BlizzCon 2008: Starcraft II Gameplay Panel

Blizzard devs talk single-player, the introduction of new characters, and turning Starcraft II into a trilogy.

ANAHEIM, Calif.--If there were ever any doubt about the success of Starcraft II, its fans blew that out of the water today when they just about caved the Convention Center ceiling with cheering as Blizzard developers Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo, and Dustin Browder took the stage. The three were on deck to chair the Starcraft II Gameplay Panel, a session that trod some familiar storyline footprints and threw a few new elements into the mix.

The panel began by explaining that Starcraft II is attempting to break the mold by being both a real-time strategy game and a way of storytelling. To do this, the team has introduced new gameplay mechanics to help further establish the lengthy backstories of Starcraft universe characters. Today's session marks the first time Blizzard has spoken publically about the single-player component of the game, which will see you take on the role of returning character Jim Raynor and will take place in familiar locales for those familiar with the events of the first game. We began our adventure following Jim on Mar Sara as he sat alone in a bar drinking. A few moments later, new character Tychus Findlay entered, and while much of it was explained beforehand by the panelists, there's a very obvious moment of both recognition and uncomfortableness when the two interact. The history between them is a bit sketchy, but when Tychus offers Jim a chance to make some coin by stealing alien artefacts, the two manage to come to an arrangement.

It's here in the bar that the location itself is part of the storytelling vehicle for Starcraft II. By simply hovering the mouse over and then clicking objects such as notice boards, the jukebox, and a television perched over the corner of the bar, you're given information, including a wanted poster of Jim Raynor, a music track, or a live news feed from broadcaster UNN. In the cutscene following the mission to recover the first of Tychus' artefacts, a news report details a Zerg landing at a nearby mine. This is where we saw our first live Starcraft II gameplay demonstration by the panel, and it consisted of a classic "hold out" mission where you'll need to stay alive for 20 minutes until reinforcements arrive. Naturally it's not as easy as it sounds, and wave after wave of Zerg are slaughtered as you move your troops into nearby bunkers in groups of four. In the interest of time, we warped ahead to the end of the scenario as still more Zerglings attempted to force their way into the fortified base. Just as all seems lost, another newcomer, Matt Horner, makes an appearance and pulls you and Tychus to safety. Once aboard you're free to roam around and click at will, in the process unlocking information on the current situation and backstory and through the use of the Star Map exploring a flat plan of the available planets with missions you can attempt.

At any time you'll be offered two to six missions with objectives to further the overarching story through victory or objectives to unlock new friendships by lending a hand. One example shown was called Saviour, which charges you to answer a distress call from a nearby planet. While you may opt to ignore these side quests, they do provide additional allies and in turn access to new planets that can be explored. The team at Blizzard made it clear on more than one occasion that they're committed to providing a unique experience by letting you choose your own path and branching storyline. They did confirm that each game will feature only a single ending for all players regardless of choices made.

It was at this point that Blizzard announced the news that the game will be split up into three separate products. This means that when Starcraft II ships, it will include only the Terran campaign--Wings of Liberty--made up of somewhere between 26 and 30 missions. Zerg: Heart of the Swarm and Protos: Legacy of the Void are planned to follow, though no information was given as to their estimated time of release. Like the Terran campaign, Heart of the Swarm will feature a single identifiable persistent character, Sarah Kerrigan, while Protos will follow Zeratul.

We'll bring you more information on Starcraft II and its single-player campaign as it comes to hand. Stay tuned for our latest hands-on preview.

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Discussion

62 comments
Ravineux
Ravineux

I hope the price will be adjusted well.

pooya_d
pooya_d

All I care aabout is gameplay......!!!!!!!

bobmcguire
bobmcguire

do we know that all 3 are going to cost 180 dollars? games are already expensive and even though i am a huge starcraft fan and have always expected quality from blizzard, i would be incredibly turned off if i have to pay 180 for this. i am not even happy that they split it into 3 different games.

PyroLeprecon
PyroLeprecon

I don't understand why people think this is a rip-off. Blizzard will obviously add more units/maps for all factions in HotS and LotV, so what this basically amounts to is the announcment that they will be making 2 expansion packs for StarCraft 2, except with 3 big campaigns, not 9 small ones.

Ekranoplan
Ekranoplan

I am really looking forward to this. I dont get why they keep insisting that Starcraft II will break the mold by telling a great story. There are plenty of RTS games that have told great stories, such as Starcraft and Homeworld.

SeargantGoat
SeargantGoat

Just wait until the game comes out, then all the people crying "rip off" can see for themselves. Blizzard has always been known for their quality, which is why we've all been waiting anxiously for this game. This way they'll be able to get it into your grubby hands a little sooner, and get you excited for the next installment, ala the Half Life 2 Episodes. I think it's a great move on their part.

vortex_of_stuff
vortex_of_stuff

for all you crybabies out there, please kindly realize that the only reason blizzard has made this decision is because random tools keep posting everywhere online "we want Starcraft 2 now!!!" Maybe if you all gained a bit of patience they wouldn't be doing this also, its not because they want to make money, they are giving us more game play, and faster. They are simply trying to please everyone.

swalyrune
swalyrune

Man, I think its cool. 30 scenarios times 3 equals 90 scenarios. Thats 2 bucks a scenario if all 3 together cost 180. 2 bucks a scenario, and then multiplayer. Its a good deal. Want to know whats a ripoff? World of Warcraft. That is the king of ripoffs.

