For both of Starcraft II’s main releases – Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm – Blizzard has released beta versions of the multiplayer content to test the delicate balance of their units and any new powers. With the upcoming Protoss expansion Legacy of the Void, not only will players see a multiplayer beta, but for the first time Blizzard will be entering solo campaign missions into beta test environments.
A three-mission mini-campaign starring Protoss legend Zerathul will be released early for Legacy of the Void pre-orderers. But why has Blizzard chosen to release solo content in beta?
“I think we are going to put some of the missions out first into a Beta, so its a chance for us to get some feedback from players and see how any changes we make to the game are doing,” explains Tim Morten, Lead Producer on Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void. “Its actually the first time ever that we will have had campaign content on the Beta.”
Discovering if changes are well-received in Starcraft II is arguably a little more important than in many RTSs since Blizzard change so much of the structure from mission to mission. Whilst unit design is the same throughout, each new mission has an interesting gimmick, and these need to work flawlessly. For example, one of Legacy of the Void’s new missions is all based on moving platforms. “Its a resource starved mechanic. You actually have a large platform and there are rails that are moving around in different directions in space and so you have to get a large enough army and then plunge forward, moving you base upward to be able to get new resources,” explains Morten. With concepts like that, you can understand why Blizzard would want to put some singleplayer content through beta.
The three-mission campaign will bridge the gap between the previous Zerg-focused campaign Heart of the Swarm and the upcoming Protoss-based Legacy of the Void. It picks up after Zerathul delivers a piece of prophecy to Zerg war queen Kerrigan. After deciding to head back to the Protoss to pay for his crimes and sins, Zerathul intercepts a distress signal from a facility building hybrid creatures with Protoss DNA. Saving Zerathul’s people and discovering a new section of the prophecy will make up the three missions.
“This is really about him trying to predict the end of days and that’s the hard part for him,” says Matt Morris, Starcraft II’s Lead Story Designer.
There’s no release date set for Legacy of the Void, but Blizzard are “making great progress”, hopefully indicating our journey with the Protoss starts sooner rather than later.