Wrapping Up the End of An Era In Exemplary Fashion
Here we are in 2015, seventeen years, nine campaigns, billions of multiplayer matches and an established professional competitive scene later. Yet it’s still strange to think that StarCraft has reached a definitive stopping point for now. Here we are at the final chapter of StarCraft II, the much anticipated Protoss-centered section, Legacy of the Void. I have been watching and playing since the beginning. I have watched this grow from a simple science-fiction counterpart of Warcraft into a phenomenal platform that hosts tournaments, draw crowds, create champions, and pay out millions of dollars. So what is there to say about Legacy of the Void? Well, let’s start by saying it is fun and functional. It makes a few changes, balances some units, supplies new game modes, and caps off a story, but how well does it do those things? Let’s get right into it.
The multiplayer has always been the mainstay of StarCraft and that’s no different here. All the options your competitive heart desires for whatever match you’re looking for ranked or unranked is there. One of the biggest changes that came with this addition was that workers for all factions were increased from six units to twelve units at start and production costs overall were lowered a bit. As a result, there’s practically no lull. Matches will be over in no time. Being ready from the get-go and making sure you’ve got your situation planned and executed the whole way through has never been more important at all levels of play.
With faster production rates, quick planning is more crucial than ever
What that means is that StarCraft’s multiplayer is more punishing than ever for beginners. It’s always been a fast paced active chess game that favored preparation and practice and there’s no lack of players out there that do read up, trade strategies, study metas, and follow the pros. Making the game faster just raises the bar further. Fortunately there are plenty of options for honing your skills offline and online, such as A.I. Versus modes or the newly implemented Co-op missions or Archon modes.
Co-op missions in particular are quite fun and perhaps one of my favorite additions to the game. You’ll partner up with a friend or random player to take on specific missions. You each begin by selecting a hero that determines the race units you spawn and special abilities you’ll being able to deploy throughout the match. For instance, a player selecting Kerrigan will be able to take her to the field and use all of the abilities associated with her hero unit whereas selecting Artanis will allow you to call upon an orbital battle station to deliver surgical strikes and other strategic abilities. It’s really an interesting change-up that rewards players for combining the benefits of their selected heroes.
Co-op rewards players for efficiently combining the benefits of their selected heroes
Archon Mode is similar, but where in Co-op, each player controls a different faction, two players control the same army in a multiplayer game for Archon Mode. This is a bit trickier. Ideally, one player can handle the base building while the other manages armies, but it still relies on the players having a distinct understanding of what needs to be done when and where. It can easily fall apart when you have to rely on each other in such an involved setting, but if you have a buddy that you know and can coordinate well with, I could see Archon Mode being quite fun.
Single player comes to the Protoss campaign and closes out the theatrical and emotional arc that has prevailed throughout StarCraft II. Where the Terran campaign in Wings of Liberty carried the theme of revolution against tyranny and the Zerg campaign in Heart of the Swarm centered around absolute control of the hive mind Zerg, the Protoss campaign is centered around unity of the race against a great evil. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much investment here. The Protoss are a stuffy folk that always speak in never ending polite reverence. Put this in contrast to the emotional roller coaster that was the love interest of James Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, not to mention the long emotional journey towards an ultimate revenge, and the Protoss campaign is just a bit too reserved in comparison for a final chapter. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad. In fact it’s quite good. It’s just not as good as the two campaigns that came before it.
For what it’s worth, Legacy of the Void ties up the StarCraft II's story nicely
Artanis, Zeratul, and their compatriots do have a story that draws compassion. They are a beaten down race that longs only to restore their home. To this end, you’ll follow Artanis in his journey to unify all Protoss, sometimes coming in contact with familiar faces that will help you in your cause or ask that you help in theirs. Artanis operates from the Spear of Adun battle station, and throughout single player you’ll select missions that will grant you new units, as well as being able to pick upgrades that will grant new benefits and variations to your existing units. Even further, you can upgrade the Spear of Adun between missions with options that will boost your build speed or starting resources or even give you options like the ability to fire an orbital strike or warp in a Pylon anywhere within vision.
The missions are your standard fair. You start from scratch and amass your available options as you progress through the game. Many of the missions will involve you destroying one objective or another, but some are pleasantly different. Of my favorite missions had you take control of several heroes in a sequence of events that spanned several areas. It was great nod to the MOBA genre that games like StarCraft inspired and informed. In the end, the single player campaign wraps up the Protoss ends nicely, and even includes an epilogue that ties up the loose ends of Raynor and Kerrigan.
STARCRAFT 2: LEGACY OF THE VOID VERDICT
StarCraft II has come to an end. There will be DLC eventually, but what’s known has already been confirmed as spin-off stories. So what does Legacy of the Void do that hasn’t already been done? I’ll tell you perhaps the most important thing it does. It proudly carries the StarCraft mantle to another finish line and establishes itself as a worthy platform that will continue to provide great contests between the quick-witted and fast fingered for months upon years to come. It doesn’t go out to win new fans and it doesn’t change the core to keep up with the times. It’s certainly not a good jump-in point either. No, this game is the ultimate product of a bygone era made for the faithful fans it has gathered over almost two decades. It’s a damn good real-time strategy game and a damn good StarCraft game.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Jumping into Co-op was my favorite thing in this game. Taking on a challenge with a person I didn’t know and syncing up in just the right way in order to conquer objectives with our unique abilities and armies felt very cool in a way that even 2 vs. 2 games and the like in regular multiplayer don’t provide. I’ll play around in single player and multiplayer quite a bit of course, but Co-op mode is a place I’ll be going back to time and time again for everything it offers.
Timeless and solid real-time strategy mechanics
Co-Op mode is tons of fun
Multiplayer is faster than ever.
Single player story is not quite as good as previous games