Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm brings Kerrigan to the fore

BlizzCon 2011: Blizzard's lead writer and level designer run through some of the new characters and gameplay that players can expect from the Wings of Liberty follow-up.

ANAHEIM, CA--At the BlizzCon 2011 opening ceremony this morning, Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime promised that this year's event would have new offerings for all of its big three franchises. As it pertained to Starcraft II, those announcements equate to a first look at Heart of the Swarm's new multiplayer content, as well as a look at the single-player campaign for the real-time strategy game. That single-player information came as part of a mid-Friday panel devoted to Starcraft II's campaign and lore, which featured Blizzard's senior VP of story and franchise development Chris Metzen, lead writer Brian Kindregan, and lead level designer Matt Morris.

Kerrigan will be the star of Heart of the Swarm.

Kindregan led off, saying that he didn't want to spoil anything that will be in the game. Therefore, the team didn't have much by way of specifics on how Heart of the Swarm would continue the storyline from Wings of Liberty. However, Kindregan did provide brief overviews of some of the primary players, beginning with perhaps the most interesting of all, Kerrigan. She still has the dreadlocks, he said, which indicates she's not entirely back to human. Kerrigan also doesn't remember all that she did as the Queen of Blades, he said, but she remembers some of the awful deeds, and it's weighing heavily on her.

The Protoss Zeratul has essentially gone rogue, he continued, saying that he is on the hunt to prove an intergalactic conspiracy. Meanwhile, Izsha is a new character that was created by the Queen of Blades as a memory depository of sorts, and therefore, she serves Kerrigan now. (Amanda Haley, who was in a Starcraft short story.) Abathur is another unique Zerg created by the Queen of Blades and now under Kerrigan's control. His role is to evolve the swarm, and the way he does this is to eat parts of creatures to assimilate their desirable properties.

Not all the Zerg are on Kerrigan's side, though. One such is Za'Gara, a brood mother. Brood mothers are a new unit to Heart of the Swarm and were created by the Queen of Blades just before her reversion to Kerrigan. Za'Gara, like many other brood mothers, doubts that Kerrigan used to be the Queen of Blades. And because the brood mothers are sentient creatures that can control an entire brood, they have independence and ambition and all want to be the next leader of the Swarm.

There are many stories woven together in this game, Kindregan said. There is the overarching story of Kerrigan's attempt to regain control of the Swarm. There are also individual stories that are more personal. Ambient stories are also there, and they float in the background. However, of all these stories, he emphasized that the most important is Kerrigan's. She has done awful things and had awful things done to her, and she is an angry conflicted hero. She ultimately has to make peace with the Zerg Swarm, he concluded.

Morris then took the mic to talk about mission structures. He said that the Zerg campaign is much different from Wings of Liberty, most notably in that the Zerg's approach to the universe is much different from that of the Terrans and Jim Raynor. Specifically, when the Zerg arrive on the scene, it is a moment of terror, and the designers want players to feel like they are inspiring that horror. When players arrive on the planet, it is about wholesale death and destruction.

As an example, Morris described the Silence Their Cries mission. In this mission, Kerrigan has arrived at a planet, looking for one of her broods. However, upon arrival, she finds everything frozen, save for indigenous species. To unfreeze the brood, the Zerg force sets out to eat indigenous creatures to gain their freeze-protection aspect, and in doing so build up a freeze-resistance for the Swarm.

This type of evolution is core to gameplay, Morris said, as players will unlock and mutate various units as they progress. This is in contrast to the Terran campaign, where players had to buy their unit upgrades. There are three levels of evolution before a genetic split, he said. The genetic split lets players create all-new units. For instance, a zergling that has evolved can become a raptor, which is able to jump up and down from cliffs. Alternatively, zerglings can split into a swarmling, where three units spawn from a hatchling instead of two.

For more from BlizzCon 2011, check out GameSpot's continuing coverage.

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53 comments
zirron
zirron

superb game, WOL make my heart beat pumping fast on last mission, gonna wait for this expension to be out...waiting....

Ardus
Ardus

"She still has the dreadlocks, he said, which indicates she's not entirely back to human." There's something very wrong with that statement.

