StarCraft II Battle Report Two


Starcraft II has changed substantially since I first played it almost two years ago, and yet it remains fundamentally the same game. That provides some real insight into how Blizzard work: they have a kind of pure idea of what they’re aiming to achieve, and the development process is one of repeated iteration: UI after UI, art style after art style, each wave of changes bringing them closer to the perfect balance of what’s playable and what’s beautiful. Anyway, I expect we’ll be awash with fancy trailers in a couple of months time, but for now I’m enjoying the sort of back-to-basics game footage approach Blizzard are taking. Below the jump is a multiplayer battle report, with the designers commentating on a game being played between Blizzard employees. It’s revealing stuff.

103 Comments

  1. Rabbitsoup says:

    That’s the first bit of press for this game that actually piqued my interest. I thought the C+C/starcraft style was dead after CoH but that looked brilliant.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Revealing how rigid and stale the game is? Bleh… Maybe the single player will be awesome but their adherence to mirroring starcraft’s nature is off putting on the multiplayer side.
    I’m just bitter that any attempts by me to play it online will be met by a torrent of perfected build patterns and rushes.:(

  3. Legandir says:

    I have no interest in playing any games competitively, but if more competitive games were presented as professionally as this, i’d love to watch them.

  4. Mr Fishe says:

    I’ve really no interest in SC but that commentary was brilliant. So earnestly geeky. Loved it.

  5. Tworak says:

    You should check out gomtv.net if you’re interested in professional English SC commentary. There’s a bunch of guys doing amateur commentary on youtube as well.

    These two guys playing in this Battle Report are obviously not as good as the professional Koreans or even the foreigners.

  6. mrmud says:

    @heliocentric
    Any RTS that has a tech tree will have a “perfect” initial build order and as long as you play in a competetive environment then that is the build that will be used.

  7. Rob says:

    Destroying those rocks was a terrible idea! It didn’t give the Zerg an extra entry into the base so much as it gave the Terran an extra exit from it. So much for a ‘contain’.

    Can’t wait to see the really good gamers get their hands on this, though. Been enjoying the amateur commentry on youtube mentioned by Tworak.

  8. SirKicksalot says:

    That was almost as exciting as football!

    And it had gore too!

  9. teo says:

    If you think StarCraft’s multiplayer is ‘stale’ then you clearly don’t know too much about it. There’s no perfect build order either

    There’s a reason the game is still being played and is still exciting

  10. Heliocentric says:

    @mrmud Wow… deterministic much? Any RTS will have a perfect start? Not really, you played coh much? The application of doctrines there meant you dont know what the other players gambit is, but indeed its a terminal gambit that once taken cannot be reversed. Lending what in most RTS’s is high level play back to the lower levels, a sacraficial strategy. Meaning the learning curve is less abrupt, but indeed a player who chooses his doctrine first gets a more efficent gain of xp, but the player who chooses second gets to roll out counters. Indeed, obscuring what route you have taken is certainly viable. But i’m not saying Starcraft 2 isnt any of this and i wouldnt not until playing a demo, but starcraft 1 wasnt, indeed its only at the extremes of skill which the concepts like a gambit and informational warfare (letting them see units which are unlike the rest of your build) have any meaning.

  11. Azhrarn says:

    @Tworak:

    those professional Koreans seem barely human in terms of how blindingly fast those people are. And some of those are even inhumanly good compared to others of their kind. (80% lifetime win-rate Zerg-V-Zerg for Yai Dong for instance is mindboggling, I’ve watched quite a few games that he technically should have lost but still won, it’s insane)

    It’s quite awe-inspiring to watch some of those games from 1st-person view. (ie from the players camera standpoint and not the omnipresent observer view)

    Note, I’m not a competitive player myself, but watching the games is quite fun.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    teo?

    “perfected build patterns

    I mean not that its perfect, but the route of observation to a tactic has been perfected.

    I think SC is stale because i’m not fast enough to play it at the level needed to pull the kind of strategies that starcraft multiplayer revolves around. Its still incredible, just not to joe average.

  13. Gap Gen says:

    Ah, attack bunkers. How I’ve missed you.

