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Editor's Note: Novels from before 2006 are ignored. This article uses the broad definition of retcon, which includes direct contradictions as well as changes in how previous facts were interpreted by fans. Have something we missed? Send extra retcons to gradius[at]sclegacy.com. See our Retcon Analysis article for a more in-depth discussion of the following retcons.

StarCraft and Brood War Retcons

The Overmind did not have free will, and was corrupted by the Dark Voice.1

Tassadar never died, and he claims he never will. He survives in "the beyond".1

Most of the characters that were played by the player in StarCraft didn't exist, as they were all “plot holes”. The Mar Sara magistrate existed but had almost no interaction with James Raynor.2 The Zerg Cerebrate existed but didn't go to Aiur and instead was killed by Tassadar on Char. Artanis was the StarCraft executor.3

Protoss only fought on the surface of Tarsonis as opposed to a space battle.2,4

Protoss death animations are actually the Protoss warping back to a safe haven.5

Duke was a colonel before the standoff at Mar-Sara.2

Taldarin’s time in stasis and time since he fought with Adun are much shorter.6

The canonical version of Enslavers is where the Protoss forces kill Schezar and destroy the EMP generator.6

Char was actually one of the thirteen core worlds of the Confederacy.7 In StarCraft: Queen of Blades it was “unexplored” and Jim Raynor named the planet himself. In StarCraft there was no indication that Char was previously settled by Terrans.

The Protoss tech level at the Aeon of Strife has changed. Before, the Protoss commanded advanced technology but lost it during the strife. Now, the Protoss have always been at a stone age level - until the golden age of expansion.8

The Protoss use sunlight for food as opposed to the energy source where they draw their powers from i.e. Khala & Void.8

Protoss can no longer communicate with their deceased at the Templar Archives.5

The death-toll for the nuking of Korhal was 4 million according to the StarCraft manual, and the nukes were launched from Tarsonis. In StarCraft: Uprising, the death toll has been retconned to 35 million, and the nukes were launched from orbiting Battlecruisers.

StarCraft II-Related Retcons

The downsizing of the Odin to the more practical Thor is credited to Rory Swann in Wings of Liberty, though pilots such as Sandin Forst in the "Thundergod" short story already operated Thors two years before according to the Heaven’s Devils timeline.

The Tal'Darim were originally Protoss that Ulrezaj specifically manipulated on Aiur in a cave with a topical drug called sundrop.8 In Wings of Liberty, this faction, instead of numbering to be a handful, is spread across multiple worlds and doesn't suffer the expected symptoms of sundrop (due to their usage of Khala-using units).

Stalkers were trapped within Warp Gates on Aiur; neither existed when Aiur was abandoned.


Errors:

Artanis's Nerve cords are cut short like a Dark Templar. Blizzard admitted the mistake, and the look is altered in StarCraft II.

A cinematic shows the Hyperion & Protoss Carriers warping in to Aiur in the wrong place. The fleet was supposed to have returned in the previous mission "Homeworld" and according to the pre-mission text.

Zeratul is referred to as a Praetor in the StarCraft manual and in StarCraft: Queen of Blades, but he is referred to as a Prelate in StarCraft. Blizzard has decided on the rank of Prelate for Zeratul on their starcraft2.com biography for him as well as in Wings of Liberty.


Plotholes/Inconsistencies

Earth is 60000 light years away.

Tarsonis, Umoja, Moria & Korhal can't all be in the same star system, as it is according to the StarCraft manual.

The population of people in the Koprulu Sector is too high to be realistic given the small amount of people that came there from the supercarriers.

The UED did not have their own tech tree and they came to the Koprulu Sector in a standard Terran battlecruiser (The Aleksander).

 

Queen of Blades Retcons

  • The StarCraft mission "Eggression" never happened in Queen of Blades. The Protoss did not attempt to stop the Zerg as they left Tarsonis's orbit (pg. 6). The book does mention that Protoss forces were fighting the Zerg on the ground though.
  • In the original game Kerrigan was being incubated in a Chrysalis up until the "Agent of the Swarm" mission, and it suggested that Kerrigan was in her Chrysalis the entire time. Queen of Blades did narrate the parts where she was spirited away in a young Chrysalis, and later hatched in a mature Chrysalis. However, in Queen of Blades, Kerrigan showed Raynor in his dreams that she was trying to run away from the Zerg on Char, suggesting that she was regularly outside of the Chrysalis, walking around (pg. 17).
  • According to StarCraft2.com, Char was one of the thirteen Terran core worlds. In Queen of Blades, it's an obscure planet that Matt Horner could barely find in the Hyperion's planets database (pg. 22). Jim Raynor also named the planet himself (pg. 27).
  • In Raynor's Raiders, Tassadar's army, and Zeratul's army there were no units or buildings outside of basic soldiers i.e. Marines, Zealots, and Dark Templar, respectively. Neither Tassadar nor Zeratul seemingly wore any kind of power suit or shielding. To hit air units, Tassadar used a sort of psionic whip. Kerrigan also had detection abilities, claiming to be able to sense Zeratul even though he was cloaked.
  • Queen of Blades claims that Duke and the rest of Alpha Squadron left Char shortly after "The Amerigo" mission novelization (pg. 108). However, Duke is still on Char in the "Choosing Sides" StarCraft mission. It is possible that he came back however, since "The Ambush" cinematic shows a Dominion reconnaissance detachment being destroyed.
  • The following lines took place in "The Culling" mission novelization, instead of where they originally were, in "The Dark Templar" StarCraft mission.

TASSADAR
This shall be our battleground, O Queen. Face me here, and I will defeat you myself.

KERRIGAN
An illusion? Are you afraid to face me, Templar?

TASSADAR
So long as you continue to be so predictable, O Queen, I need not face you at all. You are your own worst enemy.

  • In Queen of Blades, it was Daggoth's brood, not the unnamed cerebrate's, that destroyed the rampaging Garm Brood in the novelization of "The Culling" StarCraft mission.
  • The entire point of the "Dark Templar" StarCraft mission has been missed in its novelization. In StarCraft, Tassadar had presumably already learned how to use Dark Templar energies, hence the name of the mission, and why Zasz said "Kerrigan, I sense something strange about this Templar. Perhaps you should reconsider your attack." In Queen of Blades, Tassadar did not yet learn how to use Dark Templar energies, and didn't even meet Zeratul, so that line was unnecessary in the book.
  • The following line did not occur:

DAGGOTH
For now we must ensure that the Dark Templar can cause no more harm. Cerebrate, you shall set a trap for our foes. Kerrigan will lead them to you.

Instead, Kerrigan decided that she would hunt down the Protoss herself, as opposed to setting a trap like in the original game. Meanwhile, the rest of the swarm left the planet, which contradicts with the timing of their leave in the original StarCraft, which was seemingly after the "Eye for an Eye" mission, not before.

  • The "Eye for an Eye" mission novelization had the ending reversed. In Queen of Blades, it was Kerrigan and her broods who got trapped at the bottom of a canyon, not the Protoss.
  • The unnamed cerebrate is killed, and takes no part in the invasion of Aiur. It's possible though that the cerebrate who partook in the invasion of Aiur was Araq, whose brood color was also purple.
  • Artanis is the Protoss executor player-character of StarCraft.
  • Artanis and Aldaris rescued Tassadar and Raynor on the planet's surface instead of a space platform like in the original StarCraft, which, in retrospect, makes more sense since Tassadar and Raynor were supposed to be trapped.
Sources
2. StarCraft: Liberty's Crusade
3. StarCraft: Queen of Blades

starcraft retcon

Editor's Note: See SC:L's Retcons Archive for a complete listing of retcons.

With the development of a new game in the StarCraft franchise as well as the introduction of the new stories and characters that comes with it, balancing the existing lore and the new stories that Blizzard wants to tell becomes harder. For this reason, Blizzard has introduced several retcons, or amendments to previous works or how those works are interpreted. Retcons introduce inconsistencies into a franchise’s universe, and thereby weaken it. They should be avoided and only used to improve the lore and fix previous errors or inconsistencies. With single-player being one of the pillars of StarCraft, and a major selling point for StarCraft II, lore consistency should be a priority. Anybody who has immersed themselves into a story wants to believe that that story could be real. It is difficult to enjoy a universe that is inconsistent. Lord addicts are not the only people bothered by these inconsistencies; anybody who is playing through the game or even wants to order a book is thinking about the lore, so it is of value to pay attention to retcons.

If the current story cannot be told without contradicting previous works in the same universe, then the story being told should be reevaluated. Blizzard understands this to some degree. They have done a good job lately with lore consistency; however, it's unfortunately mostly due to the fact that the latest stories have all been self-contained and leave no room for contradiction. The story "Twilight Archon," from volume three of the Frontline series, was not one of these, as it dealt with the invasion of Aiur. In the story, the length of time between the beginning of the Zerg invasion and the call to evacuate Aiur was relegated to a mere hour by one of the character’s dialog. This is essentially an entire episode from the game of StarCraft which is tossed aside, and it becomes harder to take this universe seriously.

The last book that novelized a part of the original StarCraft, Queen of Blades, was replete with errors. Yet, Chris Metzen, Vice President of Creative Development at Blizzard, said this about the novel:

These books specifically are kind of the definitive take in my mind, which means we got a chance in Queen of Blades to show you a lot of scenes we could not show in the game. When does Raynor actually meet these guys? When does Tassadar and Zeratul actually hook up and meet? That's a huge part of the game that we never show. How does Tassadar, this Executor of the Protoss, this really talented, driven guy, get jumped into this whacked cult that his bosses hate and by the end of it become this Twilight Messiah and take down the monster alien of the galaxy. How did that all happen? We never actually touch any of it in the game. I don't even know if it occurred to me that we didn't when we published it... talk about a galaxy-sized hole..

For a novel written in 2006, and also bearing Metzen's seal of approval, the lack of attention to detail is unacceptable. So should Blizzard stick to only self-contained stories? No. There is light at the end of the tunnel. First, the onus should be placed on authors to research their setting more. Graham McNeill and Christie Golden have done great jobs with this. Second, Blizzard should focus on coming up with creative solutions to problems instead of retconning them away. In this article, we will aim to put forth creative alternatives to existing problems and retcons.

Looking Ahead: Wings of Liberty and Beyond

Wings of Liberty contained nearly twice the amount of dialog of StarCraft and its expansion combined, so managing it all likely posed quite a challenge. We will refer to retcons in this article using the word’s broadest sense - in that retcons include not only direct contradictions but changes in how previous facts were interpreted by fans. To Blizzard’s credit, the number of strict retcons in Wings of Liberty were only a few. See our retcons listing for a complete archive. In this section, we will highlight some of the discrepancies from the game as well as other concerns that we have.

Protoss

According to the Dark Templar saga, the most finely trained human telepath is supposed to be pitiful compared to the average run-of-the-mill Protoss, and Protoss can also stun humans simply by raising their mental voice. However, Colin Phash, a Terran with a PI of 7.5 can explode Zerg heads (something that regular Protoss don’t seem able to do in battle), and another PI 7 Protoss/Terran hybrid known as Gestalt-Zero single-handedly killed and captured more than several run-of-the-mill Protoss. Protoss are supposed to be the elder race; psionics is part of who they are, so discrepancies such as these should not exist. We suggest that units be outfitted with psionic protection as an explanation for why Protoss don’t simply crush minds in the middle of battle; for example, Terran units could all be outfitted with cheap psi-screens like Esmeralda Ndoci’s Annhilators division, while Zerg units could be protected by the hive-mind link itself, or at least while they are in proximity to it.


Dark Voice vs. Voice in the Darkness


The main villain in the StarCraft II trilogy appears to be an entity known as the Dark Voice, as he is named in a battle.net portrait. It appears that this character is basically the same character from StarCraft: Frontline known as the Voice in the Darkness. There are many similarities such as the name, the fact that both creatures have possessed Dark Templar, and the fact that they both appear to be void entities, so many people have actually assumed they were the same exact entity. However, there are just as many differences as there are similarities. Blizzard recognized this in a recent interview, so they definitely deserve credit for staying on top of this.

Concepts from Books

Blizzard often incorporates concepts from books, but doesn’t use them accurately, especially from the Dark Templar Saga. For example:

Preservers: According to the Dark Templar Saga, Preservers are Protoss who hold the memories of all Khalai Protoss. They are supposed to be so rare, that Artanis himself could not for the life of him find any. Zamara claimed that she was the last preserver, and we have to assume she is accurate, since she has the knowledge of every Khalai who ever died. Zeratul appeared in the last book of the Dark Templar saga, about a year before the events of StarCraft II, and did not appear to know about any additional preservers. But suddenly, in Wings of Liberty, he knows where to find a planet that contains three preservers. This in itself is not a travesty, but the problem is that nothing in the mission depended on the Protoss being called “preservers”. They could have just as well been called “scholars” or “mystics”.

Characters: Two characters from the Dark Templar Saga that were used in Wings of Liberty were Urun and Mohandar. Though not much of Urun’s personality was revealed, he did seem to be very tame in Wings of Liberty, as opposed to his description in the book, where he was highly boisterous and wished to take the fight to the Zerg on Aiur as soon as possible. Mohandar, the tribal leader of the Nerazim tribe, was supposed to be so old that you could see it in every wrinkle of his body. His portrait in StarCraft II was a smooth-faced Void Ray, that neither looked old nor sounded old. This character has been completely miscategorized, but again, he was not required to appear. Any other Protoss could have taken his place, especially considering that the entire mission is simply a vision of an alternate apocalyptic future. We have the same thing with a fan favorite: Tassadar. The portrait is a palette swap of an archon, which doesn’t look much like either the classic Tassadar or the Tassadar from Blizzard’s new artwork. Tassadar’s voice acting and voice editing is highly generic and sounds nothing like the original. For the voice, you can imagine the sound department saying “ok, we need someone to do Tassadar,” and picking whoever was on hand, when Michael Gough, Tassadar’s original voice actor, is likely in the same studio doing voicework for Deckard Cain for Diablo III. The only thing this version of "Tassadar" has that's similar to the old one is the name.

Playing this game gives longtime fans the simple impression that the Blizzard sound and writing departments picked any random person that was on hand to voice minor characters, and that they neither read the books nor played the original game from which these characters have been taken. The only time Blizzard creates consistent universes is when they are making a new one with nothing to build off of, so our suggestion to Blizzard is that next time they wish to take characters from novels, please consider creating new characters instead. This would make the StarCraft universe not seem so small.

Tal’Darim: Tal’Darim was never some sort of blanket term for Protoss fanatics. It was the name given to the Protoss that Ulrezaj specifically manipulated on Aiur with a topical drug called sundrop. The name means, “the forged,” and it was created in opposition to the other Protoss on Aiur, the Shel'na Kryhas, or “those who endure”. While it is possible that enough Tal’Darim could be enslaved with sundrop in many other places, there is no justification in calling them Tal’Darim. This also this brings up another problem with the Tal’Darim faction: sundrop removes a Protoss’s connection to the Khala, so the Tal’Darim tech tree is not supposed to include any Khalai units such as High Templar, Zealots, or Immortals.

Zeratul is surprised to learn things he already knows/suspects:

In addition to muttering basic combat instructions to himself throughout the mini-campaign, Zeratul appears to question things he’s already learned from previous media. Whether this is just a case of poor word choice remains to be seen. When Zeratul runs into the Hybrid Maar he says “A... protoss and zerg hybrid... Gods, an abomination! Who created this atrocity?” Zeratul already knows Duran is creating hybrids from the Dark Origins missions in Brood War.

In Dark Templar Saga: Twilight, Zeratul suspects that Tassadar, like Adun, ascended to a higher plane of existence, and never really died. But when Zeratul meets Tassadar in Wings of Liberty he is surprised that Tassadar is alive: “Tassadar! But... you died... slaying this cursed Overmind!” It is also likely these lines were chosen to introduce these two beings to newer players, though the lines certainly could have had more creativity.


Overmind

In Wings of Liberty, Tassadar reveals that the Overmind was manipulated during his creation to obsessively seek to destroy the Protoss. This retcon makes the Overmind seem like simply somebody’s slave instead of a galactic space monster. It also downplays him as being the good guy the entire time, especially because of the respect Tassadar shows him. But Blizzard claimed in an interview with BlizzPlanet that this isn’t actually a retcon because we never learned the Overmind’s true nature in the original game. This isn’t true for two reasons:

1) Zeratul touched minds with the Overmind and revealed what he saw:


When I slew the Cerebrate on Char, I touched briefly with the essence of the Overmind. In that instant, my mind was filled with its thoughts, and I tell you now our worst fears have come true.

The Zerg were indeed created by the ancient Xel'Naga, the same beings that empowered us in our infancy. But the Overmind grew beyond their constraints, and has at last come to finish the experiments they began so long ago.

Strangely enough, this sounds very similar to what Tassadar claims, but as we can see in Wings of Liberty, Zeratul knows nothing about the Overmind’s imprisonment despite reading its mind. This raises the question of how Tassadar was able to get this information himself.