Bowserpwns
Bowserpwns

@DeliCiousTZM So you are going to judge the campaign before its even remotely done? I think you are just angry that you don't get to play as Terran in the campaign anymore.

HarryMcDoogle
HarryMcDoogle

@dRuGGeRnaUt [QUOTE="dRuGGeRnaUt"] a month after SC2 came out, I heard no one talking about it, or playing it. No one seems to even talk about it.. other than "yeah its cool, its like starcraft 1 but 3d"... I waited a long time for this game to come out, then to see it split, and released over 3 years.. LAME absolutely ****ing lame. [/QUOTE] Really? The fact that you think SC2 is not talked about is hysterical. You really are showing your Ignorance. Oh well, i'm not here to school you, but I guarantee you your thoughts on SC2 are wrong. Don't believe me....... well do some research on the tournaments!

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Really liking what I've seen so far of the xpack. WoL had a much better campaign than I expected, and Kerrigan is easily the crown jewel of the SC universe, even over Raynor in my opinion. An expansion that focuses on her is very promising to me. Very excited.

max_1111
max_1111

@dRuGGeRnaUt While I'm totally on board with being annoyed at blizzard for separating SC2 into 3 different games for each story, all likely with the price tag of a full game, this statement; [quote]a month after SC2 came out, I heard no one talking about it, or playing it. No one seems to even talk about it.. [/quote] is complete lunacy. You should take in a bit more of a broader sample base than your group of friends or small list regularly browsed websites...

invalz
invalz

Ewww.. Her hair is still zerg like..

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

I bought SC2, but will probably wait a few years for Blizz to offer the expansions on the cheap before I play em.

jstarscomm
jstarscomm

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Exia2004
Exia2004

@dRuGGeRnaUt lol none playing after 1 month of release dude were do you live under a rock?? never stoped playing sc2

BSEE10
BSEE10

@Joedgabe Yeah... I figured as much, I sucked at RTS though, but I really love the campaigns of RTS. Besides there are lots of maps to choose from. So I'll give SC2 a whirl. I'm actually heading out to buy it now that I've seen a new campaign coming.

justinka777
justinka777

people seem to forget that way back many months before they released starcraft 2 blizzard was going to release the FULL game in one package, as in it was done! complete! finished! whatever you want to call it and now they seem to think its ok to take forever and a day just to add these supposedly whonderful extra bits of content and charge us twice as much for it

brothersinarmsb
brothersinarmsb

I heard they're taking out the protoss carrier and mothership in heart of the swarm. If they are, i would be really mad. Awesome units. No need. Add more units

dRuGGeRnaUt
dRuGGeRnaUt

I think all the major devs should go the way of blizzard.. Why release a game all at once.. this is the new DLC. You wait. - If it was ANY company but blizzard, NO ONE would stand for the way they are selling starcraft 2. Charging $50 to watch blizzcon online? LOL man, imagine if sony or ms, or activision did this.. lol Blizz fans are diehard though, and can never admit their beloved company does ****bag moves. Blizzard was, is and always will be my favorite dev, but god damn, they are milking the CRAP out of us. - PS: a month after SC2 came out, I heard no one talking about it, or playing it. No one seems to even talk about it.. other than "yeah its cool, its like starcraft 1 but 3d"... I waited a long time for this game to come out, then to see it split, and released over 3 years.. LAME absolutely ****ing lame.

megakick
megakick

CHA-CHING! BLIZZARD. CHA-CHING!

feleas
feleas

@dark_sith_ From what I'm seeing in the trailers so far, Kerrigan is definately pulling off the nefarious dark designs with her plans. I think Raynor's just trying to be her voice of reason but never reaching through to her.

demonic_85
demonic_85

Wow, looks totally epic! I cant wait.

AbuSharkas8
AbuSharkas8

Blizzard, The heart of strategy games

SeanGrimLink
SeanGrimLink

Looks great, love SC and SC2:WoL and i am certain that this will be just as great, the new unit look great and i hoop the will be great to use in the game

Sjeive
Sjeive

They should make a movie of starcraft. The CGI is this good, the movie should be epic

Aravos
Aravos

Looks awesome... can't wait. SO many good games getting ready to drop!

