news\ Oct 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Blizzcon; Notes from the Starcraft 2 Multiplayer Panel


Starcraft 2 develpers Dustin Browder, David Kim and Josh Menke took the opportunity to talk about the state of balance in Starcraft 2 and the new multiplayer units for Heart of the Swarm on the Panel Discussion stage earlier this evening at Blizzcon.

Browder started off discussion with a look at current balance in Wings of Luberty from global data and tournament results. For the most part, according to data, most matchups were fairly even with the notable exception like Master's level Zerg vs Protoss favoring Zerg on the EU ladder and the Terrans absolutely dominating GSL Code S in tournament play.

The team has been keeping a close eye on the state of balance after 1.4, especially in the Terran vs. Protoss matchup, particularly trying to nerf the 1/1/1 build, among other things. The increase to range on immortals has helped, but they are still considering a (well desrved) nerf to EMP's range, among other things, to further improve balance.

Of course, with the coming expansion things are going to get shaken up quite alot. This gives the team the opportunity to introduce new units and of course, change thigns about the overall race design they were not satisfied with. Browder took a moment to note that the game is a work in progress and that they still need to go through the open beta phase, and nothing at this point is final.

Here's an in depth look at what the developer's feel the issues effecting current play are, as well as a more indepth look at the new units than our earlier article;


    Issues and weaknesses
        Thor is too slow and clumsy
        Race has difficulties in handling mass zealots in late game
    New units and abilities
        New "battle mode" for hellion - transforms like a viking
            Battle mode hellion has more hit points, moves more slowly
            Shorter, wider arc on flame attack, and stronger
            Gives terran a beefy front-line fighter in the late game
            Smaller, more nimble version of Thor
            Effective anti-mech ground weapon to help break siege tank lines
            Anti-air attack with splash damage
            Robot that emits channeled, area of effect damage when immobilized
            Damage automatically shuts off when an ally moves into range
            Gives terran cheap zone control, but can't be used near main army
            Is still very work-in-progress
            Moved to late game, more hit points and damage
            Can only have one, like mothership from Wings of Liberty


    Issues and weaknesses
        Mid-game difficulties with siege and controlling areas
        Missed opportunities with certain units like ultralisk and corruptor
    New units and abilities
            Existing version is bulky and has difficulties engaging in battle
            New burrow charge ability lets it dive underground and get into the fight easily
            New caster unit with detection -- replaces overseer
            Has abilities like blinding cloud to help break entrenched positions
            Abduct ability allows it to pull units to itself -- pull siege tanks or colossus out of death balls
        Swarm host
            Zerg artillery for map control and siege
            Burrows into the ground, and continuously generates small creatures to attack
            Feels very zerg-y


    Issues and weaknesses
        Needs more raiding options
        Needs area of effect, anti-air attacks
    New units and abilities
            New protoss capital ship, replaces carrier
            Anti-air splash damage for mutalisks and other aircraft
            Has direct air-to-ground attack as well that isn't splash
        Special unit that can clone itself into any non-massive unit
        Allows protoss to also take siege tanks or infestors from enemies
        Is very expensive
        Still very much a work-in-progress, not-final unit
        Caster unit used for raiding and harassment
        Can disable enemy structures, or prevent miningwith its abilities
        Doesn't actually kill or damage anything
        Mothership is cut in favor of this unit

Some other interesting changes that are being looked at right now have been glazed over;


Reapers will be able to regenerate outside of combat, yet lose their ability to attack buildings.

Battlecrusiers will get a new cooldown based ability for a speed boost, allowing them to jump into fights more easily.


Banelings will be able to move underground, via a Lair upgrade

Hydralisks get a speed upgrade off-creep movement

Corruptors gain a new spell; Siphon. Usable on buildings - while buildings are Siphoned, Zerg player gains minerals for each damage.


New abilities for the Nexus; Mass Recall, acts like Town Portal from Warcraft 3, allowing your army to quickly return to base from battle. The other is a defensive ability that turns any building into a weapon similar to a proton cannon, while regenerating shields.

Dustin Steiner is GameZone's eSports Correspondent! Follow him on Twitter @SteinerDustin


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Dustin Steiner Former GameZone's eSports Correspondent.
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