Demon3322
Demon3322

this game looks really good but it seems a bit of a rip off, but im gonna buy the terran one and if i like it ALOT then i'll think about buying the others

Elim420
Elim420

this is sad......... i agree with anteares RIP OFF

Anteares
Anteares

There's no way I'm paying $180 for ONE game. Call it what you will, but this is a blatant attempt to bleed the fanbase. This is NOT about making 3 good games....or 1 good game and 2 expansions...it's about RIPPING YOU OFF. If the multiplayer is ready then all they have to do is make 10-15 missions for each campaign. THATS IT. I would buy the expansion at expansion price, but I'm not buying 1 campaign minus whatever units they want to leave out to try and rip me off with 2 full price 'expansions'.

ag_04
ag_04

Imagine one full dvd for each story (terran, zerg, protoss). The lore is one of the things I most enjoyed from SC. You can just buy one game if you think you are wasting your money (just for battlenet playing). Not a good idea imo. This game is gonna be awesome :D

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

I think i'll wait until all three games have been released. Blizzard will no doubt tinker with the previous race's units, buildings, etc when each "expansion" is released.

sorrath
sorrath

You know i read in a competitive site (IGN) that this style of games already exists... Half Life (Episode 1,2,3). BUT there is a small problem here, Valve = Orange Box (5 games 1 price), Blizzard = never is going to happen. Unfortunately either u like it or not Blizzard is a very big organization now they care more for profits. But tbh i like the story of SC and the SC:BW and i bought them as soon they came out, perhaps i'll do the same, i don't know, it was a bad move from Blizzard imo.

NightmareCV
NightmareCV

blizzard said they want to release each a year apart, the only real progress they have right now is in the terran campaign so they still need to make the others. it is true that they have the engine, but the engine doesnt write the story, that part will take time.

jarule88
jarule88

i think they won't release one game in one year at the time..... i think that gap between releases will be smaller like 6 months perhaps. After all they have engine... they just need to work on telling the story... and maybe adding some new units each time they release a new chapter :D that would be awesome :D.... And I think it's a great move by blizzard.. this way we gonna have the best story ever :D I can't w8 for STARCRAFT 2 :D :D

gamespotlatte
gamespotlatte

I agree with Nightmare. Imagine if you are a Tolkien fan and they would have made only one 3 hours movie instead of three movies of Lord Of the Rings. I dont know aobut you, but i enjoyed each movie and im happy blizzard is doing alot of content, the more the better. Then we have to see if they are really greedy with the price or not....

NightmareCV
NightmareCV

idk about the prices but each game will have 30+ missions for their respective campaigns and you can use all three races in custom games and on battle.net. they will not lock races out just cuz you bought the terran one. and to all the people who say they wont buy it because it is 3 games, what is the difference between buying 3 full games that each have their own campaigns and getting 3 other games. you will buy a lot of games each year, you will spend the money, if the game is good does it matter? plus they are each releasing a year apart. so once a year over a three year period you buy one starcraft game, what is the big deal? i think this is a good move by blizz because it shows that they want to tell the best story possible without having to sacrifice anything. i always loved starcraft's story and i am looking forward to this game.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

I'm annoyed. What happened to dev's just going away for years and coming back with Half-life 2 (the original HL2, not those crappy over-priced, boxed together, cash grabbing mission packs that use the same old engine), or Oblivion - beautiful, ground breaking games that advanced gaming and were sold to us in a nice single package. In the case of StarCraft - imagine how much respect and love (and good reviews) Blizzard would have gotten if they delivered a monster 75 mission singleplayer, hyper competitive/balanced multiplayer in SC2? Perfect 10's, everybody rants about how great they are, a model developer that should be followed and forgets that it's been over a decade since the original. But this? Nup, smacks of profiteering to me. It's episode packs all over again - why sell it in one package when you can sell it in three? It's as simple as that. Money money money. I guess the good old days are over and with all these bunny gamers around now, willing to buy everything and talking trash, pretending they've been around forever, they ain't ever coming back.

doomtrain08
doomtrain08

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

usoglf
usoglf

both excellent games in my opinion

kostikas84
kostikas84

Dawn of War better game?? ..... Are YOU kidding??????Have you ever played SC or you are just saying it?

megadisc
megadisc

so what's new? any babes?

Arvendragon
Arvendragon

At least it was updated.. Anyways, from what is said so far, it sounds like a helluva long campaign for one race. StarCraft II will have 80+ missions?

Zetona
Zetona

Blizzard has yet to give a complete answer as to why they are breaking up the game into three episodes. Hopefully the episodes will not cost as much as a full game, because they are more extensions of story than of gameplay.

