So last night Blizzcon announced Legacy of the Void, showing off a few new units in the opening ceremony, having a campaign panel, releasing some videos of the new units and features and holding two exhibition matches with some of the world’s best players so we could see things in action. The multiplayer panel is still to come today but we’ve rounded up some news and opinions on the new units, features and changes we’re going to be seeing in some for mor another in Legacy of the Void. Remember all of this is liable to change before launch, Blizzard aren’t afraid to cut out units or make drastic changes based on beta feedback but this is how things stand at the moment.
Archon mode lets two players control one army. This is a godsend for players like us who enjoy 2v2 but dislike the fact that the game isn’t really balanced for it. All those strategies you see in WCS? Useless in 2v2. A 6 pool might be easy to beat in 1v1, but what about when there’s twice as many zerglings coming for you? Reaper harass might be useful in 1v1 but what happens when the opponents has two based and two lots of early units to defend by default? Archon mode will let us use those strategies while still enjoying the team aspect. The exhibition matches we saw made us of this and it’s kind of assumed that one person will control the base and macro while another controls the army micro. Of course it opens up new possibilities like fighting on two fronts at once or just doing extreme micro within one battle. With everything we’ve seen from Void so far it definitely looks like micro is going to be a big part of the game going forwards..
We think this is probably the most dramatic change in the game. Now instead of starting with 6 workers, each race starts with 12. This eliminates the first couple of minutes of building workers, instead jumping you to the point where you need to get more supply as soon as possible. Mineral patches now hold 1000 minerals instead of 1500 too so they’re going to be mined out almost immediately, forcing you to take a second base. This will make lots of early rushes completely pointless because you’ll be in a position to defend before they can even cross the map, it also means expanding is going to become much more aggressive as starving out an enemy becomes an even easier tactic. We’re happy to lose those few minutes of dead time at the start of every game and we’re not going to miss being rushed with crazy early attacks. Of course they’ll still happen but hopefully you won’t feel quite so helpless.
This hasn’t been mentioned at Blizzcon but is on the Legacy of the Void website. There’s now going to be daily automated tournaments that anyone can enter. This means you’ll be able to experience the drama of a tournament, no matter what your skill level is, without the stress of singing up for a manually organised one.
Another new mode lets players work together to fight through different objectives against the AI. It seems like a kind of horde mode so far but will help people to learn the game and maybe open up a new fun mode to progress through if PvP is too stressful or not your cup of tea. In this mode you’ll be able to pick a commander (think Kerrigan, Raynor etc) and then use their unique units while taking on increasingly difficult missions.
In the exhibition match this was by far the most controversial addition to the game. The cyclone is built from a factory and can lock onto any enemy (air or ground) and shoot them while driving away. The range of 9 is quite high and allows it to outrun almost anything, effectively kiting it until they die. The zerg players in the exhibition couldn’t find an answer to it at all and two of them managed to take down basically any unit they threw at it (although they didn’t try zerglings). Expect this to get nerfed at some point, possibly with a range decrease.
The MERC is a new barracks unit that uses a giant claw to grapple to enemies or friends. It can close distances quickly and then melee the opponent, killing a baneling in a single hit. They also have a fair bit of armour so they can survive that kind of close-quarters combat. One of the best uses we saw from this is using the hook on a friendly unit to get out of a battle quickly. Apparently they can’t be used alongside reapers to get up cliff edges, will be interesting to see how players use these in a full army.
The battlecruiser has been given a fairly amazing new ability, to warp in to anywhere on the battlefield. It uses over half their energy but if you have vision, they can get there. This means rather than leaving them exposed on their journey to the front line you can warp them anywhere you have vision, harassing, defending or just coming straight from your factory to the front lines as a powerful reinforcement. No one wants ten battlecruisers to turn up on their doorstep.
Thors can now self-repair, using an ability that heals them entirely over twenty seconds. Of course this leaves them defenceless so you don’t want your whole army to do it at once, but it does solve the problem that using SCVs to repair them on the battlefield was never particularly easy to micro. This means we’re like to see more use of Thors in the late game as a harassing unit, dipping in and out of battles but always surviving to fight another day.
