StarCraft 2 Expansion Packs: What We Know

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Perhaps it is a bit too early to be talking about the expansion packs to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty– the game is just a week old, after all- but if you played through the campaign already, you are likely eagerly awaiting the continuation of the story.

When it was first announced that the campaign of StarCraft II would be split into what essentially amounts to three games, the reception was fairly cold. Many saw it as a money grab, and worried that Blizzard was taking what existed, stripping into thirds, then selling each part separately. Now that players have had a chance to try out the deep Terran campaign, plus the multiplayer that made StarCraft famous, hopefully they are satiated for the moment (check out our full review of the campaign for details). But if not, or if you just want to know for the future, here is what we know of the upcoming expansion packs.

The first expansion pack released will be the Zerg-centric Heart of the Swarm. Players will take control of the Queen of Blades, Kerrigan, and attempt to become more powerful through mutations. Unlike the Terran campaign, there will be no cash to purchase upgrades, but there will be an RPG element that will help Kerrigan increase in personal power while the Zerg rally to her. The more powerful you become, the more Zerg you can control, so playing each and every mission to its fullest will be key to upgrading.

As with the Terran campaign, players will be able to choose which mission they want to purse and when, but there will be a linear story that picks up after the end of the Wings of Liberty– which is the official name for the Terran campaign.  starcraft 2 expansion packs what we know imgname  behold the protoss stargate ss13 thumb

The big question is when to expect the first expansion. At the moment it is all speculation, but StarCraft II lead producer Chris Sigaty told Shacknews that it might be around 18 months from now, which would put it on shelves either right before, or just after Christmas 2011.

“We’re estimating about 18 months from release of Wings of Liberty to when the next one comes out.” Sigaty said. “That’s purely speculative, honestly. Historically, it’s taken us about a year-WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne is a good example-but you’ll see the sum-total package [in Wings of Liberty] has raised the bar and there’s a lot more to do with StarCraft II‘s expansions. I think 18 months is probably fairly accurate.”

The second planned expansion, Legacy of the Void, will feature the Protoss, and focus on Zerutal as its main character. The Terran campaign features a handful of Protoss missions, so gamers have had a taste of what to expect, but unlike the other races, the Protoss campaign will feature a heavy emphasis on diplomacy.

The Protoss begin as a fractured race on the brink of extinction, and the campaign will force players to choose who to side with, which will alienate others. The story and mission tree will unfold based on which factions you align yourself with- so there may be missions you cannot access, which could make this the most replay friendly campaign of the three- as you attempt to unite the Protoss.

No word yet on when the expansion for the Protoss will be available, but late 2012or early 2013 seems likely. Also unknown is the price for each expansion. Blizzard has confirmed that despite the size and the amount of work going into the campaigns, the company is viewing the Zerg and Protoss campaigns as expansion packs rather than additional games. Blizzard has seemingly stuck to the $30 price for all recent expansions, and while that could change, at the moment it seems accurate.

Without giving away spoilers from the Terran campaign, there are also rumors of a possible fourth expansion pack that would follow another race.  Blizzard originally planned a fourth campaign, but deemed that it would water down the other three to take resources from them to begin building another.  It could still happen, but it would likely be three-four years away if ever.

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