BlizzCon 07: Starcraft II Hands-On -- The Protoss

The noble protoss are playable at BlizzCon, and we got a taste of their single-player gameplay on the show floor.

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ANAHEIM, Calif.--Blizzard has two massive areas devoted to hands on with Starcraft II on the Blizzcon showfloor. The highly anticipated sequel to the classic RTS is being shown in two flavors, single player and multiplayer. We'll be attacking the demo in chunks as Blizz has opted to show off a meaty chunk of the game. The single player demo is a timed 20 minute level set on Shakuuras, pitting Terran and Protoss forces against each other. Protoss are charged with obliterating the Terran forces while the Terrans are tasked with wiping out the Protoss.

The demo features three difficulties, easy, normal, and hard. We picked normal and the Protoss and hopped in. The demo features a brief real-time cinematic that offers a quick flythrough of the Terran base and fills you in on your task of wiping out their forces. Once that's done you're at the Protoss base and ready to go. We immediately scoped out the tech tree by hitting F12 and sussed out exactly how to build the new units. The basics of the tree were faithfully laid out according to the original game with new structures added to the mix to accommodate the new units added to the Protoss forces. We snapped a pic of the tech tree to give you an idea of what it currently looks like, though bear in mind many people will greatly obsess over every detail in the game so it will likely change to some degree.

This is the Protoss tech tree in Starcraft II as it currently stands.

The Protoss forces in the demo start out with a batch of nearly all of the basic structures up, requiring you to build the last two and the full suite of advanced structures. Although the tree is in line with what was seen in the original game, there are some notable absences such as the shield battery and arbiter tribunal. New structures included the null circuit, dark obelisk, phase prism, and twilight council buildings which all tied into the new units. We tried our hand with as many of them as we could build and were intrigued by what we played. Null circuit buildings are one part of the equation to let you summon the observers to be constructed. The dark obelisk allows you to make dark templars, and phase prisms let you do create the mighty colossus, a killer land unit shown previously. The twilight council lets you create immortals. In addition the stargates let you summon the new phoenix and warp ray craft as well as the old standby, the carrier. The mothership has been tweaked since its Korean debut where it was presented as a unique unit. You can now summon more than one which comes handy. The downside is, if you're not careful, you'll lose it fast.

Overall the Protoss handled well and surprised us. In the demo they seemed faster and tougher than we remember them. The zealots are tough and handle themselves well on the battlefield. The larger ground units, stalkers and immortals, were powerful against certain units and ably stood their own. The templars, once powered up via the various upgrades you'll order up for them, are powerful adversaries. The dark templars and their natural cloak made them key for sending out to the various observatories on the battlefield to help widen your field of view. However we have to say our heart belongs to the colossus, carrier, and mothership combo. The colossus is a devastating land unit that cuts through ground troops nicely. Our personal favorite from the original game, the carrier, still kicks much tail. As before you could trick it out with a max of eight interceptor vehicles that shoot our and blast anything around it. We're especially taken by the auto casting option for the interceptors, allowing you to keep your carrier fully stocked. The mothership is pretty slick, offering some devastating attacks that take out pesky structures like Terran anti-aircraft batteries, with ease. However, as all the units in the game, it has its vulnerabilities. For example, it doesn't appear to deal well with mobs of terrain infantry. As we noted in our earlier general hands-on, there have been a number of tweaks to the game that have improved the game's overall handling which has helped the Protoss feel that much more polished.

The visuals in the game, though not final, are shaping up to be a smart shift to 3D for the series. The various units are looking great thanks to a detailed transition to 3D for all the units. The various Protoss ground units look sharp and are enhanced with various effects for their shields and, in the case of dark templars, cloaking fields. The larger stalkers, immortals, and the ripping cool colossus. The aircraft are equally cool with an impressive array of animated elements and effects for shields and weapons fire. Overall the look of the units and structures is in line with the aesthetics of the previous game but given a stylized twist for the jump to 3D that works well.

Audio in the demo was faithful to the excellent effects and audio heard in the original. We didn't scrutinize every single Protoss effect but our overall impression was good. The returning effects and the new ones mesh well. The added filters and effects beef everything up and give the action a good amount of kick. We're especially pleased by the sharpness of the weapons fire and the various sound bytes from all the units and forces which make the destruction and mayhem all the more satisfying.

