Review

Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void Review

  • First Released Nov 10, 2015
    released
  • Reviewed Nov 20, 2015
  • PC

Power overwhelming

Over its 17-year run, the Starcraft series has become a cultural touchstone for the gaming public. The new expansion, Legacy of the Void, is the fifth release overall and the third in Starcraft II's sub-trilogy. With that mantle comes an extraordinary amount of pressure. The stories of Raynor's Raiders, Sarah Kerrigan, Zeratul, and countless other characters from this massive series await concrete resolution. Furthermore, Blizzard's stuck in the unenviable position of trying to update Starcraft's competitive foundation without overburdening a system that's largely been unchanged for almost two decades. We've seen the stage, we know the cast, and we've read the scripts. All that remains is to see it all come together as we ask one final question: Is this what we've all been waiting for? The answer is: absolutely.

Everything starts with the campaign, which is intended to tie up the bulky story of the game's three races: the human-inspired Terrans, the insectoid Zerg, and the hyper-advanced Protoss. These three factions have been at odds in an almost-constant war for quite some time. But as these things go, a new, more potent threat has emerged: Amon. He comes from an ancient race of beings that created both the Zerg and Protoss. He wants to unite all life by morphing them into chimeric hybrids through cross-breeding and extreme genetic engineering. His experiments and the corrupted minds of many of his followers are the focus of Legacy of the Void's story mode. With the help of old guard Protoss heroes Zeratul and Artanis, your goal is to dismantle Amon's massive armies and prevent his twisted vision of “perfection” from taking over the galaxy.

Legacy of the Void's missions use a series of unusual objectives, often with some additional challenge or complication to mix up the usual
Legacy of the Void's missions use a series of unusual objectives, often with some additional challenge or complication to mix up the usual "build up base then attack" model of strategy game play.

The whole adventure is riddled with familiar scenarios and, at times, is pretty goofy, but the game's voice cast sells their roles with such gravitas and conviction that it comes off as admirable camp instead a long list of eye-rolling clichés. Massive strategic battles often end with grand speeches about fighting for a cause, and Artanis and Zeratul consistently stand against teeming hordes of foes only to conquer them through braggadocio and strength of will. Their continued success and eventual victory is always assured, but it comes with such bombast that the adventure is endearing more often than not.

Structurally, the campaign also helps reinforce the idea that you're fighting a losing war against an overwhelming force. In many missions, you are outnumbered by enormous margins, and each mission plays faster than those in previous games in the series. After fights, you're often treated to beautiful, well-acted (albeit not terribly well-written) cut scenes that give detailed form to game's battlefields.

While most of the single-player missions are excellent, they're not quite as diverse as they were in 2010's Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Most still come down to conquering specific points, protecting key areas, or holding out against an onslaught of foes for a set amount of time. What's included here is still more interesting than the missions from the last Starcraft II release, Heart of the Swarm. But it is disappointing that Blizzard, for all its tenacious attention to detail, didn't change up the proceedings a bit more. Where the characteristic Blizzard craftsmanship does come into play, though, is the revamped multiplayer modes.

What's included here is still more interesting than the missions from the last Starcraft II release, Heart of the Swarm.

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Anyone who's been playing strategy games for a while can often provide a pretty consistent list of grievances against the genre. In games with others, the first two or three minutes (or longer) are very important, but they're largely the same match to match. That, combined with longer skirmishes in general, leads to frustrations about openers for lots of people. If Legacy of the Void makes one critical change, it is that players now start with many more resource gatherers, and the abilities of each race's starting base have been tweaked slightly to smooth out that opening and help people get to the meat of the game faster.

This makes the game a bit less forgiving for new players, but it evens out a problem that has plagued the series and strategy games in general for decades. To balance out the abrasiveness-for-new-players problem, Legacy of the Void adds a new mode named after one of the game's most iconic units: Archon.

Archon mode puts two players together and has them share one base, one pool of resources, e.t.c. The hope here is twofold. Those not familiar with Starcraft's hulking and often merciless competitive multiplayer modes can have an experienced player show off different pieces of the game and guide them through a match. On the higher level, though, it opens up two elements of play: macro- and micromanagement. Hypothetically, this should allow two experienced players to handle a lot more than they normally could. One can focus on maintaining the economy, gathering resources, and keeping up with upgrades and research, while the other can focus on the minute, precise movements necessary for optimal troop management. This lowers the total skill ceiling for multiplayer matches in general and helps players specialize.