DeliCiousTZM
DeliCiousTZM

Here is what will happen. Kerrigan goes nice "guilt guilt" cheese cheese" tries to take control over zerg gets most but not all. Goes to war against Dominion Valerian betrays his father at the end and let him die arcturus(WHich is butchered down to a clown gj blizzard) dies and we just played the least epic campaign since well WINGS OF LIBERTY. For thoose of us that remember the talking boxes that were beatifuly voiced witty harsh and not realy that cheese RIP SC1 story.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

I just hope they've written a better story. The plot for Wings of Liberty (as well as the mission structure) was poor by Blizzard standards.

ccgod
ccgod

@mega only the best RTS series in existence

Megamen13
Megamen13

what the hell is this ...command & conquer ?

dark_sith_
dark_sith_

I don't mind the story, but I hate the fact that Blizzard seems on a path to retcon both Zerg and Kerrigan. They did the same thing with Orcs and Thrall in Warcraft III. Why can't we control a faction that has nefarious goals? Like we did in the original SC and Brood Wars. Must we always be a beacon of hope in every Blizzard universe?

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

The "ONLY" drawback about SC2 Wings Of Liberty is.... The Story is soooo bad than their previous installments StarCraft & SC Brood-war which has a superb story IMHO...

Pot-of-Greed
Pot-of-Greed

Anyone that bad mouths SC2 is on crack, srsly. This game is awesome and a clear upgrade to the original :O

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@Joedgabe Actually, the narrative is so completely different in style from SC1 that it makes sense why some people may not like it. Personally, I liked it, just not as much as the first.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

@BSEE10 Not everyone hates it in fact few do and they try to make themselves sound the loudest looking for hating companions. People just don't really appreciate the way the story took in turns of how it left of from part 1 but If you down right sit in your chair play Starcraft 1 and liked it then played Starcraft 2 and don't like it then you must be one of those people that refuse to mix Blue and Yellow because you don't want to see green. If you enjoyed SC1 in all honesty your bound to enjoy SC2.

BSEE10
BSEE10

I liked Starcraft way back when but I sucked at it. I have yet to play SCII so I cannot judge or say something how I feel about it. But looks promising so far, I wonder why everybody hates SCII

kamran11
kamran11

Only 3 new units and a quarter of a story line... Warcraft 3 had so much more content. Wish they would give us more than what is shown here.

Lotus-Edge
Lotus-Edge

Alas, the Queen of Blades is no more....

DemonChorro
DemonChorro

Put 1 Space Marine Chapter in there and they can do the job :P

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

Wow. They REALLY changed her look. I mean, she doesn't look at all like SC1 kerry, save for the dreadlocks. Speaking of which, how are the dreads an indicator of non-humanness? She had them pre-zerg in SC1 (mind you, her hair was red then).

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Embrace diversity and take creative license. Whatever else might be said, I cannot disregard the way WC/SC has evolved in stark contrast, almost opposite directions, to my personal favorite C&C. Whereas WC started with almost no distinctive personality or gameplay mechanic for the humans and Orcs, SC II's three mini-games/sides are about as different as any has ever been in a strategy game. C&C 4 compared to the classics... Well, the less said the better. I do not support the retail method of SC II, but there is no question that in terms of design, it has done right.

Bane_09
Bane_09

@MindwalkerX I can't imagine Activision not charging full price sadly I can't wait for this expansion so I can start another adventure in the SC universe

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

Am I the only one who really didn't care about Starcraft II? I liked Starcraft I ok, but I got sick of it pretty quick. I've moved on to much greater and better strategy games. Total War, Command & Conquer, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War, heck, even Warcraft make Starcraft completely unappealing for me.

ccgod
ccgod

@mind you know they will

MindwalkerX
MindwalkerX

Not hating here but, but i heard that there will be around 20 missions only for the single player in this expansion, so they better not charge full price for this.

Doom_HellKnight
Doom_HellKnight

Love the Wings of Liberty campaign and story. Can't wait to see what happens next. Want. Game. Now.

Drakillion
Drakillion

Whoa, Firebats that can transfrom into Hellions? "Firebats... ROLL OUT!"