Feature Article

Blizzard Talks StarCraft Remastered, And Why It Deserves A Re-release After 20 Years

For the fans.

With StarCraft Remastered on the horizon, GameSpot had the opportunity to play the modernized version of the iconic real-time strategy game at Blizzard's StarCraft Remastered Summit last month. And while there are no changes to the tried-and-true gameplay, new graphics and quality of life changes will give fans a reason to jump back or keep playing StarCraft. We also sat down and spoke with Grant Davies (Senior Software Engineer) and Brian Sousa (Senior Artist) to get more insight on StarCraft's path to the current generation.

GameSpot: What was the impetus for doing StarCraft Remastered?

Grant Davies: I think StarCraft has been such a huge and influential game over the years and it lives large in so many people's memories that after 20 years, the time felt right to circle back to this franchise and fix some of the issues, like working on modern operating systems. Then, it kind of became a bigger thing of 'hey, let's give it a refresh in terms of the graphics and other things.' That was the motivation behind it.

Brian Sousa: It's amazing that after almost 20 years people are still playing this game, and I think Blizzard could have stepped in a little bit earlier to keep supporting StarCraft. I think we haven't had a patch since eight years ago. People are still playing this game, and why aren't we the ones that are supporting it? And as we did this, we're thinking, 'why don't we do a whole upgrade pass on it too and see if we could keep the aesthetic, and play the HD and SD versions.' We're not changing any of the gameplay because that's why people are playing it. But again, you go to these tournaments and they're showing a 640x480 resolution screen up there and it doesn't really hold up. So, this is one of those times where we could really make it shine again.

GS: Were there any thoughts of implementing this as a patch instead of rebranding it as StarCraft Remastered in order to push out all these assets, like 4K and matchmaking?

GD: I think when you see the 4K sprites, you start to understand the volume of work that was done here. It's a lot more than just a small content patch. I wouldn't say it's a full new game because the gameplay is exactly the same as how it's been for 20 years, but when you look at it, you go, 'man this is totally a new experience.'

BS: All of the artwork in the game, all the menus are brand new and have been remade. And we're even going through the old cinematics and upscaling them, and remastering the sound and everything. So, we're doing a full pass on this. It's just not a small content patch.

GD: And it also extends beyond the artwork even though that's an amazing part of it. Now you can launch it through the Blizzard app and your account accesses the game, a new chat system, and matchmaking are huge features that we're bringing in as well. So, yes it's kind of a much bigger thing than a content patch.

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GS: What effect do you think this is going to have on the StarCraft 2 player base?

BS: I don't really know if it's going to effect it too much. The people that love StarCraft 2 are still going to love StarCraft 2. The people that love StarCraft, we're focusing on them. So, I hope that the people who play StarCraft 2 and never had a chance to play the original might give this some attention. Maybe we'll get some StarCraft 2 players, but we support StarCraft 2 and we love that game. I worked on it from the beginning.

GD: I can say as a fan of both games, I watched GSL and ASL. I have room in my life for both games. That's not going to change. I don't envision that having an effect.

GS: The gameplay is untouched. But along the way, were there any thoughts about making some tweaks like how many units you can control at once or unit pathing? Or was it the plan from the get go?

GD: We always decided from the start that gameplay was not going to change. But when you get into the details, you can still look at each individual piece and ask, 'is this a bug we should fix or is it that now after 20 years, it's so established and so ingrained that people think, no you can't change that?' So, I guess there were a few of those smaller things around the edges where we have to engage with the community and get feedback from them and ask, 'is this a bug we need to fix or is this something that you all rely on now?'

BS: And it's true. People want the really strange pathing or the fact that sometimes the Reavers shot kind of just disappears because the Scarab can't path to where it wants to go. Things like that, the pros really want. Especially in a tournament game it's added excitement because you're thinking, is it going to work or not? I have these units and if I just path them over here they know that some of them might not make it. The pros can always do their micromanagement. And if you're not a pro you can send everything to one spot. They find that as not as much of a deep game because now you're kind of like, I can bring my whole army in one attack.

GS: There's a big difference going from StarCraft 2 to playing the original again today. I was like, 'Oh snap, there's a lot of micromanagement! We've been babied this whole time!'

BS: We talked to a lot of the pros and the community to make sure that this is what they want. We didn't want to change anything that would upset them. One of the Protoss unit's eyes had inadvertently changed from red to blue and we got so much backlash we had it redone. Now the eyes are back to being the color they're supposed to be. We want the community to be happy and we listen to everything they have to say.

