Let’s get Raynor to rhumble: StarCraft 2 launches free version

Blizzard have released a big free version of sci-fi real-time strategy game StarCraft II, offering one full singleplayer campaign along with all the multiplayer. This launched overnight, available now if you sign up for Battle.net and download its client doodad. The free version contains the campaign from 2010’s Wings of Liberty–the one focused on humans–plus bot battles and online competitive, casual, and co-op action. That’s a fair chunk of clicking for free. A big ol’ SC2 patch has launched alongside this for all players too.

So! Wings of Liberty. It’s a fun campaign with a lot twists on click-click-killing, bending standard RTS ‘build then murder’ goals with some unique objectives and units. These missions are unfortunately bookended by a story that’s total gash with tedious characters and bad dialogue. But that’s fine: the clicking is fun. I enjoyed that clicking.

On the multiplayer side, expect unranked play, AI battles, the cooperative missions with full access to three heroes then restrictions on the rest, the Arcade mod section (which has been free for ages, mind), and ranked competitive play after you meet certain conditions. To unlock ranked, players need to buy an expansion or a ‘war chest’ bundle of cosmetic bits, or win ten unranked or AI matches across ten different days. That’s to stop cheaters, harassers, smurfs, and other rogues from creating loads of new accounts to continue their shenanigans.

The competitive ladders from the three SC2s–Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void–have now been rolled into one, as part of Update 4.0 launching with this free version, so all players are playing against each other on the same warplaying field.

Update 4.0 is a biggun, bringing a new co-op mission (the winner of a contest), the start of a new ladder season, and some big balance changes. These include remaking the Raven (again) and entirely removing the Mothership Core, as well as tweaking many other units. Hit the patch notes for full details on everything.

Oh, and do remember that Blizzard are currently giving the Zerg campaign Heart of the Swarm away free to everyone who owned Wings of Liberty on October 31st. You’ve got until December 8th to log into the Battle.net client and redeem that. I’ve started playing Swarm myself and, yeah, I have enjoyed some of the campaign clickmurders. The story is terrible again but I do have a soft spot for Abathur, the fella who likes mucking about with Zerg DNA to make us better murderers.

Everyone who owned any SC2 before October 31st get a special Ghost skin and some profile portraits too. Sure.


  1. Premium User Badge

    keithzg says:

    Hmm I suppose I should finish the third part’s storyline sometime. But as much as I like Space Nonsense, man, the Nonsense quotient was just a bit too much.

    • GernauMorat says:

      Yeah, it got to the point where I felt embarrassed to be playing it. Like, if someone had come over and asked me what I was doing I would probably have rather said I was browsing porn. The plot is just so aggressively, sub saturday morning cartoon dumb.

      • dontnormally says:

        The Protoss especially are so over-the-top pompous about their incredible dumbness of plot.

  2. Gothnak says:

    Yay, time to play SC2…

    I’ve never wanted to play this MP, and it always seemed the SP in the game was pretty small for the large price tag. Tbh, they could have just released all the SP for £10 and i would have bought it.

    I still see that the full SP campaign is £34.99 for a 7 year old game with DLCs… :(.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      That’s £35 now for a game that was originally released as three £35 launches, plus a £12 DLC pack

      That doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me, especially as it’s still getting regular support, balancing and new co-op missions/characters, although the characters are admittedly semi-premium.

      • Gothnak says:

        But look at the pricing structure compared to something like Crusader Kings.

        The base game has never (as far as i’m aware) been under £30. You don’t tend to try out a game at that price, you buy it on day 1 or not at all. I would have paid £10 for the base game, and if liked it, i’d pay £10 for each add on, not having to commit £35 in one go, not knowing whether i like it. At least now i can see how long a SP campaign is and whether the amount of content in the £35 drop is worth it.

        • Nauallis says:

          Yes, compare Starcraft 2 to a game released in 2004 from an unrelated genre, that seems rational and reasonable.

          • Gothnak says:

            My heartfelt apologies, i meant CK2.. Which was 2 years apart from SC, and both are RTS’s, but different.

            Anyway, feel free to pick any other (Non Blizzard Game) that is £34.99 7 years after it came out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      “I still see that the full SP campaign is £34.99 for a 7 year old game with DLCs… :(.”

      Well yeah, but there is A LOT of game there.
      And, this is of course just my personal opinion, well worth it.

