In a significantly shorter time than most Starcraft games, the final chapter in Starcraft II dropped on November 10 this year, ruining relationships everywhere as guys alternated between “Fallout 4” and “Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void” (LotV).
As the last game (for now), LotV had a lot to fix from the previous instalment “Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm” in terms of multi-player and campaign mode. Will it prove a fitting finale or a or a faulty title?
Starcraft II is the successor to Blizzard Entertainment’s highly successful Starcraft series. Known for giving teenagers carpal tunnel and even bringing Korea into the E-sports scene, Starcraft is a Real-Time Strategy game set in the science-fiction universe of the Korprulu sector, as 3 races duke it out amongst the stars.
With LotV, experience the story of the enigmatic and now beleaguered Protoss race, a humanoid species of double-jointed psionic beings. When we last saw the proud people, they were intergalactic refugees after the fall of their homeworld: Aiur.
Now the young Artanis, then Praetor and a warrior, has now been appointed the leader of the united Khalai and Nerazim Protoss sects – the Hierarch. He commands the construction of an armada to invade Aiur and reclaim their homeworld from the insectoid Zerg.
We know it’s not everyone’s first game mode when they get their hands on LotV but hear us out: the campaign is pretty good. Admittedly, if you didn’t understand anything from the paragraph above, the entire campaign’s story would be a mystery to you as none of the backstory is covered in detail, even in the prologue. Pre-existing knowledge of Starcraft lore is required.
But if you’re familiar with the Zerg, Protoss, and Terran, LotV’s campaign has a scale of grandeur that far surpasses previous releases “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” and “Heart of the Swarm”. Missions are fun and interesting (we love the missions where you just control 1 or 2 hero units and also the mission where your base is mobile) and the ability to customise Artanis’ army as you progress makes for a more “involved” story.
Plus, we love being able to use the arsenal of Artanis’ flagship, the Spear of Adun, in missions. Reminiscent of “Command and Conquer: Generals“, you’ll unlock special “abilities” that can be called down onto the map – from orbital strikes to immediate army reinforcements.
We wound up marathoning most of the prologue, campaign, and epilogue as we were so drawn in. Alas, the voice acting is suitably heroic but can be a bit off sometimes. Plus the idea of having a choice in the flow of the story is a moot point because who’s not going to trawl through all the missions to unlock all the units? But the conclusion to this chapter of Starcraft is worth it, even if the ending is a bit contrived. Then again, it’s not science fiction if it doesn’t go a bit mad.
Gameplay-wise (both multi-player and single-player), we love the new AI and unit pathing responsiveness that gets snappier and crisper reactions from units. No more will they randomly jitter about when you have them hold position.
Before we get to the main meat of the highly competitive multi-player mode, the new casual co-operative game modes of LotV should be mentioned.
Archon Mode is designed for players who can’t multitask or love messing around with their friend as they both control the same army against another duo. Blizzard’s official reasoning is that it allows each player to focus on their own expertise and execute more extravagant strategies but really, it’s a ton of endless laughs as you are forced to work symbiotically with you friend. You’ll probably end up yelling at each other as you try to wrest control of the army from your friend’s cursor.
The other co-op mode, Allied Commanders, combines the fun of teaming with your friend with the elaborate scenarios of the campaign for a spot of casual fun. Each player picks a commander from the 3 factions, each with their own special abilities and units, to work together to achieve some really unique objectives. As you play more games of Allied Commanders, your commander levels up, gaining new capabilities such as army-wide passives or unlocking new units and active abilities.
We enjoy the casual fun of this game mode but we wish there are more scenarios for us to play through as the same cycle of 5 missions gets rather repetitive. And since it’s meant to be casual and easily accessible for those who deem multi-player as too intense and time-consuming, the AI isn’t particularly challenging even at the highest difficulty.
Moving on to multi-player: Even though we’re eternally stuck in silver and low gold, we appreciate the new changes brought to multi-player even though we’re in a “low” skill bracket. De-incentivising rushes, cheeses, and all-ins with the new starting worker count and various small additions to each race’s opening strategies makes for an infinitely less frustrating experience than Heart of the Swarm. It got really boring when you knew you had to prepare for Widow Mine drops against Terran or for Oracle proxy when facing Protoss.
The many, many new added active abilities to units also allows for a greater degree of unit micromanagement so that highly skilled and reactive players can carry out bigger outplays. We particularly love the Carrier’s new Release Interceptor ability that makes them finally playable in Starcraft II and the Battlecruiser’s new Warp Jump active that solves the mobility issue of the slow, lumbering, capital ships.
Strangely, even though LotV is the Protoss expansion to Wings of Liberty’s Terran and Heart of the Swarm’s Zerg, the new added Protoss units don’t add too much to the Protoss army in multiplayer. Adepts are another high micro unit that greatly rewards players who master their phasing ability but they provide little to Protoss other than more economy harass. Though the new Disruptors does add much needed Area-of-Effect damage to any Protoss army now that Colossi have been nerfed.
All in all, multi-player is a drastically new experience from the previous two expansions and the original series itself with great changes towards more micro-focused mid-game plays instead of long-drawn out slog-fests or intense 10-minute rushes.
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void does stand true as the final game in the series before we wait another 12 years for Starcraft III. The game looks amazing with Starcraft’s own special blend of unit aesthetics and the new co-op game modes means that more people will be inclined to stay with Starcraft even if they don’t frequent the multi-player mode. The running gag is that Blizzard never makes a bad game (though Diablo III’s initial launch disproved that notion) and we’ll concede that Legacy of the Void holds true that statement.
DANamic.ORG Rating: 4/5