2) The StarCraft manual describes how the Overmind learned about the Protoss, and it wasn’t because he was enslaved:

Through dissecting the memories of the Xel’Naga, the Overmind was made aware of the myriad races that had at one time or another been influenced by the ancient race. The Xel’Naga had kept a detailed genetic history of each race, giving the Overmind a clear understanding of their respective strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the Overmind learned of an exceedingly powerful race that lived near the galaxy’s fringe known only as the Protoss. The Overmind knew then that the Protoss and the Zerg would eventually be caught in an inevitable, apocalyptic conflict.

The manual also describes why the Overmind sought to assimilate the Terrans, and again, it wasn’t because he was looking for a way out of obeying its directive:


Although a short-lived and seemingly frail species, the Overmind knew that Humanity would be the final determinant in its victory over the Protoss. If it could assimilate the psionic potential of Humanity, the Overmind would have the ability to combat the Protoss on its own terms.

But was the retcon itself worth it? On one hand it appears instrumental for setting the stage for the greater StarCraft II story, and people already assumed that the Overmind was a sort of slave to its instincts. On the other hand, in an attempt to make StarCraft II look more important than the original game, it relegates one of the great villains of StarCraft to a slave who secretly did not want to kill anybody all along. The Overmind stated repeatedly that it wanted to destroy the Protoss. Claiming that a character’s motivations were not real reeks of bad writing. However, with only one of the three StarCraft II games in our hands, we still don’t have the full picture, and it’s important to keep in mind that this retcon could have a far more useful purpose than is apparent now.

Individual Retcon Analysis

There are several types of retcons. Good retcons fix previous problems or serve to improve the quality of the mythos. But bad retcons are not only useless, but they also reduce the quality of the mythos. So with the retcons that Blizzard did make, how did they fare? Were the retcons used to improve lore or fix problems, or were they largely due to negligence? Read on to find out.

Retcon #1:

Most of the player-characters in StarCraft didn't exist. The Mar Sara magistrate existed but had almost no interaction with James Raynor. The Zerg Cerebrate existed but didn't go to Aiur and instead was killed by Tassadar on Char. Artanis took the place of the StarCraft executor.

The reason given for this retcon was that the player-characters are all plot holes. But why is that? Let's take a look:

StarCraft Terran Magistrate: In the novel Liberty's Crusade, the Magistrate's role was taken on by the character Michael Liberty in an effort to better novelize the Terran campaign.

StarCraft Zerg Cerebrate: Following the example set by Liberty's Crusade, this Cerebrate was killed off by Tassadar in Queen of Blades and his role in the invasion of Aiur could not have belonged to him, therefore he is a plothole. It is possible that the Cerebrate played in StarCraft during the latter stages of the Zerg campaign, the Invasion of Aiur, was Araq, whose brood color was also purple.

StarCraft Protoss Executor: Again, following the example set by Liberty's Crusade, this character's role was simply given to someone else: Artanis.

Brood War Protoss Executor: Who this could have been is currently unknown, though this role might be assigned to another existing character we'll see later.

Brood War UED Commander: There is no information on who he was or what his current status is, though he is likely dead.

Brood War Zerg Cerebrate: There is no information on who this character was. But it is dead now since all the Cerebrates cannot survive for long without their symbiotic relationship with the Overmind. It is quite likely this character didn’t exist at all.

Some player-characters have been removed due to previous authors; novelizations of the game, so they are plot holes in this sense. Now, some of these characters' existence is really not worth addressing,  like the Brood War Cerebrate, since it is dead. So now, the only reasonable solution is to just say that these characters are gone: they likely will not be addressed again.

Final Verdict: Bad

This retcon has to be made now because of lack of foresight committed a by previous writers a long time ago. There are few reasons why novels could not have been written to include these characters. In addition, there are virtually no StarCraft fans out there who enjoy having the characters that they played as and whose shoes they filled be treated as if they never existed.

Retcon #2:

Protoss only fought on the surface of Tarsonis as opposed to a space battle.

This retcon is a minor detail. In StarCraft, the New Gettysburg mission was played on a space platform, seemingly with the intent of intercepting a Protoss fleet. Everywhere else, New Gettysburg is a ground battle.

Final Verdict: Good

Even the dialog in StarCraft seems to indicate that Kerrigan is on the surface of the planet, so that makes this a good retcon.

Retcon #3:

The Protoss technological level before the Aeon of Strife was retconned to be stone age, instead of highly advanced. This contradicts the line in the manual that "The Protoss harboured an insatiable lust for knowledge that led them to develop radical, progressive strains of scientific and meta-neural study." This creates even more problems if we consider that a map of the week that Blizzard released called "Proving Grounds" describes how Khas traveled to another planet to end the bloodshed there.

What makes the StarCraft races great is not only the fact that they form a healthy balanced triad in multiplayer, but in lore as well. Whereas before, the Protoss were an ancient race with lost technology, that role is now being subsumed by the Xel'Naga, taking away from the Protoss' sense of power and mystery. Warp Gates are an example. Before, they were a lost Protoss invention, now they have been retconned to be a Xel'Naga invention. Instead of the Protoss getting credit for the technology they should have created, that credit goes to the Xel'Naga, who left a bunch of technology, as well as crystals, on Aiur for the Protoss to reverse-engineer. With so little of their technology of their own making, one can’t help but wonder, perhaps the Protoss aren’t so advanced after all.

Before, the Aeon of Strife was seen as a battle so cataclysmic, that it sent this ancient and powerful race known as the Protoss hurtling to a stone age level of such darkness and ignorance that they were still trying to recover their old technology to the present day. Now, it's simply a primitive feud fought out with rocks and rudimentary swords known as "shikmas". Sure, some bad feelings developed between the Protoss, but it hardly seems consequential. One map of the week describes Aiur's landmasses themselves as being torn apart in this battle; this will need to be retconned too, because it's guaranteed that continents aren't going to break from rocks and shikmas. And with sci-fi authors in general having a skewed sense of scale, even the Aeon of Strife has been diminished, with the Shelak tribe in Firstborn hardly being able to number over 100 by any stretch of the imagination.

Final Verdict: Bad

There is no real purpose for this retcon, and it only serves to relegate the Protoss' role to the Xel'Naga, as well as contradict previous lore.

Retcon #4:

There is no longer any artistic or visual continuity between Brood War and StarCraft II.

1) The Hydralisk in the New Gettysburg cinematic is a SC2 version.
2) There was a StarCraft II-style Ultralisk in the "Twilight Archon" story during the fall of Aiur (the type with four Kaiser Blades instead of two).
3) Zealots and Carriers from the "A New Era" video follow the StarCraft II artwork style.
4) Jim Raynor is shown with hair in the "A New Era" video even though he had a buzz cut during the Great War.
5) The art for the old CMC suits don't match. The flashback with Raynor shows him wearing a new-style as opposed to the old-style suits. The new Firebat suit is a CMC-660, and it looks far different than its StarCraft counterpart.

In addition to this, several short stories from Frontline such as “Last Call” and “Fear the Reaper” don’t opt to use the newly updated art, but instead go with the classic look, further obfuscating matters.

Final Verdict: These retcons are largely subjective, as most people will appreciate the artistic upgrades or the time it saves Blizzard's art and cinematic departments to not redraw units in the StarCraft 1 style. However, some items, such as #4 which are largely due to negligence, or the fact that some of the favorite classic versions of StarCraft units never existed, might not sit well with anyone who has played StarCraft: Brood War.

Retcon #5:

Protoss death animations are actually the Protoss warping back to a safe haven. A retcon of much controversy, it was discussed in great detail in the Animation of Death article.

Final Verdict: Good

Protoss are not prolific, and they have been whittled down by wars so much that there is relatively little of them left. In order to preserve their numbers, and make the large-scale deaths of Protoss that we will see in StarCraft II be remotely believable, this retcon is necessary.


Retcon #6:

Protoss can no longer communicate with their deceased. In StarCraft, Protoss could communicate with their ancient ancestors through the Templar Archives. A short story called StarCraft: Revelations by Chris Metzen, provided insight into the Khala’s nature:

Reaching out with his consciousness, Madrid sensed Protoss spirits gathered around him. He became fleetingly aware of hundreds and then thousands of their minds, all scattered throughout the swirling ether that he beheld.

However Andy Chambers revealed in StarCraft II Q&A Batch 26 that the Protoss people cannot speak with their dead per se, but that their knowledge can be accessed by preservers. This has two effects. First, it makes preservers, introduced in the Dark Templar Saga, more important, but that isn’t a good reason for making a retcon at all. Second, it removes the fantasy aspect of “souls” from the StarCraft universe, which, while is a good idea, is somewhat spoiled by the inclusion of other fantasy-like elements such as prophecy.

Final Verdict: Bad

It seems that this retcon was made in vain. It has contradicted the original game’s manual as well as a short story for no particularly compelling reason.

Retcon #7

There is a discrepancy on how exactly Immortals are made. The StarCraft site calls Immortals a “dying breed,” however, in the Frontline manga short story “Why We Fight,” an injured Zealot named Khastiana is placed into a new Immortal exoskeleton:


Final Verdict: Though at first glance this seems like an inconsistency, it does have a possible explanation. In StarCraft, the Dragoons were bonded to their exoskeletons via the essence translators that were kept in the Cybernetics Core, but created at a Xel’Naga Shrine on Aiur (according to the old StarCraft2.com Immortal profile). As we can imagine, not every single Cybernetics Core was destroyed after the fall of Aiur, and the Protoss have probably recovered some of these essence translators, though it is true that no more can be made. The remaining Dragoons have been upgraded to Immortals. Though the Protoss can still bond fallen warriors with exoskeletons such as in “Why We Fight”, there is a finite amount of times they can do this since essence translators are no longer created at the shrine. That's why the Immortals are considered a "dying breed" and why Khastiana was still able to be placed into an Immortal. This is mainly speculation, but it's the only logical conclusion that avoids retcons and is consistent with the info on the immortal page.

Conclusion

Retcons do not need to be bad - they can often be useful tools for fixing a game’s mythos. As we have seen, Blizzard’s use of retcons has been somewhat mixed. Blizzard should hire a dedicated person, or assign another Blizzard writer, to keep track of all the StarCraft lore so that all new StarCraft media can be run past him and inconsistencies can be avoided. A strong and consistent canon is a boon for any franchise.

starcraft 2 xel'naga storyline projection twilight

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) editorial.

sclball.gif

starcraft 2 big picture

Intro

In the past few weeks, there has been much discussion on the current macro elements in StarCraft II. The discussion over MULEs, Larva Injection, and the Obelisk garnered much of the attention of the StarCraft community neglecting many of the other gameplay elements. With several Battle Reports officially released by Blizzard along with a number of YouTube videos from conventions, the StarCraft community is able to dissect the units and balance of the three races. By reviewing each unit, as well as discussing the specific roles the units play, we can gain a better understanding on how Blizzard designed StarCraft II. Although the stats may change throughout the beta period, the purpose of this article is to look at the basic stats, the role the unit is playing, how it differs from the original StarCraft, how it meshes with StarCraft II's new damaged system, and thoughts on how well the unit fills its particular role.

Besides the lipstick job and fancy new graphics, the new version of StarCraft features a new streamlined damage system. Instead of remembering what type of damage a particular unit does - normal, explosive, concussive - and the targets' armor/unit type, - light, medium, heavy - the new damage system uses base damage plus an additional modifier. Although the old system was far from complex, Blizzard's update to the damage system allows players along with spectators to jump into the game without memorizing damage types. Before we review the new units of StarCraft II, lets first look at the new damage system in action.

 

Index

StarCraft II Damage System: Case Studies

Terran Protoss Zerg
- Barracks
Marine
Reaper
Ghost
Marauder
- Factory
Hellion
Siege Tank
Thor
- Starport
Viking
Raven
Battlecruiser
Banshee
Medivac Dropship
- Gateway/Warp Gate
Zealot
Stalker
Disruptor
High Templar
Dark Templar
- Robotics Facility
Observer
Warp Prism
Immortal
Colossus
- Stargate
Phoenix
Void Ray
Zergling
Baneling
Hydralisk
Lurker
Roach
Corrupter
Brood Lord
Infestor
Overlord
Overseer
Queen
Ultralisk
Mutalisk

(Editor's Note: keep in mind that this article does not discuss every unit in StarCraft II)

 

StarCraft II Damage System: Case Studies

The Reaper has a base damage of 4 (x2), with a bonus of +4 vs light units. Here is a quick breakdown for two scenarios which show how the math for the damage system could work with the modifiers. The damage modifier can apply to each pistol shot for a total damage bonus of +8 or be a flat modifier with a total bonus of +4. The charts below should better explain the subtle differences between the two damage systems.

Now remember the base damage of the reaper is times 2 - this comes from the dual pistol attack of the Reaper, similar to the Zealot's attack. There are a number of scenarios below with two potential explanations for the damage modifiers.

System 1:

The top row shows the unit being targeted, its armor and hit points. The left column shows the attacking unit.

  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor Zergling 35 hit points 1 Armor Roach 160 hit points 1 Armor
Reaper - 4+4 with +4 vs Light Units 12 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 10 damage per round- 4 shots to kill 6 damage per round-27 shots to kill
Marauder - 15 with +6 vs Armored 15 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 20 damage per round-8 shots to kill

System 2:

 

  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor Zergling 35 hit points 1 Armor Roach 160 hit points 1 Armor
Reaper - 4 with +4 vs Light Units (x2) 16 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 6 damage per round- 27 shots to kill
Marauder - 15 with +6 vs Armored 15 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 20 damage per round- 8 shots to kill

 

The math from System 1 assumes that the +4 vs light units applies to the total effect of Reaper damage. Because the Reaper damage is split to 4 damage per pistol shot and the Reaper holding two pistols is firing two rounds at a time the total bonus +4 is split to +2 for each pistol.

The math from System 2 assumes that the +4 applies to each pistol thereby giving the effect of +8 per attack. Although the damage system is not finalized, StarCraft II is using System 2 as it coincides with weapon upgrades system. Those familiar with StarCraft will recall that it takes a non-upgraded Zealot 3 rounds of attack to kill a Zergling while it only takes 2 round when the Zealot has the weapons upgrade, making weapon upgrades an important part of the early game. By making upgrades an essential part of StarCraft II, players will have to think carefully on how to invest their Minerals and Gas.

The following chart shows the difference between the numbers in System 1 and System 2, assuming a weapons upgrade from the Reapers, for a battle against a Zergling.

  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor
System 1 Reaper with weapons upgrade (5x2) +4 14 damage per round, 3 rounds to kill a Zergling (5 Shots)
System 2 Reaper with weapons upgrade (5+4) x2 18 damage per round, 2 rounds to kill a Zergling (4 Shots)

Because the designers of StarCraft II want to make the option of upgrading units useful, it's likely that System 2 is accurate.

With changes to the damage system, there will undoubtedly be changes to how units are effected and used in the field. The next table shows the effect of the new damage system compared to the old damage system with the classic Siege Tank.

  Marine 40 hit points 0 Armor - Light Unit
Orig StarCraft Siege Tank - Siege Mode - 70 Explosive Damage Effective Damage, 70/2 = 35 Damage - Total hits 2
StarCraft II Tank - Siege Mode 50 Damage +50 vs armored Effective damage 50 = Total Hits 1

 

The new Siege Tank is more effective than its predecessor against light units as it does more damage to light units before they get within its minimum range. In addition, the new Siege Tank is also extremely effective towards heavily armored units found later in the game. With this basic understanding of the new damage system for StarCraft II, we have a basic understanding of the building block Blizzard uses to have a unit fulfill a particular role. Now we can finally look at each individual unit, their abilities, and how the new upgrades will change the game.

A quick side note on shields - the shields in the original StarCraft always took full damage, regardless of the damage type, Explosive or Concussive. It appears the shield system has drastically changed from the original StarCraft. Now there is no difference between how shields absorb damage compared to the base hit points of a Protoss unit. The shields are essentially an extension to the Protoss hit points with the added bonus of being able to naturally regenerate at a higher rate compared to Terran or Zerg units.

 

Terran

Barracks:

Marine -

marine.jpg

  • Small versatile unit with strength in numbers
  • Weakest of the tier 1 units in open combat
    • Keywords: Biological, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Marine is the basic bread and butter unit of the Terran army. A dozen Marines adds strength and depth to any Terran army. One of the original strengths of the Marine in StarCraft was its size, a small unit, along with its ability to deal normal damage. The majority of high damage units from the original StarCraft used an explosive damage type, making the attack half as effective against a Marine. With the move to base damage, the Marine is no longer as effective once high damage units are introduced. In order to compensate for this, Blizzard gives the Terran Marine a Combat Shield, giving the Marine an additional 15 hit points. The additional hit points makes the Marine more durable by not being able to be one hit killed from a Siege Tank as shown above, as well as the ability to take extra hits from Zealots and other melee units. The Combat Shield makes the Marine more powerful against other early game units and makes up some lost ground in the mid to late game with changes to the damage system.