Incrognito
Incrognito

I agree with Balrogthane. In addition, although they haven't mentioned anything about the multiplayer, I would assume that they are going to release all three races as playable in multiplayer with the first game. If you have any doubts, ask yourself "How dumb would it be if after eleven years of anticipation, I have to wait another half a year to play the zerg (I don't actually know when the are going to release Heart of the Swarm) after I get the first game?" If you look at it from a realist perspective, it would be a real bonehead move to do that and Blizzard has a pretty good rep for making the right decision.

sheeda_blade
sheeda_blade

I am surprised that there are many people wanting to know what will happen to the multiplayer which everyone is waiting for and yet they concentrate on single player aspect of the game ? Make a movie of something you already have the books.

balrogthane
balrogthane

It's an interesting idea. It allows them to focus much more on each race's campaign. I really don't think it's 'all about the money,' Blizzard's got a good track record that way. I choose to believe they have the Terran campaign almost finished, and they said, "Hey, rather than make everyone wait until we get thirty missions (thirty missions, people, that's a lot of missions!) for each race finished, let's break it up into three chunks."

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

I have to say... 3 games, I am worried, I hope the first package they will include multiplayer and a very quick tutorial on how to play every race, so battle net can be started withought everyone being terran at first. Also, do we need the 3 games toguether to play multiplayer? I might as well skip Zerg as I hate them much... then again, Sarah Kerrigan is my fav char, I have to see how the Story of StarCraft unfolds with the Terran. Maybe I should skip it all toguether, its going to destroy my life just like Starcraft 1

EliteNamedSteve
EliteNamedSteve

So much wining about them wanting money... They are all stand alone games, all with about the same number of missions as the originals. They cant fit everything into one uber game, so they are guna make three awsome games instead. And Multilayer is going to be the same. With game one, you will have full multilayer capabilities. It is merely the campaign that is being divided. They cant put all three story arcs into a single game.

Roronoa_ZoroHUN
Roronoa_ZoroHUN

Now this is stupid! Bring up more idiotic ideas like this and you will fail! And you'll fail Blizzard whit this one!

D3j1k0
D3j1k0

"Break the mold as both an rts and as a way of storytelling" breaking the mold as an rts - yup, never seen an rts that sells factions separatly at launch. as a way of storytelling - sure, as long as you ignore the phoenix wright series.

Shep158
Shep158

Also, what the hell is gona happen to Multiplayer are you gona have to wait for all 3 to come out before you can use all three races online?

gamerkhang2
gamerkhang2

wait.... so wat does that mean for the release dates? do they all come out on the same day or one after the other, becuz if its the second that world b really annoyin along with the fact that its $150

TheHappyCamper
TheHappyCamper

I dont see this format being much different from what Half Life 2 did with its Episodes. We are still going to be getting a full game.

MacBrother
MacBrother

I'd love to know how this will effect multiplayer. Will we need just one game to get the full experience, or will each following game in the "trilogy" be an expansion pack for the multiplayer? Because I finished the first Starcraft Single Player game, I didn't care enough to beat Brood War because I was playing Battle.net.

RedMageNeko
RedMageNeko

Considering the fact that, with just that one single player campaign, they have 26 to 30 missions, which I don't think include side missions, and you have an awesome game right there. Yes, splitting it was probably a move for money and time. But if all of the campaigns feature that number of missions, you'll most likely still be playing the first campaign when the second one is being readied for release. Honestly, I was never a huge Starcraft fan. not sure why, but it never drew me like Warcraft did. That said, I am looking forward to this game and I'm planning to get a copy as soon as it hits shelves. Blizz has an amazing record of making products that blow our mind and I have no doubt that this game will continue that tradition.

weaselciuy
weaselciuy

Its all about the money, we fans are 0 (zero) . No count. Nice job Blizzard ... Join EA wtf and ruin SC and WC series like they did with the C&C ones .

Peaches1347
Peaches1347

"artefacts", and "Protos" someone needs to use spell check. but anyhow 3 products for one story. thats a stupid idea. if they waiting period between each game is more then a half a year i will probably cure bilizzard

MuscleCarMan
MuscleCarMan

3 products mean they want more of our money

THGarrett
THGarrett

I'd would rather have it in one complete package, but I'm not going to complain as long they charge a reasonable price for each episode.

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

the multiplayer will be the same for the first game as the last so why makes us wait for an extended period of time for them? It really makes no sense.

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

Horrible, should release the three games at once, but because of the cost they won't do it, even though all three will sell.

Zee666
Zee666

Mahhhhhhhh... looks cool though, bout time they , made a sequel. GRRRRR zomgroflmaool

Vasot
Vasot

Starcraft 2 = FAIL Thank god that W4k-Dawn of War 2 is a great alternative option

godoftheds
godoftheds

trust in blizzard they have yet to fail us

abr_alex
abr_alex

They're not 'splitting' it, they simply releasing multiplayer and terran campaign lets say in 2009 then they make zerg (end of 2010 - mid 2011) and protoss (2012). Why wait THREE more years whan they can release multiplayer and first part of singlplayer much sooner? Remember, each campaign will be as big as WHOLE Starcraft of Broodwar. For me its fine decision.