by Terran and Protoss alike, conquered almost completely by the ravenous Zerg swarm.
The campaign storyline of StarCraft II:Wings of Liberty takes place four years after StarCraft: Brood War and features the return of several characters from the original series; including Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, Zeratul, Artanis, and Arcturus Mengsk. Players will revisit the original series' worlds, such as Char, Mar Sara, and Braxis; as well as brand new worlds, like the jungle planet Bel'Shir, among others. The Xel'Naga, an ancient space-faring race credited with creating the Protoss and the Zerg, play a major role in the story.
The Campaign begins with Jim Raynor on Mar Sara. Since the events of StarCraft. Arcturus Mengsk has formed the Terran Dominion out of the remnants of the Terran Confederacy and his Sons of Korhal rebels who brought down the Confederacy. Raynor is on Mar Sara fighting with a group called "Raynor's Raiders", a small rag-tag force who perform hit and runs against Mengsk's Dominion. Many of the outer rim colonies such as Mar Sara have still retained their rebellious nature and as such Raynor has used this as his base of operations. However, there is virtually no way to stand against Mengsk and his Dominion fleet and so, broken and slowly losing his grip on the revolution, Jim Raynor must take a drastic step in preserving his men and his future.
Raynor is fighting a rebellion with his Raiders against Mengsk's Dominion forces, trying to win the hearts and minds of the locals and save them from Dominion oppression. After a mission, in which Raynor saves a group of Mar Sara colonists from being practically enslaved by the Dominion, Jimmy returns to his favorite watering hole, JoeyRay's bar, where he meets Tychus Findlay, an old friend who has recently been released from a life sentence of maximum security imprisonment. Tychus makes Raynor a business proposition, to steal an alien artifact recently uncovered by the Dominion an sell it on to the once legitimate scientific group the Moebius Foundation, who were responsible for Tychus' release from prison.
Unfortunately almost as soon as Raynor and his men had seized the artifact then Mar Sara was attacked by the Zerg swarm previously thought to have been defeated with destruction of the Overmind, and forced out of Dominion space. A news report reveals that an infested Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, is at the head of the swarm. Mar Sara must be evacuated, and Raynor is left to decide whether to leave immediately, or stop to help evacuate the colonists.
Raynor's Raiders received a distress signal on the fringe colony world of Agria, and met a Dr. Ariel Hanson, an altruistic scientist. Bent on saving as many of her people as possible, Hanson secured a Starport with means to evacuate Agria, but still had colonists across the world trapped and under attack by the Zerg. The objective of the mission can either take the form of an escort mission using a mobile force of troops, or a defense mission where bunkers are set up at three or four specific choke points and 'wall-off' any incoming Zerg attack.
Afterwards, Dr. Hanson joins the Raiders in an attempt to safeguard her colonists as well as provide you with dialogue between Raynor and her, developing a small romance as well as representing the softer side of Raynor.
This second mission is quite unique, in that it has a day and night cycle. The premise of this mission is basically after the Raiders transported the colonists from Agria to Meinhoff, Hanson found that the planet had been infested. Raynor, familiar with this situation as he faced a similar one back in Starcraft I on Mar Sara, claimed the only way to save the colonists and stop the infestation was through baptism by fire. The infested civilians only come out during the night and during the day, it is safe to patrol the city and burn the numerous infected buildings.
In doing so, you continue to earn Hanson's trust and she once more brings the colonists to another fringe world close to Protoss space, Haven. By then, Raynor already asked whether a cure for this infestation could be found, and she replied with the fact that it will be extremely tough, but she would try.
Safe Haven/Haven's Fall
The final mission is decided after choosing between Hanson and the Protoss executor, Selendis. It seems that a few colonists that were brought to Haven were infected, and spread the infestation throughout the colonists. As such, Selendis and her Carrier fleet have arrived to purify the planet before it is fully infested and the Zerg spread towards Protoss space. Hanson however, pleads with Raynor saying that the cure is almost ready and if they hold off the Protoss it is possible to finalize it and cure the infestation.
Pirate, Gabriel Tosh contacted Raynor to mine minerals from the planet Redstone III, a highly volatile volcanic planet, with eruptions of lava every few minutes that the mining crew would have to avoid, along with the hordes of Zerg that had infested the planet. Upon completion of the mission Raynor learned that the minerals from Redstone contained traces of Jorium, a rare crystal used to affect brainwave activity, and enhance or produce psionic abilities.
