For this build, each base had two Vespene Geysers on every map. Currently, the gathering of Vespene gas works similar to Brood War in that the Vespene extraction building has a set number of resources and no longer regenerates gas. However, once the Vespene Geyser has been depleted, the player's workers will no longer be able to harvest more gas. Whether this system will remain is still not 100%, according to Browder.
The mechanics against various armor types were, for the most part, balanced. Against armored units, infantry felt a little underpowered - unless they had extra damage, in which case they could be a lynchpin. In the early game Roaches are great units with their fast healing. The additional damage dealt to organic units made them popular in almost every match.
Unit and structure models have not been changed from those seen in recent screenshots and video. The audio has changed considerably, with more new music and unit sounds as the game approaches beta and units are finalized. The team colors are red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple and white.
Unique death animations have been implemented and while it is unlikely that their development is completely finished, what we've seen thus far looks very good. One especially notable set was the destruction of Protoss air units - the Carrier and the Void Ray. The ships explode in a combination of twisted metal and released psi energy before falling harmlessly to the ground and disappearing.
The game is definitely true to the original - combined arms is a must and micro is vital, even the new abilities become exponentially stronger as a player's skill increases. Macro mechanics are in place and seem to work the way they are intended.
The Terran Thor has had a few changes since last seen by the public. Now, Thors can be transported by the Medivac Dropship. Currently, only one Thor can be transported per Medivac Dropship. When attaching, the Thor's body transforms, pulling its arms and legs inside, becoming a more cube-like shape, and attaching to the bottom of the Medivac Dropship, which will then be able to fly the Thor wherever its needed. Despite the work put into this, the development team is still working on the Thor's aerial transportation, and this mechanic will likely not remain the same when the beta is released.
Currently the Thor has a special attack that utilizes the the cannons located on its back. The strike is focused on a single target and bombards it with multiple shots. During this deadly strike, the targeted unit is stunned, and can neither move nor counterattack. Whether this attack remains in the beta is unclear at this point, because the Thor is helpless otherwise when using this attack, and is only worth using against a single, strong enemy unit.
The Raven's in-game model still resembles its last incarnation when it was named the Nighthawk. Its abilities are the Auto-Turret, Defensive Drone, and the Hunter Seeker Missile. The Defensive Drone wasn't given much attention - most focus on the Raven was put toward the new Hunter Seeker Missile. When the Raven unleashes its Hunter Seeker Missile, a large missile slowly flies toward its target, with a red laser constantly pointed at the target, regardless of whether it's moving or not. The Hunter Seeker Missile moves rather slowly, so a watchful player could move most units away from the missile if noticed quickly enough. After a certain amount of time without hitting its target, the Hunter Seeker Missile will harmlessly explode wherever it is when it runs out fuel. With the missile's slow speed, a player may be tempted to move their Raven very close to the intended target, however, the Hunter Seeker Missile will inflict damage on friendly units as well, including the Raven, so a hasty close-ranged launch of the Hunter Seeker Missile may spell certain doom for the Raven.
In this pre-beta build, the Zerg Infestor has three abilities: the Neural Parasite, Plague, and Spawn Infested Terrans. The Neural Parasite acts as a short term mind control over a single unit, whether it's a mighty Battlecruiser or a lowly SCV. Should a Protoss Probe be controlled, a Zerg player could warp in a Nexus if there were sufficient resources. Even after the Probe's control reverts back to its original owner, the incoming Nexus will belong to the Zerg player that paid for it. Similarly, the same can be done with a Terran SCV. However, since the SCV must be present and controlled by the Zerg player during the entire duration of the Command Center's build cycle, the Zerg player would have to use the Neural Parasite ability on the SCV at least six times before the Command Center's building can be completed. Should an enemy Zerg Drone be targeted with the Neural Parasite, the controlling Zerg player could use the drone to morph into a building, and the building will be permanently controlled by the owner of the Infestor. Whether the control of the drone would remain with the Infester's owner if the building morph were cancelled early has yet to be seen or tested.
In the group discussion with Dustin Browder, the Plague ability, formerly of the Zerg Defiler, was given to the Infestor. However, Browder mentioned that the Plague ability doesn't appear to fit well with the Infestor, and will most likely not remain when the beta is released. The third ability allows the Infestor to spawn five Infested Terran. The Infested Terran start out as sacs that grow on the Infestor's back before falling to the ground and hatching. The Infested Terrans attack using their gauss rifles, and will only stay alive for a short period of time before dying, if they're not slain in battle already.
A nice addition feature to the model of the Infestor is the slime trail that is left behind as it moves, sliming the ground for a short while before disappearing. As for the Infestor's unique ability to move while burrowed in the ground, it wasn't confirmed, but assumed that the enemy could not see the burrowed, moving Infestor without some form of detection.
In this build, the Brood Lord remains as the Zerg force's siege air unit over the old Swarm Guardian. Although the Brood Lord and its predecessor both function similar in the broodling-sprouting ground attack, the Brood Lord is morphed from Corruptors rather than Mutalisks. Brood Lords didn't see a lot of action in the matches at the press event, since the idea of morphing Zerg air units feels foreign when they're not being morphed from the Mutalisk, although Overseers are an exception since they've been around for some time now.
