“We have some time set aside to give new users a better experience,” Heart of the Swarm game director Dustin Browder has told Polygon. “We used to say ‘The campaign is the tutorial for the multiplayer’ and it never really was.”
In earlier StarCraft single player campaigns, said Browder, “you’d learn the race, you’d understand what the units did, but you didn’t know how many barracks to build, you didn’t understand that a rush was incoming right now, so get ready!
“The campaign just doesn’t play that way. The reason a lot of players are strong at ‘turtling’ is because that’s how campaign teaches you to play; a lot of our past campaigns certainly did. We’re doing that less in this game.”
Heart of the Swarm’s three-mission training mode aims to rectify this, prepping players for competitive play by gradually expanding the tech tree and upping the pace.
Some of HotS’s heavily-playtested UI changes, too, are designed to improve StarCraft’s learning process. In certain modes, the UI will now show how many workers are currently harvesting a mineral field, for instance, and which other units might be better-suited for the job.
“New players [are] always shocked to learn ‘I need how many workers? Four barracks is legit?! I need four barracks?'” Browder said. “There’s a lot of differences between campaign and multiplayer [and these changes] will hopefully make some players make that transition.”
“We certainly think we’re doing a better job now than we ever have before,” he continued. “We’ve changed how the starting controls work. We put up auto rally points automatically. It takes a lot of stress off the opening game so you can think about match ups in the first few seconds instead of panicking trying to grab your guys.”
And that’s not all. In addition to the new tutorial modes, Browder and his team have introduced unranked play and a new XP point system which “allows you to gain something whether you win or lose”.
Will it be enough to coax a new contingent of Zerg puppeteers onto the bottom rung (conversely the most intimidating of them all)? I’m certainly feeling persuadable. How about you?
Thanks, PC Gamer.