Siege tanks can now be picked up while in siege. This means you can use a medivac to drop them right into a base and they can fire straight away. It does take up the whole medivac though so there’s still occasionally reasons to move them unsieged. This will really help with emergency evacuations and mineral line attacks.
Banshees now have a speed upgrade available that will allow them to move faster than observers, ravens and overseers. This means they’ll be much stronger for harass and from what we’ve seen so far their range might have increased too.
The Ravager is an interesting unit that the pros have found difficult to use so far. It’s morphed from a Roach but has an added attack (That can also hit air) that strikes down from above after a short delay. The delay allows opponents to get out of the way quickly so it’s much more effective used with fungal growth from infestors or on slow or stationary units like Siege Tanks and burrowed units. We can see them breaking down siege tank lines and clearing out widow mines fairly effectively but even the slowest Protoss air units can get out of the way if they’re paying attention.
The Lurker is morphed from a hydralisk and burrows in the ground to create a stationary unit that can fire a line of spikes in front of it. They have a standard 6 range but with an upgrade this increases to 9, allowing them to take down things like cannons with easy. Like the ravager, their attack can be avoided fairly easily but against a group of clumped units like in a mineral line, they can put out some serious damage.
Swarm Hosts have been nerfed fairly dramatically as they can now only create Locusts once every 60 seconds. This makes them useless for sieging. Instead they have a new harass role, where they can drop off locusts without even stopping and move on to avoid being caught and killed. They can burrow with the upgraded and launch units from there, but the intervals between them leave them much more vulnerable. The most interesting new feature is the upgrade for locust that allows them to fly, meaning you can set up swarm hosts on the other side of a chasm or cliff and then fly them right into a mineral line. They can’t attack from the air, but they will shoot down and land quickly and do a frankly terrifying amount of damage.
Corruptors now have a new channeled ability that allows them to strike buildings and ground units. It doesn’t seem particularly strong but it does mean they have some use once you’ve destroyed an enemy’s air presence.
Infestors have a new ability that can increase the damage of units affected by 5. Throw this on some zerglings with their attack upgrade and you can suddenly destroy a base in seconds with some truly terrifying DPS. In exchange for this, they’ve lost neural parasite but who really used that anyway?
Nydus worms are now invincible until they deploy. This means whatever happens you’re going to be able to get a unit or two through. Hopefully this means we’ll see more Nydus worm play in high-level tournaments, although you can just camp them and open fire as soon as they finish their animation.
The disruptor is the only new unit for the Protoss. It is a ball of armour and energy that can become invincible for four seconds, shoot off into a group of enemies and then release a burst of energy that damages everything around it. It survives the process and can return to recharge and have another go. The cooldown is quite long but with a big group of them you could easily destroy an entrenched position like a line of siege tanks or a big group of banelings.
The revelation and vision abilities are now combined, give you detection as well as showing positions when cast. The oracle can now also drop a Stasis ward that acts as a little mine, trapping units in place and making them invincible for a decent amount of time when they run over it. The mine itself can be killed but is cloaked, like a widow mine. We saw a good use of this in an exhibition match against a drone line, freezing them in place and stopping any mining for quite a long while.
Tempest are now incredibly fast and can drop down a damage over time effect. It hits a unit and the tempest can flee, but the victim will take 500 damage over a long time. The damage is unstoppable and can be used on buildings so tempests will be truly terrifying as strike units in the late game. In exchange for this new power they’ve lost the ability to strike air units, leaving Void Rays and Phoenixes to fill that role.
Carriers now launch all their interceptors at once and they fight at a set area until they expire on a timer. They don’t seem to be able to be shot down and the carrier can just leave them there without affecting them. The carrier itself is a little cheaper now and will be constantly creating new interceptors to send out in waves..
Immortals now no longer have a constant hardened shield. Instead they have a barrier shield that can be activated as an ability, absorbing all damage for a short time. This means they’re incredibly powerful for a moment in an attack, but become extremely vulnerable once it is used up.
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