Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm BlizzCon Units Update (Detailed)October 23rd, 2011 by James | This article was viewed 3,141 times.
We are extremely excited about Blizzard’s BlizzCon 2011 held this weekend in Anaheim. There are a tonne of updates and shows but the main highlight of the conference was updates for World of Warcraft, Diablo III Black Soul Stone and Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm (HotS). In this article we will cover all the new unit releases in Heart of the Swarm and the new updates to some of the original units from Wings of Liberty.
First up, the new units in Heart of the Swarm; the main idea of the new units in HotS is to bring in more strategy and more options to the already dynamic game play of Starcraft II. To do that, Dustin Browder and David Kim has introduced two new units for Terran, three for Protoss and two new units for Zerg, and of course a lot more upgrades.
According to Blizzard, Terran used to have problems with Thors unable to deal with early Mutalisks on time and late game charge Zealots. With that in mind, they introduced:
- Hellion mech upgrade
This is basically a Hellion that transforms into a mechanical robot that has increased hit point and is used as a tank for your fragile army. The reason for this upgrade was to negate the need to micro Hellions around to kill charge Zealots during late game and to give Terran army a proper tank that can soak up damage.
A new mech unit that can be built faster than the Thor, moves faster and deals more AoE splash damage on air units, also used as an anti ground mech unit (7 range). Used to deal with Zerg Mutalisks and Protoss mechanical units. Not very effective vs light units.
Terran radiation robot, a standalone unit that is used to kill opponent units, it has a safety feature that deactivates itself when an ally unit is close by. Blizzard wants to reduce the death ball play style of Terran, so they have introduced this unit as a harassment, containment and defensive purposes. Imagine a couple of these robots in your opponent’s mineral line. Note: damage of the Shredder does not overlap.
- Uber Thor (~Odin)
The Terran uber unit, A-attack friendly and created to cater for players who loves the Mothership kind of units. Both Armory and Fusion Core is needed for this unit. Only can be built once, like the redundant Mothership.
- Ghost Cloak Cost
Fixed energy cost for a fixed period of time.
- Reaper Health Regeneration
Works outside of battle, I assume something like Protoss shield regeneration.
- Disabled Reaper special building attack
With the new health regeneration, Blizzard has decided to remove the building attack on Reapers to balance the unit.
- Battlecruiser Redline Reachtor ability (Speed Boost)
Basically allows Battlecruisers to move faster into or out from a battle.
Protoss seems to be a good all-around race, however they still suffer from a few weaknesses such as the lack of harassing unit and a really good anti-air vs. mass Mutalisks during the late game. So in the Heart of the Swarm, they have introduced a few units to fix that.
To replace the Carrier, Blizzard have introduced Tempest, Protoss’ new capital ship. It has MASSIVE air splash damage and a lightning ground attack.
As the name suggest, this unit copies any of your opponent’s unit and does nothing else. It costs 200 mineral and 200 gas, the fun part is that it enables all the upgrade for the unit you copy. For eg. If you copy an infestor, you get burrow, Fungal Growth and Neural Parasite upgrade. I do not know how the professional players will use this unit, but it is a unit still under construction.
A spell-caster harassment unit that can cast Phase Shift (a stronger version of Contaminate) to disables anti-air buildings, disables upgrade and disables technology provided by the building (Hydralisk becomes not available once the Hydralisk Den is Phase Shifted). The second skill is Entomb that is used to create a tomb around minerals and prevent workers from mining. Oracle’s Preordain skill enables Protoss to have vision on the opponent’s building and know what it is upgrading. Finally a scouting tool for Protoss.
David Kim explains that all harassment units are circled around how fast they can kill workers in the mineral line, so the new Oracle will be worker friendly and can be used anytime in the game to gain an advantage.
- Nexus Arc Shield Ability
Basically allows the Nexus to transform a building into something like a Photon Canon to defend from Terran drops. Building gains extra armour and deals damage to light units.
- Nexus Mass Recall Ability
With the Mothership out of the picture, the Nexus now has the Recall ability. I wonder if if they should implement the Blackhole ability somewhere.
- Mothership is removed
For Zerg, its main problem was the lack of surround on enemy units and the lack of playing styles available.
- Ultralisk Burrow Charge ability
This upgrade allows the Ultralisk to burrow underground and pops up under a death ball and start dealing damage. I have a feeling the cooldown will be like the Zealot Charge ability.
A new spell caster unit. Has detection, Blinding Cloud, Abduct and Ocular Parasite ability. The Blinding Cloud ability works like Dark Swarm in BroodWar, but a little different. Instead of reducing damage, it reduces the range of any ranged unit within the cloud to one. The Abduct ability allows the Viper to pull enemy units from a range and then your army can snipe it when it is out of position. Ocular Parasite gives the Viper a one time ability to detach its detector eyes and give it to any friendly and non-massive unit. Why it must be non-massive is totally out of of my understanding.
- Swarm Host
Zerg’s slow artillery unit created to apply head on pressure like the Siege Tank. It does not attack while on the surface, but while burrowed Swarm Host spawns out melee units called Locusts and attacks to a set rally point.
- Baneling Burrow Movement
An upgrade that allows Banelings to move underground like roaches. Upgrade requires a Hive.
- Hydralisk Speed Upgrade
Basically a movement speed upgrade for Hydralisks. A much needed upgrade considering Hydras becomes a terrible unit when they move out of creep.
- Corruptor Siphon Ability
Siphon is a new ability that replaces Corruption. It is an ability that allows Corruptors to attach itself to enemy building and deal damage to the building while siphoning resources from them.
- Overseer is removed
Also they have released many of the unit evolutions in campaign, especially the Swarmling and the Raptor. Unfortunately they will change the dynamics of multiplayer significantly so they are not added into the multiplayer.
Blizzard’s aim in the Heart of the Swarm is to allow the creation of more new strategies and different match ups for the Starcraft II players. Their biggest fear would be the Replicant unit in the Protoss arsenal, which could cause opponents to stop building a certain unit entirely so that it does not get copied by the Replicant. Also with the new Viper unit in the Zerg swarm as the only movable detector, it will be extremely tough to properly balance the unit. Also, the Shredder could be a very tough unit to deal with when it is used against a lesser player (wood league and below), however Blizzard might fix it by adding sounds or making the deploy time longer. The latter sounds like a better idea in my opinion.
As for whether major tournaments will port to the new Heart of the Swarm or stay with Wings of Liberty or not, it is totally up to the tournament organizer to decide if they want to stay with Wings of Liberty of switch to Heart of the Swarm.
All in all, the new Starcraft II expansion is far from balanced. The panel expects the game to be played enough so that positive feedback can be attained in order to adjusts every units accordingly. So expect major balance changes in the upcoming HotS patch.
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