Despite not entirely trusting Tosh, Raynor agreed to a mission to mine terrazine from Bel'shir, however Raynor's mining team received resistance from Protoss extremists, the Tal'darim, who considered the gas sacred and refer to it as "the Breath of Creation". During the mission Raynor received transmissions warning him not to trust Tosh and claiming he was a Spectre (the result of highly secretive Dominion experiments to enhance ghosts , which resulted in psychosis in many of the subjects); while Tosh did not deny these accusations he warned that the transmissions were merely trying to cause divisions, advice which Raynor took and completed the mission.
Tosh asked Raynor to assist him in liberating the inmates of New Folsom Prison, in particular Tosh's Spectre "brothers and sisters". The source of the transmissions from Bel'shir, a Ghost called Nova, contacted Raynor from New Folsom revealing that terrazine and jorium were used to create Spectres, and warning that by freeing the Spectres Raynor would be turning psychopaths loose into the galaxy. Tosh offers to stay with Raynor's forces and help train new Spectres for the ranks of Raynor's Raiders, while Nova counters with the offer of transmitting information to Raynor that will allow him to train traditional Ghost spec-ops units for the Raiders instead. Jim is left to decide whether to side with Tosh or Nova.
If he sides with Tosh after assaulting the prison and freeing the prisoners there is a cutscene in which Tosh states that the only reason they are fighting is for revenge, he cynically believes that once Mengsk has been toppled, another tyrant will emerge to take his place; contrary to Tosh, Matt Horner believes they're fighting Mengsk to build a better a future, Raynor tells Matt that he'll see his better tomorrow, but that it is not for men like him and Tosh. You will also get the ability to train Spectres and Tosh will remain on your side.
Whereas, if he sides with Nova, Tosh will be angry and leave the Hyperion, then after the mission will try and telepathically manipulate a voodoo doll to try and hurt Raynor. However, said voodoo doll has accidentally targeted Tychus instead. In the end, Nova kills Tosh with a stab in the back. You will also be able to train Ghosts but Nova will not join your side.
As Raynor walks the decks of the Hyperion, all the lights in the corridor he is walking down seem to burn out at the same time, in the darkness the Protoss Dark Templar Zeratul confronts Raynor with a warning of the end times, the destruction of all races: Protoss, Terran and the Zerg. He claims that despite the atrocities she has committed, Kerrigan is the only one who can save them, and tells Raynor that her fate will lie in his hands. Zeratul tells Raynor that he must see what he has seen, and gives him the Ihan Crystal allowing him to experience what Zeratul has experienced; then in a puff of smoke Zeratul is gone.
Using the Ihan Crystal, Raynor learns of Zeratul's mission after the Brood War to uncover a Xel'naga prophecy foretelling their return. Zeratul travels to Ulaan to recover artifacts containing the Xel'naga prophecy from three temples on the planet; upon his arrival he is confronted by Kerrigan who is also searching for the artifacts, during their confrontation she tells him that the return of the Xel'naga will spell doom for the galaxy - "Do you hear them Zeratul? Whispering from the stars? The galaxy will burn with their coming." Zeratul does not share her pessimism and slips away to uncover the prophecy. During the mission, he receives help from Praetor Karass and his troops who had pursued Kerrigan to Ulaan. As soon as Zeratul recovers the third part of the prophecy the entirety of the Zerg horde on Ulaan set upon them en masse. Zeratul reluctantly allows Karass and his men to sacrifice themselves in holding off the Zerg to buy him enough time to escape and return to his ship with the prophecy.
To decipher the prophecy and uncover its meaning Zeratul must take it to the Preservers on the archive world of Zhakul. Upon arrival he finds the planet "Strangely Silent"; there are many abandoned structures, in perfect condition other than having no Pylons nearby to power them. After reactivating an abandoned base, Zeratul investigates the planet and discovers that the Preservers have been imprisoned by a Zerg/Protoss hybrid; once defeated by Zeratul, and the forces he mustered from the newly repowered structures, the hybrid would merely return to its base to absorb power from the preservers. Eventually, Zeratul managed to defeat the hybrid by freeing the preservers so it no longer had a source to repower. The Preservers examined the artifacts and clarified the prophecy, affirming Kerrigan's claim that they were all doomed, and stating that the fall had already begun, with the death of the Zerg Overmind - "The cycle shall draw to its end. The Xel'Naga who forged the stars shall transcend their creation. Yet, the Fallen One shall remain. Destined to cover the void in shadow. It begins with the Great Hungerer. It ends... in utter darkness"
Zeratul returns to Aiur to make psychic contact with the remains of the Overmind, in an attempt to find out what it knew of its own existence and the prophecy. Zeratul made contact with the four tendrils of the Overmind, while his forces fended off the attacks of the remaining Zerg on Aiur; while he experienced many different thoughts and feelings of the Overmind, he could not connect with it deeply enough to fully access its memories, so he moves towards its main cortex, where he is met by the psionic "ghost" of the High Templar Tassadar, who killed the Overmind in a kamikaze assault. Tassadar tells him that the Overmind was not always a monstrous abomination - it had been altered by some external power and compelled to assault the Protoss. Aware of its predicament, yet lacking the free will to resist, all the Overmind could do was create the Queen of Blades - a creature who might be able to save the Zerg, along with the rest of the galaxy, from the future it had foreseen, because she was not directly controlled the way the Overmind was.
