Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm is quickly approaching release so I want to take some time and preview the differences I’ve noticed after playing a lot of the Beta. Please note this is a beta so things I write about may no longer be valid in the build your playing or the final shipped version.
My Starcraft 2 History
I have played Starcraft 2 WOL since release mainly as Terran. I do have an account for each race though. I have roughly 4000 games of 1v1 played in Wings of Liberty. I have reached Masters 2 seasons as Terran, while Diamond is my highest ranking for Protoss and Zerg.
I have had the HOTS beta for a little over a month now and have roughly 100 games played so far. I have played as all 3 races, although I am still more skilled with Terran.
I know the one thing everyone wants to hear about is the new units. I have played with and against all the new units so I’ll start going through one by one.
Initially I was really excited about the idea of the battle hellion, but I feel like it fails to accomplish what it was set out to do which is make mech viable again. The battle hellion is a great at absorbing damage and the fact that it can be healed by medivacs is insane, but sticking it into a ball of bio just doesn’t work as I was hoping.
The widow mine is my favorite new Terran unit, it does massive damage to a single unit although very slowly. It allows terran to hold defensive positions much better than before. It also hits flying units so it can help against medivac drops and mutalisks. The Widow mine, in my opinion is the best change so far for the Terran army.
The mothership core is very strong, I remember starting out on HOTS and seeing a Protoss go 1 gate expand, so I ended up pushing very early to try and punish their expansion, but with the Mothership Core energizing their nexus, I did very little damage. The funny thing about the core is people are using it to harass worker lines. I really like this unit as it adds a bit of security to the Protoss early game, and later it can be upgraded into a mothership.
The oracle is scary to play against, it seems like it can decimate a whole worker line in seconds. Its ability “time warp” is nothing to sneeze at either. Playing as Protoss against Zerg I felt like I had a way to successfully harass their workers, but playing against them felt bad as they would back stab me even with a turret in my mineral line.
This is the unity that I was the most unsure about its place, I believe its best used to break siege lines, but the problem is Terrans don’t use mech against Protoss. We’ll have to see if this one finds a home or just ends up as another “carrier” that people flip out about if its played.
The viper is hilarious, there is nothing like seeing it snag your siege tanks into the Zerg swarm. Their ability to siphon health off of buildings as well could be useful, but I’m not sure. I think the blinding cloud and the abduct abilities are its strongest uses. I don’t see this being massed in anyway like the Infestor is, it just isn’t that strong. But being able to snag your opponents best units is a very powerful effect. I’m excited to see how this unit is used in the future.
The swarm host is the unit I was the most excited about when I played Zerg. Finally Zerg has a way to siege its opponent, and it actually feels like a Zerg unit. Swarm hosts that are covered by Infestors are really tough to deal with though, but I love the variety it adds to the gameplay.
The poor Warhound
Warhound is what made mech viable again, and it was cut completely from the game. I’m kinda sad they couldn’t find a good balance to make this unit work in the game. I guess HOTS wants Terran to be mainly bio focused.
The new units are great and all but there are a lot of other changes to the game such as the reaper regenerating health, upgrade changes, and some of the more risky changes that i’ll talk about below.
Workers now start at the beginning of the game on their own, I assume this is to fix any issues with having lag at the beginning of the game which gives one player an advantage over another. To me this change doesn’t really effect anyone too much, but I can see some peoples complaint about making the game too easy.
Worker counts now show on the gas and the command center, this can be toggled but it still changes a ton in the game in my opinion. The ability to very quickly see how your economy is distributed really simplifies the game for me. One of the things I would always analyze in my replays was my worker distribution, and now I have no excuse for ever messing that up. I’ve heard countless pro’s complain about this change though, so we will see if this makes it into the final game.
One of the first things I did when starting the beta was try to click on an enemy unit to check its upgrades. I found clicking on enemy units was disabled by default. I immediately disabled that feature the next game, since I believe gathering intel such as how much gas they have mined and seeing their upgrades is vital to playing the game successfully.
The new updater
I love the changes they made to the updater, it also appears the game can update while playing the game, if you notice the little green circle that sometime appears in the middle top of the screen. I’m really glad Blizzard has been improving the technology around the game as well for the next iteration of Starcraft.
Heart of the Swarm is fun as ever, and i’m excited to see the new social and esport changes that have been made or promised as well. I think the one thing Wings of Liberty is missing is the connection to the world, i’m hoping Blizzard has learned a lot from League of Legends and starts to add some of the features that they already have in Dota 2 for example. Let me eat my dinner while watching a live match even if its delayed. Or let me host a replay and watch it a group of people please. These are just a few of the wishes that I have for Starcraft 2, but beyond all I hope it revitalizes the Starcraft 2 esports scene, because it honestly seems to me that it is declining. Starcraft 2 is more fun to watch than football, so lets spread the word and hope Blizzard does their part to balance the game further and gain more ground in the community.