Game developer Blizzard Entertainment is responsible for some of the most widely acclaimed PC games of the last two decades. With popular titles ranging from the Diablo series to the behemoth that is World of Warcraft, the company is a household name even amongst the most casual gamers.
One of the company's most popular franchises is Starcraft, a pair of science fiction real-time strategy games that are played competitively worldwide. Starcraft features three unique factions: Terrans, exiled humans; the Zerg, a race of insect-like aliens; and the Protoss, a humanoid species with psionic abilities. The original game pioneered the idea of using multiple, unique factions in a real-time strategy game, a facet of the genre still used today. Since it was released in 1998, the original Starcraft has sold over 11 million copies and has been repeatedly described as one of the greatest games of all time.
Over ten years later, a sequel was released titled Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. However, rather than include the three races from the original, Blizzard broke the game into three separate campaigns. Wings of Liberty told the story of the Terrans. The subsequent expansion Heart of the Swarm featured a campaign following the Zerg. The final upcoming expansion, Legacy of the Void, is set to complete the Starcraft II trilogy with the story of the Protoss.
Blizzard has released the opening cinematic for their upcoming expansion (above). The developer has often been praised for their fantastic CG cutscenes, but this opening represents some of the company's strongest work yet. The teaser is focused on a small group of Protoss as they battle a swarm of Zerg and try to reclaim their homeworld. It's a satisfying look at the game in its own right, but for fans of the overarching narrative it's an especially powerful moment. The video also confirms the expansion's release date: November 10th, 2015.
Additionally, the developer has revealed new information about the scope of the campaign. Read the campaign description below:
"In the expansive new Protoss-focused campaign, players will take command of the mighty Spear of Adun -- a magnificent Protoss Arkship capable of altering the course of battle from above. In addition to determining the Protoss's destiny, players will also bear witness to the ultimate fates of Terran hero Jim Raynor, the former marshal turned rebel leader, and Kerrigan, the Zerg Queen of Blades."
The game will feature new gameplay enhancements and features, including the new Archon Mode (which allows to players to cooperatively control a single base). The game will also include objective-based co-op missions in which players will control commanders from throughout the Starcraft saga, adding in RPG elements as the players upgrade and outfit their character. As with the previous expansion, Legacy of the Void will also introduce new weapons and units to the competitive multiplayer across all three factions.
The game is currently available for pre-order through battle.net for $39.99, which will grant players access to three prologue missions immediately upon purchase. Blizzard also noted that the expansion is entirely standalone and can be played without purchasing Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm. While it's likely not the best jumping on point, it's available for those who want it.
The strangest part of this announcement is the release date that Blizzard chose. November 10th will also see the release of two high-profile games, the Xbox-exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider and arguably the biggest game of the year, Fallout 4. Admittedly, there's not much crossover between the three games as far as gameplay is concerned, but it's still surprising that the developer is willing to go up against Fallout.
Since its initial trailer, Fallout has been one of the most talked about upcoming releases of the year. It's no secret that the game is going to be a hit. It almost seems as though Blizzard isn't concerned with the success of their final Starcraft expansion. With the developer turning their attention to games like Hearthstone and Overwatch, it's possible that the dwindling community of real-time strategy players is no longer a priority.
Longtime fans of the series will almost certainly purchase the expansion regardless of the competition. Judging by the opening cinematic, Blizzard is still dedicated to telling a great story. How many players will experience the end of the story, however, remains to be seen.
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void launches on November 10th, 2015.