Reaper -

reaper.jpg

  • Effective against light units with the ability to jump cliffs
  • Effectiveness tapers off quickly after armies transfer to high tiered units
    • Keywords: Biological, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: +4 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

The Reaper replaces the Firebat from the Original StarCraft as the anti-light unit produced from the Barracks. At the additional costs of 25 Minerals and 25 Gas over the Firebat, the Reaper is designed to harass mineral lines and take on light infantry units such as the Zealot or the Zergling with added mobility. To further enhance the Reaper as a hit and run unit, the Reaper was given the D-8 charge ability. The D-8 Charge is a timed non-mobile land mine that can be thrown and will detonate once the timer has been reached. Unfortunately the Reaper loses much of its effectiveness once the game goes beyond the early game. Although the Reaper has the potential to harass throughout the game, the Reaper is easily destroyed when fighting higher tier units. Against non-light units with an armor value greater than one, the Reaper’s double pistol attack does not have the base damage to be effective, for example, when a Reaper fights a Roach as noted earlier in the damage portion of this article. On the bright side, with the move of the Zerg Hydralisk to a light unit, as there are currently no medium units in StarCraft II, the Reaper will be effective against them as well.

Running through the simulations, the Reaper shares more in common with the Vulture than the Firebat. It is a potent threat of harass with its ability to move across the map quickly, doing a good amount of damage to light units and pressuring undefended mineral lines. The Reaper shines against light units doing an impressive 16 damage with while doing a respectable 8 damage against non-light units before accounting for armor.

Ghost -

ghost.jpg

  • No single unit can do as much damage in a short period of time
  • Expensive while requiring a lot of extras to be truly effective
    • Keywords: Biological, Psionic, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: +10 vs Light
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Ghost returns as the land-based caster for the Terran army. Although it maintains two out of the three abilities from the original StarCraft, it is no longer purely a late-tier tech unit. With the Ghost Academy, a tier-two building available after the Barracks, similar to the Factory, Ghosts become available. The Ghost receives two additional abilities, Snipe and EMP, while losing Lockdown. With the removal of the Science Vessel, the EMP Shockwave ability was transferred to the Ghost making it particularly deadly to Protoss bases by using EMP on buildings to remove their shields and following it up with a nuclear launch to devastate the Protoss base. Snipe, a new ability to StarCraft II, allows the Ghost to deal 45 damage from a distance per shot while ignoring armor to an organic unit. This makes the Ghost a perfect counter to expensive land-based casters who generally have low hit points. While the 45 damage may seem low, the casting cost of Snipe only requires 25 energy, making it easy to spam and pick off key units early in a battle.

The changes to the Ghost, although minimal, may drastically change the game. No longer is the Ghost limited to Terran and Protoss games for Lockdown or the occasional Nuclear Launch. The one limiting factor at this time for the Ghost is that it requires a large amount of Minerals and Gas: 150/150 per unit. Although the Ghost is poised to be a potent early land-based caster, it is doubtful the Ghost will be playing a meaningful role outside of Nuclear Launches until its cost is revamped. Its costs are astronomically high when considering what the player gets in return. The Snipe ability does an impressive 45 damage against a biological unit but the current Ghost attack already does extra damage to light units making Snipe only truly effective against armored biological units, the Marauder, Roach, Ultralisk and the Zerg air are the only units that currently come to mind and their base hit points make the Snipe ability rather useless unless a Terran player masses a large number of expensive Ghosts.

Marauder -

Marauder.jpg

  • High damage unit coming from Barracks
  • Loses versatility as it can not attack air units compared to a Marine
    • Keywords: Biological, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +6 vs Armored (Slowing)
    • Targets: Ground

Of all the units to grace us from the Barracks, the Marauder deserves special attention. The Marauder opens new ways for the Terran to counter Protoss in the early game and gives the Terrans' a high hit point heavy infantry unit earlier in the game. Instead of being forced to get a quick Factory and add a Machine Shop to pump out Tanks, Blizzard gave the Terran army a unit from the Barracks with a damage bonus to armored units. Marauders coupled with Marines have the ability to do a lot of damage to not only the mineral line but the opposing army as well. Its slowing attack is simply icing on the cake for this Terran unit as it can chase down fleeing units by slowing down their escape. The Marauder is a great transition unit from the early game and will see a lot of play to counter Protoss Stalkers and Zerg Roaches. If the an opponent techs to higher tier units, the Marauder grants the Terran army enough time to transition away from the early game and a way to deal with heavy armored units. The new M+M for Terran may just be the Marine and Marauder push.

 

Factory:

Hellion -

Hellion.jpg

  • Easily produced from Factory and effective against low tier units
  • Tier 2 unit that really counters tier 1 - may become ineffective by the time they are available
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +5 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

The Factory gets an upgrade with the addition of the Hellion. The Hellion replaces the Vulture as the basic unit from the Factory and is an upgrade compared to the Vulture with higher base damage while fulfilling its role as a mobile anti-light infantry unit. Although the Hellion does not have Spider Mines to counter armored units, the Hellion's speed along with its splash damage rewards players who decide to tech quickly with a cost effective unit early in the game. The Hellion's fast movement speed allows it to scout and disable expansions quickly. Because the Hellion does a base damage of 10, instead of the concussive 20 damage of a Vulture, which ended up dealing 5 damage to heavily armored units in the original StarCraft, the Hellion is a stronger unit dealing high damage to light units and does respectable damage to all other types as well.

By examining the Terran Tech tree, one will notice a number of units that share similar roles. Once a player constructed their first Barracks, they can choose to build a Factory to get Hellions and continue further into the tech tree or build a Tech Lab/Merc Compound allowing them to produce Reapers. Both units complete similar roles, although via different methods, and it will be interesting to see how these units will be balanced to make sure one unit does not outshine another.

Siege Tank -

seigetank.jpgseigetank_seigemode.jpg

  • Longest ranged attack in the game
  • Increase in cost over the StarCraft Siege Tank
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +10/+50 vs Armored (Depending on Beta Build - In Siege Mode)
    • Targets: Ground

The new Siege Tank is an upgrade over the original Siege Tank from StarCraft, but changes to the damage system while in Tank Mode does reduce its effectiveness over units that were previously medium sized in StarCraft, the Hydralisk and Vulture. With all that said, the Siege Tank in Siege Mode definitely shines brighter than its predecessor. With 50 base damage and an additional 50 damage against armored units, the Siege Tank will single-shot non-upgraded Marines with ease while still shelling out 100 damage per volley against heavily armored units and reduce buildings to rubble in mere moments

The new tank does come with some drawbacks. To keep everything in balance, the new Siege Tank now costs 200 Minerals, 150 Gas and takes up 3 supply, making the new Siege Tank more difficult to mass. It still is too early to tell if the large Siege Tank battles in TvT is a thing of the past until the game is in the hands of highly skilled players. Even with the changes to the base damage, cost and supply of the Siege Tank, most players should find the new Siege Tank to be in the same spirit as the original.

Thor -

thor.jpg

  • Large Damage against ground and air
  • Slow movement speed with and a large footprint
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored, Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None - Ground Mode / +4 vs Light against Air
    • Targets: Ground and Air

The Thor is the perfect addition to the Terran Mech strategy as the Terran army needed a strong unit that was capable of dealing and receiving damage. The Thor is a bipedal mechanized behemoth and is the older stronger brother of the Goliath from the original StarCraft. Although the Thor is an extremely powerful assault unit able to take down large number of ground units, the Thor truly shines when combating highly mobile light air units. The Mutalisk harass was one of the most feared strategies in the Zerg arsenal. The Goliath was simply to weak to combat the highly mobile Mutalisk army effectively as the Goliath explosive armament was ineffective against the light armored Mutalisk. The Thor however receives an impressive +4 damage against the Mutalisk effectively giving it +16 damage when considering that the Thor has 10 (x4) ground-to-air attack. The Thor with its bonus damage to light air units gives the Terran army a significant advantage in combating air units.

In the original StarCraft, there is no Terran land-based unit with more than 150 hitpoints. This was a weakness to the Terran army as the Zerg had the Ultralisk and most Protoss units had 150 hit points except for the Dark and High Templar. The Battlecruiser doesn't count as units can run past them to get to the weaker units underneath them. A well placed Psi Storm or unnoticed Lurkers would lay waste or severely damage the Terran ground forces before a player could properly respond. With the Thor, players are forced to deal with the Thor in order to get to the Siege Tanks or other lower hitpoint units behind them, assuming the opponents were trying to use Zerglings or Zealots. With its high hit points and impressive anti-air armament, the usefullness of the Thor doesn't stop there. In addition to its superb anti-air and its formidable ground attack, the Thor comes with 250mm Strike Cannons that deals 500 damage over 6 seconds. The destructive power of the Thor in addition to its high vitality gives the Thor the necessary survivability and destructive power the Terran army was missing in the original StarCraft.

 

Starport:

Viking -

viking_ground.jpgviking_air.jpg

  • Great air to air attack
  • Cliff jumping ability not that good - continue reading for other issues and personal thoughts on the Viking
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air (Air Mode), Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None - Ground Mode / +10 vs Massive Air Mode
    • Targets: Air in Air Mode / Ground in Ground Mode

The Viking is a welcomed addition to the new Terran Army. Although the Viking does have a ground mode and an air mode, the Viking will mainly be used as an anti-aircraft unit since the Reaper shares similar function to the Viking while coming much earlier in the tech tree. Replacing the original Wraith, the Viking is designed to counter large capital ships with bonus damage to massive units. The Viking is superior in terms of damage in comparison to the Wraiths and its ground support mode is more effective as well. With its move from the Factory to the Starport though, the Viking loses its ability to be a potent early game harasser. The Reaper is earlier in the tech tree, presumably easier to mass and is just as effective as the Viking to get into expansions. Looking over the base stats, the Viking is truly an air-to-air combat unit that does a neat trick and fights the ground as well.

Although the Viking is an interesting unit, compared to its original purpose, the Viking falls short compared to the rest of the Terran army. The Viking was originally created as an upgrade over the Goliath, as the Goliath was a great counter to air units. Unfortunately, the Goliath was always slow in chasing down fleeing air units, hence the introduction of the Viking. As it stands, the Viking's anti-air armament, although good, is too similar to the Wraith from StarCraft and if the Viking is supposed to be the new and improved air-to-air superiority fighter there must be some advantage given to the Viking to fill that role. When comparing the abilities of a Wraith to that of a Viking, the ability to cloak an air unit to deal more damage while hidden is more useful than converting my air to air fighter into a land-based harassing unit. If the Viking changed its land assault mode to be similar to the Goliath while upgrading the Viking's air mode be more of an air-to-air combat pursuit mode, the Viking would fulfill its original purpose more fluidly. By giving the Viking a powerful ground-to-air attack, the Viking will be as effective as Goliaths in ground-to-air while the “pursuit mode” would overcome the Goliath's weakness of not being able to chase an enemy once it hides behind a cliff. Any time the Viking was used to counter a particular situation, the Wraith would have been equally as effective if not more with its ability to attack while cloaked.

Raven -

Raven.jpg

  • Early Detection coupled with effective abilities against all races
  • Loses Irradiate and Defensive Matrix compared to Science Vessel
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Raven replaces the Science Vessel of StarCraft and does the job beautifully. Terrans' lack of detection in the early game and reliance on Scanner Sweeps and Turrets is a thing of the past. The Raven, which only needs a Starport with a Tech Lab, is much easier to produce than its original counterpart. Although many will miss Irradiating Mutalisks, the Raven’s Seeker Missiles is effective and packs a large punch, especially in TvT matches where the game often turns into a Siege Tank war, the sieged/non-mobile tanks will become easy prey for the Seeker Missile needing time to track and lock on its target. The Auto Turret and Defense Drone round out the rest of its abilities. As with all caster units, it is difficult to know how it plays until it is used but so far the Raven is a great support unit and makes a great addition to any army. But one thing is for sure, being able to get a Raven early means the Dark Templar will no longer be the bane of the Terran army.

Battlecruiser -

battlecruiser.jpg

  • New attack more effective against lower tiered units, able to upgrade to take on other capital ships
  • Upgrades are unique to each Battlecruiser and become costly
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Massive, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Battlecruiser did not see enough play compared to the Protoss Carrier and Blizzard noticed this and made significant upgrades to the Terran flagship. With its upgraded laser battery, it is now a much more potent threat against larger swarms of units instead of a single charged attack towards one unit. Its basic attack now resembles the attack of the Protoss Carrier more than the previous Battlecruiser. The Yamato Gun makes a return as well if the player wishes to specialize his Battlecruiser in destroying individual targets as opposed to a swarm. Finally the Missile Pod upgrade is still in a shroud of mystery as we have yet to see any footage of it in action. Perhaps the Missile Pod will offer a small amount of splash damage over the current laser battery attack of the Battlecruiser. Recent gampleay videos have shown a Battlecruiser attacking while on the move; however according to Blizzard, the Void Ray will be the only unit capable of attacking while moving.

Banshee -

banshee.jpg

  • Splashed missile damage against ground units
  • No Air to Air attack.
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

Although the Banshee lacks the air-to-air attack, the upgraded land-based attack with its splash damage focuses the Banshee into a very specific and effective role. The Banshees attack along with its ability to cloak lends itself towards harassing Mineral lines that have no static defense or detection. Although the Banshee does show some promise in the actual battlefield, in actual combat there are other units who can fulfill the same tactical role and be more cost effective.

Medivac Dropship -

  • Transport vessel coupled with the ability to heal organic units
  • Later tier unit designed to heal early tier units
    • Keywords: Mechanical Air Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

To the astonishment of many the Dropship and Medic will not be returning to StarCraft II. The Terran army now has the Medivac a hybrid healer that acts as a transport vessel and medic that performs both jobs beautifully. Looking at the Medivac and the transport vessels in StarCraft II as a whole Blizzard has expanded the role of all transport vessels. Rather than give the Dropship the ability to attack which some may remember during the original StarCraft beta the Medivac can now heal biological units in the battlefield. This is definitely a welcome addition as the Dropship from StarCraft was essentially useless once the troops were deployed unless a tactical retreat was in order. Although the Medivac may need some additional balancing the drop rate of the Medivac found in Battle Report 4 was extremely fast. It's very likely that the Medivac will open up a number of strategic options for the Terran players.

 
Protoss
 

Gateway/Warp Gate:

Gateway.jpgwarpgate.jpg

The Gateway/Warp Gate changes in and of itself deserves some special attention. The Warp Gate is a definite upgrade to the Gateway from the original StarCraft universe. The Warp Gate deploys units to any location as long as it has Pylon power. A proxy Pylon becomes a major threat as it may have the power of 3-6 gateways within its queues. This enhancement gives Protoss the much need mobility it was missing from the original game. Keeping track of early Proxy Pylons is now a must when playing against Protoss in any match up.

Zealot -

Zealot.jpg

  • Strongest of the Tier 1 units
  • Expensive and slow without upgrades
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Zealot comes back with very few changes. Their base stats are the same and the Zealot is essentially the same unit with a new ability called Charge. The Zealot continues its reign as the strongest initial unit of the races while being the most expensive. The new charge ability is a definite give and take. The most casual players who only played on BGH will find the slower overall walking speed of the Zealot to be detrimental while ladder players will enjoy the survivability of the Zealot as it charges at its target. The players who loved the versatility survivability and strength of the Zealot are rewarded with the same unit in StarCraft II.

Stalker -

Stalker.jpg

  • Blink ability and movement speed leads to strong hit and run tactics
  • Damage weaker compared to the Dragoon counterpart
    • Keywords: Mechanical Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: AirGround

The Protoss Stalker is similar in form and shape to the Protoss Dragoon but users will quickly find that the Stalker does not have the same staying power as the Protoss Dragoon. The original Protoss Dragoon did 20 explosive damage per hit. This translates to 10 damage a shot to small/light units - Zerglings Zealots Marines - 15 damage to medium units - Hydralisk Vultures - and a massive 20 damage to heavy units - Siege Tanks Ultralisks - Dragoons. The Stalker with its 10 damage and no modifiers is as strong as a Dragoon in the early game but loses its punch as the game progresses. The Stalkers Blink may make up for this loss in firepower as Blink has been shown to be a potent offensive and defensive ability since troop movement is important in any battle.

Disruptor -

Disruptor.jpg

  • Early land caster with good spells and an attack
  • Slow movement speed limited to mostly base defense
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: +3 Biological
    • Targets: AirGround

The Disruptor is a land-based casting unit available to the Protoss army very early in the tech tree. Its spells and abilities do not directly do damage aside from its basic attack nor do they provide a buff as commonly found in other RTS games. With the Force Field the Disruptor can tighten off choke points deny reinforcements or prevent retreats while Hallucination can feint a much stronger position and deny an attack all together.

High Templar -

high_templar.jpg

  • Most feared energy-based spell in the game
  • Mostly useless once energy is depleted
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The High Templar is a late tech unit that happens to be produced from the Gateway/Warp Gate. Essentially this allows the High Templar along with its shadier counterpart the Dark Templar to be produced in large numbers once the single tech building is produced as opposed to needing to mass produce a newly available building. For example it doesn’t matter how many Terran Barracks a player has if he wants to mass produce Tanks he will need multiple Factories. In contrast if massproducing Zealots and Stalkers early in the game the Gateway/Warp Gate will transition into production of High and Dark Templar's relatively easily. The Protoss acts as the middle ground between production styles between the Terran and Zerg in this respect. Although the High Templar is capable of being warped in the High Templar reliance on energy and lack of a standard attack makes it unsuitable for in field tactical deployment with the Warp Gate since the High Templar must wait until it has gathered enought energy. Although the High Templar has not changed much between StarCraft II and the original the new casting system will make High Templars much easier to use. Multiple High Templars belonging to the same control group will not cast multiple Psi Storms effectively saving energy by not casting unnecessary Storms.