      Let me elaborate:
      The missions are challenging and varied, mostly pretty short as well so you get a taste of that “just one more mission” craving.

      You can customize your army in all three games and it’s just comprehensive enough to give you a sense of ownership and care over the troops at your disposal.
      The mechanic has unique twists in each title.

      In Wings of Liberty you need to earn the right to buy different units, which you can enhance by researching upgrades for.
      You can also hire different special limited mercenary units.

      In Heart of the Swarm you need to choose between two different mutations for each unit, you even get to try them out in short missions before you make your choice.
      You also get to upgrade Kerrigan with different abilities.

      Finally in …errr “Something” of The Void you gain access to two-three different versions of each unit and you can swap them out freely between missions. Giving you a great sense of freedom but also kind of “cheapening” the sense of ownership of your army a little bit.
      You also get to upgrade your ship with passive army buffs and targeted offensive and support abilites.

      The story is, well, let’s say flat.
      The characters doubly so.
      But the cutscenes look spectacular at least.

      I only played Starcraft 2 for the singleplayer, I’m weid like that, and I highly recommend it.
      Not just to those who like RTS games, everyone should try it now that the first game is free.

      • Gothnak says:

        Obviously i’m going to try out the free campaign, how long would you say that is compared to all the SP stuff you get for £35? Then i can determine if money for content is good enough. :)

        • Herring says:

          All 3 campaigns are roughly the same length FWIR. So the WOL one (you get for free) == HOTS campaign (which you get for free if you had WOL already) == LOTV campaign.

          I preferred HOTS but that’s because Zerg are clearly the best race.

          • Gothnak says:

            Cool, thanks, but it’s the Protoss. Well, when i used to play SC1 with friends in the office many moons ago.

      • waltC says:

        Nothing weird at all about preferring single-play. I have no appetite for multiplayer–my social life is active and abundant–and when I play I enjoy the solitude…;) Very relaxing. I bought this game when it shipped originally–and yes, I overpaid for it at the time–although here I am seven years later and it’s still being supported and expanded. Few games do as much for as long, unfortunately. Only problem is that it seems like everything at Blizzard gets WoW-ified, if you know what I mean. It all begins to look like content for kiddies under 12…;) I owned the original WoW, too, back when Blizzard made single player games that didn’t require the Internet. Seems like Blizzard has given up much in its bid to become the lowest common denominator in computer gaming. Such a shame, too.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I didn’t think the story was that dumb. I mean it’s basically a comic book western in space.

    I mean sure that’s dumb. But it’s dumb in a particular style that can be quite fun.

    • Vandelay says:

      The problem isn’t so much that it is dumb, that is absolutely fine. The main issue is that Blizzard seem to have missed the memo that it was dumb. There is always this sense that they for some reason believe that people care about the nonsense.

      I finally got around to picking up Legacy of the Void the other day and this goes doubly so with the pompous Protoss.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Well sure, but I meant the human campaign. The particular part that comes to mind is Raynor and Tychus having a big throwdown fight in the bar, ending with the fabulously macho statement of Raynor just pinning Tychus and say “I don’t want to have this discussion again.”

        Come on, it’s pure western-space-comics gold!

  4. Evan_ says:

    I’m happy for the free multiplayer. Back in the LAN days SC was the game where my buddies who were better were unbeatable, while my worse buddies gave absolutely no challenge.

    Can’t wait to play under a modern matchmaking that’ll grant me challenging rounds on my low-mediocre level, and the usual 50%~ish winrate.

    • Herring says:

      The matchmaking is brilliant. I got into laddering in HOTS, went in at Silver, dipped to Bronze and got up to Diamond (with the occasional demotion on the way) and I think my final W/L rate was something like 54%.

  5. Movac says:

    So you’re telling me I can play the first episode for free, but I need to buy the game if I want to play the second and third episodes? And the first episode is the best one anyway? Shareware’s back, baby!

    • Oasx says:

      The first episode is the worst one, they get increasingly better.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        You literally could not be more wrong.

        • Nevard says:

          I think they are pretty correct.
          The writing gets steadily worse but pretty much everything else gets steadily better.

  6. Vacuity729 says:

    I’m horrified to admit this, Alice, but I know exactly what that title references. I believe I recorded it off the radio onto a cassette tape. The horror!