StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void’s Free Prologue

Those po-faced Protoss will be romping all over the place in StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void [official site], the third part of Blizzard’s drawn-out RTS sequel, but a little taster’s coming sooner. Blizzard have announced Whispers of Oblivion, a Set of Three single-player Missions of Prologue coming free to all People of the Earth before the Release of the Game. Come watch the Trailer of the Announcement.

Set between the Zergy last SC2, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void, Whispers of Oblivion will see Zeratul poking into that old Xel’naga prophecy (you know, that everyone’s doomed and all that). It’ll be free to everyone, whether they own SC2 or not, and is due to arrive before LotV.

When Legacy of the Void will arrive is a mystery, though Blizzard are teasing some kind of announcement in July. The multiplayer side is in closed beta testing now, and we’ve had a play.

I do like demos which contain sections not found in the main game. I played Half-Life’s Uplink demo enough that in my memories I can’t separate it from the main game.

22 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    What is this strange “demonstration” software I’m hearing about. It’ll never catch on, mark my words.

  2. Ross Angus says:

    Could we all just take a moment to thank Alice for being on watch, while the E3 Hype Cannon bombarded the world? It was a sterling effort and the qualities of the jokes never faltered once.

  3. XhomeB says:

    Can’t wait to witness yet another poorly written, abysmally voice acted proof that Blizzard completely ruined this once beloved universe. As if WoL and HotS weren’t enough.

    • SaintAn says:

      It really that bad? I just played through the original and its xpac for the first time over the last week and loved them, but I haven’t been enjoying 2 very much and thought it was because I only just started it. It feels like they copied Dawn of War 2 in their design of SC2, and I hated DoW2 compared to the perfect first DoW.

    • CmdrCrunchy says:

      I will never understand comments like this. Considering almost every mission in the original was ‘Destroy all enemy forces’ with nearly no other objectives to have to consider, I really have to wonder why you consider SC2’s campaign so bad.

      Unless you’re talking about the storyline in which case, come on, it’s Blizzard. Their writers have never been anything more than hilariously bad. Do you really think StarCraft 1 is a shining example of storytelling and universe building? Please. The only decent example is *perhaps* Warcraft 3, and that’s only some of the time.

      • Brosecutor says:

        Mission design-wise, I prefer SCII, but the story…at least the original tried to depict a cosmic war between three species; nowadays i’s all about prophecies and artifacts and all that by-the-numbers fantasy dreck.

        • Horg says:

          It’s not strictly the themes of the writing that let the game down either, the prose and voice acting are pitched at primary school levels. We are not going to get any more moments like the Arcturus monologue at the end of the SC1 Terran campaign, or the Arthas speech before the Stratholme purge from Blizzard. It’s all memes, pop culture references and cheesy ”heroic” one liners from here on out.

      • FuriKuri says:

        I have to agree on all counts.

        I did probably enjoy Starcraft’s storyline a large amount back in the day (which I recall feeling was somewhat ruined by Brood War). The fact that most of the prerendered cutscenes had little to do with the actual story helped fill in the flavour of the universe without pushing it I suppose. But more important than any of that was the fact that I was in my mid teens and watching Aliens about once a fortnight – hence it was everything I loved at the time.

        Now though, being a miserable old fart, it’s easy to see practically all of Blizzard’s writing for what it is – utterly awful. It’s only ever approaches “good” as a result of their constant appropriation of great lines from cult films/tv shows.

        I don’t massively care though. I’ve had more fun claiming every achievement in SC2’s campaigns than probably any other RTS of the last decade.

      • Frank says:

        “Do you really think StarCraft 1 is a shining example of storytelling and universe building?”

        Um, yeah, kinda. If you’re comparing games to other media, maybe it doesn’t look so hot, but it’s top notch among video games (maybe excluding adventure games).

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Well, it is, yes. That is, if you only consider games developers like Blizzard make.

          Personally, I think Starcraft had a decent, functional story. But it never went much beyond that.

      • Shadow says:

        I believe the first StarCraft had a pretty good story, but Blizzard’s storytelling isn’t stellar in general. If you think about it, WarCraft 3’s story is structurally the same as StarCraft’s. Arthas is very Kerrigan-like, the Scourge is very Zerg-like and the Night Elves are quite Protoss-like. I remember reading the comparison on a GameFAQs review years ago, and I was quite shocked at the similarities. Not that I didn’t enjoy WC3, but still.