Dark Templar -

Dark_Templar.jpg

  • Cloaked unit with strong melee attack
  • Detection units much easier to produce making them less effective
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Dark Templar the bane of the Terrans in StarCraft makes a return to StarCraft II. Its permanent cloaking ability coupled together with the Warp-In ability allows for covert tactical deployment. The Dark Templar stays true to the original and could pose a large threat had it not been for the changes to the Terran and Protoss tech tree. The mobile detectors from the Terran and Protoss army are now readily available and come early in their tech trees. The Observer is produced at the Robotics Support Bay but no longer requires an Observatory for production while the Raven is produced at the Terran Starport but does not need a Science Facility for its production. Blizzard may have realized that the Dark Templar and Lurker were negatively impacting users who were new to the game and adjusted the tech trees to combat the situation.

 

Robotics Facility:

Observer -

observer.jpg

  • Perfect detection unit - cloaked
  • Low Hit points and shields - easily destroyed
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Observer makes a cloaked return to StarCraft II. As mentioned earlier the Observer is built from the Robotics Facility without any additional supporting buildings and now comes earlier in the tech tree.

Warp Prism -

Warp_Prism.jpg

  • Threat with drops and Warp-In giving the Protoss army mobility
  • Stationary when in Phase Mode
    • Keywords: Mechanical Psionic Air Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The newly designed transport unit for the Protoss army shares nothing with the Shuttle from StarCraft except for the fact that it can transport units. Although the Warp Prism does not have an attack the Warp Prism's secondary ability immobilizes the Warp Prism as it converts to Phase Mode. Phase Mode provides Pylon power to un-powered Protoss buildings and allows the Warp Gate to Warp-In units where ever the Warp Prism may be located. The Protoss threat of scouting Warp Prisms coupled with instant deployment of units to the active battlefield makes the Warp Prism an excellent support unit.

Immortal -

immortal.jpg

  • Hardened Shield provides extra durability in late game for higher tier fights
  • High cost and four supply makes it difficult to mass
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical
    • Damage Modifiers: +20 vs Armored
    • Targets: Ground

The Immortal is a welcomed addition to the Protoss army as it lays waste to heavily entrenched positions. Those who have tried to break a Terran front door with Dragoons know the result is normally a lot of blue/green Dragoon life-support goo. The Immortal however looks to rectify that particular situation with its enhanced shields extra life and bonus damage against armored units. The Immortal gives the Protoss player a land-based option for sieged tanks and and a way to counter with static base defense. Its hardened shield limits damage dealt to the immortal and reduces all damage to 10 effectively requiring a Siege Tank to use over 30 shots to destroy one Immortal assuming the overshield is always active and not only when an Immortal has shield points. Its features are not without costs. The Immortal costs an amazing 4 supply and requires a heavy Mineral and Gas investment per unit. (250 Minerals 150 Gas)

Colossus -

colossus.jpg

  • Area effect splash damage rips through lower hit point units - Cliff walking makes it a threat against mineral lines
  • Its height makes it vulnerable to anti air fire
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Colossus is arguably the most feared and powerful unit seen through the numerous Battle Reports and BlizzCon stage matches. The design team didn't pull any stops with the Colossus as it easily rips through any light unit army. Although there have been some discussions about the Colossus traversing cliffs for quick surprising attacks the Colossus ability to traverse cliffs may be its saving grace to protect itself from danger and get out of harms way from overwhelming ground forces. The Colossus currently does an impressive 23(x2) damage from the most recent concrete numbers enabling it to cut through Marines and Zerglings like a hot knife through butter. Lets hope the the weakness of being vulnerable by air attacks will be enough to balance this behemoth.

 

Stargate:

Phoenix -

phoenix.jpg

  • Graviton Beam immobilize land targets
  • Lack of overload and splash damage makes it ineffective vs swarms
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air

The Phoenix replaces the Corsair as the light air-to-air combat vessel. The Corsair with its quick pulsing splash damage attack was highly effective against large groups of Mutalisks and other low armor air units when massed. However the redesigned Phoenix is more effective with less numbers with a base damage of 11(x2) and no additional modifiers. Its quick pulsating laser barrage will quickly take down all but the most heavily armored capital ships. The most recent versions removed the overload ability from the Phoenix but Blizzard decided to introduce a new mechanic for the Phoenix. Those familiar with WarCraft III will equate the Graviton Beam to the Dragon Hawk Riders' Shackle with a little twist. Currently the Graviton Beam has the ability to pick up land-based units and freeze them in their tracks. Although the beam does not have a damage over time ability it does open up the unit to anti-air fire and works well with the focused attack of a Void Ray.

There is still much mystery surrounding the current Graviton Beam ability however. Are Siege Tanks mounted to the ground or are they able to be picked up as well? Is the Graviton Beam ability able to effect friendly targets? If an Immortal is getting surrounded by Zerglings can he be lifted for protection as Zealots take care of the swarm? Can the Graviton Beam be used on other flying units? Will it act like a tractor beam? What happens when I try to Graviton Beam burrowed Lurker or any burrowed Zerg unit? All these questions have yet to be answered and will greatly effect the usefullness of the Phoenix.

Void Ray -

void_ray.jpg

  • High damage against land and air targets
  • Weak initial attack
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: AirGround

The Void Ray is a new high damage air unit for the Protoss Army. Rather than simply giving the Void Ray a damage modifier towards massive or armored units and building the Void Ray's damage mechanic does more damage the longer the Void Ray is focusing on a single unit or building essentially making the Void Ray effective against high hit point units regardless of armor type. Once the final numbers are released charts and graphs will show a natural progression of damage done over time. Without doing the complete analysis as the final numbers for the Void Ray have not been released the Void Ray will be ineffective against units with less than 50 hit points moderately effective against units with 50 - 200 hit points and will ultimately shine against units with over 200 hit points as the Void Ray will spend more of its time in the higher damage range.

Carrier -

Carrier.jpg

  • Capital Ship of the Protoss fleet - able to deal a large amount of damage and has excellent range with Interceptors
  • Cost of Interceptors - needs additional time to build Interceptors before true potential is reached
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Massive Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground Air

"Carrier has arrived" as the classic capital ship of the Protoss Fleet. Not much has changed on paper compared to the original StarCraft. Its gameplay iconic status and powerful imagery has left the Carrier pretty much untouched. The few upgrades and changes offered in the latest edition include a speed upgrade for the Interceptors of the Carrier itself. The number of Interceptors each Carrier holds looks to be the same but only time will tell. With the changes to damage system the Carrier will be highly effective against Tier 1 and Tier 2 units while losing battles to the anti-massive units found later in the tech trees.

Zerg

 

Zergling -

zergling.jpg

  • Cheapest unit in tier 1 - (25 Minerals)
  • Only effective once it swarms its target
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Zergling makes a return with no enhancements or changes whatsoever. The important thing to note is the improved pathing built into the StarCraft II movement engine. Those familiar with the Zergling and its effective swarm style tactics will love the infinite control group as the player can control 200 supply's worth of Zerglings with one control group.

Baneling -

baneling.jpg

  • Effective against low tier units and extra damage vs bases
  • Slow movement speed and high Gas cost make it cost prohibitive to mass
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +20 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

With the evolution of the Zerg the most basic Zergling now has the ability to morph itself into a suicide zapper unit called a Baneling. The Baneling is a potent threat to the early game. The Baneling with its large splash damage and damage bonus when attacking buildings gives the Zerg an early unit capable of destroying key structures early in the game. The Baneling is not without its faults. Due to its size it moves slower then its pre-evolved counterpart. Its slow movement means it will be focus-fired on or avoided at all cost until proper countermeasures have been completed.

Hydralisk -

Hydralisk.jpg

  • High utility unit attacking land and air with 1 supply. Small unit. Easier to swarm with than Stalker.
  • Doesn't excel at one particular role.
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +4 vs Armored
    • Targets: Ground Air

The Hydralisk makes a triumphant return as the ranged Zerg unit. Its utility of being able to hit both land and air coupled with its low supply cost makes the Hydralisk a viable option throughout the game. With the removal of the medium size unit type from StarCraft II the Hydralisk is now a light armored unit. Although this would normally change much of the balance with Zerg as a race with the removal of the Dragoon and Vulture few will notice the difference in the Hydralisk armor type.

Lurker -

lurker.jpg

  • Able to attack and do splash damage while burrowed
  • Movement to Tier 3 on the tech tree makes it difficult to produce
    • Keywords: Armored Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +15 Armored
    • Targets: Ground

The Lurker makes another return to the Zerg army but joins the party late. The Lurker is no longer available at Tier 2 and has been pushed down to a Tier 3 late game siege unit. This is most likely to remove the negative play experience many players felt when there army was destroyed by a unit they could not see. With the move to Tier 3 the Lurker receives a number of upgrades. The most impressive of these upgrades being the upgrade in its attack to siege range.

Although the Lurker is still a powerful unit its movement from Tier 2 to Tier 3 is perhaps too much. Now that the Lurker is a late tier unit the Zerg losses a lot of fire power from its once impressive Tier 2 arsenal. According to Blizzard Zerg is currently the weakest race as they are lacking a strong punch at Tier 2. If the Lurker moved back to Tier 2 but had an attack similar to the Sunken Colony from the original StarCraft it would give the Zerg another viable option at Tier 2. At Tier 3 the Lurker could receive an upgrade on its attack to splash similar to the original Lurker from the original StarCraft and an increase to siege range.

Roach -

roach.jpg

  • High regeneration rate and traveling while burrowed gives extended survivability
  • No attack vs air - vulnerable to focus fire.
    • Keywords: Armored Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +8 Biological
    • Targets: Ground

With the addition of the Roach each race receives a strong anti armor unit that can only target ground units. The Roach is a natural progression of the Zerg army with its effectiveness coming from sheer numbers as opposed to individual strength. As mentioned earlier during the damage explanation of this article the Roach excels at attacking biological units while being a heavily armored biological unit itself. In recent updates the Roach also received the ability to move while burrowed giving the Zerg a ground based harrasing unit.

Corrupter -

corruptor.jpg

  • Dedicated air-to-air unit from Tier 2
  • May be micro intensive as it needs to destroy a target to corrupt it into a turret.
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air

The Corrupter is the Zerg's dedicated air-to-air combat unit. The Corrupter gives Zerg an early anti-air unit without having to tech to the Greater Spire. It's important to note that Corrupters don't immediately destroy their targets. When a target would normally be destroyed it is converted into a stationary unit able to destroy other air units. With this ability the Corrupter can quickly overcome large groups of enemy air units similar to how the Dark Ranger in WarCraft III can build up a large army quickly.

Brood Lord -

broodlord.jpg

  • Extra long range attack from the air
  • Slow movement couple with high cost as it mutates from another unit
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Brood Lord replaces the Zerg Guardian from StarCraft. In addition to the base attack for the Brood Lord its attack also spawns Broodlings once it hits its target. The Brood Lord mutates from the Corrupter and requires a Greater Spire similar to how the Guardian mutated from the Mutalisk in the original StarCraft. An unnoticed group of Brood Lords will quickly destroy an enemy position as it is overwhelmed by Broodlings. The spawning of Broodlings makes the Brood Lord particularly effective against Terran Siege Tanks. Siege Tanks hit by a Brood Lord would spawn Broodlings which would cause nearby Siege Tanks to fire catching the original Siege Tank in friendly splash damage and perhaps destroy it.

Infestor -

infestor.jpb

  • Neural Parasite and other spells quickly change the course of a battle
  • No natural attack ability
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Infestor is a new unit to StarCraft replacing the Defiler and receiving a completely new set of spells. The default spell for the Infestor Neural Parasite mind controls a target for up to 10 seconds quickly changing the course of a battle. A burrowed Infestor can Mind Control a Colossus or Thor to quickly turn the tide of a battle. With the evolution of the Zerg the Zerg have captured enough Command Centers to allow the Infestor to spawn Infested Terrans. The new Infested Terran is no longer a sapper unit meant to take out entrenched positions but a Marine with slower movement. Finally Fungal Growth resembles the Ensnare ability of the Zerg Queen in StarCraft while being able to completely immobilize the target after six seconds. A well timed Fungal Growth would easily separate an attacking army into two or prevent a weakened army from retreating.

Overlord -

overlord.jpg

  • Easily massed and acts as the air transport unit for the Zerg
  • Loses detection ability
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Overlord makes a return as the flying farm in StarCraft II. In order to produce additional units in StarCraft the player must have enough supply to support those units. Similar to how the Terran Supply Depot and Protoss Pylon allows for the production of additional units the Overlord allows additional Zerg units to be produced. For balance reasons the Overlord lost the detector ability. To make up for this shortfall the Overlord was given a number of new abilities. The Overlord now has the ability to spawn creep anywhere on the map enabling the Zerg to fortify a position with Spine Crawlers or Spore Colonies before the Hatchery is completed or even perform a Spine Crawler rush with a few hidden Drones. The Overlord once again retains the ability to act as the transport unit for the Zerg army.

Overseer -

overseer.jpg

  • Flying caster unit able to detect cloaked and burrowed units.
  • Loses the abilities to transport and spawn creep
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

Overseer is a mutation from the Overlord. Although it loses the Overlord's functionality the newly granted spells and the detector ability easily make up for the lost utility. The Overseer can protect fleeing Zergs from being hit by blocking line of sight with the Fog ability or do early scouting with the Changeling ability. At this time there are no reports on whether or not the Overseer loses its ability to act as a farm.

Queen -

Queen.jpg

  • Early land-based caster with critical abilities to the production of the Zerg army
  • Extremly low movement speed when not moving on a creep.
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Queen has been the focus of more discussions than any other unit in the StarCraft II universe. The Queen returns to StarCraft II in name only and does not resemble the original Queen from StarCraft. The Queen is now a land-based unit available at tier 1. The Queen is the most important part of the Zerg army with its ability to Spawn Larva. The Spawn Larva ability creates an additional 3 larva at a single Hatchery after 25 seconds. With this ability the Queen essentially doubles the Larva output of a single Hatchery. One of the greatest weakness of the Zerg army was its reliance on Larva production from a Hatchery. With the Spawn Larva ability the Zerg army can quickly generate and early rush or replenish Drones quickly. With the ability to double the Larva production from a single Hatchery it is no wonder why the Queen is an integral part of the Zerg army.

Ultralisk -

ultalisk.jpg

  • Strongest melee unit in the game with a large number of hit points
  • High Gas and supply cost
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Ultralisk returns as a bigger badder 300 Minerals 200 Gas 6 supply melee unit. Its rather weak 20 damage per attack is offset by its ability to splash the damage to surrounding targets. In addition the Ultralisk gets a nice damage upgrade when attacking buildings with a 60 damage headbutt. The ultimate melee unit which would overrun opponents' positions with a simple attack-move command is back.

Mutalisk -

mutalisk.jpg

  • Fast movement speed and harassment
  • High cost and micro management
    • Keywords: Light Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground Air

The Mutalisk is every bit as potent as the original in StarCraft. The Mutalisks unique movement and attack animation leads the unit to be stacked and controlled. Now that players can have an infinite number of units in a single control group stacks of 18+ Mutalisks may be possible and deadly. Without Irradiate and Corsairs to slow down stacked Mutalisks the flying harassment unit from StarCraft may return with a renewed vengeance.

 

"

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) editorial.

"

Xel'Naga Storyline Projection 2: Twilight

With the release of the third book of the Dark Templar Saga - Twilight, the nature of the mysterious "cycle" that underpins all StarCraft mythos has finally been revealed. In StarCraft: Legacy's previous Xel'Naga Storyline Projection article we correctly extrapolated that Duran is not necessarily allied with the Xel'Naga, and that the Xel'Naga have no need to be antagonists in the upcoming sequel. The purpose of this article is to act as a comprehensive primer for all currently known Xel'Naga mythology in the StarCraft universe. Joining us as guest columnist is fellow lore enthusiast and administrator at the StarCraft Wiki, Kimera757 aka. PsiSeveredHead. In this article, we will analyze and distill the repercussions of the Xel'Naga's cycle, as well as discuss many common lore questions related to it.

starcraft 2 xel'naga storyline projection twilight

Index:

Intro

Theories

Xel'Naga "Servants"

Notes

starcraft 2 xel'naga storyline projection twilight

Intro

 

Xel'Naga Cycle and Purity of Essence and Form

The mysterious cosmic cycle is simply the Xel'Naga's means of prolonging their existence.1 Throughout cosmic time, the Xel'Naga manipulate the two species using their knowledge of protogenetics, and the two species eventually merge to become the next incarnation of Xel'Naga, who are again reborn. This cycle has shaped so much of the cosmos that it can be seen as a natural process in and of itself. The preserver Zamara stressed that the Xel'Naga were not looking for hosts, and the process is extremely noninvasive to the two subject species. This cycle is a passive retcon of sorts, because while the Protoss thought that they were failed creations, as it indeed claims in the manual, which could perhaps have been written from the Protoss' point of view, it turns out the Xel'Naga were simply done with the Protoss when they abandoned Aiur.2

The cycle requires two purities, essence and form, to be merged into one species. These purities are an aspect of the Xel'Naga physiology. Purity of form is most likely exemplified by things such as natural speed, strength or vitality, something that the Protoss possess. Purity of essence most likely refers to the unity of a race via telepathy, such as the Zerg's hive mind. The Zerg had purity of essence from the beginning, and the Xel'Naga then created the Overmind in order to preserve the purity of essence. The Protoss' communal link indicated that they also had purity of essence; however, it wasn't good enough for the Xel'Naga.3 It is important to note that the Xel'Naga were trying to engineer the Protoss to not just have one of the purities they were seeking, but both, because attaining the two purities in one species is akin to a "hole in one," as the progress of the cycle would speed up considerably. As soon as it was clear that this wouldn't be happening with the Protoss, the Xel'Naga left, and indeed, in that sense, the Protoss could be considered a "failed" creation.

