Starcraft II

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm review

Rich McCormick at

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm was designed to be a competitive sport, so it's only fair that it nicks some of sport's idioms. The most important of these is cribbed from football: it's a game of two halves.

The front half: a 20-odd mission campaign with a steadily evolving spread of controllable units spurred on by an earnest, overwrought story of revenge. Dig through that, learn the game's many long and greasy ropes, and you'll find the back half: a competitive strategy game so finely balanced and so tactically varied that people are able to play it as their job.

No matter your experience with Heart of the Swarm's predecessor, Wings of Liberty - first of Blizzard's planned three StarCraft IIs - it's the campaign you should start with. Not simply because it does an appreciable job of teaching new players the basic mechanics for one of the game's three races - the Zerg, the swarmy stars of this StarCraft show - but also because it's incredibly well put together in its own right.


Heart of the Swarm devs on multiplayer: "Nobody is close to figuring the game out yet."

T.J. Hafer at

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is still fresh off of the oozing, globular presses, and its community is still in a state of contention over the new units and the metagame still taking shape around them. A lot of the current concern is surrounding the new booster ability for Terran Medivacs, which allowed some relatively unknown players to defeat legendary Zerg players like Leenock in decisive fashion. Many have taken up the cry of "Nerf! Nerf! Nerf!" Blizzard, however, thinks the problem lies in the newness of the expansion more than the Medivac or another unit being overpowered.


StarCraft 2: Art of the Swarm - an interview with Senior Art Director Sam Didier

T.J. Hafer at

We caught up with Level 85 Elite Tauren Chieftain frontman (oh, and he's also Senior Art Director at Blizzard) at the Heart of the Swarm launch last week to discuss the visual design of the expansion. What inspired the new campaign's aesthetic? How do you create Zerg characters that are both "zergy" and relatable to players? Between the two of us, is there enough hair in this room to knit a sweater? Listen in and find out!


StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm interview with Chris Metzen

T.J. Hafer at

Not only did I get to chat with the voice of Jim Raynor earlier this week at the Heart of the Swarm launch event in Irvine, CA, I also stopped by Blizzard HQ to interview Chris Metzen, Blizzard's VP of Story and Franchise Development, about the story of Heart of the Swarm... and beyond. Among the topics discussed are games as storytelling tools, where Kerrigan fits into Blizzard's roster of iconic characters, and what Thrall would order at Outback Steakhouse.


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

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: MLG Winter is finally here! Heart of the Swarm has launched, and now is as good a time as ever to start eSportsing. Plus, competitive gaming has earned itself a spot at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Have a look at all of this and more inside. gl hf!


StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm launch videos: meet the voice of Jim Raynor

PC Gamer at

We sent intrepid, Viking-like Contributing Editor T.J. Hafer down to Irvine, California yesterday to take in the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm launch event at the Spectrum Mall. He was met by giddy pre-orderers, a hat, a Kerrigan, and the Robert Clotworthy, the voice of Terran good guy Jim Raynor.


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 Battle.net 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!


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!


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 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.