GD: And some cases, it's not so quick. The community is divided on some issues. Some people think it should be changed, some people don't think it should be changed. It can be challenging to navigate that.

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GS: As for compatibility with old StarCraft, people within StarCraft Remastered can play with people on the original?

BS: It's across the board. If you wanted the free, original one today and you never upgrade and then Grant plays the remaster, I can still play him even though it's an older free version. So, the gameplay doesn't change at all. That way if you do play the old standard version then there's no problem. And it also makes it cool because even replays from like five years ago work.

GS: Is there anything you're doing to try and garner new players? Make it more beginner friendly? Many people are really good at it already. So, is there a reason for new players to jump in now since it's remastered?

GD: I would say there's two things. One is the new graphics. That's an awesome opportunity for people that come in now with the graphics being 4K. And the second thing is matchmaking. I can see why people might be turned off the idea of going in and playing people who've been playing for 20 years. You've been playing for two minutes and you'll get smashed all the time. But with matchmaking, you get matched against people who are your skill level. You're going to get equal matches, and you're going to progress and get better at the game.

BS: And I think if you play for the campaign, you learn how to play the game and you can take that knowledge into multiplayer games. In some games today, multiplayer is completely different. It's one of those things back in the day. These are the units you get in the campaign and you know exactly how they all work and this is going into multiplayer you have your expectations already set for what can be done.

Original StarCraft visuals to the left, Remastered visuals to the right.
Original StarCraft visuals to the left, Remastered visuals to the right.

GS: Now that there's going to be matchmaking, is matchmaking also going to be in the original or is that a Remastered exclusive?

BS: It's a Remastered exclusive.

GS: And you'll only be matched with people on Remaster.

BS: Yeah. It's new content, new experience.

GS: Is there or was there any thought about having silver, gold, diamond, platinum leagues? Different tiers as seen in StarCraft 2?

BS: There are definitely different ideas kicked around for matchmaking. And it's always an open conversation the same way it is with all Blizzard games. It'll definitely be changed as we go forward and figure out exactly what the community wants from it. I think the idea of a global leaderboard that we're running with at the moment is a pretty cool way to figure out who's number one and you can also see relative to your friends as well.

GS: That's how you're going to balance matchmaking: your position on the global leaderboard?

BS: Right.

GS: Are modding and map creator support going to be pretty much the same as before?

BS: Yeah, and we're actually doing a couple of things with the editor to make it a little easier.

GD: Because ramps are a big thing that's been added by the community since the release of StarCraft and that's something we want to move to support in the StarCraft editor. Whether it’s something we'll roll out exactly in time with this release or whether it's something that's coming soon, that's an open question at this stage, but we're definitely committed to working with the modders and the map makers to make that experience better for them.

GS: Are there any features that you worked on since the beginning that were left out and decided against or tabled for the future?

BS: So I know in the beginning we sat down. 'This is what we want, this is what we need to do. We need to at least make the game exactly how people remember it and everything is just high resolution.' And then we sat down and said, 'what can we do in addition to that?' And we're still getting some of those features and we have a brand new lighting system that we're showing off, which it adds depth maps, normal maps, emissive to the units in the buildings that really make them pop off the screen a little more, which is also an option. So, you can play the game flat how it's always been played or you can turn on the lighting, and explosions will show lighting off of the buildings and things and give them a little bit of depth. Kind of like a fake 3D, 2.5D we're calling it. But in the end for all of the features that we want to add in there, we got most of them in.

GD: Yeah, absolutely. And it's also something as I talked about a little bit before. We need to be really careful, because sometimes something might seem like a slam dunk feature, but then as you start to talk about it more and talk to the people who've been playing the game for 20 years, not all of them might be on board as this being a good thing to add. We've been very careful in what we've added and made sure that everyone was happy.

BS: It was mostly to make sure that the gameplay always stayed the same and it would just be more aesthetic, rather than anything that would affect the game itself. We don't want to give an advantage to one player because they have the HD version. It has to play exactly the same, pretty much the same. So we were just playing around with how it looks but not the size of the silhouettes or anything.

GS: I probably already know the answer to this, but was there any thoughts on console versions?

All: (Laughs)

BS: No plans for a console version.

GS: Can you speak to Warcraft or the Diablo remakes? Is that still something that's being tossed around in terms of ideas?

GD: We’ve released a couple of patches for Diablo 2. I think we've done a few for Warcraft 3 now. But nothing else today.

StarCraft Remastered is set to release on August 14 for $15 USD, and it'll live on the Blizzard App (or Battle.net) ecosystem along with Overwatch, Diablo III, StarCraft 2, and others.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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karloss01

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@lithus:It's because RTS doesn't translate well to Console. And don't bring up Halo Wars; that was built specifically for consoles and when the PC version of Halo Wars 2 came out it proved to be very simplistic compared to other RTS titles.

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ChristianKiss

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I'll support the Remasted version of StarCraft for two reasons:

1. It's StarCraft.

2. If Blizzard thinks it was a good deal, then we'll probably get a remastered Diablo II in a not-so-distant-future.

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lithus

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It's 2017 and no console version...smh

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PSYCHOV3N0M

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TRANSLATION: "We want your money"...

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wolfpup7

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I wonder how the original looks now. Like it was gorgeous at the time, and 640x480 isn't THAT bad (in fact the 3DS is only 400x240, and IT can look quite pretty) , and it's 2D, so I'm guessing it holds up pretty well. None-the-less, obviously if you're going to replay it/play it for the first time, the upgraded version is the way to go! Kind of a riot if the art is really 4k now...that's a 27x increase in resolution!

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Kadin_Kai

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This game slowed down the entire University of Manchester's network back in the day. I remember practically every room was playing this or Quake 2 in my halls of residence. I suddenly feel old ;-(

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lithus

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@kadin_kai:

I remember using our work computers to do Half Life and Warcraft 2 lans. Almost got fired.

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wolfpup7

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@kadin_kai: I can't believe Quake 2 is 20 years old now!

Bizarrely, I only JUST started playing it yesterday LOL

It was GORGEOUS in 1997, and...umm...well, honestly the art design has a certain appeal now.

I double checked, and Half-Life was running on the Quake 2 engine, and it and now Quake 2 are maybe the only PC games that have made me feel sick. SOMETHING about that engine doesn't agree with me, I guess...

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AutumnVarela

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What a rude attack on consoles! StarCraft 64 was my favourite N64 game.

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Rodro

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Calle me crazy but this game deserved much more, perhaps something like Destiny, maybe Blizzard can get It right.

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Tr4newreck

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....uhgghh... thats bs... but there is enough emotional fodder to buy into it i guess.

your a moron if u support this.

your a moron if u pre-order.

your a moron if you buy DLC.

most of all your a moron, for not realizing how much power you have with your dollar.

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lithus

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@tr4newreck: Ironic how the guy calling anyone a moron can't get "your" and "you're" right. Moron.

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AutumnVarela

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@tr4newreck: "your a moron"

Come on buddy, are you trying to make fun of yourself??

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Xirtahm

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"After 20 years"...?

StarCraft came out April 1998. It hasn't even BEEN 20 years, but... okay. Round it up, I guess. :|

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lithus

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@Xirtahm: it's only 5 months...besides, it's was in development for two years so technically its 12 years.

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Bamda

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Edited By Bamda

So they release Starcraft after 20 yrs, as a remasted full game. But for Diablo, they give us a taste of a new/old game for one month. WTF are you thinking Blizzard!!

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JRD1912

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Edited By JRD1912

Its 15$? Weird I swore I read it was going to be free just a couple months ago. Guess not. I was all set to give a Blizzard a good on them for putting this out for free.

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Juaks

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@JRD1912: The original game is already free including the expansion Brood War. Now the remastered version you have to pay 15 dollars and to be honest is very cheap considering how good this game is and how good it looks now, not to mention the matchmaking feature. So if you are cheap bastard you can still give it a go with the non HD version today.

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Cronoblade

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Edited By Cronoblade

@JRD1912: Well.... at least it's only USD15 compared to modern warfare remaster(standalone version without dlc).... USD30. =P

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CyberEarth

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@computernoises: It's a quote. Maybe he actually said "and".

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GamerOuTLaWzz

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Edited By GamerOuTLaWzz

After warcraft 3 I just cant see or understand how people can return to these over-simplified old ass SC games. Hell even SC2 didnt improve at all and felt like a step back from WC3. WC3 is the pinnacle of RTS and simply the best Blizzard RTS ever made. That game needs a remake/sequel ALOT more than any shitty SC games.

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Willywill

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@gameroutlawzz: I like Starcraft more than Warcraft 3. But I would definately buy a Warcraft 3 remake/remaster.

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wolfpup7

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@willywill: I STILL haven't played Warcraft 3, but I *LOVE* Starcraft. Love the story, love the units, etc.

Geez, I'm 7 years behind on playing Starcraft 2 now even LOL

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@gameroutlawzz: I guess I can't call WC3 a step BACKWARDS, per se, but it was definitely a step off the correct track for me

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nyran125tk

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The REMASTER Generation.

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PSYCHOV3N0M

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@nyran125tk: REMASTER RACE!