One might wonder why the Xel'Naga can't simply reproduce sexually or asexually as many other species do, and why this cycle is even necessary, considering that the Xel'Naga are not looking for hosts. The answer might lie in the purity of essence; though the Xel'Naga might not seek to invade others' bodies, perhaps they might still want to retain knowledge, whether individual or not, through a race's purity of essence, such as the Zerg hive mind or the Khala, which we already know is used to store information in the form of memories.

Theories

 

Method of Species' Natural Merging

The exact method of the two species' natural merging via the cycle is a difficult concept - one that the Protoss preserver Zamara could not describe with mere words or even thoughts, as if it were beyond our ken. At first glance, it seems like the Xel'Naga were just creating the Protoss to be fed to the Zerg via assimilation. Zerg assimilation isn't necessarily "natural" or "proper." Zamara implied this, by saying the Zerg killing off the Xel'Naga would prevent a natural reunion, and also saying there was nothing of the natural cycle in the hybrids, and that they wouldn't be Xel'Naga, but she also claimed that the Protoss as they are now would not be harmed. It seems however that the "as they are now" phrase was shoehorned in there, and that the Xel'Naga did in fact intend for the Protoss to be assimilated into the swarm. We do know the Zerg haven't managed to assimilate Protoss, except that one-off event in the Creep short-story. There was nothing preventing the Zerg from going crazy and wiping out all life as Tassadar put in the original StarCraft. But this is admittedly a bit theoretical. Possibly the Xel'Naga would have taught the Zerg how to assimilate the Protoss properly, or after much more evolution the Zerg would overcome that barrier. It's possible that the Xel'Naga attempted to control the Overmind to prevent the Zerg from becoming too "greedy" for the Protoss, which would then enable the two races to "naturally" merge.

The Zerg were only intended to hold one half of the Xel'Naga physiology within themselves, that being their purity of essence. But the Overmind destroyed the Xel'Naga over Zerus and assimilated them into the Swarm. Apart from throwing the entire cycle into turmoil, what other kinds of complications did this cause, if any? Remember that the Xel'Naga's previous incarnations were also created via Xel'Naga protogenetics, possibly making their genetics also compatible with Zerg or Protoss genetics. In addition, these previous incarnations must have had both purity of essence and form as well. The least exciting scenario here is that the Overmind was not capable of fully unlocking the absorbed Xel'Naga's genome, with their DNA being useless.

zerg Protoss

It was also mentioned earlier that the Protoss showed signs of both purities as well, the "hole in one" of the Xel'Naga's experiments. So the Protoss could be capable of both purities by themselves, without the need to merge with another species, and the Zerg have the previous "perfect" Xel'Naga forms in their gene pool. Would this combination then, of Protoss and Zerg, be far more powerful than any of the Xel'Naga's previous incarnations? This could be an excellent motive for the creation of the Zerg/Protoss hybrid.

Infested Protoss

The Overmind's plan was to merge the Zerg and Protoss' purity of essence and form into one race, a race that would have been by his standards, perfect.5 However, the Overmind never seemed to have assimilated any Protoss.6 New evidence from StarCraft: Legacy's Metzen interview indicates that perhaps Protoss can be infested.7 There seems to be lots of confusion on this matter. The only given explanation for why the Protoss couldn't be infested was due to the Khala (StarCraft: Frontline: Creep). Perhaps if the Zerg had been patient they would have evolved or been given the "keys" to the Protoss genome.

It is also key to point out the difference between infestation and assimilation. Infestation can be done with virtually anything, but the results aren't always great, with the infested being usually turning into a slavering zombie. Assimilation, or what the Overmind was attempting to do with the Protoss, is unlocking an entire race's genome and incorporating it into the Zerg's own gene pool. This is by no means a trivial process, which is probably why the Overmind did not succeed in assimilating the Protoss before he got destroyed.

Remnants of the Xel'Naga and Their Relics

Did any Xel'Naga survive the Zerg assault over Zerus? The Xel'Naga were actually already close to the end of their cycle when they were experimenting with the Protoss and Zerg, which was many millenia ago, so there are likely no Xel'Naga who survived to the present day in the StarCraft universe. The StarCraft manual indicates that not all of the Xel'Naga were destroyed over Zerus.8 However, it doesn't say whether or not all the Xel'Naga were actually at Zerus. Though it's possible there were some other splinter groups not with the main fleet, it's extremely unlikely that any Xel'Naga would have survived the Zerg assault over Zerus.

Possible Xel'Naga Artifact?

Would any remaining Xel'Naga have planned on revenge then? If so, were these the same Xel'Naga that designed the temple of Shakuras that seems to destroy only Zerg? Some of the temples have been described as "wild" while others are more "structured". It's possible that these may have been built by different factions of the Xel'Naga. A few survivors may have preserved themselves in order to oversee the next incarnation, seemingly contrary to the usual method since their usual plans have been thrown into turmoil by the Zerg. This would also enable them to achieve revenge against the Zerg, or simply a safe refuge from them, by building a powerful anti-zerg weapon on Shakuras. The Xel'Naga temple was suggested to be designed to kill Zerg.9

What is the Purpose of the Artifacts?

In the upcoming StarCraft: Frontline Volume 4 story "Voice in the Darkness," a telepathic scientist working on a Xel'Naga artifact claims that it told her a great many things, and that she was the key to unlocking it. When she unlocked the artifact, its call resonated across the planets.10 As a part of the "Old Rivals" intro cinematic, Kerrigan also asks Zeratul whether he can "hear them whispering from the stars".

A pressing question is what part of the Xel'Naga, other than purity of essence and form, transfers between incarnations? It's like they lose out on a lot of technology and knowledge this way. Do they have some sort of update center? It could be the artifacts. Perhaps exposing the hybrids to the artifacts would give them Xel'Naga memories and cause them to become sane and relatively benevolent ... and if so, selling the artifacts to the Moebius Foundation is not a good idea. Some of the artifacts may be memory transfer devices, enabling the Xel'Naga to pass information from one incarnation to another. If so, whoever controls them may be able to control the next incarnation of the Xel'Naga ... or possibly the hybrids. If so, collecting the artifacts may become critical in determining whether the hybrids will be villainous or not.

What are the Energy Creatures?

The energy beings hatched from "wild" Xel'Naga temples are organic phoenix-like creatures with tentacles that cannot contain their internal energy and shine very brightly. They are extremely powerful, capable of absorbing any attack thrown at them and are said, by Judicator Amdor, to have greater mental power than the combined Protoss race (Shadow of the Xel'Naga).

We've seen the mysterious energy creatures do two different things:
1) In Shadow of the Xel'Naga, grab Protoss and Zerg DNA and carry it away to who knows where. Perhaps this creature is still alive, visiting some other Xel'Naga temple or site.
2) In Dark Templar Saga: Twilight, seemingly sacrifice themselves to create a wormhole which Zeratul entered.

What is on the other side of the wormhole the creatures created? Unfortunately, it could be anything. A popular but erroneous theory is that it leads to the caverns of Aiur, which Kerrigan expressed interest in revisiting, and it would lead directly into the StarCraft II intro cinematic fight of Zeratul vs. Kerrigan in the caverns. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely. Kerrigan was still directing the battle of Ehlna from Char, and in StarCraft: Legacy's July 20, 2009 Metzen Interview, Chris Metzen claimed that the Dark Templar Saga is "many months if not a year before StarCraft II."

So what could the true purpose of these powerful energy creatures be? Quite honestly, any guess at this point is a shot in the dark, but it's possible that their purpose is to form an intergalactic portal. The Xel'Naga have the ability to move from one galaxy to another, something hideously slow even with faster-than-light travel, and the Xel'Naga were always good at biotech.

Zamara's Knowledge Sources

How did Zamara come to have this knowledge of the cycle? The most likely explanation is that she scanned Khas's direct memories; he got a lot of knowledge from the Xel'Naga AI, and he didn't have to spread everything he knew. She said very few had this knowledge - "a truth that has been shared with only a select handful throughout our long history." She confirmed that this information came from the memories (Twilight, 213).

StarCraft 2 Caverns

Zamara claimed that the Conclave knew what she knew as well (Twilight, 86). Naturally, since the Conclave is dead, it was left to the preservers to pass the information on. If the Conclave knew this info, it could explain why they were so desperate to destroy the Zerg, even to the point of eradicating the Terrans.

In What Way Were the Xel'Naga "Sleeping"?

The Xel'Naga may have been "asleep" in the genetic code of the Protoss and the DNA, which could explain how they were "reflected in the creature within that cell". Also, Xel'Naga are long-lived, but not immortal.

An anonymous informant once emailed StarCraft2forum.org with a supposed lore leak:

"According to an anonymous e-mail the Xel'Naga will play a similar lore role to the Old Gods from World of WarCraft who were imprisoned for a long period of time before being freed. They will supposedly seek revenge upon the Zerg for the destruction they have wreaked on the Universe."11

Now, the validity of this claim cannot be verified, and it should be taken with a grain of salt at best, but the informant has apparently been correct in other matters before. Also, it's interesting to note that this information surfaced way before Dark Templar Saga: Twilight was published, and it also agreed with our previous predictions that the Xel'Naga do not necessarily act as antagonists in StarCraft II, which was confirmed in the novel.

Furthermore, the upcoming Frontline story "Voice in the Darkness" mentioned in our "What is the purpose of the artifacts?" section does indeed point to what could be an imprisoned Xel'Naga entity inside an artifact. In the story, the Moebius Foundation activates an artifact at KL-2. Whatever is released, the "voice in the darkness" possesses them. There were about 50 people at the site, but only 25 bodies were found.

A team of Dark Templar led by Azimar travels there. He is accompanied by two other named characters, Jarzul and Ty'lak. Jarzul scouts, only to be spotted, despite cloaking, by the scientist Hassan, who kills him. Azimar and Ty'lak attack Hassan. They cut off his hand but Hassan injures Ty'lak's eye and "pukes" on him. When they defeat Hassan, the Voice says through Hassan that it "wears many guises".

Azimar warns the Dark Templar that only their mental training lets them resist, and not to lose themselves. The Dark Templar attack the central facility. After killing everyone but Morrigan, the Voice communicates with Ty'lak, telling him he would give him power and "make him whole" if he would give his soul. It tells him the Xel'Naga are false gods, and wouldn't kill anything, not even the Voice, instead locking it up. The Voice possessed Ty'lak starts kicking ass while the possessed Morrigan boasts. However, Ty'lak frees himself from possession, kills Morrigan and sacrifices himself, using an Argus crystal to "re-seal" the Voice. The explosion kills him and presumably the Voice.

As Azimar leaves, though, the Voice talks to him. In short, the Voice is Cthulhu. It is a part of the Void. It cannot maintain itself in a Terran for a long period of time, so it considers the Protoss to be superior "food". Also, by possessing living beings, it increases its own power, enabling it to break free from its prison. It considers itself the one true god.

While Duran could theoretically be possessed by this thing, it seems to have no connection with the hybrids, and if Duran is a Terran he couldn't be possessed for long. This does however, sound alot like the power that has slept for countless ages which Duran was referring to, and which he could be a servant of.

Who is Coming Back - Xel'Naga or Hybrids? What is Their Nature?

Zeratul seemed a bit unsure about the difference between hybrids and Xel'Naga, and said he wasn't forgiving about how they manipulated the Protoss for their own benefit. Zamara suggests that what Zeratul saw was not being directed by the Xel'Naga.4 Zeratul then tells about Dark Origin. Even after Zamara told Zeratul that the Xel'Naga were a benevolent race, Zeratul had gone to check Zamara's "assumptions".17 After Zeratul had done a bit of investigating, he winds up in certain caverns at the start of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and he is still not sure of the Xel'Naga's nature.12 Afterwards, sometime into the Wings of Liberty campaign, Zeratul finds Jim Raynor and tells him what he knows, but still doesn't reveal the Xel'Naga's nature from what little is known.13

So are the Xel'Naga allies or foes? If the cosmic cycle is so natural and right, as Zamara believes, then why does Zeratul bring tidings of doom? At this point, given the knowledge from Twilight, it's highly likely that the Xel'Naga are friendly, and that Zeratul is simply referring to the hybrids in the preceding quote. It is also likely that Zeratul is confused because there might be two different Xel'Naga factions which take an opposing stance to their subjects' welfare: one faction might stress that subjects should not be harmed and that natural evolution should be impeded on only as necessary, and another, more egocentric faction, might wish to speed up the cycle by creating hybrids in order to benefit the superior Xel'Naga race, regardless of the harm brought to other species. However, this is actually pretty unlikely now. Given the nature of the Xel'Naga - benevolence, and purity of essence - it is doubtful that a Xel'Naga would go against the wishes of the race and harm their subjects.

Nature of the Anakh Su'n

The Dark Templar have a legend that says Adun will return to the Protoss people, which will herald a great crisis. They believe that Adun saved the Dark Templar from the Conclave in order to keep them from making a terrible mistake which would prevent the Protoss' unification forever. Adun used both Khala and Void energies to save the Dark Templar, but instead of dying, they believe Adun crossed to another plane of existence. Certain signs will herald the Anakh Su'n's coming, and Zeratul claims that these signs were seen in both Adun and Tassadar (Dark Templar Saga: Twilight p. 139).

twilight

The main conclusion here seems to be that after a Protoss crosses into the "other plane of existence," he can cross right back by being reborn as another Protoss, albeit without his old memories. Adun and Tassadar are both "Twilight Deliverers". They both saved their people from harm using twilight energies. It's possible they both died the same way; Tassadar might have burnt himself out like Adun. Adun and Tassadar have similar personalities - strong, sympathetic, etc. Both are powerful psychics who were "naturals" at using both Khala and Void energies. So it's possible that Adun and Tassadar shared the same spirit. In StarCraft: Legacy's Metzen Interview - Lore Exclusive, Chris Metzen nodded to the possibility that Tassadar's spirit still endures:

SC:L - And last, for our own curiosity - you referred to Tassadar as a "twilight messiah" during the lore panel on BlizzCon - is there ever a chance of seeing his return in some form or another?

Metzen - What goes around comes around. You know our Blizzard heroes: they roll back from the brink of death more often than the original X-Men. Seriously, though -- given what the Khala is, and some of the other upcoming themes we've devised -- it's probable that Tassadar's spirit is out there somewhere. However, I wouldn't count on his pulling a "Medivh" any time soon... (if ever).


It seems that the Anakh Su'n is exactly the theme that Chris was referring to here.

Zeratul claimed that he thought another manifestation of the Anakh Su'n would come soon. But Tassadar only died four years ago - so how could the Anakh Su'n possibly appear in StarCraft II? The only options are that either Zeratul was mistaken about Tassadar, who was not a true manifestation of the Anakh Su'n, or that the Anakh Su'n is not bound by the constraints of time, which is itself only a single dimension of the universe. The latter option however seems more likely: the preserver Zamara herself claimed that time is not linear.

Xel'Naga "Servants"

 

Who is Duran working for?

Duran says the higher power he serves has been asleep for countless ages, and is reflected by the hybrid. This sounds a lot like the Xel'Naga, who had intended to be "reborn" in a natural Protoss/Zerg fusion. He told Zeratul that "this creature is the completion of a cycle. Its role in the cosmic order was preordained when the stars were young. Behold the culmination of your history," and also "your universe will be changed... forever." But is he actually creating new Xel'Naga? According to Zamara's information, he is not.14

Duran could be a servant of the "Voice in the Darkness," or another human posessed by a similar psionic entity. However, the Voice was a part of the void. It would not be, as Duran said, "reflected by the hybrids," which presumably use both void and Xel'Naga-given Khala energies. The Voice could have simply been a "one-off" story, and there could be another, more powerful, imprisoned psychic entity which possesses Duran.

