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Blog: StarCraft II Heart of the Swarm Collector’s Edition Unboxing

With the release of Heart of the Swarm just 4 short days away - and GKick’s interview with Rob Clotworthy, the voice of Jim Raynor, just tomorrow - we were greeted by a fantastic copy of the Collector’s Edition of Heart of the Swarm, ready for our enjoyment. If you’re one of the folks who has your copy of Heart of the Swarm Collector’s Edition en route, here’s a peek at what you’ll be getting when the box arrives!

A look at the box itself, featuring the distinct purple artwork and Zerg logo in the center.

The Collector’s Edition features the game itself, a Behind-the-Scenes DVD with interviews from Blizzard crew and the voice actors behind the game, another amazing soundtrack, a Heart of the Swarm art book, the Zerg Rush mousepad, and a few free-play guest pass codes for World of Warcraft and Wings of Liberty. In addition, all Collector’s Edition and Digital Collector’s Edition owners will get several StarCraft II avatar pictures and a special skin for the Zerg Ultralisk, a Zergling pet for World of Warcraft, and a special Diablo III banner and Blade Wings for your character to add to their battle.net collections.

The first look inside! Every item fits very neatly into the box, thanks to a plastic insert with special slots for each item.
The first look inside! Every item fits very neatly into the box, thanks to a plastic insert with special slots for each item.

The game itself includes a lot of major updates to the core StarCraft II game. In addition to the new campaign mode, the game also includes new units and an overhauled ladder system for the popular multiplayer element of the game. This game also serves as the central of a three-part story that will culminate with Legacy of the Void, possibly in another 2-3 years from now.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Art Book
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Art Book
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Soundtrack

In this chapter of the story, we continue where Jim Raynor “saved” the fallen Kerrigan, who led the Zerg forces as the Queen of Blades, after the battle on Charr. However, it won’t last long as you assume command over Kerrigan and attempt to reclaim your place as leader of the Zerg all while avoiding and threatening the story’s main antagonist, Arcturus Mengsk. There’s a bit more to it, but you’ll need to play to experience it all.

Heart of the Swarm “Zerg Rush” Mousepad
Heart of the Swarm Game DVD and the Behind-the-Scenes DVD/Blu-ray 2-Disc Set
Heart of the Swarm Game DVD and the Behind-the-Scenes DVD/Blu-ray 2-Disc Set

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will be available on March 12th, 2013 online and at retailers nationwide. Heart of the Swarm requires StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty in order to play.07-entirety

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Gets Release Date; Pre-Orders Available Now

Blizzard has officially announced the release date of their upcoming StarCraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, as well as opened up digital pre-ordered at battle.net. This new expansion makes a great deal of changes to the multiplayer game and UI elements of StarCraft as well as continuing the epic single-player campaign that began with Wings of Liberty.

Players of other Blizzard titles will also fine additional incentive to pre-order the Digital Deluxe edition of Heart of the Swarm, by unlocking a Baneling minipet for World of Warcraft, additional profile pictures and a new Ultralisk skin for StarCraft II and Queen of Blades hero wings and sigil addons for Diablo III. Players who pre-order the digital deluxe will also unlock many of these features immediately, except for the expansion itself.

The standard expansion will be available on March 12, 2013 nationwide.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Closed Beta Begins

The invites are beginning to roll out for the upcoming StarCraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, as Blizzard has begun the closed beta session for the upcoming RTS title.

Players should be receiving notification in their Battle.net emails or will find the beta already added to their Battle.net Account Management page. In order to be entered into the beta, players should make sure their Beta Profile is up-to-date on their account page and some players who participated in the StarCraft II Arcade Beta will also receive early access.

This new expansion to StarCraft II adds a handful of new units to all three races as well as general gameplay and UI changes to improve the overall experience.

Stay tuned to GKick.net for more information on the Heart of the Swarm beta as it develops.

Mists of Pandaria Debut at this Year’s GamesCom, Blizzard Feeling Pressure?

Blizzard’s has always done an outstanding job on their opening cinematic for World of Warcraft and its expansions, the Wrath of the Lich King one was a personal favorite of mine. You may have been wondering when we will see the Mists of Pandaria cinematic, though. Blizzard will be debuting the cinematic at the largest convention of the year, Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Gamescom takes place August 15th through the 19th. Blizzard will debut their cinematic on the 16th, the first public day of Gamescom.

Not only that, but this year they will be showcasing most of their new games at Gamescom. Diablo 3, Mists of Pandaria and Heart of the Swarm will all be playable this year.

I kind of wonder if Blizzard is feeling pressure from all the Guild Wars 2 excitement. They’re always diplomatic about new games coming out and even claim to be playing them in the Blizzard offices via various twitter feeds, but they seem to be trying to push this expansion out very quickly. They’ve even said they want to get one expansion out per year, which to me feels like they’re compromising quality.

Are you excited for the Mists of Pandaria Cinematic debut?

Blizzard Offers HoTS Beta Keys for Help With Arcade 1.5

People that want to increase their chances of getting into the Heart of The Swarm beta-test have a great opportunity avaliable to them for the next couple of days!

From now until the 29th, Blizzard is offering players that help them test out their Arcade beta 1.5 additional chances to win a key, one for each day they test! That’s an additional 3 chances!

“If you want to get in on the action, playing the Rate the Game beta contest is easy. First, visit your account management page, download and install the Arcade (1.5.0) Beta product you see in the game accounts section, then hop into the Arcade. To enter the contest, simply play, rate, and review an Arcade game. The first time you rate and review a new game each day the contest is running gives you another chance to win, so it pays to visit every day until the contest ends. At the end of the contest period we’ll randomly choose 500 eligible contestants to win StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta keys!” -Blizzard

Go here  to opt into the Arcade (1.5.0) Beta.