        Anyway, personally, I’m still waiting for the glorious return of the UED. Its reappearance has been hinted at several times now, but it has never really materialized so far. With any luck they’ll be featured in Legacy of the Void, but chances are Amon and all that stuff will take most of the stage, and the UED isn’t an enemy you can include as a secondary/tertiary antagonist.

      • Sic says:

        Warcraft 3?

        You’re joking, surely.

        Diablo, Diablo 2 and Starcraft all had OK writing. Warcraft never had it, and Diablo 3 is the worst offender of them all.

        In terms of structure, none of them are good, but in terms of dialogue, the older games at least were able to create some semblance of atmosphere. It felt like a proper game universe. Now, we’re stuck with dialogue and voice acting that I quite honestly think anyone commenting in this thread could have done better. I’m actually not joking right now. Every single person here are better writers than the dialogue writers at Blizzard past 2001.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s funny how game companies spend a ton of money on CGI and so on but skimp on comparatively cheap things like writing (sure, good writing is hard to come by but then writers are relatively poorly paid unless you’re JK Rowling). Unless having bad writing is a deliberate thing, and they’re trying to capture a market that wants this kind of stuff. My guess is that it’s more likely that the designers ride roughshod over the writers and define all the important parts of writing themselves (narrative, direction, probably even the individual story beats), and writing becomes an exercise in damage limitation, or just filling in the speech bubbles. Need to find that Twine game about game writing again.

      And yeah, Starcaft was never more than solid, but it did have its interesting moments (like the Kerrigan stuff), and it understood Warhammer 40K’s nihilism to some extent. Plus like other people I played Starcraft when I was quite young and Starcraft II when I was older, so that played a part in my response to it.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Apropos of… something, I’ve just finished reading CamelPimp’s let’s play of Lunar: Dragon Song, a highly anticipated game in a series praised for its writing, but one that turned in a script of its own that fell somewhere between unfortunate and execrable.

        The LP is an entertaining vivisection of all the things the game does wrong, but what’s more interesting (and in any way relevant) is the discussion that comes after, which detail the project’s troubled production. It seems the game was a genuine passion project for many of the people involved in it, and that diehard series fans from around the world were even brought in as consultants (unpaid, natch) to make sure important plot points and narrative themes were aligned with the series’ legacy (to say nothing of the fandom’s expectations).

        Some of said fans offer anecdotes that almost elevate the let’s play to a de facto post-mortem for the game. See, the developers were being so heavily pushed by Ubisoft, who were desperate to win the race to be the first RPG on the explosively popular Nintendo DS, and the pressures this created on plotting and gameplay alike were disastrous.

        The reasons for the writing and plot being as poor as they frequently end up is going to be different for every game, of course. But this little glimpse behind the scenes was fascinating to me, at least.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        There is a reason Hollywood has a billion writers for many of their blockbusters and I imagine it’s very, very similar with high budget computer games. Writers, being writers, usually strive for things like subtlety, depth, meaning, etc. But subtlety is what I’d emphasize the most.

        This might not be inherently opposed to studio’s desires, but is at best on the periphery of relevance and at worst in direct conflict. The studio wants things that make blockbuster a blockbuster – sexy scenes, huge explosions, fan favorite characters and/or actors hitting each other in the most spectacular way imaginable. And they want suspense. Big suspense. Huge suspense. Incredibly awesomely stupendous suspense. If you want masses of people to pay the admission ticket, why, nothing less than saving the world can do. That sort of stuff.

        Which is why TV is where most of the subtlety happens nowadays. And, possibly, indie games.

      • vlonk says:

        The problem with writing a good story is, that most writers iterate on their material until it shines like a diamond, sometimes making vast changes to streamline things etc. a group of writers also needs lots of time to meld their ideas into a coherent mass without loosing each writers personal creative contribution in the process. This is mostly also a process of endless iteration. That is why Futurama for instance wrote all episodes of a season at the same time, so they could push ALL good ideas into a nice spot somewhere without overloading a specific kind of clever bits/jokes. Most companies set deadlines that cannot allow this. Somewhere that shiny CGI Trailer with lip syncing needs to happen.