- Theory 1: End of the Xel'Naga

Duran's words could mean he's trying to end the cycle, since he said the universe would be changed "forever". Why will creation of hybrids destroy the cycle forever? It is not that the hybrids would take the place of the Xel'Naga, but that if the hybrids aren't Xel'Naga, they might go crazy, as Tassadar figured, and they would kill off all the Protoss, which means no proper merging could ever occur. Basically, the hybrids would not know how to continue the cycle.

- Theory 2: Deluded Duran

The Xel'Naga might have wanted revenge on the Zerg, but for the Xel'Naga to be reborn, the Zerg must survive as well. It's possible Duran is a deluded alien, who thinks he's serving the Xel'Naga, honestly believing that the hybrids are the next incarnation of the Xel'Naga. If so, then why should he care if the Protoss and Zerg are both destroyed, if he believes the Xel'Naga have already returned?

Duran could be trying to recreate the Xel'Naga, in order to end one cycle and start a new one. However, if that's the case, his aim won't work, at least according to Zamara's information. So is Duran wrong? And if so, how is that possible? While Duran has been alive for "millennia", this doesn't necessarily mean he's ever met a Xel'Naga. We don't know where he got information from, and whether that information is flawed, incomplete, or perfect. Alternatively, he might realize his method is "wrong" but might be seeking the "closest" thing to a modern-day Xel'Naga.

Samir Duran

If Duran is working against the Xel'Naga, whoever he is, perhaps he has an extremely easy way of dealing with the Zerg, but not necessarily the Terran or the Protoss, kind of like the Xel'Naga temple on Shakuras? This would explain why Duran wanted the Zerg to win - because they could be taken care of with much less difficulty way down the road. This could also be a useful plot device which complicates the StarCraft II story by not making it so easy for Kerrigan to just "sweep the sector." It is likely that Duran allied with Kerrigan because he wanted to learn how the Overmind merged a race with the Zerg, so that he could properly create hybrids. This fits in with Duran's claim that "Kerrigan's rebirth into the swarm sped up my progress," and Zeratul's own prophecy about her19. Did Duran want Kerrigan to win? What if he didn't? What if, in addition to stealing the Overmind's research notes on how Kerrigan was made, he stuck with her until the second Overmind died, in order to prevent the second Overmind from leaking any secrets? The first Overmind absorbed numerous Xel'Naga, and that knowledge may have been accessible to the second Overmind.

Duran's Information

Given Duran's age, it's doubtful he could have spoken to any modern-day Protoss for information. It's also doubtful Duran could be a surviving Xel'Naga since they were already at the end of their lifespans when they were creating the Protoss/Zerg.

- 1st possibility: Possession

It's possible that the human known as Duran ran into a Xel'Naga artifact, which might have contained an imprisoned intelligence that altered or took control of his mind. In this case, Duran is effectively an energy fossil possessing a Terran's body. Duran's statement that "I've had many names throughout the millennia, young prodigal. You would know me best as Samir Duran." suggests this artifact or possessing spirit has hijacked numerous people over the years. The possessing spirit, not being an actual Xel'Naga, doesn't necessarily have complete information.

- 2nd possibility: Forbidden Lore

Alternatively, he could have gotten the information from a preserver or other information source, such as a non-sentient Xel'Naga artifact, a few thousand years ago. Again, the Protoss have only been as they are for two to three thousand years, enough time for him to call Zeratul "young". Alternatively, he could even have been a human from the Earth colonies, discovering an alien artifact there and arranging for himself to be transported to the Koprulu Sector. If that's the case, Duran could have discovered a method to greatly amplify his body's lifespan, biologically, or transferring his spirit, until he could gather the resources necessary to complete his plan. Zamara used the Xel'Naga Temple of Nemaka to transfer her life force into that of a Terran. While that's not its proper function, a being with greater knowledge of the technology could have done so on a regular basis.

- 3rd possibility: Created Servant

Duran could be a literal servant of the Xel'Naga, created as a shapeshifter or possessing minion. Again as a servant he didn't necessarily have correct information or could simply be deluded. The Xel'Naga were gifted biologists with very long lifespans which could explain Duran's longevity. Duran would need to hide his true nature from any intelligent beings he interacted with which would explain the different names. Duran could also be working with a different Xel'Naga faction.

Ulrezaj

Ulrezaj is the most powerful Dark Archon in Protoss history comprised of the souls of seven Dark Templar. When Ulrezaj was young he gained forbidden knowledge at Ehlna. He intended to use the knowledge to empower the Dark Templar and gain revenge on the Protoss of Aiur (Twilight 228-230). Ulrezaj serves a being who is as if not more powerful than he is. Ulrezaj has access to non-Protoss/non-Xel'Naga technology perhaps Terran to keep his creatures (Shadow Hunters).

Ulrezaj used an artificial drug called Sundrop to enslave Khalai Protoss called the Tal'darim which changed their biochemistry. Ulrezaj also used a Xel'Naga AI during this task. Sundrop was found in the Xel'Naga temple of Shakuras although that doesn't mean it was originally from there.18 The Tal'darim is a large organization found on multiple planets. They are the Protoss fanatics which Raynor fights. These fanatics guard several alien artifacts.15 Though it's strange that the Tal'darim are found on multiple planets since they were apparently supposed to have originated on Aiur and were made up of stranded Protoss it's possible that Ulrezaj named them himself and "Tal'darim" is simply the name he assigns to any of his servants favoring this term instead of the former "Fist of Ulrezaj."

Ulrezaj

Ulrezaj created Khaydarin crystals consisting of Dark Templar and Zerg energy in Enslavers II. He wanted to create "enhanced Zerg" to drop onto Shakuras. Later Ulrezaj worked on those strange "vat creatures" in Dark Templar Saga: Shadow Hunters. Zamara equates the vat creatures with hybrids to some extent and she implies twice actually that the creatures created by Ulrezaj are some sort of hybrid.16 Given Ulrezaj's previous experiments along those lines this is quite likely. The last we saw of the creatures they were lying in vats in the caves underneath Aiur while the Zerg invaded; the creatures could have been discovered by Zerg but the Zerg left pretty quickly to give chase to Ulrezaj.

Also note how Ulrezaj went out of his way to kill the preservers who also knew the truth right after the death of the Conclave who may have known the truth too. Felanis himself takes center stage: we found out in Twilight that he was a Judicator (Twilight 52). One wonders if he knew something about the Xel'Naga beforehand since the Conclave knew much of what the preservers knew. Felanis seemed to be the only Tal'darim truly "in the know and was likely seduced by the power he could gain from joining Ulrezaj and his plans.

 

Notes


1. "The Xel'Naga have a cyclical lifestyle. Their lives are almost unfathomably long as we reckon such thing but they are finite beings. When the time comes that their existence is about to end they seek out two other species. Over time they manipulate and alter these species so that they separately form two halves of a whole. They seek purity--purity of form purity of essence. This time they chose the Protoss and the Zerg." - Dark Templar Saga: Twilight p. 214

2. "But the truth is the Xel'Naga were simply done with us [the Protoss]. They needed a second species ... the Zerg. This was no trial-and-error experimentation. The Xel'Naga knew exactly what they were doing. They had done this uncountable times before throughout millennia so numerous our minds can barely stretch to comprehend it. They were not inventing us; they were preparing us." - Dark Templar Saga: Twilight p. 213

3. In the Protoss section of the manual it claims that the Protoss' loss of their communal link was a sign of a conflict of essence: "Attempting to completely sever themselves from the rest of their race the Tribes began to lose the connection to their primal psychic link. This breakdown in the inherent empathy of the Protoss for one another did the most to dissolve the last remnants of unity and brotherhood amongst them. The severing of the psychic link was also the greatest sign to the Xel'Naga that the Protoss had tragically lost the most fundamental element of their greatness." - StarCraft Manual

In the Zerg section of manual it claims the Protoss' individuality led to a conflict of essence: "The Xel'Naga deemed that the purity of form they sought to create had been sullied by a conflict of essence and thus decreed that the Protoss were in fact a failed creation." - StarCraft Manual

4."But this time something went very wrong. The Xel'Naga were eliminated before they had completed their preparations by their own creations--the Zerg. Their careful plans--eons in the making--were thrown into turmoil. Zeratul... you have seen what has arisen in the vacuum." - Dark Templar Saga: Twilight p. 213-214

5. Overmind: "Now shall the events set into motion so long ago be made complete. For the Protoss too were created by the Xel'Naga. They were the first creation gifted with a purity of form. And we were the second creation blessed with a purity of essence. Indeed our two species are but opposite facets of a greater whole. Soon shall our two races be made as one. Thenceforth shall all feel the wrath of the eternal Swarm... For the hour of judgement is come!" - StarCraft Zerg Campaign Mission "Full Circle"

Zeratul: "The Zerg were indeed created by the ancient Xel'Naga the same beings that empowered us in our infancy. But the Overmind grew beyond their constraints and has at last come to finish the experiments they began so long ago"

Tassadar: "So you see my friends we fight not only to save Aiur but all creation! If we fall to the Zerg then the Overmind will run rampant throughout the stars consuming all sentience-all life. It is up to us to put an end to this madness once and for all." - StarCraft Protoss Campaign Mission "Shadow Hunters"

6.
Infested Protoss: Dustin Browder: "Based on the lore the Protoss do not become infested. The combination of the two result in a hybrid race" - StarCraft2.net.pl Dustin Browder Interview

7. Can Protoss get infested?

Metzen -I'm trying to think if there are specific fictional answers to that I could have sworn we had a story or two like that in the manga recently. But I'm spacing out... I feel like I wanna take the 5th on that too. It's a weird one. Off the top of your head you'd think "sure!"

I read something about them using their psionic ability to negate it?


Metzen -
I'm not so sure about that. These days with so much being written I'm not so on top of it all - if you could say I ever was - all the little ins and outs. That question runs to the core of what the mythology is it is a question that will haunt us for the next four years it's part of the DNA of what StarCraft really is. There isn't a really satisfactory way of answering that at this time.

- July 20 2009 Metzen Interview

8. "As the greater whole of the Xel'Naga race was consumed by the raging genetic whirlwind of the Zerg the Overmind gained the knowledge and insights of its masters." - StarCraft Manual

9. "Artanis and Zeratul carried the crystals to the temple's summit channeled the temple's vast energies and obliterated all Zerg on Shakuras." - StarCraft2.com - Story so Far

Schezar: "Ulrezaj was going to disrupt your communications and shields with the EMP device and use the chaos to drop his genetically enhanced Zerg upon Shakuras. He hoped that the Dark Templar would run and hide in their secret places while the Templar from Aiur would be caught out in the open. Without the EMP device I imagine he will still follow though with the other half of the plan and drop his enhanced Zerg to run amok across your world"

Zeratul: "He is mad"

Schezar: "Yup he sure is. He'll be bringing new Zerg onto his space station via a Warp Gate that's connected to his base on Char. Once the Zerg reach his space station he will be moving them to his genetics stations where the warped Khaydarin crystals will transform them into more powerful strains. They will be enhanced with so much Dark Templar energy that they'll probably be able to resist the effects of the Xel'Naga temple on Shakuras." - StarCraft Enslavers II

10. "It spoke to me and told me a great many things. It told me that this place is a prison that this crystal is the lock and that I was the key. Now the veil between this world and the next shall be torn asunder and the prisoner shall be set free. Let the whisper become a shout!" - StarCraft: Frontline Volume 4 Preview Scans

11. Starcraft2Forum.org - Xel'Naga Playable in StarCraft 2?

12. Zeratul: "The Zerg Swarm came as was foretold. And the Protoss firstborn of the gods rose to fight them. Now the Xel'Naga that forged us all are returning. But do they come to save... or to destroy?" - StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty "Old Rivals" Intro

13. Zeratul: "I bring tidings of doom...The Xel'Naga return. The cycle nears its end... The artifacts are the key-to the end of all things." - Starcraft II Blizzcon 2007 - Storymode Walkthrough

14. Zamara: "What you saw Zeratul and what perhaps we also beheld in the caverns is something else entirely. Something very wrong something that should not be."
Jake Ramsey: "Someone has got the arrogance - or the stupidity - to try to mess with the Xel'Naga. And if they succeed--"
Zamara: "The Xel'Naga will not be reborn. Instead a monstrous and powerful perversion of both Protoss and Zerg will be set loose upon the universe and all that we know and cherish will fall in their wake." (Twilight 216)

15. July 20 2009 Wings of Liberty Single Player Info

16. "No. Those--things--are truly abominations. There is nothing in them of the natural cycle of the Xel'Naga. The Xel'Naga are implacable in their way but not to that extreme. What you saw Zeratul and what perhaps we also beheld in the caverns is something else entirely. Something very wrong something that should not be." (Twilight 217)

17. Zeratul: "There are some things too long pushed aside that I must investigate in order to strengthen Zamara's statements. I can add verification of some of her assumptions I believe. And the more we know the better armed we are." (Twilight236 after the conversation with Zamara 213-216.)

18. "And then joy leaped in Korlendir as he detected a familiar sweet cloying scent. He had come home indeed." (Twilight 65)

19. "Your coming has been foretold... You are part of the culmination. But not the end of it. You shall show the way the path that must be taken the realigning of old truths no longer valid. Yours is not the hand but your very existence provides necessary instruction." (StarCraft: Queen of Blades 209)

 

starcraft 2 xel'naga storyline projection twilight

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) editorial.

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Update: We have just received word from Glynnis Talken Campbell that she will not be reprising her role as Kerrigan in StarCraft II:

Glynnis wrote:

Well, it just figures, doesn't it? Blizzard just gave me my Dear John phone call. Basically, it was "We can still be friends--we just don't want to see you anymore." Ha ha! Ah well...that's showbiz. Anyway, thank you for a wonderful and touching article--it's a great going away present, and I'll cherish it.

 


StarCraft: Legacy would like to pay deference to the true Queen of Blades. We wish Glynnis the best of luck in her future endeavors.

 

byekerrigan600.jpg

 

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With most of the news being focused on multiplayer gameplay and balance aspects of StarCraft II, news about single player can be hard to come by, especially because most of it is remaining secret so that the intrigue of the game won’t be spoiled before its release. Some information regarding characters' voice acting has come up, and deserves an in-depth look at what could potentially vastly change the game.

It has been brought to light that the voice acting positions for both Jim Raynor & Sarah Kerrigan have become available. The fact that voice acting is being closely considered now most likely means that the single player part of the game has entered a more solid state, and may be wrapping up. Glynnis Talken had previously been confirmed to reprise her role as the Queen of Blades, but this has now been thrown into question. She’s informed us that so far, all of the recording that she’s done for Blizzard for the Kerrigan Reveal Cinematic & Kerrigan Animatic Flashback that were shown at Blizzcon 2008, were referred to as “auditions” even though all of her previous contracts included a clause that state that there’s no guarantee that they’ll use her voice in the final game. Robert Clotworthy has not been selected to return as the voice of Raynor, and so far all of the clips of Raynor featured in StarCraft II have used another voice actor. This possible voice casting alteration could give Robert Clotworthy a chance to audition for the voice of Raynor, or could take Glynnis Talken’s voice away from Kerrigan. It’s due to this possible change that we should take a moment to look at StarCraft’s voice acting, and how the voice acting in StarCraft II could make a large impact on the single player aspect of the game.

The first thing to consider is what voice acting does for characters in a game. While many early games simply relied on text, this meant that there wasn’t as strong of an emotional connection to the characters. Voice acting allows a character to provide depth to how a character speaks, and feels in situations. It’s because of this that voice acting is often a difficult task, because if you do it correctly, it’s easy for it to go unnoticed. On the other hand, most often voice acting is brought up, when it’s not up to par. Poor voice acting can hurt a game if the characters seem flat, or the actors don’t manage to portray the emotion correctly.

Often times in foreign films, the voice acting can suffer due to attempts to match a character’s performance. It’s not that the actor isn’t doing a good job matching, but it comes off sounding like an imitation, and lacks the expression, because of the boundaries set by the previous voice actor. This was apparent in the difference in performance between the "Zerg Reveal Trailer" and the "Kerrigan Reveal Cinematic". Many thought that the first trailer was going to be the voice of Kerrigan in StarCraft II due to the similarities in their sound, but a a certain article claims that it is instead Joanna Cleland's voice-over of a Zerg Queen in the "Zerg Reveal Trailer", not Glynnis's voice-over of Kerrigan. There is an distinct difference between the two voices that many were pleased to hear when the second cinematic was released.

 

Zerg Reveal Trailer
(Queen/Kerrigan Stand In VA)

 




Kerrigan Reveal Cinematic
(Kerrigan’s Original VA Glynnis Talken)



Voice acting helps us connect with the character. This is even greater with characters that have been around for long periods of time. It brings back the memories and sense of nostalgia that you experienced when you first interacted with them. Kevin Conroy is a voice actor who is extremely well known for being the voice of Batman for over 15 years. Regardless of the artwork or style changes that the character has gone through over this time, it’s his voice that helps cement the character as being the same one and gives us what’s needed to anchor the continuity of the character to his previous incarnations, and is a fan favorite for that reason. In the original StarCraft, the most that players had to identify the characters by was a tiny pixilated sprite, and the animated unit portrait. It was the voices of the characters that helped set the tone of StarCraft, immerse us in the universe’s mythology, and helped make the story all of the things that it is known for today. This is something that no one other than the original voice actors can give to the characters of StarCraft II.

