Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm's Hope and Vengeance comic contains little of either

Phil Savage at

From your cold, distant position hovering above a Starcraft 2 map, it's easy to forget that the armies you control are full of tiny representations of people. That SCV you sacrificed for crucial scouting information? Only two months off his final mortgage payments. That Colossus you mis-microed? Proud father to a litter of baby colossi, whose small stature admittedly makes their name redundant. And those Zerglings you rushed... Admittedly, not a lot going on there. Hive mind and all that.

Still, there's potential tragedy with every click. Especially when centred around the characters of Heart of the Swarm's plot. That's the subject of the prequel webcomic, Hope and Vengeance, which Blizzard have uploaded to their site for the launch of the latest RTS expansion.

StarCraft 2 dev discusses HotS campaign units: "I get to make everything overpowered"

Tom Senior at

Rich is in Paris seeing Heart of the Swarm, and has become conveniently stranded by a sudden snowstorm. How convenient, Mr. "I can't control the weather, honest" McCormick. Still, it's given him the chance to grab up with Heart of the Swarm designer David Sung and Starcraft 2 game producer Tony Hsu for a chat about their core design ideas the new campaign.

Sung enthusiastically explains that "my advantage over David Kim (multiplayer balance designer), is I get to make everything overpowered. Some of the core design values I’ve brought are to make everything overpowered" he said. "Pray don’t tell." Sorry, David. But what level of unrestrained murder are we talking about here? Banelings that FLY? Ha, that would be - wait, you DO have those?

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm prepares for launch with 21 hour livestream

Phil Savage at

In the run up to Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm's release later today, Blizzard are hosting a 21-hour global livestream of launch events, community features and the final of the Day[9] hosted King of the Beta tournament. Those wanting to watch the full event will need to stock up on a body destroying amount of caffeine - the Irvine launch event, including the tournament final, doesn't kick off until 4am GMT.

StarCraft 2 developer AMA reveals why some things had to be cut from HotS, the problem with pro player feedback

T.J. Hafer at

The developers of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm recently did an AMA on Reddit, which brought to light some very interesting answers on everything from expansion features that didn't make it, to eSports, to release timetables. Game Director Dustin Browder (whom I interviewed not long ago) took point, providing responses to some of the community's most pressing inquiries.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 8-14, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: the Swarm approaches, and vengeance is upon us all! By this time next week, we'll have a champion for the GSL and IEM, Heart of the Swarm will be burrowed on our hard drives... and that's just StarCraft. Get off one last inject on your hatch, then 1-A your way down into this week's eSports news. gl hf!

Scientific study of StarCraft 2 determines a winner in the three-way galactic conflict

T.J. Hafer at

The debate has raged, on and around the counter at comic book stores, since '98: Terran, Zerg, or Protoss? But finally, in the eyes of two researchers in Edinburgh, a conclusion has been reached. Science has spoken. And the winner is...

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 1-8, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: the death knell sounds for IPL6, but an announcement from QuakeCon gives us something different to look forward to. Things have come right down to the wire in The Defense 3 and the GSL, and the next MLG is right around the corner. There may be no better time this year to 6 pool or gank your friends into giving eSports a look. gl hf!

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm trailer finds Kerrigan looking for vengeance

Phil Savage at

They may have defeated the Queen of Blades, but it's not all party hats and aerobatic Viper fly-bys for the Terrans. Newly re-human-ified Sarah Kerrigan is still a little annoyed about that whole being abandoned by Mengsk thing. So much so that Blizzard have devoted an entire trailer to her quest for vengeance.

How to find a StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm launch event near you

T.J. Hafer at

Much as we've all had a love-hate relationship with brick and mortar game stores, some of my fondest memories as a PC gamer have been lining up in the freezing cold with dozens of other gamers to grab the next big collector's edition at midnight on launch day. If you're hoping to have that experience with Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard has created a dedicated page to find launch events in your area.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (February 22-28, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: EVE Online gets its first ongoing, competitive league. The IPL could be changing hands. And only the final four remain in the GSL Code S. Get ready to face-check your weekly helping of competitive gaming news. gl hf!