  14. Tworak says:

    @Azhrarn

    Yeah, Jaedong’s 400 actions per minute is a sight to behold. :P

  15. DK says:

    “Starcraft II has changed substantially since I first played it almost two years ago, and yet it remains fundamentally the same game.”
    You mean Starcraft 2 has changed visually, but remains the same game they already released in 1998.

  16. Mal says:

    That looks far more exciting than I imagined. I’ll never be good enough to play online though :(

  17. Vandelay says:

    Will I for one am loving the look of this. I can’t think of any RTS that uses the style of Starcraft in recent years and none other that has perfected it so well. People here are calling it stale, but I really can’t name another RTS that is like the original Starcraft (C&C is probably the closest, but that is so light weight in comparison.)

    I do like the style of this trailer, although a bit more explanation on some of the units being used would have been nice, particular the new ones to the series (for example, when Terran was building his third command center some new gathering unit appeared called Haulers, did he build those? did they come with his command center?) The new ability at the end looked a bit overpowered.

  18. Anarki says:

    Yeah I love these Starcraft battle reports, downloaded the first one in HD and watched the whole thing. It’s a refreshing change from usual game trailers where you see 60 seconds of CGI and cut scenes yet NOTHING ABOUT HOW YOU ACTUALLY PLAY THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!

  19. SwiftRanger says:

    Graphics look a lot better than I thought they would, that replay production/research overlay is brilliant as well.

    Yet, it still looks as exciting to play as trying an FPS with keyboard-only controls (which would take ‘skill’ as well…). I am more looking forward to the campaign rather than trying to ‘dance around’ all the time in online games. StarCraft II seems like a rare game all of a sudden, there aren’t that many conservative online RTSs anymore nowadays. I really hope Blizzard will lay off the 1998 gameplay ideas in the campaign but that luckily seems to be the case after the last BlizzCon showings.

  20. teo says:

    I think to most casual people this looks pretty much like SC in 3D, but this game played nothing like StarCraft. They’ve removed the units that were most key to the balance and that would with proper use decide the game, and they kept the most iconic ones. The problem is that the charm of SC is in the interplay between ALL the units in the game. Even removing a single unit totally upsets the balance

    It’s fine if they want to make a new game but they’re clinging onto the old game even though they’ve abandoned its most exciting units that provided the coolest gameplay. The new units they’ve come up with just aren’t as exciting, and they keep switching them out like they don’t know what to do.

    They should either make a larger departure from the game or make it more similar to the old one. I remember them saying that their goal was to differentiate the races even more and I don’t think they’ve succeded. The terrans just won with a blob fighting a disorganized zerg blob. They were interchangeable.

  21. MetalCircus says:

    I’d really love to see an RTS that has no base-building and is about pure tactics (i.e. no C+C style mass rushes), but in an accessable way.

  22. ChaosSmurf says:

    If you think the game is still similar to the original, you should probably go back and play the original – or atleast watch it being played professionally. A lot of things have changed, it just looks and feels similar because it’s a sequel. It’s true to its roots, not a direct copy.

    And in response to “Well the multiplayer looks boring” – its the same kind of multiplayer that’s present in the best selling, most balanced and best competitive RTS ever made: not a template I’d want to move away from.

  23. Trip SkyWay says:

    Enjoyed that video, I’d be up for watching some more of that quality.

  24. Okami says:

    I hate chess, because it’s gonne stale hundreds of years ago.

  25. Tei says:

    How is this game different to …. Pokemon?
    you have tiny monsters, lots, and make then fight each another, and is almost like a sport, and is focused on strategy, and as less luck as posible, just skill. This game is Pokemon: Protoss vs Zergs vs Terran, harvest then all!.

  26. drewski says:

    They’re totally ripping off Dwarf Fortress.

    Maybe.

  27. Rei Onryou says:

    This is why I don’t play RTS online. All these different strategies in play at once that I had no idea existed. Red Alert tank rush is my limit.

  28. Bobsy says:

    I, like most people who aren’t Korean (99% of the world’s population, 1% of the Starcraft player base) don’t give a monkey’s about multiplayer. Gimme story, gimmie fancy renders and even cutscenes.

  29. Tworak says:

    Did you know that Starcraft has sold more than 9.5 million copies? 4.5 million of these in Korea.

    Just saying.

  30. Heavy Weapons Guy says:

    The graphics remind me of a bizarre hybrid between Red Alert 3 and Warcraft III.