With the enormous graphical updates that have been made over the last 10 years, we’re now able to see newer, and more detailed versions of the characters as they’ve evolved over the four years that have passed in the StarCraft universe. With characters like Raynor who had changes made to his character's appearance, as well as the emotional changes that his character underwent since the end of BroodWar, the loss of his voice distances us even further from the character, and makes it difficult for many to connect the two characters together. In the "Kerrigan Animatic" sequence revisiting Kerrigan’s desertion to the Zerg, the fact that the original voice isn’t present strikes an off note, because it’s not the way that we as fans remember it.

Kerrigan Flashback Animatic
(Kerrigan [Glynnis Talken] & Raynor [StarCraft II Stand-In VA])

 




Kerrigan Left Behind At New Gettysburg
(Original StarCraft Cast: Glynnis Talken & Robert Clotworthy)



Having the opportunity to have voice actors return to reprise their roles is a luxury. The actors have the experience of knowing how they portrayed the character’s emotions in the past, and why they did it in that particular way. This lets them use that to make the character to feel natural, rather than having to look at another actor’s performance, interpret what was done, and try to build a performance off of that. Glynnis Talken’s portrayal of Kerrigan has long been referred to as one of the most memorable, and best sounding characters to come from a video game. A large portion of her memorable dialogue, and tension is built with Robert Clotworthy’s portrayal of Raynor. It's no surprise that these two are often top on the list when fans discuss StarCraft’s voices, but any opportunity to have the original actor return to reprise their role, or at the least audition for the part is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and is something that Blizzard should embrace.

Many of the voice actors are passionate about their characters, and want to do justice to the part that brought their names to our attention 10 years ago. With so much attention being focused on the content in the single player, the musical score, the graphics, and the appearance of the StarCraft universe, the voices that connect the fans to this universe cannot be overlooked, and should receive just as much attention to how important they are as anything else making up StarCraft II.

raynor.jpg

Who is this man? This stranger with muscular arms and a drinking habit, speaking with a redneck accent and looking more like a backwater marshal than a freedom fighter mercenary captain? Have we met him before? It seems we have, ten years ago in our sector of the galaxy, four years ago in the Koprulu Sector. This seeming stranger looks more like a backwater marshal because that’s exactly who he is – this man is Jim Raynor, captain of the Hyperion, leader of Raynor’s Raiders.

What has happened to Raynor in the past ten/four years, that we barely recognize him? His voice has changed, his hair has grown back, his uniform is gone, and he is much more dour and mysterious than last we met him. Has Blizzard cleverly switched out Raynor for a doppelganger that is Raynor in name only? Or is this truly the same character StarCraft fans know and love? The answer to that question is as complex as Raynor himself; yes and no. One must remember, in Raynor’s world it’s been four years. Four years may seem a short time, but it is not. It’s the length of time of a typical high school term, the length of a presidential term in office, the amount of time between the Olympic Games. A lot can happen in four years, and much has happened for Raynor.

In StarCraft, Raynor was a vigilante hero. He fought the oppressive Terran Confederacy and liberated entire planets with the Sons of Korhal, then when they betrayed him he took control of his own destiny, and led a splinter group to a campaign against the Zerg. Raynor's adventures would make him a vital ally of the Protoss, and he took part in the final battle against the Zerg Overmind on Aiur. Then, Raynor would continue to fight the good fight, but when the UED took control of the sector, Raynor was forced to make what was surely a difficult decision - to bury the hatchet and ally himself with the Queen of Blades, his former love Kerrigan, and Arcturus Mengsk, the very man who betrayed Raynor and sent Kerrigan to the Zerg. And the three once again betrayed one-another, and Raynor was again on the short end of the results - Kerrigan seized control of the Zerg, Mengsk was granted power over the Terran colonies again, and Raynor has little more beyond his Hyperion battlecruiser now.

Raynor's crusade against Kerrigan has failed, and his crusade against Mengsk isn’t faring any better. His former Terran friends have become his worst enemies, tyrants controlling the fate of entire species, while Raynor has lost almost everything he holds dear. The only allies who didn’t betray Raynor are the Protoss, but Fenix and Tassadar are dead, Zeratul has gone missing and Artanis has his hands full dealing with the unified Protoss race on Shakuras. In terms of his relationships during the Brood War, Raynor is more or less alone. His efforts to fight against Mengsk have been largely useless, he’s an outlaw and a criminal, and as we learned in the single-player campaign demo from last year, even his own crew is beginning to lose faith in him. Jim Raynor is a man alone, fighting a losing battle against an entire sector of space.

Raynor has undergone a great deal of tribulation and strife since Brood War’s final cinematic faded to black. As a result, the man we rejoin four years later is bitter, jaded, and with good reason. Raynor drinks, he places things closer to the vest, and is forced to do mercenary work just to keep his crew and ship running. Marginalized in every way by Mengsk's Dominion, Raynor is simply not the same person we left behind, flying alongside the Protoss fighting the Zerg. Whatever heroism and glory his name may have carried among the residents sector is gone. The man who was once a hero has become little more than a rogue battlecruiser captain.

easyrider.PNG
But obviously, Raynor’s changes can’t just be attributed to four years of demoralization. His appearance is quite different from what we remember. But, ask yourself; when did anyone ever truly get a good look at Raynor in the first place? All we ever saw of him was his unit portrait. We saw a bald man with a beard, moustache and thick eyebrows, apparently in Marine combat armor judging by the collar. Raynor may have hung up his armor and let his hair grow back in, but his basic facial structure is identical. As for his rugged and muscular body, we have nothing to compare it to, we never saw Raynor from below the neck in Brood War – there’s only so much one can show in a portrait window the size of a postage stamp.

Also consider Raynor’s original concept art, done by Chris Metzen. Raynor’s Vulture hoverbike may be locked up in the Hyperion’s storage bay somewhere, but otherwise Metzen’s vision of Raynor looks exactly like the Raynor we’ve seen aboard the Hyperion. So while Raynor looks slightly different than what we the community

have spent the last ten years picturing, he now looks spot on with what Blizzard was picturing when StarCraft was being made.

That said, there is no disputing Raynor’s voice has changed. The sacrifice of Robert Clotworthy's iconic voice is one that the community is hesitant to accept, but is also one that Blizzard has made. The as-of-now unnamed new voice actor for Raynor sounds very different from what we remember. But again, Raynor has undergone a lot of trouble during the four years since Brood War. The voice must fit the character – Raynor in the original StarCraft would simply not be the same person were he to be voiced by James Harper (Zeratul), or by Allen Adham (Ghost). If the voice does not fit the character then it’s a poor choice of voice actor. Also recall that Raynor has spent the last four years drinking, perhaps smoking, and now is largely confined to the Hyperion's steel corridors than the open fields of combat on say, Aiur or Mar Sara. To say that such things would not affect a person's voice is foolish.

So the question now is, does this new voice actor fit the changed character of Raynor? Blizzard has said yes. Raynor is now bitter, jaded, and is a much darker and sombre man. Does Robert Clotworthy fit this new interpretation? The answer will vary from person to person, of course. However, based on Blizzard’s comments and the demo of the campaign we’ve seen, the new voice actor does fit Raynor’s character now, and is more in-line with what Blizzard originally envisioned for him. Chris Metzen himself has stated that Raynor is his favorite character in the StarCraft series – would it truly be in his interests to choose a voice actor that didn’t fit the backwater marshal? Furthermore, would it really be fair to cast Clotworthy again, but to request he change his iconic voice?


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Blizzard has access to new technology and new talent. Their storytelling, technology and characters have all evolved since the time of StarCraft, allowing them to paint a much more vivid picture of the Koprulu Sector, and in turn they have given us an image of Raynor closer to what they saw when Metzen first completed Raynor’s concept art. Simply put, this is who Jim Raynor has always been – it’s simply a new interpretation of him closer to what was originally desired. Blizzard is now able to give us the Raynor they always wanted, and while there will always be a place in the hearts of the fans for Clotworthy’s armored, bald backwater marshal, it would be folly to say that this new Raynor will fail to earn similar respect once StarCraft II hits stores.

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It has already been stated that the Xel’Naga will appear in StarCraft II, and it is a given that the Hybrids which Samir Duran has been working on will also appear. Furthermore, we've been following a trail of breadcrumbs left by the three, trying to decipher the mystery behind them. Join StarCraft Legacy as we analyze all we know of the enigma that is the Xel'Naga and perhaps unravel its answer before they return.

Four Temples

The first temple we see is on Aiur, created when the Xel'Naga first set foot upon Aiur. This temple rested on a nexus of cosmic energy. Upon placing a shard of Khaydarin Crystal there, the Overmind was able to manifest in material form. However, this occured after the temple had already been destroyed, so while we have an idea of the type of power that the temple had been built over, the powers of the temple itself are a mystery.

Another temple is found on the backwater colony Bhekar Ro in Shadow of Xel’Naga. This temple is revealed to house a powerful creature of energy that uses the temple as a sort of egg – it absorbs life through the temple, all life, until it grows enough to emerge and break free. It absorbs the life from the soil, preventing planets from growing well, and it also absorbs the energy of Protoss and Zerg. However it is only interested in the latter two and in a sense “regurgitates” Terrans alive and well.

The temple on Shakuras requires two types of psionic energy – Void or "Dark Templar" energy, which we know to be similar to Zerg energy, and Khala or "High Templar" energy. Although it is not 100% confirmed that these psionic powers go hand in hand with the purity of essence and the purity of form that the Zerg and Protoss possess, it would not be a bad assumption to make at the same time. This temple apparently scoured the planet of Zerg, but left the Protoss unharmed.

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The final temple on Nemeka in Firstborn is similar to the temple of Bhekar Ro. It is stated that at an unknown time prior to the novel, this temple also housed an energy creature, as evidenced by the charred hole found in the temple’s roof where it escaped. Jake Ramsey comes to the conclusion that the temple was an egg meant to incubate the energy creature – this is concurrent with what the Dark Templar Xerana states in Shadow of the Xel’Naga. Thus, it is also safe to assume that this temple could absorb Protoss and Zerg as the first did, at least until the energy creature left it behind.

What Is In A Name?

The name “Shadow of the Xel’Naga” must be considered. Does it mean that the Xel’Naga and their legacy are looming over the events of the novel? Perhaps; or, does it mean that the energy creature itself, is a shadow of the Xel’Naga? The novel refers to the creature explicitly as a Xel’Naga hatchling but doesn’t confirm one way or the other if it is a Xel’Naga itself or something created by them, the term "Xel'Naga hatchling" could be interpreted either way.

The Scholars Of Twilight

Thus far, the Protoss are largely in the dark over their masters – they know they exist, but until Zeratul made his connection with the Overmind, there is minimal evidence to show the Protoss even knew the Zerg were created by the Xel’Naga. They seem to have suspected it, but did not truly know.

Beyond this, it is indicated that even with their considerable intellect, the Protoss simply do not have the same grasp of the workings of the universe as their masters did. The Dark Templar studied the Xel’Naga temple on Shakuras for years but the full extent of their findings is unknown. The Dark Templar scholar Xerana in Shadow of the Xel’Naga was also having difficulty following the ruined clues left by them, although she had pieced enough together to make some sort of unrevealed discovery. Although they obviously use Khaydarin Crystals to amplify their psionic energies through the psionic matrixes of Aiur and Shakuras, the Protoss still lack a full grasp of their abilities, as the Overmind states. The preserver Zamara’s mysterious mission is thus far unrevealed as well and may also tie into the Xel’Naga. Furthermore, the Dark Archon Ulrezaj considers Zamara, and all other Preservers, dangerous because they "know too much" and took great pains to eliminate them. Protoss Preservers hold the knowledge of all dead Protoss in their minds, even those of demi-gods like Khas and Adun. What dark secrets could Zamara hold that Ulrezaj fears? Could they also tie into the Xel'Naga?

It is up for debate if Kerrigan is in any better state than the Protoss. We know the Overmind knew a great deal about the Xel'Naga, but how much, if any, of that knowledge was retained by Kerrigan is unknown. We do know she sent Zerg to investigate the temple in Shadow of the Xel’Naga and she sent Zerg to investigate the powers of Jake Ramsey in Shadow Hunters. We also know, through Blizzard’s lore exclusive with StarCraft: Legacy, that Kerrigan is beginning to piece together the mystery surrounding Duran. Although she likely has not grasped the full scope of these things, it is obvious that the Queen of Blades knows that something grand has or is about to occur.

The Cycle

Countless references from every corner of the StarCraft lore indicate that a great cycle is nearing completion, and while Zeratul is apparently frightened of what this means, the templar Zamara is not so scared and Samir Duran is elated. The meaning of this cycle has been an intense subject of debate – what type of cycle, what will happen when it completes, and so forth. What is obvious is that a great event will occur that will drastically alter the status quo in the Koprulu Sector and possibly spell the doom of the Protoss and/or Zerg. This is commonly assumed to refer to the return of the Xel’Naga, or the awakening of the Hybrids, or both.

The Culmination Of Your History

What do these many pieces mean? The temples, the cycle, the energy beings, the Hybrids, the Xel’Naga – these are all pieces of a puzzle, and like any puzzle they must all fit together to make a coherent whole. How do these things link to each other?

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What is a Hybrid? For that answer, we must consider what we know about the union of Protoss and Zerg energy. Zerg energy and dark templar energy are apparently similar, so we could also apply what we know of dark and light psionics to this. Tassadar harnessed such energy, and his power was too great – it destroyed the Gantrithor, along with himself and the Overmind. This is the same thing that happened to Adun – he manifested dark and light psionic energy at once and was consumed in a blaze of light. In Dark Origins, Zeratul sees what is obviously a physical being, as it possesses DNA and is inside a stasis cell. We know the energy creatures in the temple also absorb light and dark psionic energies, and that this apparently increases their strength.

The concept of a Hybrid goes beyond simple genetic structure - if it didn't, then it would be easy to call a Hybrid, an Infested Protoss or an Assimilated Protoss, all the same type of creature. But this is not the case. The concept of a Hybrid goes beyond restrictions of physical flesh, into the realm of psionic and spiritual existence. A true Hybrid is not merely just a being with a body that is both Protoss and Zerg, but the power of both as well, the power of light and dark psionic energy.

Thus, StarCraft: Legacy submits for your consideration, the following theory:

The energy creatures of the temples are the Hybrids. The creature seen in Dark Origins was a “larval” Hybrid, one freshly birthed and not yet at its full power. However, at a later date this larval Hybrid would absorb Protoss and Zerg specimens and break the bonds of its fleshly form, becoming an energy being. We know the Hybrid combines purity of form with purity of essence – what greater form of purity is there than pure energy? This is what happened to Tassadar and Adun – they manifested Protoss and Zerg energy at once and inadvertently tapped into the same power of the Hybrids, consuming themselves in storms of energy their physical bodies couldn’t contain.

The cycle that nears its completion is the life cycle of the Hybrids – through the conduits of the temples, they have begun to absorb Protoss and Zerg and grow, and soon they, as a whole, shall be strong enough to manifest as energy creatures, a Hybrid’s “mature” form. The temples of Bhekar Ro and Nemeka are designed to house and feed one Hybrid, but the temple of Shakuras operates by absorbing many Zerg at once, which is what happened when it was activated; the Zerg were absorbed and their energy sent to the incubating Hybrids elsewhere. Under this theory, presumably somewhere there is another temple somewhere that absorbs Protoss energy.

The Xel’Naga have worked in secret over the centuries, carefully seeding Hybrids everywhere and stepping back to let their creations grow, until the Hybrids were ready to feed. That time has come, and the Xel’Naga have returned to gather the final Protoss and Zerg subjects needed to let their Hybrids mature and awaken.

 

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Karune, Blizzard Entertainment's Community Manager, posted four sreenshots alongside the standard Q&A today. New unit models for the marauder, jackal and nullifier have been released along with many graphical updates. Our coverage will focus on the four screenshots followed by discussion of the Q&A material. The new changes in SCII's art design and the various graphical updates shown in the screenshots shall be discussed in the "ArtCraft" section.

Karune wrote:

In addition to our Q&A Map Maker Series, Gameplay Series, Lore Series, we are going to include our Community ScreenCraft Series, featuring screenshots crafted specifically to progress the dialogues and discussions we have currently going on in the community.

 

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Screenshot A shows updated Protoss shield graphics and the lens flare yamato cannon graphic.



Quote:
Blink Assault

 

In Blink Assault you can clearly see and feel the new sense of Terran grittiness. Team colors are a bit worn from battle and the metal texture in Terran units and building have been desaturated a bit. In this screenshot you can see Immortals take on the pounding of fortified Siege Tanks with their hardened shields, while the Stalkers blink up on the cliffs for the assault.

In this screenshot stalkers are blinking up the cliff to attack siege tanks. The barricade is stopping the Protoss warriors from getting through while the Terran tanks pound them from above. The marines on the top left look extremely plastic, whereas the marines in combat look much better. Also, the battlecruisers and the tanks are extremely detailed. The angle that the units are viewed at appears to make a difference.