Tassadar then showed Zeratul the dark future the Overmind had foreseen: The Terran species had been entirely consumed by the Zerg, and the entirety of the remaining Protoss - a tiny fraction of their present size - were making their final stand on Shakuras against the Zerg swarm who had come under the control of the Zerg-Protoss hybrids and their leader, a mysterious entity described only as "Dark Voice" in the game's subtitles, who mocked the Protoss, calling their resistance futile and informing them that they had already killed the only chance they ever had at salvation - Kerrigan. Despite their brave resistance, the Protoss were eventually defeated and their race exterminated. Once the Protoss were defeated, the hybrids telepathically destroyed their Zerg slaves, and darkness descended upon the galaxy.
What the vision had done was taught Raynor that he must protect Kerrigan and make sure she isn't killed, as she seems to be the key to stopping the hybrid from taking over the universe.
After a train robbery mission on Tarsonis, a Confederate Adjuntant was discovered which was encrypted. Orlan was then hired to decrypt the Adjuntant but unknowingly had instead decided to backstab them and sell it to the Dominion, after discovering it contained damning information about Mengsk. Mira Han then decides to help Raynor after his raiders pay her in recovering it after revealing Orlan's secret plan.
With the device decrypted, Raynor and Matt had found conclusive evidence that Mengsk had ordered Psi emitters to be used on Tarsonis in order to attract massive waves of Zerg and use them as a weapon against the Confederacy, sacrificing billions of innocent lives in order to overthrow his enemies. He had said at the end "I will rule this sector or see it burnt to ashes around me."
After the plan to steal the Odin (a huge Terran mech which was going to be unveiled on Korhal a few days later) had succeeded, they then ambushed the UNN headquarters on Korhal during the day of the Odin's unveiling, and managed to broadcast Mengsk's message across the sector. The result had kickstarted the revolution against Mengsk and turned the people against him in anger.
Since Tychus and Raynor had agreed to steal Xel'Naga artifacts for the Moebius Foundation, they had stolen artifacts from many worlds in the sector fighting many opponents such as the Tal'Darim Protoss and the Zerg in capturing the artifacts. However, when payday arrived, they were instead greeted by Dominion Battlecruisers. Raynor and Tychus agreed to invade the ships and take out Mengsk but rather than being greeted by the Emperor, they instead found his son, Prince Valerian. It was revealed that he was behind the Moebius Foundation and that he wanted the artifacts because he believed it was a possible way to free Kerrigan from the Zerg infestation. His motivation was that if he could stop the Zerg and reform the most dangerous mass murderer in history, then he would have proven himself a worthy successor to his father's rule. Raynor reluctantly agrees to side with him.
Soon afterwards, a drunken fight between Tychus and Raynor breaks out in the cantina after people are dissatisfied with the fact that they had sided with the Dominion. After defeating Tychus and electrocuting him with the cables from the broken jukebox. Raynor then says his war was not about overthrowing Mengsk but saving lives, and if they take out the forces on Char, then they would have saved billions of lives from the Zerg. He also said that even if they focused their attention on Mengsk, overthrowing him would have been pointless if the Zerg wiped both of them out.
After capturing the final artifact, Raynor's Raiders and Velerian's Dominion force, led by General Warfield invaded the Zerg colony world of Char but the landing was not a complete success, as they were ambushed by the Zerg upon approaching the planet. Raynor had landed on the ground and decided to save any scattered survivors of the Zerg attacks in an effort to amass a large army and pull the invasion off. Raynor then rescued Warfield from a crash landing and a Zerg ambush.
Raynor then is given two strategies on how to weaken the Zerg before the final assault. Tychus suggests they target the swarm's Nydus Worms, which will prevent them from using the creatures to teleport large groups of units from place to place. On the other hand, General Warfield suggests they target the swarm's ability to create aerial units, to even the odds and prevent the Zerg from sending air support to target the Terran infantry. There is only time for one of these acts of sabotage, so Raynor must choose which option to take.
