Legacy of the Void: Can it bring StarCraft back to top form?

By Jimmy Blocksom, Web Content Developer for Evil Geniuses

We are just a month away from the final chapter of StarCraft 2 and the dawn of a new era of StarCraft. BlizzCon will close the Heart of the Swarm era, notably an era of decline for the game due largely to the rise in popularity of other games, surpassing the high bar StarCraft set in helping to bring streaming into the position it is today. Legacy of the Void is looking to be a reset button for the game where the meta will shift strongly alongside many mechanic, timing, and unit changes as a whole. Could this be the breath of fresh air the game needs after an era muddled in Swarm Hosts and other slow play?

Mechanic Changes

Right off the bat the most significant change is the initial start of ten workers for each player, alongside dropping minerals for half the mineral patches to be 900 and vespene geysers to 2000 per geyser. This change is looking to alter build orders, and shift the meta to a much more aggressive playstyle thus encouraging players to expand more often. The impact on economy harassment will give it much more of an importance in the game, and with proposed changes to the macro level, damaging economies will be even more critical.

A more “quality of life” change in the game will finally be the syncing of real time to the game clock. No longer will the game clock be faster than real time, making builds more understandable when mapping them out in time and knowing just really how long an individual game lasted, will be a nice quality of life change.

New Units

A new expansion means news units for each race including some returns from the classic, Brood War. The Protoss get the new Adept, a new gateway unit that has a ranged attack and a spell that allows for some interesting micro in which the adept moves to a controllable shade after a short time. The Disruptor is a Robotics Facility unit that has an activated ability called “Purification Nova” that shoots from the unit, and after two seconds, explodes and does significant damage alongside some shield damage. Look for this particular unit to be used quite a bit as an economic harassment tool.

Terran has the Cyclone, a Factory unit that can lock onto a target and the damage hits over time, which can add to significant damage. Players with strong micro will be able to take huge advantage of this new unit and wreck some havoc. The Liberator is a Starport unit that provides splash damage in the air and can also be set into a “Defender’s Mode” which makes them stationary, but allows them to damage ground units.

new lotv units 2

Image from us.battle.net

The Zerg get Ravager, an upgrade from the Roach, with an ability called “Corrosive Bile” which deals damage and has the bonus of allowing the unit to break down force fields. The spell can be upgraded to have an increased range making it even more deadly. And finally, the Lurker makes its return from Brood War and gives Zerg a solid mid game siege unit along with nightmares for players everywhere who remember this scary unit from Brood War.

We’ve seen some play in the beta with these units and they are changing up the meta, early game Protoss armies are seeing significant usage of the Adept, and Zerg are seeing a much smoother mid game when using the Ravager. They’re now better equipped to control much more effectively against Protoss in that phase of the game. Terran’s are seeing the Liberator give solid air control where this once was challenging for them.

Unit Changes

Besides the new units, existing ones will be getting changes as well. Beginning with Protoss, one of the most significant changes will be to the Warp Prism. The transporter for the Protoss army can now pick up units from a distance and will not need to be right under the Warp Prism to be picked up. This should expand the ability of Protoss to harass more effectively and be able to escape out of situations with a little more ease.

Immortal’s are losing their constant hardened shield and will now be getting an activated ability called “Barrier” thus allowing the Immortal to directly absorb 200 damage. This will force more micro for players to use their Immortal effectively, and not have them be as easily used anymore. Additionally, Colossus will be getting changed as well by having their base damage reduced and the thermal lance upgrade dropping a bit in range given.

For the Zerg, the Nydus Worm will no longer take damage until it unburrows, giving this underused strategy a bit more “oomph”, and possibly the change it needed to see some more widespread play. The Swarm Host now can spawn locusts unburrowed which will be activated by the player, the cooldown is longer, and now there is an upgrade to allow the locusts to fly over Terran, opening up new possibilities for this unit.

Terran’s will get a few new cool abilities for their units including the ability for Siege Tanks to be picked up by an empty medivac while in siege mode. This should open up some really interesting strategies and harassment opportunities that just simply were not possible before. Dropping siege tanks on an enemy mineral line will now be more effective than ever since they can be brought out safely with proper micro, and not just having to wait for their siege mode to deactivate anymore. Additionally, the Battlecruiser is seeing some love in the new ability, Tactical Jump. This allows the Battlecruiser to warp anywhere onto the field, and during this warp, they’re invulnerable. With this new ability some late game harassment will be available to the Terran army where it previously wasn’t as easy for them. The Tactical Jump costs 125 energy, so after it’s used it can’t be used again for a short while (assuming a max energy BC).

Overall these are changes to the quality of life to the game, and are looking to expand strategies beyond what we saw in Heart of the Swarm. While not all the unit changes were detailed above, we’ve highlighted some of the more interesting ones and what we think will see some play in Legacy of the Void.

Archon Mode

Archon Mode was announced at BlizzCon last year to a lot of fanfare and thought that it was a nice mode to introduce players to the game or something casual. Archon Mode gives one army to two players which opens up some incredible micro possibilities. For example, some organizations have come up and created tournaments for the scene and the professional scene has responded. HuK of Evil Geniuses recently won a tournament, teamed up with the player with the most SC2 prize money, MC. This has the potential to spawn a whole new competitive mode on its own and having two personalities controlling one army will show what can be achieved at the highest level of the game.

In closing, these among a litany of other changes could bring new life to the game of StarCraft. The changes look to be made to up the tempo of the game, bringing much more aggressive play, and rewarding aggressive economic damage-focused play, which will lead to a much better game for viewers to watch. The wild card here is Archon Mode, having two of your favorite StarCraft personalities playing together could fill the void that 2v2 wasn’t able to fill in back in the Wings of Liberty days. Nonetheless Blizzard’s aggressive bold changes will make 2016 an exciting year for StarCraft to watch.

Note: This article was written on October 4th, 2015. Legacy of the Void is in beta currently and changes are still being made constantly, so this article is based on the current changes in the beta and is subject to change.