StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void (PC) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 27 November 2015 / 5,550 Views
Strange as it may sound in the StarCraft world, I've never been a big fan of the Protoss race. These elf-like aliens have a weirdness to them that I just couldn’t relate to. The Zerg, despite being a biological zombie-like horde, I could comprehend. But not the Protoss - they were too cold and distant. Now, however, thanks to Legacy of the Void's lengthy campaign, Blizzard has really fleshed the Protoss out and my interest now finally stretches across all three of StarCraft's races.
The Protoss, despite being the self-proclaimed 'first born' of the universe, felt like they were largely on support duties in Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm. However now that the Protoss have their own dedicated expansion Blizzard has well and truly turned its attention to the race and, in so doing, has suitably built upon earlier lore to deliver a race that I can finally engage with.
In Legacy of the Void a number of different factions team up together to take on an almighty God who wishes to break a never-ending prophecy/cycle. Cliched, to be sure, but along the way you learn more about the history of the Protoss, and precisely how members of the race manage to communicate with (and feel) one another using the 'Khalai'. In previous games, as I've alluded to, the Protoss seemed like a very emotionless force. It turns out, over the course of Legacy of the Void's 20 hour campaign, that that is not the case at all.
As this is an expansion the gameplay has not been dramatically altered; rather refinements have been made along familiar lines and a handful of new units and structures have been introduced. In the campaign you start each level from scratch, building up your base and your forces as you would in an ordinary match against the AI or human opponents.
Those who have played through past StarCraft campaigns will once again welcome Blizzard's attempts to keep the gameplay in the campaign as fresh and varied as possible. This is done by way of introducing different mission objectives and limitations beyond the simple 'build up base, mass forces, attack move, destroy everything' formula that games against AI often boil down to, such as having to make certain checkpoints within a limited time period or completing a mission with only a limited group of units. My favourite of these is probably the one where you play as a Nerazim (the 'stealth' clan of Protoss), and have to navigate through a stage without being seen and killed.
Customisation of unit types over the course of the campaign adds a little bit of RPG-lite fare to the campaign as well. You can, for example, change unit factions between missions, which grants them different abilities. There are four different factions of units to choose from, but each unit only has a maximum of three different forms: Purifiers units focus on strength and speed, Kahlai units increase efficiency, Tal'darim units magnify damage, and Nerazim units focus on strategy and stealth. These variations between the factions allow you to somewhat tailor the campaign to your own playstyle.
You can also upgrade your central ship (the Spear of Adun) over the course of the campaign by completing optional objectives. Completing these side objectives grants you solar crystals that can be used to upgrade your ship and its supportive functions, from granting a free Pylon to summoning a powerful AI-controlled unit.
Of course the campaign only appeals to a select sub-set of StarCraft players. There's a whole other side to StarCraft that appeals to a much more dedicated set of fans - the multiplayer. The new units have been much-publicised, with the Terran receiving the Cyclone and the Liberator, the Protoss receiving the Adept and Disruptor, and the Zerg receiving the Ravager and, of course, the fan favourite Lurker. It's somewhat ironic that the most anticipated addition is not for the Protoss at all, which is perhaps a shame given that this is 'the Protoss StarCraft II game', but is for the Zerg instead. A wide array of balance changes and the introduction of new units have both had a huge impact on the game's ever-evolving meta, and will no doubt continue to do so in the months ahead.
Elsewhere, Legacy of the Void's key new features are the introduction of automated tournaments, Archon mode, and cooperative missions. Archon mode sees two teams of two taking on each other, but with a twist in that each team shares a single base, and so the easily-imagined chaos, frustration, and hilarity that this produces makes it a very unique experience.
Cooperative mode (also known as Allied Commanders) is perhaps of more general interest. This allows you to work through varied cooperative objective-based missions with a friend and channels some popular UMS in allowing you to take control of one of three commanders that can be upgraded and then used to overcome certain challenges with a friend. Each commander has access to a specific, limited set of abilities and units, and these are upgraded across the entirety of this game mode, which gives it some added longevity.
It's been over five years since StarCraft II first released, in the form of Wings of Liberty, but now finally the Protoss have been allowed to take centre stage. Has the wait been worth it? For me, definitely. Legacy of the Void doesn't so much conclude StarCraft II with a bang as it helps to re-invigorate interest in a game that has been through dozens of ups and downs over the last few years. If nothing else, the amount of new content, and a varied focus on both multiplayer, co-op, and campaign means that any RTS fan will surely find something to like in Legacy of the Void.
This review is based on a digital copy of Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void for the PC, provided by the publisher.