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Thread: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

  1. #1
    FanaticTemplar's Avatar SC:L Contributor
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    Default [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Usually, I need to play a game at least twice to get a good grip on the story, I get a bit too much 'into it' on the first playthrough to make the best decisions. But this has been a daunting prospect for both Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. In Heart of the Swarm, it was because I loathed the gameplay. I don't want my RTS games to revolve around hero units, and not only did that game have a tonne of baseless missions, Kerrigan (or Stukov in that one mission) was also such an important part of your army that it always felt like the rest of my troops should be complementing her. So obviously, no Mutalisks or anything she wouldn't be able to follow, and I avoided any spellcasters because I wanted to be tabbed to Kerrigan's abilities as much as possible. Add this to the options that were removed from the campaign (no Nydus Worms, no Overlord drops).

    Incidentally, I've heard that the Nova DLC missions were going to play like Heart of the Swarm? StarCraft just seems to be trying to make me miserable now, isn't it?

    I'm glad to say that Legacy of the Void is an improvement in this regard (although no Warp Prisms either. Only Terrans have had access to transports in this series. There's always Arbiter recalls, I guess.). The Spear of Adun is actually even more influential than Kerrigan was, but since its effects are global and some are actually used to improve your production, it restricts what you can do with your armies a whole lot less. On the other hand, to maintain the difficulty level (or increase it, this game felt on the whole harder than its predecessors) that means that the enemy needs to be souped up as well, and that generally meant hero units (Hybrids) or some truly ridiculous minion waves. So I'd still rather play Wings of Liberty than this game. Playing on Brutal at least, Gateway units feel like complete trash, even Archons are not worth the production costs involved most of the time. This is a disappointment to me of course, I went through most of StarCraft and Brood War by flooding my enemies with Hydralisks or Zealot/Dragoon. Even in Wings of Liberty I generally relied on bio in the aggressive missions and tank/viking in the defensive missions, but here this was simply not affordable. Maps that lock you down on one base are sadly common, and the others are usually two bases. And that's not "two bases at a time", where by the time you've freed up a new expansion your earlier ones are mining out. Third or more bases are a rare luxury. Building Zealots and Templar only exhausts my resources.

    But the reason replaying Legacy of the Void is so daunting is not its gameplay, which is fine. This is the story I liked the least so far. Yet in many ways, it's probably the best so far. Blizzard has clearly learned from the two previous games and the story maintains a strong pace, with an often smaller number of missions in each planetary 'arc' bookended with good cinematics and the entire journey tightly focused on the overarching narrative. Gone is the meandering midgame of Wings of Liberty, or the annoyingly stretched out arcs of Heart of the Swarm where content was clearly added just to reach a desired 'three missions per planet'. The art and music are great. And I can also respect it for being a lot more bold than its predecessors. Aside from the Protoss 'prophecy arc', Wings of Liberty's greatest failure in my opinion was its unwillingness to actually remove Raynor and Kerrigan after the conclusion of its story. As I said at the time, I'm fine with this happy ending. It's an absolute garbage 'happy middle' though. Although the blame for that should more accurately be placed on Heart of the Swarm, which was just perpetual spinning in circles. Legacy of the Void is about moving forward, about not getting bogged down by slavish devotion to an often idealised past and fear of change for a new future, and that means that the Protoss change a lot from what they were previously. As such, while this story often differs wildly from what one would consider established Protoss precedent, it's deliberate and part of its narrative structure. It even removes three of its most recognisable characters from the series - Raynor, Kerrigan and Zeratul. This is a story concept I usually like (I actually recently acquired The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker recently, which uses the same theme) and one that takes quite a bit of courage to pursue - fans are by definition people who enjoyed the existing product, so the safe bet is usually to give them more of the same and offer only superficial changes. It could be said that the reason I disliked Legacy of the Void so much is because I am one of these people desperately clutching at the past and refusing to accept change. There's some of that I'm sure, but I'm just not confident that these new Protoss offer anything that makes the loss of the old ones worth it. The Wind Waker treated its past with respect but offered an optimistic future. Legacy of the Void treats its past like garbage (not all of those inconsistencies are due to moving forward, some are just good old fashioned hackjob retcons) and offers a conclusion we already had at the end of StarCraft. So while in some ways I respect it for moving forward, in other ways it's still spinning in circles the same way Heart of the Swarm was. The Protoss had to put aside their differences to save their species, and though the cost was great they are left to rebuild their civilisation together on Aiur? That's the exact conclusion of StarCraft. I've seen it before. I've seen it better.