        The next problem ist flat out the corporate culture that limits creative work on the game. Happens in all big budget media companies.Here is a good Ted talk on the topic of Pixars workflow: link to ted.com

        So in Pixar an ANIMATOR can contribute to major plotpoints without running the idea up the ladder first. Just do it, see how it works. Present away. Get paid either way. This guy loves his job. He has a boss that enables creative processes instead of keeping everyone in line. This is btw. similar to Valves approach of working and might very well be the reason why their single player games are so dramatically better storywise then their competition. Of course this process is much slower than a streamlined sprint to finish a product. Faster to the market is better right?

        The sad thing here is, that good stories and art assets sell really really well. Hotline Miami lives off its beautiful music+art style, Bastion lives off its brilliant voice over and tone, etc. Indies get it. They produce passionate projects. Every teammember has a voice and can aim to realise his full potential etc. But starting at a certain size keeping this system productive is really really hard. It easily leads to a chaotic mess of unfocused overambition I call the Moly-mess. So most companies introduce a classic company hierarchy with which you can build a fine office programm, but you squander all your creative juices from your employees. Those companies put 1 guy in charge and he might be brilliant, but only for x hours a day. Unless he is Louis CK he cannot create more than X witty ideas per day either. And he will rule with authority and smack that creative writer guy away from HIS release schedule and budget planning. That CGI better be ready to present all the main characters 18 months in advance otherwise he really gets a problem with the advertisement department and so on…

  4. Kompatriartes says:

    SC2 has a solid story for what it is: a game aimed at teenagers. Would I like it to have been adult friendly? Yes, yes indeed. But there’s good sci-fi literature out there for that.

    • vlonk says:

      SC2 does not have a solid story good sir. They break some cardinal rules of story telling with the Kerrigan arch and in WoL they filled the empty spaces for their main characters with even more cliches. I think that has been discussed on RPS to hell and back. Also chitin stilettos and severe damage to the hips for the power+fashion addict Kerrigan.

    • Xocrates says:

      “It’s aimed at teenagers/kids/ whatever” is about one of the worst possible excuses for bad writing. All you’re saying is that you don’t respect that audience hard enough to care. I’m not saying that every story should be deep and complex , and explore serious themes, or whatever, but at the very least respect your audience.
      Heck, Pixar got where it is because it made smartly written kids movies.

      And for what is worth, I still think that a simple story told well is something videogames really should learn to do.

      But regarding SC2 specifically: Yes, it was bad, was it worse than the original? I would argue that it was, though I have my doubts regarding Brood War, which already became quite silly.
      That said, the only parts of WoL I really have a problem with, are the protoss missions, which is where they go full prophecy BS, and retcon stuff.
      HotS, I thought was more bearable because it was actually worse. It was such non-sense that my brain simply stopped trying to make sense of it, and focus on the (very enjoyable) mission at hand.

      • vlonk says:

        I should clarify: The Missions are great! Telling a story through the RTS missions enhanced manyfold! The tension works, the side missions are diverse, the achievement missions are sometimes hilarious. The RTS game itself is very enjoyable because of this. But the moment everything goes “to the bridge” where the story is told it becomes so flat, you can pitch a stone over it the way you would do it at a lake on a calm day.

    • Horg says:

      SC2 is a pretty poor example of a story aimed at teenagers. It falls into the same trap many authors do when writing work primarily for young people by making the content pants-on-head retarded rather than trying to engage the reader. An example of a good story aimed at young people would be one of my favorite childhood books, The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White. I read that many times from age 8 onwards, and can still enjoy it as an adult. It follows the standard of the famous Maxim Gorky quote: “You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.” It’s considered a childrens book because of clever use of language that lowers the entry level age barrier, but doesn’t patronise the reader. The story itself is well paced, gripping, consistent and fantastical, holding up no matter what age you first read it.

      The old Blizzard titles used to have that quality of writing. It was mostly simple but with enough depth in places to set it above the ordinary. The prose was accessible but not patronising. Characters were based on fairly standard fantasy derivatives, but held enough of their own personality to be compelling, and were well voiced. The settings were similar, mostly derivative but with enough unique Blizzard style to set it apart from the ordinary. SC2, and pretty much every Blizzard title post WoW (and the closure of Blizzard North) have non of those qualities. It would be more accurate to say that they are now writing AT young people, using whatever themes they think young audiences find engaging (memes, pop culture references, etc.), rather than writing FOR young people.

      A lot of words for something relatively trivial, I know, but the old Blizzard games meant a lot to me and writing quality is (ironically) something that’s very hard to qualify briefly.