Life After the Beta: Waiting For StarCraft 2

I was excited to see the first commercial released for StarCraft 2 since I had the luck to be included in the Beta testing phase that ended at the beginning of June.

The Waiting Makes it Worse

With such a long waiting period for a new release, there are always huge expectations. Take the Star Wars prequels for example, where years and years of waiting ended up in bitter disappointment when George Lucas failed to produce a quality product.

However, the difference between Star Wars and StarCraft is that Blizzard actually cares about what its fan base says, and has proved as much by opening the StarCraft 2 Beta to thousands of users. Those familiar with the original version, a large portion of who still play it on a regular basis, understand that there is a vast difference between the cinematic elements that are such a focus of the commercials, and the actual game play. If you’re looking for the game basics and fundamentals to have changed from Starcraft to Starcraft 2, then prepare to be disappointed. Unlike Lucas, Blizzard has maintained the game’s core integrity and resisted the urge to sell out under pressure. Don’t get me wrong, there are huge improvements in the “tech tree”, completely new units, and improved graphics and 3D modeling, but the basic game is still intact and just as addictive as ever.

A Careful Balancing Act

One of the main focuses of the Beta was to ensure that each race was carefully balanced through build time, unit cost and abilities to ensure that there are no “Zergling Rushes” that spoil game play. Incrementally, updates were applied to the Beta, adding or removing abilities and tweaking in game elements to ensure that no one race could dominate the others with an unfair advantage.

Leveraging Leagues and Placement

Another issue that seasoned players are familiar with in the original StarCraft is fixed in the sequel. In the previous version, you never knew if you would be playing playing against someone who couldn’t operate a mouse or a seasoned veteran with the potential to obliterate you with an unreal amount of units in less time than it took for you to build a single barrack. The Beta showed an intense interest in the balancing of players into leagues so that you can play against people relatively around your skill level.

In the new version, after starting you off with 5 starter matches against complete novices, on specially designed maps that slow down game play, you’re placed and scored on each match you win or lose. After even just a few rounds of being completely annihilated, when you score that first victory you’ll be fully hooked and eager for the next match.

You can mix it up playing 1 on 1 upwards to 4 on 4 players, with each a completely different experience as tactics and strategies shift. The league placement makes it possible for you to continue to improve your skills while avoiding frustrating scenarios where you couldn’t possibly win time and time again.

Online RTS VS. MMORPG

The part of Starcraft 2 they opened to Beta was the online multiplayer, so I can’t speak to the concerns about storyline and cinematics not matching up to related gameplay, but I can say that I am already missing having access to the game since the Beta closed to prepare for the full release. The real benefit of the match based real-time strategy game is that you can easily play just a couple of short quick rounds without having to plan an entire day or weekend organizing a raid. If “husband duties” call my name, then I can wrap up that match and go back to the real world in a matter of minutes.

Watching the Calendar

While you wait for the release you can take an entrance Exam for the Terran Dominion, or even join in a Propaganda campaign for some prizes. I eagerly anticipate the full release of StarCraft 2, and hopefully Blizzard can learn from Lucas’s mistakes and hope that it doesn’t have a Jar Jar Binks included to mess up their long anticipated return.

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12 Responses to Life After the Beta: Waiting For StarCraft 2

  1. I hear you! I miss having access. Hopefully they turn on the phase 2 of the beta I heard they might do right before the full release (to test the servers).

  2. I hear you! I miss having access. Hopefully they turn on the phase 2 of the beta I heard they might do right before the full release (to test the servers).

  3. Thanks for at least noticing my previous concerns. I've seen some gameplay on YouTube now, and I wish I wasn't starting my M.S. program this semester so I could get in on the action early.

  4. Thanks for at least noticing my previous concerns. I’ve seen some gameplay on YouTube now, and I wish I wasn’t starting my M.S. program this semester so I could get in on the action early.

  5. @Brandon, well if they do, then look me up and we'll play a couple rounds: Jeraath

    @Red Wolf, you're welcome :).