    Maybe I’m missing something but what’s the point of spending 100+USD on this, (original + expansions) for the exact same gameplay in a different coat of paint? It’s not like Blizzard is selling this game on the story, but rather the fact that it’s “THE SAME GAME FROM 1998!”.

  31. unclelou says:

    don’t give a monkey’s about multiplayer. Gimme story, gimmie fancy renders and even cutscenes.

    I am with you, I am with you.

  32. Respectable Gentlemen says:

    @Tworak

    Did you know that there are over a billion communist in the world? 20-odd million of them in North Korea?

    Just saying.

  33. Tworak says:

    @Respectable Gentlemen

    Did you know that there are zero points in your post? Zero-odd of them in your post.

    Just saying.

  34. Joshua says:

    I’d really love to see an RTS that has no base-building and is about pure tactics (i.e. no C+C style mass rushes), but in an accessable way.

    There are many, many RTS games that fit this mold, going all the way back to Sid Meier’s Gettysburg! (my fave) and Myth in the mid 1990s. I think even the recently released Dawn of War 2 and even Demigod are like this. Just do some research.

  35. Vandelay says:

    Exactly Joshua, there are many no-base building RTSs. If you don’t mind a little base building but limited emphasis placed on it then there is even more. In fact, outside of Age of Empires style historical base building there aren’t many RTSs that actually put a strong focus on tech trees and buildings as well as actually being good RTSs, even fewer in the last few years.

    The beauty of Starcraft is it has such simple ideas to grasp (unlike the confusing resource acquisition in Supreme Commander) but still manages to have many options within each race (unlike Command and Conquer games.) It isn’t simply a case of building up to the best unit, as all units in the game have there worth. It looks like the sequel will be following the same pattern; notice that marines and zerglings are still being used right up until the final moment.

  36. Jeremy says:

    I’m fairly certain that some people on RPS don’t actually like video games at all. They just like complaining about how video games will never live up to their expectations.

  37. LionsPhil says:

    Ugh. Too fast. Much like C&C3, it seems to be a game of how quickly you can micromanage annoying little units dancing back and forth and triggering specials.

  38. DD says:

    Since StarCraft was so classic I am really looking forward to the sequel. I refuse to look at any content about StarCraft 2 until I have the freshly bought game in my hands.

  39. Anonymous says:

    @Heliocentric and anyone else who is concerned about being steamrolled by Koreans in SC2…

    Have you played Warcraft 3 recently? No mater how awful you are, there is always a mouth-breather who is worse than you at the game, guaranteed. You might need to play a few games for the ranking system to start pairing you up with them, but you would be surprised by how many utter idiots play RTS’s.

    The thing is, most players are one or two trick ponies. They might seem like they have an unstoppable rush tactic, but if their tactic was actually bulletproof they’d be playing players of much higher skill than you. Most likely, they just copied some flavor of the month build that – if countered – they are incapable of answering.

    Next time you lose to a common ‘cheap’ tactic, take a look at your replays. If you notice a ‘flavor of the month’ build that is really common when players pick a certain race, chances are, they are also making assumptions about how you will respond, and there is usually something you can do to hamstring them.

  40. Psychopomp says:

    @Tworak
    You win that round.

    BRING ON THE NEXT TROLL TO COMBAT THE CHAMPION

    Man, I want to NOT be excited about this after DoW2, Men of War, and Demigod.

    But fuck me, I think Starcraft refuses to get old. It’s nice to see people still fall for the old “Build factory behind base, pump out siege tanks” strategy.

    Couple that with baiting them with an small army of marines and firebats, then shell the shit outta their harvesters.

    Only works on small maps though :(

  41. Tei says:

    “The thing is, most players are one or two trick ponies. They might seem like they have an unstoppable rush tactic, but if their tactic was actually bulletproof they’d be playing players of much higher skill than you. Most likely, they just copied some flavor of the month build that – if countered – they are incapable of answering.”

    Do these people ragequit then? I hate ragequitters.

  42. Zyrusticae says:

    Maybe I’m missing something but what’s the point of spending 100+USD on this, (original + expansions) for the exact same gameplay in a different coat of paint? It’s not like Blizzard is selling this game on the story, but rather the fact that it’s “THE SAME GAME FROM 1998!”.

