We all waited for more than a decade on "StarCraft 2," and now that the first installment, "Wings of Liberty" has been released, people are already clamoring for more. Blizzard had previously announced that "StarCraft 2" would be released across three separate games, starting with the Terran-centric "Wings of Liberty," followed by the Zerg-centric "Heart of the Swarm," and culminating with the Protoss-centric "Legacy of the Void."
Which leads us to the obvious question: What can we expect from "Heart of the Swarm" and when can we expect it? I spoke with Rob Pardo, the Executive Vice President of Game Design at Blizzard, to get an update on the next "StarCraft 2" title.
What Works for Terrans Doesn't Work For Everyone
Those who played "Wings of Liberty" are familiar with the single-player's campaign structure. Pardo explained that it would be tough to make that structure work with the game's other races. "Playing Jim Raynor, who's this mercenary, living on this battle cruiser, and has a whole big crew and things like that…that makes a lot of sense for a Terran-based campaign. It's hard to imagine doing a Zerg-based campaign the same way or, for that matter, doing a Protoss one."
"We're going to do some things that are pretty different," Pardo continued, "based on the races themselves. We really want to make each racial experience feel true to the race and feel interesting, so I think there will be some similar stuff and some stuff that really diverges to make sense for the race." He went on to say that players can still expect a branching mission structure in the single-player campaign.
Are They Sequels? Or Expansion Packs?
Blizzard views each of the "StarCraft 2" games as a very separate entity, with the single-player seeing the bulk of the new content in each release. "From a single-player point of view, they're going to kind of feel like sequels. It's going to be a pretty meaningful amount of content."
And what about multiplayer? "Multiplayer is going to be more like an expansion set sort of vibe. We're not going to ship all brand new races. There will definitely be additions to multiplayer, but that's going to feel like an expansion set." Pardo went on to compare the amount of new multiplayer content to what was added for multiplayer in "StarCraft: Brood War."
Progress Update On "Heart of the Swarm"
Unfortunately Pardo wasn't willing to be more specific, but he did share with us an update on how "StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm" is progressing:
"Now that we've shipped ['Wings of Liberty'], we're just now getting serious about breaking ground on ['Heart of the Swarm']. We always have a lot of ideas and there's been some design work on it, but hardcore art and programming is just now starting to begin. It's too early to estimate, but as soon as we can get them out there, we'd love to."
Based on that information, it seems like a 2011 release of "Heart of the Swarm" is probably too aggressive, especially when "Diablo 3" is likely (hopefully!) to release next year.