On the final push, Raynor activates the artifact and protects it against increasing waves of Zerg until the last possible moment where they are overwhelmed. The artifact then activates and all the Zerg on Char are wiped out, disinfecting Kerrigan in the process.
Raynor and Tychus then journey to the main hive and find Kerrigan's disinfected body, now a curious, stable mixture of Human DNA with minor Zerg elements. However, Tychus attempts to aim a gun at Kerrigan's head and then reveals to Jim that he had made a deal with Mengsk. If Kerrigan were killed, then Mengsk would free him from his suit and order his release. Tychus fires but Raynor then deflects the fired bullet with his elbow, turns around and shoots his old friend in the head with a revolver.
The ending cinematic involves Raynor carrying Kerrigan out of the hive, with Dominion battlecrusers flying above.
The fundamental gameplay of StarCraft II remains largely unchanged in the sequel. Player's harvest Minerals and Vespene Gas to build structures, train units, and research technologies in order to complete mission objectives in singleplayer or defeat their opponent in multiplayer. Some additions to the core gameplay include the inclusion of higher valued mineral patches, capturable Xel'Naga watchtowers to enhance sight-lines, line of sight obscuring terrain, and natural destructible obstacles. The user interface of Starcraft II has also been improved to provide players with more information, such as the idle worker icon which pops up when you have a worker unit that is currently doing nothing.
Unlike the first StarCraft, the single-player campaign in the sequel comes with additional layers of tactical choices and storytelling tools. The simple briefing room from the first game has been replaced by a ship bridge, on which the chapter's main character, Jim Raynor, interacts with some of the other characters and prepares for each mission. The campaign is also partially non-linear, often giving players the option as to which mission they would like to take on next. Missions also come with persistent rewards, such as unlocking new technologies and achievements. Completing missions also awards the player credits which they can used to unlock persistent technologies on-board the Hyperion. There are also units and technologies in the campaign that are not present in multiplayer. Certain units that appeared in the original Starcraft return in the single-player campaign but not in the multiplayer mode, such as the Terran's Firebat and the Protoss' Reaver. This makes the campaign mode a distinct experience rather than just a tutorial for online play.
StarCraft includes an extensive league and division system for tracking players and matching them up with other players of their own caliber. There are 5 public leagues and 1 invite-only league. The public leagues are in order of most prestigious to least: Master, Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. There is also the newly introduced Grandmaster league for the top 200 players in each region. Placement into a league is determined by a player's placement match results. New players play a series of 5 games with random opponents of varying skill level that determines their starting league. The leagues are divided into four ranked competitive modes: 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 as well as an unranked FFA mode.
Players are able to move up and down in leagues based on their performance. Players are awarded (or lose) points based on whether they win or lose a match; how many points they stand to gain or lose is based on one players record measured against another player's record. Promotions and demotions are handled by a hidden Matchmaking Rating (MMR) which is a quantified representation of a player's skill level and isn't limited to their place within a division or league. The MMR is the determining factor in the matchmaking process as players are matched with opponents with similar MMRs in an effort to match players with opponents that would ideally provide a 50% win ratio. Leagues and divisions serve as a superficial way for players to "rank" themselves. Instead of saying a player is rank 193,377 out of 402,193 they can now say they are rank 7 in the Silver league.
The game is region-locked, which means North Americans can't play against Europe or Asia-based players with the exception of consumers who purchase the Southeast Asia/Australia/New Zealand version. This was implemented with patch 1.1.0. With the introduction of patch 1.3.6, certain regions are now linked together. The linked regions include: North America and Latin America, Europe and Russia, as well as Korea and Taiwan. Players in these regions are now able to play each other and be placed in the same divisions.
(number in brackets denotes the number of players the map is designed for)
StarCraft II utilizes an advanced proprietary engine which can make use of both DirectX 9 and 10 special effects, and possibly DirectX 10.1 given Blizzard's recent partnership with ATI Technologies to use 10.1 in Diablo III, as well as Havok physics. The engine is said to be extremely scalable in terms of level of detail, able to render both standard gameplay and detailed real-time cinematics.
Replays in StarCraft II provide a variety of live stats, such as what units a player currently has in production, how many units they are fielding, where a player's resources are being spent at any moment, their actions per minute (APM), and how many units they lost and how much in resources the loss of those units has resulted in.
