Take Command is perhaps the most exciting of the features Blizzard cover in their latest Heart of the Swarm spotlight; one which allows you to take control of an already-played game midway through a replay. Consider it a ‘What if?’ mechanic comparable to Forza Motorsport’s rewind button - a means to work out exactly how things might have gone if you’d gone right instead of left, metaphorically speaking. It can also function as a focused training feature if, for instance, you want to improve your micro. And most brilliantly of all, it can even be employed to leap into the recorded games of professionals in memorable tournament matches, and most likely make a hash of them.
There’s plenty more, though - elsewhere Blizzard cover custom UIs, group spectating and game recovery.
Blizzard seem to have realised that tournament connection failures and the spectator-testing match restarts that come with them are one of the greatest hurdles along the path to eSports credibility. As such, they’ve integrated a Recover Game feature into Heart of the Swarm - an in-client solution accessible from the Replay screen which will allow the game’s original players to join from a convenient chosen point. During professional matches, the players can have a referee unpause the game after a few seconds’ reacquaintance with in-game events.
Thanks to Watch with Others, players now have the ability to re-watch games in a group via a new button in the Replays menu. If players are already in a party, the new system will automatically connect them up in the Replay Lobby.
When in-game, chat is enabled and members of the group can individually take control of the observer UI to highlight points of interest. The host of the group can do more - they’re granted the ability to flit back and forth along the game’s timeline and vary playback speed as they see fit. What’s more, a nice big replay button has now been integrated into the scores screen at the conclusion of every match, which should make group replays as accessible as they are potentially useful.
Beyond the new UI tool for broadcasters we covered last month, Observer mode will benefit from a couple of extra convenience features - namely the ability to jump to the location of units by clicking on them in the production tab, and minimap signals that more clearly denote Nukes and Nydus Worms.
See the whole caboodle in action below, alongside a volatile new physics system:
Heart of the Swarm is out on March 12th, barely three weeks away. Are you ready for it?