StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - new multiplayer units and balance changes
II: Heart of the Swarm’s new multiplayer units were teased earlier this month with silhouette images on the official StarCraft
Facebook fanpage. Then we caught a glimpse of them again earlier today in the
latest Heart of the Swarm teaser, which
debuted at BlizzCon 2011. Now, we finally have first screenshots and details on
the new multiplayer units. Find out what Blizzard is working on to round out
and expand armies for the terran, zerg, and protoss.
should be noted that these new units and tweaks are still works in progress
leading up to the last round of extreme balance testing in the upcoming Heart
of the Swarm multiplayer beta. During a BlizzCon panel on the state of
multiplayer, game director Dustin Browder emphasized that Blizzard will not
hesitate to revise some of the abilities and changes described below, even if
it means cutting units the team has invested lots of time in creating and
New Zerg units and
Viper: The Viper will be a new air unit for the swarm, which will address
the zerg’s weakness in overcoming heavily defended choke points.Balance designer David Kim also described
the Viper as a way for the StarCraft II team to address missed opportunities
with the zerg Overseer. Due in part to players’ limited use of the evolved
Overlord’s abilities, the Viper is set to replace the Overseer in Heart of the
Blinding Cloud is an AOE ability that will reduce the attack range of all enemy
units in it to 1. During an onstage demonstration, we saw several Vipers cast
Blinding Cloud on a terran defended choke point with lots of bunkers. With the
marines’ range reduced, a small group of banelings made quick work of the
terran defenses. Abduct will pull an enemy unit to the Viper’s location and we saw it used to
split up two well-placed protoss Colossi apart, allowing a small swarm of
zerglings to make quick work of the walking giants, which would have normally
cut through the zerglings easily. Ocular Parasite will be how zerg players detect cloaked units without the
Overseer to keep an eye on things. When cast, the Viper’s eyestalk will detach
and meld with a friendly unit, making it a detector.
Swarm Host: Going along with the StarCraft
II team’s plan to help zerg players break through defenses and gain control
over the map, the Swarm Host will be the zerg’s new artillery unit. When
burrowed, Swarm Host’s will spawn groups of Locusts, which will put pressure on
well defended areas. Although the Swarm Host doesn’t have any traditional
attacks and even though the Locusts are weak, they can be used in groups to
keep steady pressure on bunkered in opponents.
Zerg players can also look forward to some exciting new changes for the
Ultralisk, Banelings, and Corruptors. With a new Burrowed Charge ability,
Ultralisks will be able to dash forward, surfacing right in the middle of enemy
unit groups. And if you thought Banelings were fun before, you’ll be exciting
to hear that they can now move while burrowed as well. The Corruptor’s Corruption
ability will be removed and replaced with Siphon, which will introduce a new
way to harass by damaging buildings and converting that damage to resources.
New Terran units and changes
Warhound: Think of the warhound as a mini-Thor. Beware protoss. The new
Factory unit will be smaller and quicker than its bulky predecessor and will do
increased damage to mechanical units. Like the Thor, the Warhound will be
equipped with anti-air missiles, though its range will be reduced.
Shredder: The Shredder is the terran’s
new radiation robot and will offer cheap map control options for terran
players. Set it to stationary mode and it will destroy enemies with a vicious
AoE attack. The downside to this device is that it shuts down when friendly
units are nearby, so you’ll need to keep them away from your army in order for
it to be effective.
According to Blizzard, the Thor was too bulky and awkward to move around, which
is why the terrans decided to make them bigger. Players will only be able to
have one Thor from now on, but it’ll be the epic tank it was meant to be, doing
more damage and shrugging off attacks. With the Warhound’s anti-air missiles
keeping fliers at bay, the Thor’s missiles have been replaced with a more powerful
bombardment attack. Players will not need an Armory and Fusion Core to build a
Thor and the Schwarzenegger-like pilot that mans it.
The Hellion will be more than meets the eye with a new transformation ability.
In its humanoid form, the Hellion will gain hit points and a stronger flame
that fires in an arc. Blizzard hopes will make the unit more useful as an end
game fighter. The Ghost’s cloak ability will also be tweaked and will now cloak
the unit for a set amount of time when used, freeing players from having to
toggle it on and off to manage the Ghost’s energy. Like the Ultralisk,
Battlecruisers will also gain more ability with a Redline Reactor, a new
cooldown that’ll give your ship a significant speed boost.
New Protoss units and changes
Tempest: This will be the protoss’ new bread and butter for air control.
Although it has an air-to-ground attack, the Tempest will excel at controlling
airspace with an extremely powerful AOE attack. During a brief demonstration at
a StarCraft II multiplayer panel, we saw a small squad of Tempests make quick
work of a massive cloud of mutalisks.
Oracle: This new unit will introduce
several unique ways to harass. Entomb can be cast on mineral fields making
blocking worker units from harvesting resources. Phase Shift can take buildings
out of play temporarily, preventing them from attacking, producing units, or
granting research bonuses. Combine them, and you can disable a group of Spore
Crawlers to make it safe for your Oracles to Entomb a line of minerals to hurt
your opponent’s economy. While you’re harassing with your Oracles, you can also
gather some intel with Preordain, which can be cast on a building to see what
is being researched. It also grants you vision of the affected building.
Replicant: The most interesting new
unit introduced, the Replicant is like the ultimate Changling. It’s only
ability is to transform itself into a clone of an enemy unit in sight. The
Replicant version of the cloned unit will also have all of those units upgrades
even if the opponent hasn’t researched them yet. Imagine cloning a terran
Banshee without cloak researched and then flying back to your opponent’s base
to harass him with a better and invisible clone. Currently, the Replicant can
also clone workers, which will allow you to start building up non-protoss
buildings. An exception is in place for the terran’s orbital command, as the
possibility of a protoss army with a Scanner Sweep on hand seems too
overpowered. Keep in mind that Replicants are expensive, encouraging players to
use them sparingly and strategically.
The iconic protoss Carrier and the Mothership will be cut from Heart of the
Swarm’s multiplayer. According to Blizzard, this is to “maintain balance and eliminate
redundancy.” That being said, new abilities will be added to the protoss Nexus.
Arc Shield will temporarily buff a building’s armor and shield and will arm it
with a cannon. This cannon will do the same amount of damage as a photon
cannon, but will only target light units. Mass Recall will summon units back to
your base, but the trip will stun them for a few seconds.
Check out our gallery below for more screenshots of the new units in action.
For more on Heart of the Swarm’s singleplayer campaign, check out our hands-on preview to find out what it’s
like to lead the zerg into battle as Kerrigan.
Oct 21, 2011