Legacy of the Void: how Blizzard are building a beta StarCraft II with “meaningful” upgrades

Starcraft 2

Blizzard have already begun the impossible balancing act of Legacy of the Void, the third part of the StarCraft II trilogy first foretold seven years ago. And they’ll start tweaking in earnest once the new game lands in beta next year. They’re aiming for “more meaningful” upgrades in one of the best strategy games on PC, and planning far-reaching changes to resources and worker counts.

Blizzard are in a phase of “exploration and testing”. The curtailed resources floated at BlizzCon this year have solidified as a 25% reduction in Gas, and a 50% reduction in the value of half the mineral patches on a map.

In internal playtesting over the last few weeks, that’s led to more aggressive expansion and more action-packed games. And the new numbers ensure that there are still good reasons to harass most bases, as they remain operational at half efficiency.

“Macro on bases and transferring workers throughout the game becomes more meaningful and more rewarding to players who do this better,” explained David Kim.

The devs have also been testing alternate starting worker counts. They’ve settled on 12 for the time being – “that number feels like the point right before decisions start diverging” – but are prepared to test different options during the beta.

Upgrades, meanwhile, are being reworked with the aim of transforming StarCraft’s late game.

“We’re currently looking at upgrades that bring a meaningful change to how existing units on the battlefield are used in later stages of the game,” said Kim. “The upgrades for Zergling speed and Ghost cloaking are good examples of this.”

Kim’s team are looking into splitting up mech and air upgrades for Legacy of the Void.

“We wonder if bringing back the choice of which tech to upgrade will make those upgrade decisions more interesting,” he said. “It’s important to remember however, that we’ve made a lot of changes in order to make mech viable, so we need to be careful and see if this change would make mech less of a strategic option.”

Late-game-only units like Battlecruisers, Carriers and Thors, however, won’t be benefiting from additional upgrades.

“Generally speaking, the late tier units are used only after the upgrades are purchased anyways, so we don’t see a huge value in adding more upgrades to them,” said Kim.

There are a slew of individual changes coming to units under Terran, Zerg and Protoss banners too, which you can read about on the Blizzard blog. Are these changes for the beta changes for the better, do you think?