StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review - The Grand Finale is disappointing
More than five years ago, Blizzard decided that the long-awaited second installment of StarCraft would be divided into three episodes. This decision aroused much controversy at that time, but it also had its supporters. Thanks to this solution, we were supposed to get three very complex campaigns, each of which would focus on one of the three available factions: terranes, zerg and protoss. With the launch of Legacy of the Void, we finally had the opportunity to see the culmination of the epic trilogy and see if extending the life of the second StarCraft for at least five years was a good idea.
The story presented in Legacy of the Void continues the story of the Heart of the Swarm expansion, but this time we follow the fate of the galaxy from the perspective of the protoss, namely Artanis, the Templar leader. During the first mission, our hero leads his troops to his home planet Aiur to recover it from the hands of the zerg. This is the beginning of an epic story in which we will meet many well-known heroes and try to stop the "big bad guy" from destroying the universe. Unfortunately. While the first part of the series focused primarily on the conflict of three alien races, each of which had different goals and beliefs, the story presented in Legacy of the Void is a well-known story about saving the world. You will not find here any ambiguous situations, difficult choices made by the heroes or original twists. The goal of our hero is to unite all the factions fighting with each other, because only together they can defeat the eternal evil that threatens the fate of the universe. Haven't we heard it somewhere else? World of WarCraft fans get to hear this story roughly every two years with the release of each expansion pack, and Diablo III doesn't deviate too far from this simple pattern. Delegating one person to supervise the scenarios of all Blizzard games was probably not the best decision of the Blizzard, because Chris Metzen - the man responsible for the story layer of all the company's titles - is slowly starting to copy himself.
Despite the painfully predictable and clichéd story, Legacy of the Void could appeal to people who like epic space operas. As for a strategy game, in this case we are dealing with a really large amount of dialogue, and well-made cutscenes appear both before and after each of the 25 missions. In addition, as in the two previous installments of the series, between the tasks we can talk to the crew members of our ship and get to know the history of the race we manage. Unfortunately, it is not without reason that I used the phrase "you might like" at the beginning. The Legacy of the Void scenario could be considered correct, if not for the fact that the dialogues and characters created by the developers are at a reprehensively low level. Their quality is reminiscent of C movies or very poor teen shows. Almost all discussions between the characters are filled with comical pathos, which after a few hours ceases to be funny and begins to evoke an irresistible need to turn off the sound on the computer. Surprisingly, the game also tries to tackle some more interesting topics, such as the problem of clone awareness or the coexistence of different nations. Unfortunately, all these issues are dealt with quickly and smoothly by the hero Artanis, always having a simple solution that everyone agrees with. If you plan to play Legacy of the Void solely for the story, I recommend you be extremely careful. Reading a few spoilers can turn out to be a faster and less painful experience.
Fortunately, the new StarCraft is not a movie or book where the story is what matters most. In this case, equally important, if not the most important, is the gameplay, which is at a much higher level. The missions available in the campaign are inventive and varied. They have been planned so that the player does not get bored and has to alternately defend, attack or explore the map with a small unit of units. The game is also diversified by additional objectives and side achievements that can be completed in each mission. They force the user to play a bit more aggressively and combine more.
However, we already knew all the elements described above from the previous installments of the series. What is new, however, are the extensive trees of troops and the capabilities of our ship. The first tree allows you to modify each of the available units in a very significant way. We can, among others make zealots' attacks be area of effect and colossus lasers leave a wall of fire behind. Fans of the first StarCraft will also be pleased to be able to turn the trackers into iconic dragons, or the colossus into a caterpillar-shaped ripper. Similar modifications have already appeared in Heart of the Swarm , but this time there are more of them, they are much more important and, above all, we can change our decisions before starting each mission. Especially on higher difficulty levels, the ability to freely modify our army is a lot of fun and is of great importance. But that's not all. A completely new feature are the abilities of our ship in orbit, which we can use repeatedly during tasks. They allow you to quickly place a pylon on the area discovered by us, carry out an orbit attack or immobilize all enemy units for a short period of time. As in the case of modifying units, the selection of abilities depends on us and we decide which ones will be most useful to us during the task ahead. The large number of decisions we can make before each mission is definitely an advantage of the latest StarCraft .
