Saturday, 22 October 2011

New Heart of the Swarm Information from Blizzcon

Blizzcon kicked off yesterday and already loads of information has surfaced about how the multiplayer portion of Starcraft 2 will change for the upcoming expansion Heart of the Swarm. New units, new abilities and even unit cuts will keep the experience fresh and will hopefully add in new strategies and more variety to the game. Obviously over the next couple of months everything is likely to change as Blizzard balances and tweaks the games but for now this is how everything stands.
Check out the new trailer.
So far it doesn't seem as though the Terrans are having any units cut but they are getting a few new ones and some changes to existing units. The Hellion will now be able to transform into a mech, like the Viking can, trading a slower speed and shorter attack for more armour and a stronger attack. The ghost's cloak ability has been changed so that it consumes a finite amount of energy and lasts for a brief period of time instead of being a toggle. The Reaper is having it's anti-building charges removed and gaining a passive out of combat healing ability. The Battlecruiser will also gain an ability that allows it to temporarily move faster. The Thor is being completely revamped by giving it more armour, making it deal more damage and taking away it's anti air ability in exchange for Bombardment. Bombardment will deal huge amount of damage in a small area but will require setting up and packing away. The main difference to the Thor is that you can now only build one of them at a time and it will require an Armory and a Fusion Core to do so; so it is becoming more like a hero unit.
The Hellion's new transformation is more sturdy and has a higher attack.

The Terrans are gaining two new units; the Shredder and the Warhound. The shredder sets up like a siege tank and does damage within an area around it, but if a friendly unit comes within it's range it switches off not doing any damage. The Shredder sounds useful for locking down areas of land and it attacks both air and ground units over time within it's range. The Warhound is a new mech unit that is most effective against mechanical units though not against others, it's being said that they are good at taking out siege tanks. The Warhound also has an area damage air attack much like the Thor used to but with a smaller range.
The Warhound is designed to be anti-mech but weak against other units.
The Protoss have had the Carrier and the Mothership cut so far and this doesn't seem like too big an issue as both units were underused in 1v1s and the replacing units look better. The nexus is getting two new abilities; the Arc shield and Mass Recall. Mass Recall works like it did before only this time all offensive units will be teleported back to the Nexus after a couple of seconds. Arc Shield increases building and shield armour and adds a weapons to the building for a short period of time, this is to help Protoss respond to unexpected attacks as they usually have the least mobile army.
All the new Protoss units.

Three new units will be available to the Protoss; the Replicant, the Oracle and the Tempest. The Replicant seems like an interesting unit that can transform into any non massive unit in the game, though I'm not sure if it will need to scan a unit before being able to replicate it. I like the idea of the Replicant to support the main army by turning into whatever is needed. I'm also not sure if once the Replicant has transformed into something whether or not it can transform into something else after. The Oracle is a new flying spellcaster for the Protoss that come with three abilities. Entomb prevents a single mineral patch from being harvested, Preordain lets you see what the enemy is building from a structure and Phase Shift prevents a building from being attacked or used. The Tempest replaces the Mothership though you can build more than one of them at a time; it's anti air attack does high area damage and it also has a single target laser attack to damage ground units. The Oracle and the Tempest are both build from the Stargate, I assume the Replicant is build at the Robotics Facility.    
Finally the Protoss get some much needed mass anti-air.
Only the overseer has been cut for the Zerg which doesn't seem like a big change considering neither of their abilities were used too much and the detection ability has been moved to another unit. Overseers were used for mid game scouting but overlords with speed can be just as useful. Other units have had their abilities changed. The hydralisk will have an upgrade that will allow them to move faster whilst off creep. Banelings will now also gain an ability like tunnelling claws which will allow them to move whilst underground; though this may not be available until Hive tech. The corrupter is losing it's corruption ability and gaining an ability called Siphon that slowly damages buildings and turns it in resources for the Zerg player.Lastly ultalisks will be able to charge from burrow getting them into the combat sooner, though I'm not sure if this will need researching.
Both of the new Zerg units.

The Zerg are getting two new units; the Viper and the Swarm Host. The Viper is a new flying spellcaster with three main abilities. Firstly it can cast blinding cloud that reduces attack range to melee for all units within it's range and restricts the use of energy based abilities. Abduction allows the Viper to snatch a friendly unit back to safety over a small distance or pull an enemy unit out of position. Lastly Ocular Parasite is a one time use ability that turns any friendly unit into a detector for the rest of the game. The Swarm Host attacks by spawning high damage slow attacking Locusts that can lay siege to fortified positions, the Swarm Host only spawns units whilst burrowed.
The Viper can grab enemy units and pull them out of position.

Heart of the Swarm looks as though it will mix up the multiplayer portion of the game with lots of new features I'm just worried about Blizzard having to balance the whole game again. Comment on your thoughts  below.

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