Based on this tiny snippet of the game StarCraft II appears to be well on its way to ably updating its classic predecessor. So far the game is retaining the feel of the original, albeit with some very slick tweaks and additions, while adding a cool, stylized look. Best of all, the game's speed isn’t an issue (which was a concern of ours when we heard about the shift to 3D). As fans of the original we're excited by the promise the game's displayed. The gameplay is walking a fine line between being faithful to the original while still feeling fresh and the visuals keep the action stylish but don't bog down performance. If you're a fan of StarCraft this is all good news. Well, except for the fact that Blizzard's giving their "it will ship when it's ready" line for the game's release. In any case StarCraft II appears primed to deliver some blistering hotness when Blizzard unleashes it. Look for more on the game from Blizzcon and in the months to come.

Discussion

51 comments
unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

ah the protoss...the most expensive faction on Starcraft....they're still the best though...

toritofine
toritofine

i dont know why i think protoss are overpowered...

TheDefender221
TheDefender221

It's NOT a Phase prism - its called a Robotics Facility (the Phase Prism is a transport which can create an energy field, watch the bliz-con demo to see)

itaichi-666
itaichi-666

they need even more new buildings and people

Anthraxboy501
Anthraxboy501

if blizzard are to make new games they make it good... after all they only have a couple of series. starcraft was good long ago and this suprise makes it seem so distant. sure, they may of taken out some of our old favorites and made models seem like we never seen them before but im sure they will make up 4 it with better abilities and more units... the small range of troops in sc1 was kinda annoying and a lil bit boring... btw is there heros in this one? that wud make it a whole lot etter... or are the mothership and queen and stuff kind like them?

haffeysucks
haffeysucks

halo129, two words: psionic storm. i hate p-storm with a passion because I usually play zerg.

halo129
halo129

protoss are ok, i mean, they are really exspensive, and take along time, but with me bein new and all, maybe i wil be protoss player, instead of a zerg player.... maybe prostoss will be balanced against the zerg, protoss vs zerg in broodwar was suicide, it was a challange to win

Crashspeeder
Crashspeeder

I don't like how they changed the requirements for existing units (dark obelisk?) and changed the name of the Observer Facility to Null Circuit. They should've left the names and requirements the same for current units unless the current units were being changed/upgraded by default. I'll go with it though, I loved Starcraft and Brood War as well as Diablo 2 and Lord of Destruction. I'll trust them on this one.

Ultralastik
Ultralastik

To idiot Vasot: the graphics looks cartoonish because blizzard want starcraft 2 to be played by everyone. by the way, who wants a fast paces rts too lagg.i dont. im already happy with the graphics.

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

da mothership was already invinceable and now you can have mor ethan one ....... he he he I thinks me's will play protoss

Noodle001
Noodle001

i love the protoss they are actualy the advanced (though in starcraft most opressed) race! their new collosus really rocks! can't wait to storm a terran base with zealots (with new charge ability(!!!)) with the support of those collosuses PS: sorry for any spelling mistakes

Vasot
Vasot

The Protoss will probably be the most advanced and tough faction in the game but also with the most expensive units.... Man i hate to say it but the Graphics look DATED from the screens... Is that the best Blizzard can do with their graphic engine ?

DUUUUUUDEn51
DUUUUUUDEn51

Damn, those protoss look even more powerful than they did in the first SC. I hope I can still kick some templar ass with the Terran...

degenerate138
degenerate138

Sorry pal, BlizzCon just happened and there was no news of Diablo 3, which is when they WOULD announce it, so absolutely nothing is confirmed as of yet, lol. Anyway, SC2 is gonna be friggen amazing. I watched a long gameplay demo and it's looking great even in the beginning stages.