    Make no mistake though, while a lot of my hatred for this game comes from the direction it took, it's also got a mess of far more concrete failings.

    So, back to the beginning, I usually wait until I've played a game twice before really casting a verdict on it. But I feel like this second playthrough is going to be a real slog, so I figured I could try updating this post section by section as I advance through the game to keep me focused on the project. And we'll see if my opinion changes as I go through it with less emotional involvement.

    PROLOGUE- Whispers of Oblivion

    The Prophecy arc lives again! Zeratul has really become the harbinger for the absolute worst dreck in the series, incidentally. Prophecy, Zerus, now this. With the reveal of Legacy of the Void's awesome cinematic intro, and the overall interesting short stories uploaded to Battle.net, this was the hype killer. Again, Zeratul has to run errands to obtain some vague and largely useless piece of a prophecy, and if you don't think it plays out exactly the same way, you'd be wrong. You even get a minor Templar character you just met valiantly sacrificing themselves to facilitate Zeratul's escape. It also introduces one of the major problems with the entire story: lack of antagonists. We are extremely fortunate to have Kerrigan show up in Dark Whispers to at least provide an identifiable semi-obstacle, though she never attacks you directly, and in fact is tearing through your enemies. But other than her, you get the cheap knockoff Terrans and the cheap knockoff Protoss. Legacy of the Void finally decided to graft some personality onto the Tal'darim, but no matter how much you all like Alarak, the Tal'darim still suck and serve no purpose other than to be some enemy fodder because there's no real enemy faction in this game. Moebius Corps is worst. They're just mind controlled Terrans. Don't you just love the way mind control completely removes the need for things like motivation? At least mind controlling the Golden Armada provides some measure of pathos since these are Artanis' people and the soldiers we were commanding just moments ago. Moebius Corps is comprised of troops we would have been perfectly fine killing back when they were Terran Dominion (And I am not pleased that Moebius Corps just appropriated Dominion Red, either). I've actually got a whole lot more to say about Moebius Corps (and the Tal'darim, too), but that'll wait until the Korhal missions. For now, let's just remember how in StarCraft and Brood War, the center campaign was from the invading alien force's perspective, so we had some insight into their personality and motivations. If you thought that Kerrigan and Mengsk in Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm were a step down from that, then in Legacy of the Void we've reached the absolute nadir of that progression - empty vessels serving only as obstacles to us. It actually gets worst when Amon starts spewing out 'void entities', which are like the Tal'darim and Moebius Corps, except that not only are they empty husks, they are so insubstantial as to be crafted whole-cloth from the void.

    There's really nothing to say about Ghosts in the Fog, much like how Choosing Sides and Into the Darkness in the original StarCraft were just one mission's worth of story spread over two, this is just about getting from Dark Whispers to Evil Awoken.

    We've finally got a motivation for our big bad. Life equals suffering, end life, end suffering. Or anyway, that's his sales pitch. Just like the Tal'darim's desperate infusion of character, it's not interesting enough for me to come around to Amon. Look, just because I get told that this guy has been super important to the story of StarCraft doesn't mean I'm going to believe it. I was there, I know he isn't. This is the problem with writing a backward-looking story instead of a forward-looking story. You're reshaping existing lore to correspond to this new story, instead of shaping a story from the existing lore, and that makes it clear that the existing lore doesn't matter. And if existing lore doesn't matter, why should we care about it at all, since even the lore that matters won't by the time the next story rolls about? I'm not talking about retcons, I'm talking about what your inspiration for the story is. Your new story needs to connect to the existing material, for the sake of continuity. So if you base your story on where the setting and the characters are at, then that's already done. Take Wings of Liberty. Its story was all in the present - what happened to Raynor since Brood War, what matters to him, who does he know, where does he go, what drives him and what drags him down. You've still got retcons, like his involvement with the Heaven's Devils and Tychus, but those are things included to push the story forward, not the focus of the story. Now with Amon and the Cycle of the Xel'naga, it's all focused on the past. Nothing about the setting leads to Amon. Someone clearly looked at the StarCraft backstory and said "so these Xel'naga, where are they now? What if they had secret motives we don't know about?" And none of that matters to the current plot, so you have to force it to matter. It's the same thing that happened with the United Earth Directorate in Brood War where they get retconned into be involved all along, and now everybody's going to have to put their ongoing storylines on hold so we can deal with this new threat. It stops all momentum in the story. Amon isn't connected with what happened in StarCraft. They created an Amon backstory, and a current Amon threat, and then hammered at the current lore until it fit between the two.

