By Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson of Evil Geniuses
Exciting times approach for us in StarCraft II land as we enter into 2015, we also enter into… the VOID! Oh wow, such cheese. OK, well what exactly does that mean? It means it is time for this game to take another leap. SC2 was always meant to be the BEAST of a game- one where a careful balance was walked between celebrating skill and talent while also keeping the average gamer entertained and engaged. StarCraft II Wings of Liberty was a decent first attempt in the new gaming era, but overall it stagnated and had problems. Heart of the Swarm breathed new life into the game and once it got past the snafu with the warhound that was insanely overpowered, the game rewarded its player base with some new units and a changing/revolving meta that has yet to stagnate on the same level as WoL. That said, we are in need of change. HotS has been fantastic and I think Blizzard can be proud of it, but it has also come with a learning curve both for the players and also for the developers. WCS has yet to find its way and in 2015 it looks to change things up with locked regions and a bigger emphasis perhaps on the non-korean player. So, with all that being said what exactly has me excited for Legacy of the Void? I’d like to discuss a few potentials and things they have either shown or touched on.
1. More micro intensive actions! StarCraft is unique in that it is incredibly demanding. Not only is the RTS genre more prone to be this way, but specifically SC has always been THE game in terms of difficulty. With that struggle comes the cream rising to the top. How amazing is it to see a pro gamer execute a beautiful strategy to perfection? These kinds of moments have inspired players for over a decade. It has always been that way. With LotV it has been said by the developers and shown in the early look at the potential units that this is a point of emphasis. Rather than having really straightforward and simple units like the Colossus, where you CAN control it specifically, but for the most part it will do its thing regardless, we see units that offer more utility and have a bit of a dynamic to them. On their own they can be vulnerable and weak, but with proper control they can be fantastic weapons. The Disruptor comes to mind with this, but so many more fall under this category. The struggle here for Blizzard will be finding that balance.. you don’t want new and really cool units that are TOO hard to play because you will alienate the majority of your player base. You also DO want a unit that will allow those progamers to show what they’ve got and entertain/inspire the viewing player base.
2. Take a risk: Economy. This is huge! I am completely in love with the idea of changing how the economy works. It’s scary- it is a bit like changing the size of the rim in basketball in terms of overall impact, but this change will really breathe new life into SC2. Smaller more micro-intensive battles and skirmishes with the economy constantly needing to be replenished/managed means a faster and more exciting SC2. This fundamental change means Blizzard is willing to do some radical stuff and I really love the boldness here. Maybe my song would be a bit different if I was an active pro gamer because that particular change really changes EVERYTHING. Play styles, builds and knowledge will all have to update and adapt on a very aggressive level. Almost a wiping of the slate so to speak.
3. Reward the players. This is commonly referred to as “skins” and the like but I do have to take up this mantra. Other games have made this a focus and it has paid off. People really like being rewarded and they like working towards something. If that is cool skins or unique graphic stuff like avatars and what not then give it to them! Blizzard has been slow on this up-take, but it is happening. Heroes of the Storm has shown Blizzard is aware of this concept and of course right from the beginning SC2 has had these features, they just kind of under-utilized them. MORE of this in LotV will pay dividends. I really hope this concept is shown in full force.
4. WCS revamp. Maybe too little too late, but WCS is THE tourney for SC. That said it has not gone the way I think it was envisioned. Koreans on Koreans from different regions facing off once or twice every other month is not the spirit of what WCS wanted. Now those regions should become more territorial and reward those that truly commit to SC2 and playing from that region. Korea has 3 pro leagues and more tourneys coming to reward the absolute best of the best. THIS is more of what we had hoped for from the beginning. Will it have the big impacts? I certainly hope so. SC2 is still the best damn RTS and one of the best games- it’s time the premier league for this game reflects that. Getting everyone involved and allowing for foreigner growth IS a good thing overall. It sounds unfair and weak, but this is a game and a game needs to be played to grow. If you have no hope and nothing to play for you will go to greener pastures.
5. Blizzard’s attention! Hackers, stagnant map pools and balance issues are always going to plague games and SC is of course no stranger to this, but that doesn’t mean you don’t work with it or fight it as best you can. Has Blizzard been awesome about hackers? I have to say, no, not really. Have they been giving us new and exciting maps on a regular basis? Yes and no- sometimes it seems awesome and great other times we get #Dreampool which felt lazy and bad. I know Blizzard is a big company with a lot of concerns, but some good PR and work in this department is needed. TELL us hackers suck and you are doing your best- make changes and be proactive. Maps are tough to make, but dedicate time and love there- reward map makers or something! Balance issues will always happen and frankly Blizzard has been pretty good about this. More is always better though!
Well that does it for now. I am hoping for these things and most of them seem to be impending! What are some of the things you guys want to see? Thanks for reading.
Follow Geoff on twitter @EGiNcontroL