    …What? Have you been paying any attention at all? The very reason they split the campaigns up was for the sake of the story! They wanted to make each campaign massive and epic, and decided it would be better to split the game up than force the fans to wait another 2+ years for it to come out. Sure, they’re also putting lots of emphasis on the multiplayer game, but considering their astonishingly massive SC multiplayer user base, I don’t blame ’em for it. (Also note that there are many elements of the game exclusive to the single-player campaign, including the appearance of old units like the firebats, goliaths, and vultures). Also, that 100+ USD is going to be spread out over two or more years. Is $100 really that much to you over that large a span of time?

  43. Respectable Gentlemen says:

    @Tworak

    Blizzard Defense Force, Ho! Enjoy your mediocre RTS and bandwagon fallacy.

  44. Tworak says:

    @Respectable Gentlemen

    I certainly will. Thank you, good sir.

  45. Arturo says:

    This looks boring. Haven’t we gotten past the same old base building/econ stuff from the old game? A good decade worth of RTS iteration and they come up with the same exact gameplay. This will degenerate into all of the same SC1 tactics/build orders within a few weeks after release.

    I haven’t seen anything at all that makes this look like more than an expansion to BroodWar. How about garrisoned buildings, destructable terrain, (pile of rocks with HP counter does not count), less units and more tactics? Too many units on the screen and you will always lose to better micro. And there’s always some twitch-king who can click 100 times a second and get away with crazy things..

    Say what you will about DOW2 (it also has its issues), but it’s much more interesting than this. It’s paced better, the units have enough time/health to be effectively controlled, and the lack of annoying base-building is just great.

  46. ChampionHyena says:

    Oy. I feel jaded after Relic’s glorious sequence of strategic real-timery. Churning out a thousand builder units, sitting there and harvesting, then going off to pester enemy builder units. Then kite back when they counter-attack. Snore.

    I dunno, I was never really impressed with Starcraft in the first place. I’m sure it was dramatically life-altering at the time, but I was sadly late to the party. Warcraft III was always my Blizzard strategy game (though not by much), what with leveling units and hirelings and picking up items and all its other RPG conceits.

    I am sure that, like the original, Starcraft II’s single-player campaign will be the SHIT, especially now that it’s three times as long. I am not, however, looking forward to playing multiplayer and getting stomped by people who keep track of how many times they click the fucking mouse in a given match.

    Matter of fact, I’m gonna get back to playing Dawn of War.

  47. Zyrusticae says:

    Gawd, you people.

    There’s plenty of other RTSes you can go to if you want new and novel (redundant?) game mechanics. The whole point of a sequel to StarCraft is to update the game with modern tech and mix things up just a tad, while creating the same brand of super-polished gameplay as seen in the original SC. If you don’t like Starcraft then you’re not going to like StarCraft 2. If you don’t like seeing old game mechanics polished to a blinding luster, then of course this isn’t for you.

    Go play more CoH, or SoaSE, or DoW 2, or E:TW if you’re looking for something new. (Seriously, we don’t need more innovation. At least someone’s gotta take up the old guard, y’know…)

  48. BooleanBob says:

    Lordy, that was awesome. I am genetically incapable of doing what an RTS demands of me but seeing professional-standard commentary of some other guys doing it is kind of magical. With their crazy multi-tasking, omniattentive, super-threading brains, jaguar-hands reactions and UI manipulation skills it’s a wonder that RTS players don’t rule the world.

  49. Mark says:

    Feh. It’ll all come down to who’s memorized the most hotkeys anyway. That or who can click the fastest.

  50. Jeremy says:

    Zyrusticae.. seriously! Everyone complains about what a game isn’t going to be more than any other media. I love that Starcraft 2 isn’t going to be a huge change on the formula, a good old fashioned RTS with attacks, counters, etc. How can we fault a game that never had any aspirations to change the gameplay, for not changing the gameplay? Do we complain that Pride and Prejudice wasn’t a good romantic comedy? No, we complain that it was a freakin 6 hour bore fest. But my point is, how can you possibly knock something for not being a genre it never claimed to be in the first place? This just doesn’t happen in other forms of media, only in video games because everyone has this going for them. The problem is, the formula gets changed and we automatically assume that because X game isn’t adhering to Z new formula, it is old, archaic and a waste of time.