Starcraft 2 Preview Hands-On Gameplay Details

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Last week, a few lucky gaming industry insiders got to travel out to Blizzard’s offices in Irvine, California to do what millions of gamers – and practically the entire nation of South Korea – are dying to do. They got to play and preview StarCraft II. According to Kotaku, while originally the plan was to show off the single player game and some new Battle.net features, that had to be pushed back, and so some multiplayer fun was head instead. Kind of a bummer, since a lot of fans are salivating with anticipation about the game’s single player components and sure-to-be epic storyline.

Gamespy brings us some details on some of the gameplay enhancements that will set Starcraft II apart from it’s predecessor. Aside from all the new and modified units and buildings, which weren’t discussed, here are the salient points:

- No more selection limit. In the first game, you were limited to selecting 12 units at a time. This could be a pain, especially for players massing huge armies, who had to set up multiple control groups. While you no longer need to set up control groups to move a massive group of units, they are still vital to high-level micromanagement. Newer users can get acquainted with control groups using a built-in interface button rather than the traditional keybinds. You can also set up control groups for buildings now.

- Enhanced replays. Starcraft is one of the most popular spectators sports in video games, and the SCII devs know it. They’ve built in new replay functionality that allows players to see literally every detail of a match, right down to an individual player’s build order, and even their “actions per minute.”

- Terrain advantage. Terrain plays a slightly more important role, as units can be helpless against ranged units firing on them from the high ground. There’s also destructible terrain which can unlock new pathways to an enemy base or possible expansions.

- Enhanced macro. Resources advantage has always been key in Blizzard’s RTS games. In addition to the new high-yield mineral nodes, each faction also has a unique way of boosting their resource intake – but it takes a little of extra work. Another way to separate the great players from the rest of the pack.

By all reports, Starcraft II may be better labeled as Starcraft++. It’s prettier, faster, and more in-depth than it’s predecessor, but doesn’t seem to take a lot of chances in the same way that, say, Warcraft III iterated on the RTS formula with hero units and other major departures. Not that that is any way a bad thing. With the playable game looking and playing as well as it did in the Blizzard offices, it seems fair to imagine that the multiplayer Beta will be launching soon. Make sure you’ve opted in over at Battle.net!

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