The carefully designed missions have their advantages, but unfortunately significantly limit the user's freedom and the possibility of tactical planning. It is difficult to predict enemy moves if they are completely independent of the rules of the game that apply to the player himself. It would not be a problem if there were several such missions, and unfortunately each of the 25 maps was planned this way. The new StarCraft forces you to follow one right scenario, and any deviation is mostly severely punished. However, it also works the other way around. The more detailed your opponent's movements are planned, the easier it is to trick him by taking advantage of all sorts of gaps. In the case of Legacy of the Void, such a vulnerability is the lack of a time limit. Most of the missions do not require any haste, so after creating the appropriate defense, we can produce the maximum number of units unlocked on a given map (they are usually the strongest) and easily defeat each opponent. This becomes especially absurd after unlocking Void Rays. An army composed only of these units becomes an impassable barrier for the computer opponent.
The new StarCraft is not only a campaign, but most of all a multiplayer mode, and we will find a lot of changes, improvements and additions in it. First of all - only "meat", i.e. one-on-one games. If anyone had the opportunity to see them during the beta test - there is no big surprise, but if you are just now launching Blizzard's strategy ... Prepare for a small shock. Probably the most important aspect of the pace of the game is to significantly increase the initial number of workers - thanks to this, from the very first seconds we have solid economic strength, which is enough to create the beginning of an army. Until now, most of the openings for each of the three available races were essentially the same - and the first two or three minutes were just the same. From now on, this problem disappears and, practically from the very beginning, we can start building, instead of summoning new waves of workers. This works perfectly and significantly increases our capabilities, and in combination with new units they simply increase the pool of available tactics.
Exactly - new units. How often they will be used by players is hard to say right now, but you have to give them credit for the fact that they are designed to fill a gap in each race. Personally, I have always spent the most time with protoss, and although I did not like the adept completely, I fell in love with the destabilizer at first sight. We received a total of six new "soldiers" (two for zerg, terran and protoss) and this, of course, also contributes to the deepening of the existing army compositions, which may turn out to be an impassable barrier for new players. StarCraf t has always had a relatively high entry threshold, and the ceiling with Legacy of the Void has increased further, but ... fortunately, novices are not doomed to learn everything on their own. The two new modes make it much easier to master the basics in a relatively "mild" atmosphere than before. Of course, I am talking about the archon mode and the so-called Allied Commanders. In the first one, we join forces with a friend and together control the same base - one person can, for example, focus on economic development, while the other on creating and improving the army. Playing this way allows you to gradually implement all aspects of the game with someone more experienced at your side, and this option will certainly appeal to those who take their first steps in the field of RTS.
The second mode, in turn, focuses on cooperation. By creating a team of two with another player, we are thrown on a selected map on which we are to perform a specific task - e.g. not allowing ships to fly or defeating a certain number of opponents. We can choose a total of six characters that we play during the game - they are simply recognizable heroes that we encountered during the campaign. Each of them has unique skills that allow easier and more comfortable playing with a given race. Of course, we don't get all of them right away - our leaders will gradually advance with each match, becoming more powerful with their armies. The challenges faced by players often require close cooperation (especially on a brutal level, they cannot all be done alone) and are quite varied, although they have one serious problem - they are relatively few. Due to the fact that the challenges are practically the same every time, the Allied Commanders will just get bored after a few hours of playing. Let's hope that in the future Blizzard will expand the pool of heroes and tasks, because the mode has a lot of potential, though not fully used.
It's hard to talk about balance in multiplayer games yet, because it's been a short time since the premiere and it will certainly be changed in the upcoming patches, but the opinions of most players are rather positive. Whether the game will attract new players and keep veterans long, we'll see in the coming months. One factor that can contribute to this is certainly the automated tournaments. They appear at regular intervals and can be played by players of all experience levels. However, you do not have to worry that in the first match we will encounter a player with several thousand hours on his neck. The matchmaking system is still in place in tournaments, so everyone should play against rivals of the same skill level. This is certainly an interesting variation to the slow climb in the ranking.