Big Changes Coming to New StarCraft II Expansion

GameSpot sits down with the lead producer of Legacy of the Void to discuss the new features in the expansion.

Starcraft II developer Blizzard Games recently released a new cinematic trailer in anticipation for its new expansion Legacy of the Void. As the third installment of the StarCraft II trilogy, Legacy of the Void will pick up exactly where Heart of the Swarm left off.

The game will be released on November 10, 2015.

GameSpot sat down with Tim Morton, the lead producer, to talk about the new campaign mode, changes in the interface, and additional features to the expansion.

GameSpot: How does the StarCraft II team feel about going from announcing "Wings of Liberty" to now, where you’re close to the release date of your new cinematic on November 10th?

Morton: I think there’s this sense of excitement about how this story is going to conclude with Raynor, Kerrigan, Zeratul, and Artanis. There’s excitement about being able to share it. At the same time, it is the end of that journey, and there is that moment of seeing it pass.

When Wings of Liberty came out, a lot of esports fans said this wasn’t the final iteration of the game. Brood War, as an esport, became really popular, even after the final expansion came out. And then we saw the final patch. Do you think that’s relevant now--that we’ve approached the apex of StarCraft 2 with the release of Legacy of the Void?

The first thing I’d say is we’re very committed to supporting StarCraft, even after Legacy of the Void--from an esports perspective and a games perspective. So that’s something you’ll continue to hear us talk about. But I really do believe that the changes being made in the Legacy of the Void, specifically on the multiplayer side--the increased worker count, the different kinds of minerals, the new macro changes we’re doing--really are going to make StarCraft, as an esport, even more exciting. We’ve seen some epic games played on Heart of the Swarm for Season 3 Finals but I genuinely believe Void is going to be even more exciting than that.

Talk to me about macro changes. They’re back in a different way. Tell me what they look like now and the philosophy behind the changes.

So the thinking was that the macro side of the game does require a lot of player interaction to manage in Heart of the Swarm. So the things like mules and chronoboosts aren’t the most exciting things to do in the game. Also, for esports, it’s not exciting to watch. They do require a lot of input from players, but we felt like with Legacy of the Void, we’re adding new units, we’re adding new abilities--it’d be great to free up some bandwidth for players to be able to focus on the new stuff we’re adding, instead of that stuff that may not have been the most exciting part of the game.

I think at a very high level, that was the idea going in. But when we try things like this, it’s very much an experiment. And we’re already multiple iterations in. First, we basically automated everything and took it all out. We’ve slowly gotten to a point where we see how players use each round of changes, we can make better decisions about keeping each of the races balanced, and making sure the gameplay is still fun and satisfying.

With new game modes, we think about not how it impacts the 1v1 game, but how it affects Archon as a game. So I don’t think we’re done iterating but the state that we’re at right now--it’s pretty exciting. I think, even as a team, we’re a little divided on what’s the right direction to go. We still have some decisions to make. I’ll say personally I’m pretty excited about the possibilities.

Chris said on stream you’re doing some user experience changes. Can you explain a little bit about that?

Between Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, there was a pretty big user interface upgrade for Starcraft. Similarly now--from Heart of the Swarm to Legacy of the Void, we’re putting a lot of work into improving the user experience. Some of these things have showed up already--the chat system, for example. But the front end, as a whole, we want to make your entry to the game a better experience for players. So in the coming weeks or months ahead, players will start to get ahead for Legacy of the Void.

If someone played Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm and they set aside the game for a while, and now they know Legacy of the Void is coming out--what would someone like that be most excited about coming into the new expansion?

We really tried to have a big, substantial new feature for each player’s segment. If you look at our player base, they might like to play campaign. For them, I genuinely believe this will be the most epic campaign of StarCraft II. But we also have a new segment featuring a co-op mission, which is a campaign style mission but played cooperatively. For them, that co-op mission will be very exciting. For the multiplayer audience, it’s definitely the economy changes we’ve made. Also, Archon mode and automated tournaments. Those are just such big changes to the game. For the Arcade players, we have some interface revamps. We’re talking about additional features to make the game better. We’re going to keep developing and making that aspect of the game better and better.

What are the differences between what you can put in an expansion, but you might not necessarily think to add later on?

I think all ideas are on the table for StarCraft post-launch. At this point, even though we’re concluding the story that was set up in StarCraft I, there is so much more that can occur in the StarCraft universe. As a team, we have a lot of ideas. We’re going to keep working on this product. Beyond the usual updates, multiplayer maps, patches, and fixes that we always do, we’re really intending to put more into the game. We’ll talk more about that in the future, but we’re not going to stop with StarCraft II.

So you’re not quite looking at it like a Christmas game. You’re looking at it like Heroes of the Storm, or World of Warcraft.

I think Diablo has been doing a great job keeping that game alive and fresh. Certainly, Heroes’ team, who we share a building with, have a very frequent release cadence. We want to continue being responsive with the community; we want to continue providing content that the community can get excited about. We’re very much thinking about keeping StarCraft vibrant.

From an esports perspective, let’s say you’re a guy who likes to play competitively and watch WCS. What do you think what they should be most excited about with the new expansion?

Red Bull’s been holding an Archon tournament that I really think is super exciting to watch. I’m not exactly sure how Archon and the pro team will evolve, but I think there’s a lot of potential there. We just had an internal match where we paired up pro players with enthusiast Blizzard players--and it shows how you can take players with such disparate skill levels and still have these amazing, fun matches. For me, Archon is super exciting. But like the other things we talked about before, the game starts so much faster with the 12 worker count. I think we’ll see what happens with the macro changes. Void will be a different enough game. Coming into WCS in 2016, we’re going to have a very different experience.

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    Travis Gafford

    Travis writes and makes videos about League of Legends, which is a game where 5 people try to crack open a crystal.