Like the previous two Starcraft II games, you'll be able to change up your units for missions, refocusing their abilities to meet specific objectives.
Like the previous two Starcraft II games, you'll be able to change up your units for missions, refocusing their abilities to meet specific objectives.

In my experience, Archon handily succeeds at both. I've helped guide newbies to keep them from feeling lost or overwhelmed by the nuance and complexity inherent in competitive Starcraft, and I've worked with friends to take on much better players than any of us could handle otherwise. I've always been great at keeping supplies running smoothly, but I'm rubbish when it comes to directing individual soldiers, so having someone else take up that load helped me focus on not only what I was good at but also the parts of the game I enjoy most.

New units and subtler changes to the multiplayer game are also surprisingly valuable additions to Starcraft's stable of warriors. The Protoss get Adepts, ranged masters who can teleport, bypassing stationary defenses. Like the Terrans' Reaper--added previously in Wings of Liberty--the Adept are intended to harass fortified positions and disrupt your opponents' plans. Disruptors fill another key role in the grand Protoss line-up. They are walking bombs for clearing tight clusters of foes--much like the Zerg Baneling.

Those looking for some resolution to the conflicts that started way back in 1998 will almost certainly come away satisfied.

Terrans, for their part, get Cyclones and Liberators, new medium-armored ground and air units with automated turrets to target foes. Zerg get the Ravager, an evolution of the Roach. They are slow but effective artillery. Finally, the Zerg Lurker from Starcraft: Brood War also makes its long-awaited return. Each of these units has held up over months of beta play-testing, and they offer valuable additions to new strategies or new threats that players will need to cope with. The only problem I've seen so far is that after steadily adding new units and features for the past 17 years, Starcraft is getting a little big for itself, and there's often too much to manage--a complaint Blizzard seems to have predicted with the Archon mode. Surely, plenty of people can handle the new, larger game, but I struggled with higher-level play when I didn't have a friend along to help.

It's hard to say whether this suite of changes will help keep Starcraft II abreast of more popular eSports competitors, such as League of Legends or Dota 2, but it's clear that Blizzard's trying to offer something to everyone. High-end players get the additional challenge of managing or adapting to six new units and compensating for one of the biggest changes competitive play has yet seen--faster match openings and splitting macro- and micromanagement with Archon mode. Newbies have plenty of new ways to acclimate themselves to the most refined version of Blizzard's classic strategy series yet.

Those looking for some resolution to the conflicts that started way back in 1998 will almost certainly come away satisfied, even if Starcraft's writing has become comically weighty in recent years. Legacy of the Void doesn't quite manage the brilliance of Wings of Liberty, but it's a worthy note to leave the franchise on.

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    The Good
    Delightfully campy campaign
    Excellent mission structure and pacing
    Technically masterful
    Improved accessibility
    The Bad
    Competitive play is brutally complex
    8
    Great
    About GameSpot's Reviews

    About the Author

    Daniel Starkey's been a rabid Starcraft fan since one fateful LAN party back in 2000. He traded an old audio card for a copy of the game and its expansion, and has since purchased the game five more times just to satisfy cravings. He spent 50 hours over a week running through the campaign, training against AI, and then breaking into ranked matches for the purposes of this review.
    123 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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    Avatar image for CptJohnnyRico
    CptJohnnyRico

    Why would you put brutally complex and a BAD thing? are you joking dude?

    Avatar image for wyvernvj
    WyvernVJ

    THE BAD

    - Competitive play is brutally complex

    LOL what? Well of course it is! It's the freaking game that defined eSports as it is, why do you think Koreans even give scholarships to their pro gamers? Also, didn't you know that one of the features added on this one was Archon mode? That one simplifies multiplayer for us mortals that can't handle 200+ APM handling both micro and macro management of an army. It's the mother of RTS's and you give it an 8 for the worst reason ...can't believe it.

    Avatar image for novaprime1985
    NovaPrime1985

    Personally, I am not a fan of Toss, & I enjoyed the hell out of this game

    Just not enough Alarak & Vorazon though... but oh well, here's to a 10-15 year wait for SC3

    Avatar image for Gagomkd
    Gagomkd

    "Those looking for some resolution to the conflicts that started way back in 1998 will almost certainly come away satisfied. "

    Oh? I ended quite in the opposite direction, more like hating the game and Blizzard.

