Blizzard expands StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta test

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm beta test screenshot

StarCraft II made its debut on July 27, 2010. The release was a huge event, as StarCraft fans had been anxiously awaiting a sequel to what has long been considered one of the finest real-time strategy games ever created since it first appeared in 1998. Likewise, fans have been intently awaiting the first expansion pack for StarCraft II almost since the game first hit store shelves. Dubbed “Heart of the Swarm,” StarCraft II’s first big, official addition will finally be released on March 12, 2013, and in an effort to make the expansion as excellent as it can possibly be, developer Blizzard Entertainment has been running a semi-public beta test for the title for months now.

As of this morning Blizzard offered up a piece of news that should be quite enticing to those prospective players of Heart of the Swarm who have long been hoping that they too might get a chance to play the title prior to its official release. While the beta test is still only available to a select group, Blizzard has expanded the terms under which people can gain access to the beta. Specifically, anyone who pre-ordered the title prior to December 18 is now able to download the beta client and start playing the current iteration of Heart of the Swarm right this very minute.

Well, sort of.

Assuming you pre-ordered the title digitally (that is, via Blizzard’s propriety Battle.net digital distribution system), your name has been entered into Blizzard’s pool of eligible beta testers. From now until a currently-unknown date in the future — likely two weeks prior to Heart of the Swarm’s official debut, if Blizzard history is anything to go by — Blizzard will be plucking large numbers of players from this pool each week to add to the beta test. Once your Battle.net account is selected the company will send you an email congratulating you for being so fortunate and offering up full details on how to acquire and play the beta test. As part of this, players agree to hypothetically report any and all bugs and gameplay issues they might discover while playing (though, in fairness, no one will revoke your beta access if you simply opt to enjoy the expansion without offering any feedback). As with all of Blizzard’s beta tests, once your name has been drawn you need not pay any additional cash for access, though obviously to be chosen in the first place you must have paid off the game in full as part of its digital pre-order.

Assuming none of this interests however, your other option is to simply wait for Heart of the Swarm’s official release. Come March 12 the game will hit retail shelves and Battle.net’s digital download service with an attached $40 price point. As with all Blizzard releases that’s the cost for the standard edition of the game, while truly devoted fans of StarCraft II will also have the option to spend $80 for a Collector’s Edition of Heart of the Swarm that includes a soundtrack CD, a behind-the-scenes featurette on both DVD and Blu-ray, a 144-page book detailing the concept art and other aesthetic assets found in the game, and an exclusive “Zerg Rush” mousepad.

Deals

Ditch the discs: The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is available for pre-order

Like it or not, discs seem to be going the way of the VHS tape. Digital gaming is quickly becoming the new norm even for consoles, and Microsoft’s new Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is now available for pre-order with three free games…
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Gaming

The best zombie games of all time, from Resident Evil to The Last of Us

Zombies are a longtime media staple, from movies to literature to TV to video games. Plenty of zombie games are bland and boring, but a good number offer tangible reasons to care about the undead. These are the best zombie games.
Gaming

The Last of Us Part 2 finishes capturing its main characters’ performances

Calling it the most "ambitious cinematic shoot" the team has ever done, Naughty Dog revealed that the motion-capture performances for the main characters in The Last of Us Part II are finished.
Gaming

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we have a guide to help you unlock every allied race in Battle for Azeroth.
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Gaming

Here are the best games to play with your friends on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch's hybrid design adds convenience to your gaming time, allowing you to play Switch games both at home and on the go. The design also benefits multiplayer experiences, from co-op to competitive and online to offline.
Deals

Amazon sale knocks 20% off Nintendo Switch, Pro Controller, and games

A new wave of savings on gaming content is crashing down in celebration of Earth Day. Amazon is slashing prices up to 20% off for used Nintendo Switch consoles, games, and accessories like the Switch Pro Controller.
Gaming

Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.