The curious case of StarCraft's harvester pathfinding hack

Omri Petitte at

Even the most mundane game mechanics sometimes boast extraordinary origins. In the StarCraft series, resource collectors ignore collisions whenever traveling to or returning with minerals. It's a type of unit behavior universally experienced by every commander, but its beginnings tell a far more interesting story: ArenaNet co-founder and former Blizzard senior programmer Patrick Wyatt writes in a retrospective article how the simplified pathfinding arose from a quick and dirty hack to meet a looming release deadline for the original 1998 RTS.

Final StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm video details competitive and eSports features

T.J. Hafer at

There's only about a week left in the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta. Then you'll have to hug your Brood Lord plushie and rock back and forth for a whole 13 days before the game officially launches. As expansion day fast approaches, Blizzard has released the last of its video previews, and this one focuses on the new eSports and competitive features.

Blizzcon returns November 8 and 9, 2013

T.J. Hafer at

2012: The Year Without a Blizzcon. It was also the year I was finally ready to attend, which made the absence of Blizzard's annual blow-out all the more poignant. But at last, we've been told that the life-sized-Thrall-statue-shaped hole in our hearts will be filled once again on November 8 and 9 in Anaheim.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (February 15-21, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: which StarCraft II tournaments are making the switch to Heart of the Swarm, and which will hang onto Wings of Liberty a little longer? We've got the answers. Also, could World of Tanks break into the eSports scene? With an announced $2.5 million prize pool, it might be on the right track.

StarCraft II pre-Heart of the Swarm patch coming early next week

T.J. Hafer at

Blizzard is preparing to deploy the 2.0.4 patch for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the last major patch before Heart of the Swarm, which will implement many of the changes teased for the expansion. A new interface, the new training modes, and the new replay features will all become available. Basically, everything except the new campaign, the new xp system, and the actual HotS multiplayer units will be included. Read on for specifics.

Interview: StarCraft II casters Axslav and Axeltoss

T.J. Hafer at

Maybe even more so than the players, casters are the public faces of eSports. Their engagement with the audience and the community has been a big part of growing and shaping the scene—even someone who couldn't name a single StarCraft II pro might recognize icons like Day[9] and TotalBiscuit.

We recently had the chance to pose some questions to two of the veteran StarCraft II casters who will be bringing you the play-by-plays at MLG's Winter Championship next month: Alex "Axeltoss" Rodriguez and Nick "Axslav" Ranish. Read on to learn how they got into the scene, which players are the hardest to cast, and where they'd like to see eSports in the not-so-distant future.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (February 8-14, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: League of Legends Season 3 hits the ground running, MLG is already hosting competitive Heart of the Swarm, In Dota 2, only four teams are still standing in the upper bracket of The Defense 3.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm video shows matchmaking features for beginners and veterans

Omri Petitte at

I don't know about the more experienced commanders out there, but my fun in StarCraft II relies a lot on whether or not I'm satisfied with the feng shui of my barracks placement relative to my base's refinery. Such a quirk usually doesn't bode well for me against humans, but I may find enough time and space to fuss over the spiritual alignment of my buildings in peace in Heart of the Swarm's new Training and Versus AI modes.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm trailer previews main menu changes, social features

Omri Petitte at

Considering its hive-minded nature, it's appropriate that Blizzard wants the Zerg-flavored expansion to StarCraft II to grow and iterate on the game's community communication systems. In an overview video, Community Manager Kevin "Cloaken" Johnson walks through the expansion's simplified main menu, a couple new social-oriented features, and the previously revealed clan support.

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm to be showcased in MLG's Winter Season

Phil Savage at

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm will be the focus of two invite-only competitions at Major League Gaming's upcoming Winter Season event. It should give us a nice opportunity to see what the pros can do with those jerk Widow Mines.

First up will be the Winter Season Showdown, a 56 player showcase that will take place on weeknights and select Sundays between February 4th and March 8th. That will be followed up, after the game's release, by a 32 player Exhibition Tournament at Dallas, Texas, between the 15th and 17th of March.