TH3_1NF1D3L
TH3_1NF1D3L

Babbages has it for an October 18, 2008 release. ^Already pre-ordered... And where-the-f*ck is my Arbiter Tribunal?

gimli577
gimli577

I sure hope they add an "Idle Worker" button... Thats the only thing I disliked about Starcraft

mageddo
mageddo

SADLY, THEY DELETE IT FROM THE HOME PAGE

mageddo
mageddo

BIG NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DIABLO 3 CONFIRMED, I SAW IN THE BLIZZARD HOMEPAGE THAT IT SAY: "BLIZZARD THE CREATOR OF DIABLO, DIABLO 2 IS LOOKING FOR (SOMETHING) PROGRAMMER

Themaazandar
Themaazandar

Stasis orb is yet to be unveiled. Rumour has it that it will have the ability to slow down ground units

mrx302
mrx302

wat da hells a statis orb

bahmangamer
bahmangamer

i know that it's a good beginning of new generation of strategic games.......................big ever,big starcraft 2

taggerung000
taggerung000

is it just me or does the "null circuit" thing look a ton like the observer normal building? lol

yifes
yifes

"You too can spend $60 for an expansion pack being sold as a stand-alone product! Buy today!!!" New engine, 2D->3D, all new units, new gameplay elements, new single player campaign. Expansion pack? You're on crack.

SimsDevil
SimsDevil

it'll be well worth the wait. plus with so many next gen console games coming out, we'll be kept busy until then.

vaders_fist
vaders_fist

I doubt it. A game of this caliber is likely to take until at least next spring i think.

Spybreak
Spybreak

Hopefully we'll get this before the year ends.

gamenux
gamenux

SCII on ps3 with keyboard and mouse support would be nice.

BurntToast
BurntToast

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

CreatureDude
CreatureDude

Kick assery!!!!o.O..Can' wait to play some Nexus Wars or Golem Revelation or Uuuu..Special Forces!!O.O..

REd_toe
REd_toe

i just pray it comes out hoilday 2008

shaji84
shaji84

No Scouts!! : ( Oh well i can still psionic storm the s*** out of zerg hopefully

Baconiclore
Baconiclore

Holy crap. They pushed Dark Templar waaaaaaay back on the tech tree. No more DT rush I suppose. Also glad to see 'goons getting replaced by a (hopefully) more worthwhile unit.

ldavidtw2000
ldavidtw2000

So...Terran got their special unit, and Protoss lost its? Oh man, I can't wait for the custom maps... "20001 Motherships Defend" It'll lag the F*** out everybody in "OVERMIND D GOLD FASTBUILD" though, LOOOL!!!! just hope they don't work out like Warcraft 3 TFT, either DOTA for US players or Dynasty Warriors for Asia, no other maps...that would suck sooo much.

Themaazandar
Themaazandar

They dropped the scout?!! THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE UNIT!! I don't like this new Phoenix replacement at all. But if they haven't powered down the Mothership, I guess I can accept it. I really want them to portray the Protoss as the strongest of the three races this time. I don't mean in terms of gameplay - of course all three should be balanced - but in terms of image. BIG weapons and impressive tech.

lev_six
lev_six

Yeah, it is obvious that this was hastily (and thus poorly) written. I think the point was to get us the information as quickly as possible. I'm sure if he was given time to actually proofread his article it would have turned out better. Hahaha. Thanks for the info, Gamespot.

keithburgun
keithburgun

I count about 10 typos in this article... Hey, who wants to start up an independent game media website?

shrpshooter37
shrpshooter37

hoorah the protoss are the bomb(gotta love the carrier and the old dark templar)! and whats a stasis orb?

ruceroussel
ruceroussel

Can't wait to play it! Won't come out soon enough.

Strommy
Strommy

"If you're a fan of StarCraft this is all good news. Well, except for the fact that Blizzard's giving their "it will ship when it's ready" line for the game's release." That line is good, not bad!

Haimehs
Haimehs

yeah! wait to play it! protoss' is my fave race.

McHenry2
McHenry2

god i can't wait to get this game.. ive been playing the first since it came out anyone know the specs to play this game? i hope my pc can handle it

realfobl3ob
realfobl3ob

"However, as all the units in the game, it has its vulnerabilities. For example, it doesn't appear to deal well with mobs of terrain infantry." Terran you mean?

XBSHX
XBSHX

Robotics Facility not Phase Prism!