    Avatar image for Purpledust
    Purpledust

    @Gagomkd: mad cuz bad, still.

    Avatar image for joewspecks
    joewspecks

    Cant believe 8 and not even a video review lame Gamespot just lame!!!!!!

    Avatar image for induktio1984
    Induktio1984

    Imo 8 is simply too low score for this. Both the campaign and the multiplayer are great.

    Avatar image for reBOOT2099
    reBOOT2099

    @induktio1984: And yet, what does it say under that 8? Yes, it says "Great" :)

    I don't know why people think 8 is a low score. For me, 8 is what I would give to most of the games I like to play. And as a guy who played SC2 for 3 whole years before getting tired of it, I have to say WoL was a 9 for me. And I guess if my interest in SC2 hadn't diminished, LotV probably would be a 9 for me too.

    But as it stands, 8 is not that far from a 9. I think 1 point difference from GS to what I think it deserves amounts to different opinion and tastes, and that's it.

    Avatar image for RoachRush
    RoachRush

    "Competitive play is brutally complex." Well what did you think this game was, another MOBA? :P

    Avatar image for N1KON82
    N1KON82

    @RoachRush: Also "Competitive play is brutally complex." is authors personal opinion. He shouldn't deduct points from the game just because multiplayer is too hard on him.
    StarCraft (since 1998) is very competitive game so I don't understand why is Daniel so surprised by complexity and difficulty of StarCraft's multiplayer aspect!

    Good point @RoachRush - it's not another MOBA game where you can drink your coffee, eat cookie, watch TV and still win a game ;)

    Avatar image for beuneus12
    beuneus12

    Bought it. Definitely worth the $, considering it's only $40. Not sure why it get's an 8 though, 9 seems more appropriate.

    Avatar image for absolut1l
    absolut1l

    An 8/10? Really? You guys are retared when it come to rating games. No other RTS game in existence even comes close to the level of polish, the epic scale of the story, the industry leading cinematics, the smooth as butter gameplay and the value in this game with MP/campaign, custom matches, and esports.. It's MP is easy for newbies to play in the lower leagues and is one of the most popular e-sports titles out there. How could it have possibly gotten a higher score? How can you possibly justify an 8/10 score when this is one of the most polished franchises in the entire gaming world let alone the RTS genre? You can give Fallout 4 a 9/10 even though it is glitchy as hell, performs like shit and has several issues all over the place with it's gameplay and design. (Don't get me wrong, I love Fallout 4 and am playing it alongside SCII LotV) And then this game, which is virtually flawless except for subjective taste, somehow is a lower quality game? Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp

    Avatar image for Pyrosa
    Pyrosa

    This is RTS gaming at its finest.

    Frankly, I've never been interested in the Protoss -- until THIS campaign. I've had as many spine-tingling and "whoa" moments in this campaign as I did with the last one, which is saying something.

    The MP is ultra-refined, but that's no surprise -- this is the pinnacle of THE game series that invented competitive MP RTS gaming. I'm not great, but I always feel like I'm learning.

    I've barely scratched the surface of the new split-brain co-op, and I can't wait to find time for more. Supposedly I can even game w/my Mac-wielding friends, but I haven't tried this yet.

    Avatar image for Darkhol0w
    Darkhol0w

    That CON makes no sense..it's not for you, fine, but putting it as a negative to the game because you need to "Git gud" it's just ridiculous.

    Also this review reads like a 9 minimum...wtf Gamespot?

    I'm almost done with the game and from a story standpoint it just comes together to well after WoL and HoTS. People who are into the story will enjoy it.

    Avatar image for verysalt
    verysalt

    Dude took X-Box controller in his hands then he realised he can't play with it so he concluded: "Competitive play is brutally complex".

    Avatar image for oflow
    oflow

    welcome to 8Spot can I take your order?

    Avatar image for ps3gamer1234
    ps3gamer1234

    @oflow: I want a 1 - Abysmal burger, 2 - Terrible burger, 3 - Bad burger, 4 - Poor burger, 5 - Mediocre French fries, 6 - Fair burger,7 - Good chili, 8 - Great burger, 9 - Superb burger, 10 - Essential burger.