Remember! You can come back each day from now until the 29th to rate a game and get another chance to win a Heart of the Swarm beta key! There are only going to be 500 winners, so every day you play will really help!

Good luck!

The Last 1%

Blizzard has said in a new report recently that the new Starcraft II expansion pack ‘The Heart of the Swarm’ is on the verge of being ready for a beta test, with the programming almost complete.

Lead designer Dustin Browder is quoted as saying: “We are 99% done,” he says,  “but that last 1%’s a bitch.”

The units are in place, ready to go and the game missions are playable, but that last bit is very much the spit and polish. This is where the company very much reaches into the unknown and where things can pop up. But this is what beta tests are for, and I’m pretty sure that our very own Steve Perry is excited to be one of the lucky people in the test.

Dustin continues : “Like we could do a play-through next week that we’re like, ‘Wow this is really great.’ Or we could do a play-through and we still have 250 items we wanna fix. You know, historically speaking we’re doing pretty well. We’re getting there. But I don’t know for sure yet when we’ll be done.”

So as we all know, Blizzard is famous for their time. As we know, Soon™ 😉

Blizzard’s Heart of The Swarm Multiplayer Preview

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about Blizzard’s two HoTS Multiplayer VODs. Casted by Day[9] and Rob Simpson, the two go through a full ZvT and ZvP with most of the new units. There are definitely a lot of new tactics and strategies avaliable, with Zerg even getting what appears to be a new late-game unit composition.

One thing to keep in mind is that the balance team has decided to start the units off really strong, and then scale them back as need be as opposed to starting weak and scaling up. This means the damage, ranges, or even abilities could be changed or removed. It’s still in the testing phase so anything seen in the video might not be there or might be changed once HoTS finally drops.

Here are a few of the high-lights from the videos:

Hydras: These things are fast. It’s kind of ridiculous now. Once you hit Hive Techyou can research a movement speed buff that makes them just as fast off creep as they are when they are on it. They are now really easily micro-able, reminiscent of how they were in Brood War. They look really powerful, doing hit an runs with their amazing DPS and escaping easily when the enemy arrives. Looks awesome.

Vipers: The new Zerg caster unit. Abduct looks awesome, able to pull key units of your opponent into the jaws of your swarmy army and take them out. It works especially well with Lings and the new faster Hydras, preventing the units from retreating back to their friends. The Blinding Cloud ability is only usable against biological units, but it’s going to help a lot when Terran starts massing up Marine balls.

Swarm Host: This is the new Zerg siege unit. It’s an interesting take on the role, as this thing does slow sustained damage by spawning small, free ranged units rather than doing bursty damage like the Siege Tank or Colossus. If you can get enough of them together, combined with spines they seem like they’ll be able to lock down positions really well.

Widow Mine: This thing looks a little ridiculous right now. It can one-shot queens, they do AoE damage, and they are only 75min 25gas. Luckily there is a 10 second or so delay before the mines actually explode, so microing your army to make the mines less cost efficient shouldn’t be too hard. Still, if you aren’t careful you can lose valuable units like Queens or Infestors to a cheap factor unit. You can also build them 2 at a time with a Reactor.

Oracle: Protoss’s new economy harassing unit. It’ll be interesting to see if they change this one. Right now they can move into range of mineral patches, and use spell to lock them down with a shield, forcing the opponent to break them down before the mineral patches can be used again. In the ZvP video, spines were used to that the player didn’t have to manually tell his units to break the shields. It looks a bit powerful right now if you aren’t paying attention. It can also cloak your units, but it has to stay stationary to work.

Tempest: It’s a flying 22 range siege unit. And it flies. \ o.O/

Over all it looks pretty awesome. More units means more options. Excited to see what changes and what stays the same!



Blizzard Announces Multiplayer Replay, Global Play, Clan System for Heart of the Swarm

In the latest Developer Update, the StarCraft 2 development team announced some big UI changes coming for Heart of the Swarm, the upcoming expansion to SC2, including implementation of some huge features that players have been asking for since the release of the game.

Planned to launch “at or around the launch of Heart of the Swarm” include:

- Multiplayer resume from replay: This feature is key for many major tournaments and local events that rely on smooth, error-free execution. This feature will allow games that are ended prematurely to be resumed from a replay, meaning issues with Battle.net disconnections or lag should no longer cause regames or early results. While it isn’t LAN, it’s a big and important feature.

- Clan/group system and unranked matchmaking: While no details were given, it was revealed that Blizzard is planning a clan/group system of some kind to launch alongside Heart of the Swarm. In addition, the ability to play in unranked games will allow players to match against like-skilled opponents while they test new builds, off-race, or experiment in the game all without affecting their position on the ladder.

- Multiplayer replay viewing: A part of many major events is the ability for multiple casters to view the same replay. In the past, this relied heavily on timing - as in both casters with the same replay file loading it independently and clicking “Play” at the same time. While this usually works, there are many cases where timing is off. Now, multiple players will have the ability to view the same replay at the same time. In addition, this is extremely useful for coaching as it allows both players to have a seamless viewing experience over their replay together.

- Global Play: Finally, and perhaps the biggest feature, is the implementation of Global Play - a feature initially revealed for Diablo III - into StarCraft II. This feature, in addition to multilanguage support, would allow players to be able to play on any region’s ladder or against any other player regardless of where they are in the world, a long desired option. Previously, players would have to purchase additional copies of StarCraft II that are local to the region.

These features, and more, will be discussed more in-depth as we get closer to the release. In addition, news about how participation in the StarCraft II Patch 1.5 beta could earn players a spot in the upcoming Heart of the Swarm multiplayer beta is coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that!