    We also get to meet Tassadar again, who gives us more cryptic prophecies. I don't remember how they figured out what 'the keystone' meant, but what he's saying is basically that the plot device from the first game is going to be the plot device for this game too. So I hope you all really liked that part of Wings of Liberty. Actually, I think some form of Stockholm syndrome develops with these stupid plot devices. As much as I hated the Xel'naga temple from The Stand, if the Zerg invaded Shakuras without it being addressed, I'd be up in arms about it, even though in truth I'd really rather never see that stupid thing again. Same goes with the Xel'naga artifact. And with that vague bit of prophecy under his belt, Zeratul kills some void constructs - because again, the problem with the other enemies in this game is that they have too much personality - and escapes to warn Artanis.

    And he says he will face their judgement - and in Legacy of the Void, Selendis and Vorazun do call him a traitor for... killing Raszagal? I think? - but thus far, there have been no lack of Protoss willing to die for him.

    And since Whispers of Oblivion is such a lame retread of the already terrible prophecy arc of Wings of Liberty, Evil Awoken is another Whispers of Doom. Whispers of Doom should not be confused with Whispers of Oblivion.

    This thing was about as uninspired as it could possibly be.

    LEGACY OF THE VOID - Aiur Missions

    Sometimes I feel like I could keep watching that trailer forever.

    Anyway, the reclamation of Aiur was something that had to happen. Unless it were to be held by some major force like Kerrigan herself, there was simply no way for the Protoss to have any kind of credibility so long as they could not retake the single most important thing in their culture from some mindless, unlead Zerg. Of course, these are the very same meaningless Zerg that passed through the Warp Gate and attacked Shakuras in The Stand, threatening to annihilate the entire Protoss species, but hopefully we're leaving that regrettable part of the series' history behind. Also, it is not entirely true that this had to happen - in the animated short Reclamation, Artanis wonders if Aiur should be retaken at all. While not one I had considered previously, this too was a possibility: the Protoss actively choosing to move forward from their history on Aiur and start anew. Interestingly, this is a major theme of Legacy of the Void, but Aiur is one of the few pieces of their history they do not sacrifice. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    We also see Selendis again, and what a phenomenal letdown she turns out to be. Selendis was one of the very first new characters introduced for StarCraft II, back when that was just one game rather than three. It's been years, so my memory's hazy, but I think it was either her or Valerian Mengsk who were the first new major character introduced. And after showing up once in a side mission in Wings of Liberty and not at all in Heart of the Swarm, she's about to get possessed by Amon and mostly disappear from the game. I don't even know what to say about that.

    For Aiur! is a great counterpoint to The Evacuation of Aiur. Back then, Blizzard were showing off their new technology that allowed for things like non-human AIs fighting each other and units moving via triggers, allowing us to walk through a ruined Aiur while Protoss fought Zerg and Scourge flew overhead. Now there are Phoenixes hunting down Zerg in the sky, and that crashing Mothership is a fantastic event. Unfortunately, Hybrids show up and things are about to nosedive.

    It's amazing that a single plot device can be reused as often as the Xel'naga Artifact is. I almost admire the writers at Blizzard for including it in the finale of all three games. But on the other hand, it is merely a solution to a problem that they are going to write themselves into: if they didn't choose to shove Amon into the Protoss nerve cords, there'd be no need for the Artifact at all. Maybe that would have been a better route? A deus ex machina to solve a problem introduced by meaningless mind control? Or could they think of no other way to deprive Artanis of his army?

    Still, the growing threat is appropriately demonstrated. It was a surprise to see the Void Seeker destroyed after it had become familiar throughout these games, and the disappearing Khalai are a mystery. There's a chilling moment when Selendis stops answering. And we get to meet Karax, the first non-Templar character since Aldaris. I don't dislike him.