    Avatar image for jako998
    Jako998

    So 1 negative thing and its a 8 ???? but Fallout had like 3+ negatives and gets a 9 ??? wow gamespot this is stupid

    Avatar image for Xanitra
    Xanitra

    @jako998: Fallout 4 is a better game, has more players, plain and simple. They ruined Starcraft 2 with the previous expansion and continue to do so here it seems. Campaign is awesome of course, but once that is over, it is uninstall.

    Avatar image for ethario
    Ethario

    @Xanitra: So you are saying your life sucks because its only 1 guy playing ? Hue, nice argument more players == better game.

    Avatar image for N1KON82
    N1KON82

    @Xanitra: This is just plain childish comment :)

    If anything - Fallout is uninstall after you finish single play component (because there is no multi player) :) StarCrafts campaign is here just to present new units, some story and attract new players. Real game begins when you start playing competitively

    Avatar image for Xanitra
    Xanitra

    @N1KON82: what is so childish about it? Not only does this person shove his/her opinion down my throat, he/she tries to deliberately ruin my day as well with this pathetic wall of text. I can see your opinion is the same as his/hers, but you are polite and respectful. I thank you for that. As for your opinion I disagree. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

    Avatar image for N1KON82
    N1KON82

    @Xanitra: Childish is stating one game is better than the other. That is your opinion. I disagree 100%. StarCraft is probably the hardest game ever - it requires the most from the player and that aspect I value the most. So saying that Fallout is better game sounds like a kid saying:"my father is stronger than your father".

    By your comment I concluded that you either never played StarCraft competitively or you weren't so good at it and didn't invest enough time to get to certain level of skill. All that combined sounded like a kid trying to prove a point without any real facts. Just throwing something out there - just to be said :) That is why I said it is childish.

    I don't want to impose my opinion onto anyone here but just stating the facts. Fallout does not have multi player option so that means that end game is final boss :) After that player can either replay the game or put it aside. I'm a huge Metal Gear fan and StarCraft fan but I still played missions (single player) only once or twice. I don't think people enjoy playing same thing over and over and over again. So to say that after finishing campaign StarCraft will get uninstalled tells me that you never got into multiplayer aspect. And then we get back to beginning where I'm saying it's childish comment because it's said without any real facts.

    This is just my humble opinion so pls NHF :)

    Avatar image for N1KON82
    N1KON82

    @Xanitra: As I said - kid :)))) Probably puberty? :)

    Kid, first of all you don't need to use "harsh" words. We're "debating" about VIDEO GAMES :)
    Second - when you state your opinion common sense is to say - in my opinion Fallout is much better game. Instead when you say: "Fallout is much better game" then you're not expressing your opinion - you're stating something.

    Yeah you guessed correctly English is not my first language :) That being said I think I still got your point (saying that Fallout is better game without understanding StarCraft in the first place) :)

    I'll stop here because you and your opinions are way out of my league and (obviously) understanding of English language. Now - stand in front of the mirror and scream :) After all we were discussing such an important issue... video games :)

    Cheers kiddo

    Avatar image for absolut1l
    absolut1l

    @Xanitra: Fallout 4 is not the better game. Fallout 4 is inferior in every conceivable way. Game ratings are supposed to be objective. Fallout 4 might be an awesome game and it might suck you in, but it's not polished, it's super glitchy, and it not even remotely optimized for performance. When you compare Fallout 4 to LotV, the latter wins in every category, objectively. Just because you personally do not like the balance of MP (even though it's a massively competitive e-sports title) doesn't mean that Fallout 4 is better. RTS is a niche market compared to RPG/open world/FPS titles. Of course F4 has more players... I could just as easily say that SCII is the better game because it has multiplayer. Or Fallout 4 sucks because it's a single player campaign in a world of shitty AI and crappy character models that kill immersion.

    Avatar image for Xanitra
    Xanitra

    @absolut1l: L O L. You get all cranky because my opinion is different than yours? Hahahaha. I feel sorry for you dude I really do. Internet trolls, lol, gotta love em. Haters gonna hate, guess haters been losing a lot of crap protoss games lately. Uninstall dude Jesus Christ

    Avatar image for vd853
    vd853

    @Xanitra: I heard good things about the LOTV Campaign, but I can't even get pass the first 3 mission without extreme boredom. Frankly, I bought this game for the multiplayer and have been playing that ever since WOL. It the only reason that SC2 have outlast every other game I've played.