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Corsaro

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Edited By Corsaro

One of the few remasters ill actually buy, and for $15? Sold

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santinegrete

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Starcraft deserves more new videogames. I still wanted to see Ghost released. Don't tell me about the joke they released with Nova.

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Pyrosa

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@santinegrete: It was no joke. It was single-player DLC for an RTS.

Blizzard didn't cancel Ghost without reason -- chances are it was crap. Taking something from concept through engine dev to completion is hard enough; making it enjoyable all the way through is another whole matter.

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wolfpup7

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@Pyrosa: The IDEA of Ghost was certainly a good one.

Nova was the recent expansion, right? Like there's the 3 main games, then that? I bought it, and I guess it's on my account...

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santinegrete

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@Pyrosa: not a far fetched conclusion, but the dev in that matters was Swingin' Ape Studios, and they made the great Metal Arms. I had faith in the project because of that, and the cancellation really dissapointed me :(

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Thanatos2k

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Better question: why are you rereleasing Starcraft and not making Starcraft 3? Did Starcraft 2 show you guys can't hack it anymore on RTS games?

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johnholmes1099

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Edited By johnholmes1099

@Thanatos2k: They are much more likely to make a Warcraft 4 before a Starcraft 3. They already discussed how the idea of a wc4 isn't out of the question. From 2010-2015 was all about Starcraft, most people need a bit of a break from it, and people wouldn't jump on a new one if it was introduced too soon. I mean, what could they do with it? They probably couldn't improve the graphics by that much yet. SC1 is a fairly simple, cost effective way for Blizzard to generate some extra income though as it already has a strong following.

I would bet that the next RTS announced from Blizzard is WC4. People are definitely hungry for it as it's already been 14 years. I could see the 2020's being it's decade for Blizzard, released as another trilogy, much like SC2. Imagine the leap in graphics from WC3 as well, after all this time.

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n0on3

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@Thanatos2k: that is simple, sc3 would simply be not profitable since Koreans love the original game and would not play the new game. Like what happened to SC2.

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CyberEarth

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Edited By CyberEarth

@n0on3: Because mostly SC2 was a bunch of pretty graphics, and not enough gameplay. It's a good game, but it's not a great game. Starcraft 1 was a great game.

Warcraft 3 improved upon it. SC2 should have vastly improved over Warcraft 3, but it didn't.

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n0on3

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@CyberEarth: well, technically warcraft 3 branched out into its own genre so if SC2 improved upon it it would become HoTS

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Thanatos2k

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@n0on3: Koreans aren't playing SC2 because it's worse than SC1.

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n0on3

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@Thanatos2k: Exactly, pretty much the same story with sc3, since koreans love sc1 because of its bugs and wonky nature. To them it's like chess. This is why we don't have something like chess 2.

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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

@n0on3: SC2 not profitable? Might want to recheck those numbers...

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n0on3

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Edited By n0on3

@Pyrosa: What I meant was that a lot of koreans didn't move over to sc2 (and some still don't) not that it wasn't profitable. And those that did move did it because of money.

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Pyrosa

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@Thanatos2k: They haven't stopped making SC2 yet.

Content is still pretty regular, and the last SP expansion was just last November.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@Thanatos2k: what's wrong with SC2? Feels just like SC1 to me, with extra bells and whistles here and there

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wolfpup7

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@xantufrog: Everything I've heard about it it sounds like EXACTLY what I want. An even stronger single player game (which is all I care about) and more custom units, etc. It sounded like they took everything I loved about 1 and made it even better.

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xantufrog

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Edited By xantufrog  Moderator

@wolfpup7: if you haven't tried SC2 yet I recommend that you do. I haven't played Legacy of the Void yet, but the SP across Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm is definitely expansive (although at times the story is take-it-or-leave-it in Heart of the Swarm). I really don't see how someone would love SC1 and then hate SC2 - at worst it seems like something someone would like a little less. It's not like SC1's story was Shakespeare, after all

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wolfpup7

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@xantufrog: Thanks! Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. I spent a little time boycotting it, 'cause I'm not a fan of all this activation DRM, but then gave up, 'cause it was cheap, and I figured life's too short.

From what I've read, it sounds like exactly what I'd want.

I'm weird and tend to save stuff I'm really looking forward to, but I'm kind of thinking I'm going to let myself actually start it this year. I could always play through one of the stories, and then save like the next one for later, I guess.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@wolfpup7: yeah each campaign is pretty long. I think you could definitely savor it with one a year or something if that's your inclination

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wolfpup7

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@xantufrog: Awesome, thanks!

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