At BlizzCon 2008, Blizzard announced that, unfortunately, unlike the original StarCraft or the Brood War expansion pack, which each contained three separate campaigns, StarCraft II will ship as three games, each one focusing on one of the three factions.
The three titles are:
Wings of Liberty is the core Starcraft II game, with a single-player campaign based around the Terran faction, while Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void function as expansion packs, adding the Zerg and Protoss campaigns, respectively, as well as additional units, abilities, and structures.
This will allow players to experience more story, characters, cinematics, and customization for each faction, giving a more substantial experience. The games will be released across an estimated three year span, or basically a new chapter every year or so.
There will allegedly be no cliffhangers at the end of the campaigns. Each campaign will have its own beginning, middle, and end. Many main characters will make appearances in each game. Each game will have about 30 missions, and have been compared in length to the entirety of the original StarCraft. You will need Wings of Liberty to play the expansion packs. The release of Heart of the Swarm raises questions about some of this, though, as the first expansion's story was noticeably shorter than that of Wings of Liberty.
As with most Blizzard titles, there is a Collector's Edition of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.
The box is priced at $100 dollars and includes:
Just like Blizzard's previous entries into the RTS genre, the game ships with a powerful world editor that can create maps that are a completely different genre than Starcraft II. With the success of games such as DotA (Defence of the Ancients) based off of the WarCraft 3 engine, Blizzard knows now more than ever that the editor is an important part of their product and are striving to have it be the most comprehensive editor released to date. A comment about the World Editor being included with StarCraft II goes "Q: Can the editor...? A: Yes."
At Blizzcon 2009, a panel was held presenting just a small sampling of what the editor can do. Some of the things showcased were custom units shooting other units as projectiles and terrain shaping mechanics. An action shooter done in 3rd person. A top-down vertical shooter ala 1942. The World Editor will also include many many more units and abilities not seen in the multiplayer or single player. This includes units seen only in the single player and units and abilities that had previously been scrapped for one reason or another. The editor will also allow users to create their own User Interface or Heads Up Display (HUD). It has been stated that at some point shortly after the launch of Starcraft II users of the Galaxy Editor will have the ability to put their creations up for purchase on a marketplace.
These user interface tweaks extend all the way to a particular map's game lobby; map editors are now be able to design the look and feel of their game lobbies as well with custom graphics and sounds if they so choose. Another example of this is that map editors can change the game lobby to allow character choices pre-game as well. So, in DotA, say you want to play as Enigma. In WarCraft 3 you have to wait to launch the game and select him from the proper hero inn. In StarCraft II, map editors are able to set it up so a player will be able to click on a drop-down box and select their hero long before the game ever starts. This is only one of many opportunities to use this feature.
Using Battle.net 2.0 and the cloud system they are implementing for it, Blizzard are also making the sharing of maps and collaborating on maps easier than ever. Users are able to upload content onto Blizzard's cloud and store it for easy retrieval by anyone the person making the map deems allowed. The new system also comes with an advanced filtering system that gives those seeking out custom content a chance to find something that they will want to play. People will be able to avoid "DotA" spam and find other non-DotA games much easier, basically. The system allows map editors to assign a map to a particular genre - Blizzard has said they will add more genres as necessary. There will be many other "knobs" that a map editor can implement as well in order to better help the filter system be that much more accurate.
StarCraft II entered into a closed beta phase on February 17th, 2010. It was initially sent out to a mix of participants who opted in on the Battle.net website as well as attendees of past Blizzcons; Blizzard's Convention. On February 23rd, 2010 another wave of participants was allowed into the beta. These participants were mostly Blizzcon attendees who did not get in the initial wave.
Blizzard used internal data and statistics that it garners from participants' play sessions in order to make adjustments and tweaks. They have claimed to have heavily monitor the higher tiers, but still keep a watchful eye on the lower ones as well.
Beta data revealed by Dustin Browder suggested that internally gathered statistics implied that the game was approaching the sort of balance they were looking for in the 1v1 brackets with some minor concerns about 2v2. The statistics revealed in a twitter chat were as follows:
Terrans vs. Protoss 46% - 54%
Protoss vs. Zerg 51% - 49%
Terrans vs. Zerg 51% - 49%
Note: Broadband connection is required. Also, due to potential programming changes, the Minimum Requirements for this game may change over time.
The score for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was composed primarily by Glenn Stafford, Derek Duke, Russell Brower and Neal Acree.
When released, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty received much critical acclaim. Giant Bomb named StarCraft II the "Best PC-Only Game" of 2010.
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