Currently, the Zerg Nydus Worm functions similar to the last playable StarCraft II pre-beta build. The Nydus Worm can be summoned to a creep-covered section of land by the Zerg Overseer, and if combined with the Overlord Creep Drop ability, can prove to cause certain destruction upon an unwatchful opponent.
Both the Lenassa and Zer'atai Dark Templar models have been implemented into the game. When calling forth a Dark Templar from the Protoss Gateway or Warp Gate, one of the two models will randomly spawn. From the default view, the two models look very similar aside from some minor details and the weapons they possess. Currently, the models look similar enough that Protoss players should not be distracted or confused by seeing these two different Dark Templar models.
Archons haven't changed since the last few public showings of StarCraft II. They are still made from fusing any combination of High Templar or Dark Templar, and do a great deal of damage against ground or air units. Currently, Archons are still lacking any special abilities.
Replays & Battle.net
Although the full extent of Battle.net was not shown, tidbits were presented regarding after-game statistics and replays. There will now be extensive graphs showing information such as APM and economic strength presented in a post-game window. This will most likely be similar to the way that BWChart shows information when a replay is loaded in. Although unknown and untested by those present from the StarCraft: Legacy staff at the time, it has been noted that resource sharing has been added to the multiplayer, yet restricted within the first five minutes of the match.
Although there may be far more features in the final product, there are many significant changes to the replay system over what we've seen in the original StarCraft and Brood War. All of its original functions still remain, with a number of new features. As we all hoped and expected, there is now a rewind button. The replay system works through the saving of checkpoints throughout the match. Along with the rewind function, there is a movable bar representing the timeline of the game. A great aspect of this movable bar is that the minimap can be viewed while moving the timeline bar, so it will be far easier to locate a key moment in the match - likely a part of the game where you mounted a critical attack or defended against an enemy's strong offensive. The demonstration of the replay function was relatively short, and this was all of the information we were given at this time.
Group discussion with Dustin Browder:
At 4:30pm, Dustin Browder entered the press-reserved computer room and began a Q&A.
One of the first questions of the discussion was about the Zerg Infestor and how its turning out at present. Currently the Infestor has the Plague ability but according to Browder, it's not working too well since the Zerg already have plenty of splash damage attacks.
After a lot of inside testing, Dustin's unsure of how the Immortal will ultimately appear in the game. The example Browder gave was a Protoss player's reaction to a Siege Tank-based offensive. Since Immortals are built at the Gateway and can be produced instantly with your Gateway set as a Warp Gate - assuming you have the necessary resources - the Protoss player is provided with an almost instant hard counter. There is some speculation that the Immortal could be moved up a tier, becoming a Robotics Facility unit. Browder mentioned that this hasn't been one of their pressing issues but that, if it becomes one during the beta, there's a possibility that the Immortal could be moved in a beta patch.
One possible change before the beta is the nerfing of the High Templar's Psi Storm as it is currently very powerful with a considerably large area of effect. For example, during one game two separate Psi Storms were enough to take out two Ultralisks and seriously injure a third.
The Mothership has been sent back to its early skill-set, with the Planet Cracker and Black Hole, but it is uncertain whether the Mothership will remain this way until the release of the beta.
Another question brought by an attendee was regarding the Phoenix and its former attack, the Overload ability. According to Browder the ability was too weak to not allow stacking but, if the ability was stackable, it would be far too powerful. For example, a Protoss player could fly several Phoenix into a tight-knit group of Battlecruisers and destroy them with a single click, which would be far too imbalanced to allow them to remain in the game. In defense of the Graviton Beam, the Phoenix's current special ability, Browder explained that it is excellent if used properly. For example, in one game, a player used a group of Phoenix for worker harassment. One Phoenix would use its Graviton Beam on one worker while the others in the group would attack, quickly destroying the helpless worker. The player continued this tactic, putting a lot of strain on their opponent's economy.
The Brood Lord, StarCraft II's version of the Guardian, is an evolution of the Corruptor and is currently a focus for the design team. Browder stated that Mutalisks have a great place in StarCraft II and have been working very well on their own, so there wasn't a strong enough justification to warrant them having an evolved form. Additionally on the topic of the Zerg, one of the attendees asked Browder about the lack of tier two siege units. The response was that the team will likely play with the Zerg line-up in order to justify this lack of tier two siege units.
The next question involved attack animations, and whether a quick player could maneuver their units to avoid damage by moving away from the attack animation of an enemy unit. Browder mentioned that players can indeed move their units to avoid attacks they can see coming. The Lurker's underground spine attack, the Colossus' thermal lances and the Hellion's flamethrower can be avoided by maneuvering the units away from the attack animation. Players can avoid attacks by quickly moving the unit or through the use of other means, such as the Stalker's Blink, the Mothership's Teleport or by loading a ground unit into a transport unit.
Browder also mentioned hotkeys, stating that while they had not yet been finalised they would be ready for beta. Also not implemented was the function keys being usable as hotkeys and again this was promised for beta.
The last question of the discussion was regarding the Carrier and how it evolved from its beginning as the Tempest to its current form today. Browder explained that the Tempest, with its powerful under-shield, gave too much of a rock-paper-scissors view of the Protoss air forces. Without the under-shield, the development team decided to return to the Carrier, since it was too iconic to remove without it being replaced by an equally special unit.
This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) feature event article.