    And as far as the M.S. program goes…like I was saying, at least it's not a MMORPG that takes huge blocks of time (not that you don't WANT to play more) but you can sneak in a quick 1 v 1 every once in a while :)

  6. @Brandon, well if they do, then look me up and we’ll play a couple rounds: Jeraath

    @Red Wolf, you’re welcome :).

    And as far as the M.S. program goes…like I was saying, at least it’s not a MMORPG that takes huge blocks of time (not that you don’t WANT to play more) but you can sneak in a quick 1 v 1 every once in a while :)

  7. "However, the difference between Star Wars and StarCraft is that Blizzard actually cares about what its fan base says, and has proved as much by opening the StarCraft 2 Beta to thousands of users."

    Blizzard certainly has an outstanding reputation for producing quality products.

    However, as of late, I think it might be a bit over euphemistic to say that Blizzard cares about what we say per se.

    There are a number of things that Blizzard is doing that is actually quite counter to what the majority of fans want/express.

    Some of those things may seem more frivolous (like Blizzard choosing not to have Glynnis Talken reprise her role as voice actor for Kerrigan) but others are more major (such as the lack of LAN play and in-game chatrooms).

    Thus, while I am still cautiously optimistic about SC2, I think that you have to admit Blizzard has ignored a number of things that the fans have expressed (see blizzard forums, polls, threads etc.)

  8. “However, the difference between Star Wars and StarCraft is that Blizzard actually cares about what its fan base says, and has proved as much by opening the StarCraft 2 Beta to thousands of users.”

    Blizzard certainly has an outstanding reputation for producing quality products.

    However, as of late, I think it might be a bit over euphemistic to say that Blizzard cares about what we say per se.

    There are a number of things that Blizzard is doing that is actually quite counter to what the majority of fans want/express.

    Some of those things may seem more frivolous (like Blizzard choosing not to have Glynnis Talken reprise her role as voice actor for Kerrigan) but others are more major (such as the lack of LAN play and in-game chatrooms).

    Thus, while I am still cautiously optimistic about SC2, I think that you have to admit Blizzard has ignored a number of things that the fans have expressed (see blizzard forums, polls, threads etc.)

  9. @Joe, great point there. I do miss having the basic LAN capability, mostly because it side-stepped needing dozens of unlocked copies or valid CD keys… I can't really begrudge them an improved business model, especially since they don't have a recurring fee like they do for WOW.

    However, I am optimistic, because my experience with the Beta Battlenet was positive for the majority of the time. It'll remain to be seen if Blizzard swings toward benevolent or malevolent in it's decision…

  10. @Joe, great point there. I do miss having the basic LAN capability, mostly because it side-stepped needing dozens of unlocked copies or valid CD keys… I can’t really begrudge them an improved business model, especially since they don’t have a recurring fee like they do for WOW.

    However, I am optimistic, because my experience with the Beta Battlenet was positive for the majority of the time. It’ll remain to be seen if Blizzard swings toward benevolent or malevolent in it’s decision…

  11. I surely can't wait, and I'll jump right back in when they open up the beta a few weeks before the July 27th release.

    As it drops though, I'll most likely play through the SP campaign first.

    As for things to do while waiting…

    You can watch casts on YouTube (I recommend HuskyStarcraft and HDstarcraft channels).

    If you'r on a PC, you can build maps with the Galaxy Editor.

    You can practice buildorders and the likes (with for ex http://www.sc2mapster.com/maps/yabot/).

    Talking of, it's about hell'a time I pre-ordered…

  12. I surely can't wait, and I'll jump right back in when they open up the beta a few weeks before the July 27th release.

    As it drops though, I'll most likely play through the SP campaign first.

    As for things to do while waiting…

    You can watch casts on YouTube (I recommend HuskyStarcraft and HDstarcraft channels).

    If you'r on a PC, you can build maps with the Galaxy Editor.

    You can practice buildorders and the likes (with for ex http://www.sc2mapster.com/maps/yabot/).

    Talking of, it's about hell'a time I pre-ordered…