    Avatar image for Xanitra
    Xanitra

    @vd853: cool. And I agree. I think the campaign in wings of liberty was awesome though :)

    Avatar image for nothingformoney
    NothingForMoney

    @jako998: That's not how the scoring system works

    Avatar image for Mogan
    Mogan

    @jako998: That's not how the review system works. It's not math.

    Online
    Avatar image for magul
    magul

    When will SC3 come :P I miss those times that I can play all the night till the morning sun! Campaign is good but online gaming requires to much practice to win which means too much time which I don't have. But I still love this game and I hope the series continues!

    Avatar image for RoachRush
    RoachRush

    @magul: It took them more than a decade to release SC2 and years for inbetween each expansion. Expect yourself to be very aged before a sequel comes out.

    Avatar image for Mogan
    Mogan

    @magul: Blizzard has apparently talked about releasing mission packs as DLC for Starcraft II of a semi regular basis. They don't do anything quickly though, so I'd get comfy.

    Online
    Avatar image for kresa3333
    kresa3333

    I still didnt play it but i sure i wont agree with an 8 because i heard its just like the other 2 story wise and even better, so i think at least a 9 would be more reasonable, honestly i never played a strategy game that gives you so much interactions and different missions and unique cool features and even RPG elements like Starcraft 2. And the world and the voice acting it all can give alot of immersion, and the story itself isnt worth an Oscar but its more then decent enough to carry the campaign forward and have a blast.
    I dont think that its multiplayer is enough to lower it to an 8, there are many people like me who never touch it anyhow ^^.

    Avatar image for GH05T-666
    GH05T-666

    xel'naga kerrigan

    Avatar image for Mogan
    Mogan

    @quickshooterMk2: Feel better now?

    Online
    Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
    Ezioprez9709

    @quickshooterMk2: Review it yourself then, prove that you are capable of taking control of a job at Gamespot.

    Unless you're a troll, my money is on that...

    Avatar image for quickshooterMk2
    quickshooterMk2

    @Ezioprez9709: i did

    and honestly if you played starcraft 2 you don't even need to read the review

    simply go out and buy it

    as for newcomers, i made a very "accessable" review, this game is simply perfect

    the only "mild" thing that annoyed me there was... well... some cutscenes get you super pumped up but then they just end abruptly with a black screen

    some of them could've been longer, but it's a minor complaint, i've haven't found anything bad or glitchy with the campaign, infact i'm actually shocked that a day-1 edition didn't bug or glitch on me

    simply a masterpiece was released without a hitch.

    Avatar image for Itzsfo0
    Itzsfo0

    @quickshooterMk2: yea very mature ...hes prob `16 lol

    Avatar image for kresa3333
    kresa3333

    @quickshooterMk2: wow that is way to harsh dude... chill out.

    Avatar image for nl_skipper
    NL_Skipper

    I thought this site was leaning toward more video content... but they still upload so few video reviews, what's up with that?

    Avatar image for Pyrosa
    Pyrosa

    @nl_skipper: Go over to IGN if you want that... It's so video-heavy that they don't even have articles anymore.

    (So much for dump-reading!)

    Avatar image for Gomtor
    Gomtor

    Great game, but one thing I do not like about the campaign this time is that most missions are time based in one way or the other. I like starcraft campaign for the massive armies you can build and play how you like. By introducing all these time limitations, it feels as if I am just rushing through by way of design. Still, a solid 8.

    Avatar image for altairdarius
    altairdarius

    Thanks to Blizzard for his determination to uphold the series of games and also THE STORY LINE!!!

    Most of the games keep forgetting that the gamers are fans of the characters related by their actions in history.

    Take a look at Battlefront... Star Wars franchise doesn't need that bullshit.

    If only Blizzard could have made it a tactical strategy game like StarCraft ;)))

    Avatar image for Mogan
    Mogan

    @altairdarius: Blizzard is a dude?

    Online

    Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void More Info

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  • First Released Nov 10, 2015
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    Blizzard's sci-fi real-time strategy sequel consists of three separate games: The third, Legacy of the Void, will focus on the Protoss.
    8.8
    Average Rating146 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
    Developed by:
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Published by:
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Strategy, Real-Time
    Theme(s):
    Sci-Fi
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence