StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm — Insider Insights on Release Dates, New Units & MMO (Updated)

UPDATE: Our source asserted that there will be a StarCraft MMO. This is not speculation on our part. Author speculation is only inserted regarding Kerrigan’s customizable appearance.

Two days ago, I had the opportunity to speak with an industry insider who attended the recent invite-only press event at Blizzard Entertainment headquarters, where they played a build of the upcoming StarCraft 2 expansion, Heart of the Swarm. They shared with me their thoughts and predictions based on this press event and years of insider experience.

Here are the highlights of our discussion.

Overall Impressions

Play time was limited to ensure everyone had an opportunity to try out Heart of the Swarm, and only the singleplayer campaign was available. Although not enough play time was logged to pass judgment, the fact that HotS cannot fall back on its largely unchanged multiplayer component to bring in sales guarantees the singleplayer campaign will surpass in quality that of Wings of Liberty.

Units

It’s a safe bet that familiar SC1 units, such as the Lurker and the Scourge, will be playable in the singleplayer campaign. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Defiler returned, considering the Science Vessel — the Terran’s counterpart to the Defiler — floated its way into Wings of Liberty.

HotS will include new multiplayer units as well, but not necessarily for every race. Terran, the race with (presently) the most units, will likely receive new upgrades instead, and the same may hold true for Protoss, who would have to wait for the second expansion, Legacy of the Void, for its new units.

Release Date

Heart of the Swarm won’t be hitting shelves any time soon. Work on the campaign hasn’t finished, let alone the lengthy playtesting process needed to ensure game balance.

Based on experience playing early builds of Wings of Liberty, HotS should be released in 1.5 to 2 years. The expansion appears to presently be at the same development stage WoL was 3 years prior to release. A shorter timeframe is expected for HotS because, unlike its predecessor, the game isn’t being built from the ground up.

StarCraft MMO

There will be a StarCraft MMO. No, it’s not Project Titan.

As evidenced by its adoption of a subscription service for the Call of Duty franchise, Activision Blizzard is, and I quote my source, “committed to enhancing shareholder value through residual monthly fees.”

Given the popularity of the StarCraft universe, the immediate reaction to the World of StarCraft mod, and factoring in an aging World of Warcraft, Blizzard has been put into a position where an SC MMO would be too financially lucrative to pass up.

Nova

There will be some storyline continuity between Wings of Liberty and HotS with respect to the player’s decision to side with Nova or Tosh, but this previous decision won’t affect the game’s main plot.

Nova plays a larger role in HotS than she did in WoL. She is solidly allied with humanity — and by extension, Mengsk. However, her loyalty is to humanity.

Rogue psionics, like Kerrigan, are a threat to the Terran race, so you can expect Nova to play an antagonistic role — at least initially.

Kerrigan

At the start of HotS, Kerrigan has no clear recollection of what transpired while she was the Queen of Blades — she has only ephemeral, fragmented memories. She is a clean slate, a tabula rasa.

But that doesn’t mean she’ll be easily swayed to the side of “good.” Although Kerrigan plays the role of protagonist, she is by no means a “good guy” — she never will be. Her past has made her too complex of a character to be pigeon-holed into a binary world view.

A lot of flak is being thrown around about Kerrigan’s new appearance. When I first saw the screenshots, something felt off about her look to me, and I think I’ve nailed down what it is.

Blizzard character design has always incorporated visually interesting silhouettes. See these three StarCraft characters:

Each of these silhouettes invokes a concept: power, agility, viciousness. Even Nova, in her sleek ghost armor, has definition to her silhouette. Kerrigan’s present silhouette — essentially that of a nude woman — invokes simplicity. It’s a blank canvas, the naked body concept artists build upon. Her silhouette represents the “tabula rasa” concept discussed above.

But would Blizzard have us play through 20 missions with such a visually simple character?

In Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan is a hero unit that will grow in power throughout the campaign, unlocking new abilities in an RPG-like manner. We’ve observed that just about every upgradable Zerg unit in Wings of Liberty and HotS receives a makeover along with its upgrade, a visual representation of its enhanced abilities.

Will Kerrigan undergo a visual evolution throughout the campaign?

More to the point, will we be able to customize our Kerrigan’s appearance?

If we upgrade her Corruption battle focus, will she regrow her “wings?” If we focus on Spec Ops, will she obtain better Terran armor?

The fan base is split between her Queen of Blades and Sarah Kerrigan appearance — will this be Blizzard’s way of pleasing everyone?

Only time will tell; but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s to trust in Blizzard.

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43 Comments on StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm — Insider Insights on Release Dates, New Units & MMO (Updated)

VodkaChill

On June 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

Seriously… 1.5 to 2 years?
Interviews had Blizzard wishing for a winter 2011 release. That means they want to release Public Beta at least 4-6 months prior (like WoL). Knowing Blizzard, they will obviously push it back to polish the game.

I say 1 year tops. Beta will likely be out before 2012.

Units: I don’t like the idea of no new units for certain races. 1 Unit per race per expansion will make it has difficult as balancing BroodWar back in the days. But 1 unit per race will be a huge deception for some people.

MMO: I surely hope there is no MMO, because it will make me stop playing SC2 and that would be really sad. Especially with all the money an MMO costs. My god…

There are other points I don’t like in the article, still I respect the opinion and the writer.

One thing I do really agree with is to trust Blizzard. They made some shady announcement with WoL, but at the end of the day they delivered with style.

Luther

On June 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I have learned to not trust blizzard, Back in the day they made affordable game with excellent graphics and gameplay, Now there motto is Money, Money, Oo I Need Yo Money.

Blizzard has taking the idea of charging people for everything too far.

Anyways I used to be a die hard fan but I refuse to buy another blizzard product now.

uvo

On June 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm

If Blizzard is just now starting to consider a SC MMO then it will be at least 5 years before it’s released, if not longer. You don’t make a MMO overnight.

Titan has been in development for 4 years already and probably still has at least another 2 or 3 until it’s released so if they are just starting on a SC MMO now it’s going to be a LONG time before we see anything.

jojo

On June 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

blizzard one game at a time please

really?

On June 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm

*sigh* i see anyone who can type is allowed to publish an article. horray blog sphere!

this article is absolutely speculative garbage.

HotS will be out in 6-9 months.
There will be no SC2 MMO
Each Race will get new units with HotS, new units won’t be “witheheld” for protoss until LotV.
If blizzard was looking to ring every penny they could out of us, we’d have paid name changes by nwo, which is “coming soon” for about 6 months now. We’d have the marketpalce now, which was adversisted 1–2 years before launch. We’d have paid portaits, in game decals, and unit skins.

but whatever, enjoy the tin foil hats.

Stop writing please

On June 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Dear Author,
Never write another article ever again.
Blizzard has said that they wouldn’t make a StarCraft MMO and that their new MMO would be based on something completely new. Considering that they haven’t even released the second part of StarCraft 2 yet I seriously doubt that they would have a StarCraft MMO in production. Your speculation on the release date is again, pure speculation, 1.5-2 years is how Blizzard takes to come out with a World of Warcraft expansion, Heart of the Swarm will be out in less then a year because they have been working on it since the released of Wings of Liberty. You obviously don’t know anything about Blizzard and how they operate, this whole article looks like it has been written by a kid who started playing World of Warcraft during Wrath of the Lich King and now you think you know all about Blizzard.
Sincerely,
A person who thinks you should never write another article again.

dogshit

On June 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

do you actually know anything? “insider insights” lol

Athene

On June 9, 2011 at 6:55 am

VodkaChill.. Just because Blizzard releases a new game that’s an MMO based around StarCraft doesn’t mean you have to pay for it or stop playing. StarCraft 2 itself will remain the same, while people will get to experience a new world, similar to World of Warcraft, that allows you to get the lore of StarCraft, which in my opinion, surpassed the lore of World of Warcraft.

Athene

On June 9, 2011 at 6:58 am

Also, really?, they really DO let anyone post, apparently you claim to know more about – and contradict – everything in this article from someone who has actually taken a look at the game, went to blizzcon and talked to Blizzard officials. If anyone needs to take of their tin foil hat, it’s you. You’re an who thinks that by saying everything else is wrong, you will get attention and respect, (in italics) over the internet. (end italics). Please never express your opinion in any way ever again.

B1Fr0s7

On June 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

Personally I do not think the person who wrote the article has any deeper thoughts than those of which he wishes to be true about the game.Blizzard had to make a whole new game from scratch which ofcourse took a lot of time but considering they have the basics now and expansion is simply nothing as a factor of time.Like in wow an expansion is only an year worth of simplistic thinking and adding some new doodads.But considering the formidable interest in the SC lore blizzard wish to e it up a bit to make it more interesting , and yes they try to make the game more int for us so we like it more than anything which is their way of making sure it’s sold by the millions but in the end we do get an amazing game and I guess we shouldn’t make arguements of the sort “blizzard pls add lurker” because it’s really not up to us and if we did have a matter in the point considering how everyone wants a different thing in the game it wont be worth anything in the end.

B1Fr0s7

On June 9, 2011 at 10:23 am

On another point I really like to mention that “Stop writing please” has a point about the MMO which Blizzard inted to make is about a whole different world which would be based either on the original Blizzard game Lost Viking or it will have a whole different lore and we are too far away from speculating if a SC MMO is to come anytime soon as well not to mention the fact we are probably half an year or more from seeing the 2nd expansion not to mention the 3rd.Where would Blizzard get so many teams to make both WoW expansions / Diablo 3 / SC 2 expansions and WC3 update team….

TurboS2000

On June 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Blogs…. I’ve only posted in them a few times ever. The writer here is clearly a moron, he writes as though he’s being questioned from the start of the article. That said, I gather there’s reason to question him. That aside common sense points to those bashing him as being correct. In terms of his “opinions” as well as game development periods etc.

qasan

On June 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm

One reason a SC MMO will be hard is that their will have to be 3 or 4 sides( zerg terran protoss and mabye, but probably not, hybrids in the unlikely event that their will be one) and the fact that no one will play as zerg for obvious reasons. Most of the people that would play would be playing as protoss, and that terran will be ALL ranged units, with no versatility.

Jeff

On June 22, 2011 at 6:21 am

this is kinda stupid but

JUST FRIGGIN` RELEASE HotS ASAP!!!!!

Tanner

On June 22, 2011 at 7:31 am

ahh, if its a MMO the4re is no way im getting this. Even though i really want it.

Divvy

On June 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

The new units in Hots are. Zerg will get the devour and the luraker.Terrence can now build a medic from the barracks .protoss will get the dark archon by morphing two dark Templars . And you can have more than One mothership.

Loki276

On June 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm

i guess this means next edition of SC in 5 years, christ

tommi

On June 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm

it was an ok read. you should consider taking out the starcraft mmo speculation regardless of whether or not its your opinion or your “source’s,” because the idea is ridiculous. as pointed out below, a sc mmo would take another 6 years and blizzard already has their hands full with titan, d3 and more sc expansions

Leo

On June 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

hell, why cant blizzard push out starcraft 2 and its expansions at the same time, its like lord of the rings all over again. 3 dame years just to catch a story.

michael

On July 3, 2011 at 9:28 pm

blizzard is not that stupid to release it in 1.5 to 2 years they even said after they release it they whould update it so it should get released in about at the most 1 to 6 months at least thats beter then 1.5 years right?

Jesse

On July 11, 2011 at 1:58 am

well i dont MIND blizzard for pushing it back as long as they deliver like they have done for the past decade.

murdrax

On July 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

ive beat the starcraft 2 campaign twice have it uninstalled right now . thou8hg when i learn of an actual realese date i know for fact ill reinstall it again beat it again to resfresh my memory for start of new game i cant wait!!

chris

On July 20, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I think it is also likely that Blizzard will make a SC MMO. They not only want to keep the money coming in, but diversifying a portfolio of games isn’t a bad move. It is a great move if shareholders or investors don’t see promise and need reassurance that Blizzard is growing rather than shrinking.

SC Universe could also potentially boost sales of SC 2.

The real question is can Blizzard continue to renovate WoW into a more modern looking game with better textures, better graphics, and other updated tech by the next expansion? I think that they would have to be nuts to not want to work on WoW to make it a great game even five more years down the road.

We can also hope that Titan really is this amazing game they claim it is. I don’t recall this team ever working on a FPS before, but hopefully they can pull it off.

BCeagle

On August 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm

… i cant even begin to explain how pissied i am that true sc fans would even begin to think that sc would ever become a MMO first off sc has NEVER been a MMO and would it make any sence at all to make the acuall sc 2 free then make the expasion game a MMO. sc has always been my favorite game with a GREAT story line, awsome units to command and rule the battle field with, and always at a resanable price. from sc 1 to wings of liberty this game has never been poorly made or outdated. But the best part of this game is that u wouldent have to blow your entire life savings to play it. WoW (World of Warcraft) on the other hand is a also a good game, but never affordable to me, because onless your rich or have a good job it adds up paying every month and buying stuff in game, so u can go from playing the game to watching the disc sit there and collect dust because u cant buy a WoW card anymore… MMO’s in my opinion are good games but cost more then its worth, and makeing the greatest game in the world that i have always liked a MMO well… let’s just say there not gonna get a sale with my hard earned cash :/

BCeagle

On August 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm

no offense at all to people who acually play WoW i would definetly get it if i could afford it

squirls

On August 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

Don’t worry so much;I’m sure all the ragers here are just drunk teenagers. Stop acting like beiber fan-girls, get a grip and come to terms with what he thinks. Tell him he’s wrong and get over yourselves.

squirls

On August 15, 2011 at 4:08 am

That being said you best not trust me either, I do tend to be a flamer myself.

No way im making ac acc

On August 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Ok, so this is from Blizzard website FAQ section:

When is Heart of the Swarm coming out?

It’s too early to talk about a specific release date at this point in time. As with all Blizzard games, our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience for our players, and we will take as much time as is needed to ensure that Heart of the Swarm meets the expectations of our players, as well as our own high standards.

Conversation closed. Kthxbai

awwwwSHUCKS

On August 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Ok whoever made this article is a OF COURSE IT TOOK ABOUT 3 YEARS 2 MAKE WoL CAZ BLIZZARD was either not thinking of making one or was waiting for other people to make better progress on graphics like disciples 3 but caz of that DOSENT MEAN IT WILL BE UP 2 well 1.5 to 2 years DUDE i expect it to be rest of this year or mabye 2 months after this year

awwwwSHUCKS

On August 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

or 1 month less

Greg

On August 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

To all the people who say the author has no clue what he’s talking about : Look who’s talking.
Blizzard had Titan speculated upon and not developed in any way whatsoever. It was a concept. Activision knew this and had Blizz pull the plug on that because, yes, as some of you naysayers have said, Activision is forcing Blizz to turn all of their franchise game worlds to a “pay per month” system. As much as blizzard kicks ass Activision is forcing them to be money grubbers. Such is the curse of mergers and buyouts.
As far as everyone who is naysaying and calling the author of this article names and attacking him. Boy, don’t you look like tools. Blizzard, of course will not confirm a Starcraft MMO at the moment but it will happen. Trust me, as a true blizzard fanboy since 1995 (warcraft 2)the game will kick ass. All you naysayers can go ahead and not play it, your loss. If any of you think you could do better if you ran the company, then you’re just kidding yourselves.
To the person who wrote the article : good show on keeping up to date on the facts and inside info concerning HotS

Greg

On August 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Oh yeah, forgot to mention as someone who knows blizzard’s methods, I expect HotS to be out Q2 2012, if not first quarter.

rearti

On September 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm

ok 3 things even though htis article is older #1 there was an sc mmo that was very hushed hushed but due to much limitations of technology(this is before wow folks) and some info leaking it was scrapped and blizz has also attempted a FPS you know the whole thing where Nove came from? a recent punchline from blizz’s April fool’s joke? i doubt they will make all their games a pay-to-play style it is possible however that they (as they have been doing) fuse everything togather (not literally i already deal with enough trolls on sc2 and i play wow) and just charge a flat rate thus creating an initiative to play the other blizz games since the price wont fluctuate

kingsfoil

On September 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

can’t wait hope graphics are better then wing of liberty

Annoyed

On September 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Great more garbage results and junk content. Junk work press sites like your should be banned from Google FU

Zachary

On September 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm

This looks a bit old… all i know is i beat Wings of liberty on brutal and i HAVE to play Heart of the Swarm now lol.

I have not played WoW but i agree that MMO’s are great fun but cost way to much, i know it takes a lot to make and maintain a game like that but people only have so much money for entertainment, Blizzard seams from the little i have seen to be trying hard to make things affordable though. I don’t know how they would make a RTS into a MMO though… that sounds like years of work. like you start as a zergling and…morph into a roach at level 20? lol idk…

anyway do we know when HotS is coming out yet? i cant wait!!!

Pubert

On October 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

He pulitzer you can’t quote a source you didn’t name :P

Y'all are retarded

On December 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Why do idiots keep saying “not sure how they’ll make an rts into an mmo” or “sc was never an mmo”? No and what the do you think Warcraft was? Is the pattern not obvious with these games? Establish storyline and characters, then make them weave, fight off threat to known world/universe by banding together, then boom mmo. The supposed leaked trailer for hots (if legit) would fall in line with this. Starcraft would be the space opera rpg that we’ve always wanted after lotv, so stop ing blizzard only makes badass stuff.

CJ

On December 23, 2011 at 7:05 am

They have already done the MMO thing. Do something original for the first story that made blizzard what it is. They took 10 years to create SC2 and they goin to just walk down an already paved road. I never bought WOW. Dorks play WOW. Starcraft is a realtime stratagy game. Chess for the modern day. Heres a good idea… make more damn games and let us keep fighting eachother when we get off work or dont have anything to do on a rainy sunday. The starcraft following is getting older. My 17 year nephew didnt even know what it was. Im married and have kids. I dont have time for this . Keep it simple stupid.

You're all fucking retarded

On January 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

1. The SC2 MMO “Starcraft Universe” isn’t being developed by Blizzard themself, it’s a fan-made mod for SC2 that has SUPPORT from Blizzard, it’s also featuring the new Revamped HotS Editor.

2. You heads have been saying it’s going to be 1-6 months, Where is it? It should be here soon so just get a life you ing heads.

3. You’re all ing retarded.

’nuff said.

kalendral

On February 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I just wanna say.. I HATE MMO!!! I refuse to play WOW because it is MMO and I will NOT buy SC2 if it an MMO. I am so mad that they made WOW and MMO because I love playing it the way it was as Warcraft 3.

That’s is all I have to say.

ryno

On February 26, 2012 at 4:19 am

When was this written because by the time that it was written it was 1.5-2 years later

Hehe

On March 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Turns out all of you ppl writing comments were wrong and the article author was right. LOL.