    Using the Khala as a weakness is a repeat of the Zerg being vulnerable because of their hivemind in Heart of the Swarm, and the continuation of the retcon of Purity of Essence. I was actually quite sad to see Zealots run around without their nerve cords in the following mission (though the attention to detail is commendable). I have to wonder what happened at Blizzard that they decided to turn the series' greatest virtue into the corruption of Amon. I do note with thorough disappointment that this is a move that edges both Protoss and Zerg closer to 'human' and deprives them of one of their defining alien aspects. I've mentioned this before, but what do we gain in exchange for all this Protoss uniqueness we're losing? Honestly, there's surprisingly little made about losing this cornerstone of Khalai communication and society among those who've endured the loss. I think about how it would be if I lost the ability to speak, or read and write, and the loss seems phenomenal. The writers seem to think that since they, as humans, never possessed the ability, it can't be too hard to live without, but I find that to be a disappointing failure of imagination.

    The fight between Artanis and Zeratul is pretty great, as most of the action scenes in this game are. It's slightly undercut by the fact that Amon seems to be keeping Artanis aloft like Puppet Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Also Zeratul disintegrates into black dust, also like a Zelda boss. Seriously though, why didn't they just leave Artanis cradling his body? And now things get really bad. I'm talking of course about The Spear of Adun - not the ship, the mission where they expect you to fight the entire way off of one base Gateway trash. This was the hardest mission in the game for me. It reminds me of Heart of the Swarm where I went to Char first and had to play Fire in the Sky off one-base Zergling/Baneling. Eventually I found a solution: just turtle until I have a ridiculously overwhelming number of units so I can completely overpower anything I face and minimise losses. This is thrilling gameplay, I assure you. But at least I don't actually mine out the only available resource location on the entire map.

    Oh and it takes place in the Heart of the Conclave, so that's a shoutout.

    All in all, despite the terrible gameplay of The Spear of Adun and the games inability to decide whether the Khala is important or not (it veers strangely close to the media buffoons/Media Blitz dichotomy of Wings of Liberty at times) I'd say the early game of Legacy of the Void is the campaign's high point, which will continue on to the Korhal and Shakuras missions. In the Zerg we have an enemy with some background to them (though these very same Zerg were one source of my endless exasperation with The Stand in Brood War. It's ridiculous that these Zerg, who were a low point of The Stand, and the Tal'darim, who were a low point of Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, are the most personable adversaries we will face in this game. Standards have been drastically lowered apparently.) and the possessed Khalai at least have some measure of pathos in having to fight those who came here as our allies. The return to Aiur was a great start to the story, and though we were forced to flee again, it doesn't feel like the endless spinning in circles of Kerrigan's perpetual deinfestation and reinfestation. Like I said, the Protoss' return to Aiur was pretty much an inevitability, and it's a good way to introduced the new threat, even if that is just the cosmic villain of the week.
    Last edited by FanaticTemplar; 11-19-2015 at 11:39 PM.
    Zeratul: I have journeyed through the darkness between the most distant stars. I have beheld the births of negative-suns and borne witness to the entropy of entire realities...
    Aldaris: Did not! That doesn't even make sense!
    Zeratul: Shut up, I totally did!

  2. #2

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Quote Originally Posted by FanaticTemplar View Post
    Incidentally, I've heard that the Nova DLC missions were going to play like Heart of the Swarm? StarCraft just seems to be trying to make me miserable now, isn't it?
    That's merely to show you that Nova isn't a pushover, nothing more. That being said, I don't think this is smart because we already knew that from playing Ghost of a Chance in WoL.

    For the whole Whispers of Oblivion, that alone seemed illogical. You'd think his actions by HotS would have implied Zeraul already knew the whole prophecy. Otherwise, what was the point of telling Kerrigan about Zerus in the first place if he didn't know the next step?

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    I totally agree with ragnarok.

  4. #4

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Quote Originally Posted by paulacrane View Post
    I totally agree with ragnarok.
    You mean for the canon part?

  5. #5

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    You mean for the canon part?
    Turing test pass

  6. #6

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    Turing test pass
    Why test pass?

  7. #7

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    I'll never get sick of that whooshing sound...
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  8. #8

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    I'll never get sick of that whooshing sound...
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  9. #9

    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    It's ironic you put that here because I'm watching the sequel online right now

  10. #10
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: [Spoilers] Thoughts on Legacy of the Void

    Let me guess, Ragnarok commented on that post and demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of its meaning.

    In other words:

    Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooossssssssshhhhh!!!!!



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

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