First Impressions of StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void and “Archon Mode” (PC, 2015)

Next week, gamers around the globe will finally get their chance to play the much anticipated Legacy of the Void; the finale of the Starcraft II “trilogy”. Unlike other editions of the series before it, Legacy of the Void is not technically an expansion, and does not require the original game to run.

Aside from the main quest, which focuses on the Protoss, the most exciting thing about Legacy of the Void are the two new co-op game modes, Archon Mode, and Allied Commander, the former of which I got to have a taste of in a gameplay session at Blizzard HQ earlier this month, sitting alongside two of the game’s most successful “professional players”, Jared “PiG” Krensel and Ethan “iaguz” Zugai.

It was far from an ideal scenario – we were sitting right next to our opponents, making the likelihood of concealed strategy a difficult task. Also, both myself and my “partner-in-crime” were n00bs to the power of ten – myself not having played Starcraft II since it first came out, and even then only a few minutes (but don’t get me started on my obsession of the original Starcraft…). Though some of its effect from a strategic point of view may have been lost in circumstance, the Archon mode is one of the most exciting things about the Standlone expansion without question, creating a new dynamic to the classic RTS battle(.net) mode.

It’s been in beta testing since March, so already many of the game’s most elite players have spent a bit of time sinking their teeth into it, including the Starcraft pro’s I had the chance to play alongside. As they would regularly point out, they could destroy me in a blink of an eye if they really want to. But they were on hand to help, as much as destroy. Still, it’s hard not to get competitive when you’re playing a game like Starcraft, and it wasn’t long before n00bs and professionals alike were sitting in silence, determined to destroy each other and win the game. Ah, Starcraft, you cruel temptress.

Where Archon mode really makes things interesting is that, should you be able to discuss strategy appropriately, it allows a team of two to – in theory – create an army twice as large and a base twice as impressive in the same amount of time. While one player is off fighting, the other can stay behind, defending and expanding the base, gathering resources and adding fuel to the fire. Played correctly, and with appropriate precision, it can make for a very different sort of multiplayer experience.

It’s clear I’ll need some better teammates if I’m going to truly take advantage of this new mode, however.

As for the newer elements of gameplay, there are a few noticeable upgrades to the races. For instance, if you’re playing as Terran, you can use Medivacs to pick up and drop Siege Tanks, which can be use to rush the opponent when in Seige mode. Frustrating for some (e.g. the losers), a welcome tactic for others (e.g. the winners). Despite being a Protoss campaign, the only new unit for the race is the “Disruptor”. Though my favourite Protoss addition, as a fan of the old Carriers, is the ability for Interceptors to now target areas, rather than (or in addition to) individual targets. Terran also get the Cyclone and a melee charger called the Herc. And Lurkers return to the Zerg! There’s a decent bit more where all that came from, but that gives you a bit of an idea of what’s in store.

All in all, Legacy of the Void is shaping up to be a groundbreaking mark of the trilogy, forever changing the gameplay of what is arguably the most important aspect of any RTS game – the online mode. Fitting, given the long wait for the game, as well as the fact it is bringing the series to an end. Until Starcraft III anyway.

Given the time we had to wait between the first two instalments, however, I’m not holding my breath.

Legacy of the Void is released worldwide on 10th November 2015.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.