 

 

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Screenshot B depicts AtG attacks and inline AoE mechanics.

 

Quote:

A Lone Outpost

The Terran Army struggles to defend their lone outpost in the scrap yards, fending off a Protoss onslaught just long enough until the Battlecruisers arrive. Though even with their reinforcements, the battle is far from won, as the Protoss also arrive with their fleet of Carriers to counter.
Nothing particularly new in this one, although a new Battlecruiser air-to-ground attack with an AoE is showcased. The screen clutter of too many lasers is also evident in this, although large battles are clearly very impressive in StarCraft II.

 

 

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Screenshot C features psi storm, the updated jackal model, and the hover height of the high templar.

 

Quote:

The Final Push

 

This screenshot depicts a large counter attack upon a Protoss base responsible for warping in several waves of attacks on Terran outposts. Dropped Siege Tanks bombard the area, while the Jackals torch up the surroundings with their area of effect line attack. Furthermore, the Marauders slow incoming Zealots as the Battlecruisers plasma weapons make short work of them.

Here we see the jackal model, which is basically a rehashed cobra. It has three wheels and a flamethrower attack, although the turret does not seem to match the direction it is firing. Things of note include the air distortion inside the gateway's warp, the twilight archon's body, which seems to be more filled out, and the change in the viking's brightness as it passes under the floodlight. The high templar seem to float very high above the ground; they could almost be air units. The soil texture on the bottom right looks out of place, and does not seem to fit the StarCraft II style. It appears that the texture artists simply took a picture of soil and put it in StarCraft II; this same problem was experienced with the ice terrain.

 

 

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Screenshot D highlights the marauder and nullifier models and animations while showing that anti-gravity affects some doodads.

 

Quote:

Anti-Gravity Back Door

 

I have taken a screenshot showing a Dark Templar squad secretly infiltrating the Terrans front lines with the help of the Nullifier and its Anti-Gravity ability (previous moved from the High Templar).

Screenshot D has further key points to notice. Foremost among this is possibly the Nullifier model and attack animation. The similarities to the Observer model cannot be ignored, although the scorpion additions are a nice touch. The attack animation has provoked a cry of "too many laser beams" from our staff members, wondering where the "plasma balls" of Dragoons and Arbiters have gone, worried that lasers will be needless screen clutter, however pretty they may be. Also important is the Marauder model, which appears to be a retooled firebat. While evidently quite fat, this model looks frankly great being both highly detailed and well proportioned. Finally, the apparent ability to use levitate on doodads, which was confirmed by Karune. While a good idea in theory, we do not see this being of much use in the multiplayer game. The creation of a players own paths will be easily spotted and neutralised by professional players, and even maps designed specifically to use this mechanic will be unbalanced in the favour of Protoss.

 

 

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Overall, Blizzard has improved StarCraft II's graphical style. Decreased contrast and saturation serve to reduce the cartoon overtones present in previous designs and build a sense of realism during gameplay. The team colors on Terran buildings are muddied with grit as opposed to being solid, vibrant colors. Unfortunately, this has not had a positive effect on all units; the marines on the top left of screenshot A appear extremely plastic, while the siege tanks and battlecruisers are much prettier, appearing very metallic and extremely detailed. The Protoss have been given a similar treatment, however it might have been overdone. Even though the Protoss still maintain their armor's familiar shine, the golden hue has been diminished and appears more "flat."

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One, Two, & Three wrote:

Will allies be able to use each others transport/teleportation methods? Marines in Overlords, Zealots in Nydus Worms, etc.. ? (sc2blog.com)

 

Many of these questions are still being debated within the development team and the final decisions will ultimately be determined through balance. Nonetheless, classic abilities, such as heal by the Terrans, will be usable on allies regardless of faction.

Does the Anti Gravity spell work for your own units? In other words, can you use it to lift up buildings to protect them from an early wave of Zergling? (TheWarCenter.com)

Yes, the Anti Gravity ability can be casted on friendly units and buildings. Also, the Anti Gravity ability has been added to the Nullifier, as the ability has proven much more effective in the earlier parts of the game. Nonetheless, this is still being tested and is subject to change.

What happens to units who are under a flying building when it falls down? Can you build a building under the building that are flying? and if that is the case, what happens to that building that it is landing on? Get.Yourgun (gosugamers.net)

This is actually a notable design challenge the development team is currently facing with the Anti Gravity ability. Currently, players are not allowed to build buildings under the floating object. When the object does land, it will land on top of whatever unit is under it. For example, if a Supply Depot is lifted up by Anti Gravity and it lands on a Marine when the ability duration is over, it will indeed land on the Marine (but will not cause damage). The Marine can then move out from under that building in the direction of that players choosing. The details around Anti Gravity are still very much in testing. As this is a new ability, many of the details are not finalized.

 

The questions and answers about anti-gravity fail to provide useful insight. In StarCraft, Terran production buildings have the ability to lift off and land. If a unit is “in the way” during the landing process, they are displaced. Defensive use of levitate (i.e. lifting allied structures) requires focused attention for ineffective gains. In the context of TvZ, a terran player rescuing a command ceter by lifting off implies the game is already lost. They are simply prolonging the inevitable defeat. Terrain is being levitated in some of the screenshots; this is imbalanced in the context of the competitive scene because terrain is placed specifically to ensure balance. Thus, the current incarnation of the ability highlights some powerful offensive use in the early game as well as some “cute” features that will provide flavor to Single Player gameplay.

Four wrote:

In StarCraft many glitches and near-bugs were discovered with the years passing. Many of them are used regularly and changed the game (Mutalisk stack, patrol-attacking, mineral hopping, Lurker hold, etc). This is and was even more true for other games (bunny hopping in quake or through-floors dmg, etc) and it became part of the identity of the game that people knew about those glitches, learned and mastered them. They became important aspects of the game.
Will any of these bugs make an appearance in StarCraft II, but as intentional features?

- Chosi (Teamliquid.net)

 

Yes, certain unit characteristics like the firing on the move dynamic of the Mutalisk, as well as stackable flyers will be in StarCraft II. Some of these characteristics may not feel completely the same, as it is a bit tougher to get flying units to stack, it will still be possible. Although it is important to note that not all of these characteristics will be making it back to StarCraft II, there will be plenty of opportunities for players to find new ways to use the units of StarCraft II in creative ways similar to the original.

 

There are many facets of the competitive scene that have been derived from glitches and bugs in StarCraft's original design. Blizzard is trying to respect the post-release developments while attempting to make a flawless product. The glitches of the original StarCraft are what makes the game so appealing and memorable as an e-sport. The coding mishaps of the time have never been repeated, Command & Conquer 3 for instance has no bugs as nostalgic as Mutalisk stacking, as memorable as a successful Lurker hold-fire ambush. The implementation of these "bugs" could prove vital to the survival of StarCraft's legacy, and of StarCraft II as an e-sports game as a whole.

Five wrote:

What are the duties of the Blizzard eSports team, and how much will they be responsible for promoting Starcraft II as and eSport? (starfeeder.com)

 

The eSports team is responsible for developing Blizzards presence in the increasingly popular eSports scene. Their duties include the planning and operation of Blizzard tournaments around the world in places such as Asia, Europe and the United States. They also provide third-party support for the eSports leagues that host both online and live events using Blizzard titles. Additionally, they help provide balance feedback to our development teams based on interaction with professional gamers and response from the eSports community. They will have an integral role in promoting StarCraft II as an eSports as they have done for the previous Blizzard titles.

 

StarCraft hyped itself without input from Blizzard. Additionally, the competitive scene exploded naturally without “dedicated” support. This is attributed to dynamic, fair, and accessible gameplay; the quality of a game is independent of marketing. “Dedication” to eSports and the concept of “community outreach” will not change the implications of poor design choices a decade from now. Marketing and public relations are secondary to expanding StarCraft's aggressive and balanced gameplay. In contrast, Warcraft III joined the trend of funding events, tournaments, and prizes for the multiplayer scene. This focus on the competitive community exists arguably outside the environment of a truly well-balanced, fast-paced product. Similarly, we want marketing to be pursued only after concrete aspects of development have been created.

Sources:
Battle.net - Karune's Q&A Batch 32
Battle.net - Screenshot A: Blink Assault
Battle.net - Screenshot B: A Lone Outpost
Battle.net - Screenshot C: The Final Push
Battle.net - Screenshot D: Anti-Gravity Back Door

StarCraft II Q&A Batch Archive - Batch 32

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For years we have been under the assumption that when a Protoss dies, his form psionically dissipates into the void in a brilliant flash of blue light. Presumably, the Protoss loses control of his powers and his form can no longer be sustained. However, in Karune's StarCraft II Q&A Batch #26, Andy Chambers discussed the Protoss death animations. He imparted that the “blue flash” is simply the unit teleporting back to the nearest safe haven.

1. Do Protoss warriors actually die? What is the blue flash when they die?

In the chaos of the battlefield, Protoss warriors fight with tremendous power and grace, but even so, they can be mortally wounded. Then the Protoss' foes often bear witness to a startling sight: the injured Protoss disappears in a bright flash of light. Such a vision has caused primitive races to quail in superstitious fear, and yet it has no supernatural cause. On the contrary, it is merely the result of teleportation, which is one of the chief strengths of Protoss technology. Protoss warriors typically have teleport mechanisms built into their armor. If the warrior is sufficiently injured, a properly functioning mechanism will automatically teleport the body to the nearest safe haven.

A Protoss warrior who is badly injured but still living may be placed in a dragoon--or latterly an immortal--shell to continue to fight. This is the choice of the individual warrior. Some warriors elect to shoulder the burden of remaining among the living instead of joining the sum of Protoss lives embodied in the Khala. It is worthy of note that the lives of individual Protoss that have passed into the Khala are no longer coherent entities, and the Protoss cannot speak with their dead per se. However, there are memories and strands of experience that can be accessed. Only the most skilled Protoss preservers can locate and follow specific desired strands of knowledge. The tremendous value of preservers comes from the fact that they carry within themselves and can access the sum total of Protoss experience at an individual level.

 

This is an example of a retcon. A retcon is an amendment to a previous work of fiction, such as StarCraft, where facts or history are changed, usually in order to facilitate the writing and consistency of a new work of fiction in the same setting i.e. the StarCraft universe. It can also refer to the changing of the interpretation of facts from a story. This retcon in particular has caused some controversy in the community. Some feel that it undermines the Protoss warrior spirit, while others think the opposite.

Advantages

It explains how Protoss recover bodies and how important Protoss warriors really are. The Protoss population has been decimated. Even one Protoss is valuable beyond measure on the battlefield. There are simply too many dragoons to have been obtained through any other means than this teleportation process. The advantage of this system is that the Protoss gets warped directly to the treatment facilities and stands a very good chance of surviving.

This retcon ties in very well with The Dark Templar Saga, by Christie Golden. It explains why the Protoss in StarCraft: Firstborn didn't die in a flash of light. During the Aeon of Strife, Protoss warriors did not have power suits or any other advanced technology. When they were killed they simply fell to the ground and bled like any other living creature. Protoss warriors who have fallen are ritually bathed. The Protoss would detest having their brethren’s bodies in the hands of their enemies, lest the Protoss bodies be dishonored.

This retcon validates Fenix's death cinematic. According to Fenix, his body was physically recovered instead of warped back. This makes sense considering that his psi blade and therefore his suit, failed. However, this only happened to him because he was hard-pressed at Antioch by the Zerg and went a long duration without rest or repair. Therefore, failing suits are the exception, rather than the rule.

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Perhaps the biggest advantage of this retcon is that it fits in with the StarCraft universe. Quote:

Then the Protoss' foes often bear witness to a startling sight: the injured Protoss disappears in a bright flash of light. Such a vision has caused primitive races to quail in superstitious fear, and yet it has no supernatural cause.

 

The StarCraft universe is based on science-fiction. Though we might not understand how exactly everything works, it does need to make sense and fit together. We can all agree that “souls” should have no place in StarCraft. Indeed, when the now defunct soul hunter made its debut, the StarCraft community quickly rose to put it down for this exact reason. Therefore, any semblance of Protoss releasing their souls upon death should be scoffed at as well.

Pitfalls
The biggest blow to StarCraft canon comes from a loss of visual continuity. Death animations for critters like the bengalaas and kakaru have been invalidated. These two critters die in a flash of blue light similar to Protoss warriors. Death animations for Protoss characters such as Raszagal and Aldaris are now invalid as well. In fact, there’s nothing to stop Blizzard from reviving Aldaris.

Having a zealot teleport back in game when he gets hit by a yamato cannon seems incongruent. Also, the death animation and sound is incongruent for another reason: the Protoss actually looks like he is in the process of dying i.e. falling back and letting out a scream. This retcon also raises the question of what constitutes a safe haven and why can’t the teleportation be used for other situations, such as teleporting away when a Protoss is outnumbered.

Perhaps the greatest reason that this retcon is frowned upon is that Protoss do not truly die in battle. This defames the legendary Protoss battle cry, “My life for Aiur!” Another issue is that this retcon doesn’t make it very clear yet how this process would work for other Protoss, like dark templar, and why the death animations are different. For example, in StarCraft, zealots, bengalaas and dark templar all explode in a swirl of blue fire while high templar don’t necessarily explode but instead disintegrate and leave an afterimage.

 

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It seems that Blizzard can’t get their facts straight about how exactly the reincarnation process works. According to Andy Chambers, the Protoss that are warped back are placed in a dragoon or immortal exoskeleton.

A Protoss warrior who is badly injured but still living may be placed in a dragoon--or latterly an immortal--shell to continue to fight.

 

Yet here is what the StarCraft II website says about these exoskeletons.

But the loss of every immortal is keenly felt. These ancient warriors are a dying breed pledged to give their all in the end times of their people….Soon none will remain.

Now the dragoons of the past are all but gone. The sacred shrine that was dedicated to the creation of the dragoons was infested by the zerg and lost along with the protoss homeworld itself.

The stalker is a machine controlled by the shadow-essence of a dark templar warrior fused into a metal body to protect his people.

 

So, the dragoons and immortals can no longer be built, a stalker can only be controlled by a dark templar, and the khalai Protoss that are warped back are left...where, exactly? Perhaps Andy was referring to the time from before the dragoon shrine was destroyed. However, if that was the case he wouldn’t specifically say that that the returning Protoss could be placed in immortals.

What is not a retcon

Many people have some misconceptions about what exactly this does/does not cut out from StarCraft canon.

1. Why don't Dragoons take advantage of this advanced technology? The Protoss inside the dragoon is almost dead. The dragoon exoskeleton is the Protoss’ remaining life support. If it gets damaged during battle, there is no saving the Protoss inside. Also, keep in mind that the cybernetics core is not responsible for making dragoons. Its function was to house the mysterious essence translators that bonded fallen Protoss warriors to an exoskeleton through the Khala. Presumably, the essence translators themselves were created at the shrine and then transported to the cybernetics core.

2. Protoss using this technology to escape death or unfavorable situations. While this certainly could be possible, there is no proof of it.

3. Do dark templar still carry no armor? The dark templar have been portrayed as warriors that wear nothing but capes and their own warp blades for armament. However, the dark templar do indeed wear armor. In StarCraft: Queen of Blades by Aaron Rosenberg, dark templar have been described as carrying heavy armor. Also, according to “Karune's StarCraft II Q&A Batch #26,” only shields that have been generated by machinery can be drained by a science vessel’s EMP spell i.e. the dark templar’s shields.

4. Protoss can no longer dissipate into energy upon their deaths. While this retcon would seem to heavily insinuate something like this, it’s not true. Protoss can still turn their bodies into energy as witnessed by the zealot’s charge ability, the archon merge (as far as we know), and Adun’s own death which was discussed in Shadow Hunters, by Christie Golden.

How exactly would this work?

We haven’t received the more intricate details of this process. If Chambers gave us more details as to how exactly this worked, and why this retcon was developed originally, there would have been fewer negative reactions. Here is a possible explanation for how this technology functions.


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The Protoss does not necessarily need to carry the teleporter itself in his suit. Instead, he could simply carry a beacon which lets the Protoss base keep track of his location and recall him if he dies. The beacon could be rather small, allowing dark templar to keep it hidden under their capes. Perhaps this device is not carried within the power suit, but is rather a cybernetic graft built into the Protoss itself, which monitors vital signs directly from the protoss' own brain. Therefore, when the base recalls the Protoss, the warping animation might appear different for each type of Protoss because all Protoss have different psionic energy signatures.

The zealot would have no control over when he gets teleported back. The process would most likely be purely automated, recalling the Protoss only when he is at the brink of death. Given that there is no guarantee that the Protoss will make it back in one piece, and the fact that the Protoss is for all intents and purposes dead upon arrival, this would result in no loss of honor for the Protoss who is recalled in this way.


This same mechanism could be installed in ships. Perhaps the Protoss pilots are recalled before the ship explodes, and the ship self-destructs in order to not give other races the technological secrets of the Protoss fleet.

Alternatives?

Granted, this isn’t the most creative idea Blizzard has had so far. But are there any better solutions?

We could stay with the old method, where the protoss releases his psi upon death or simply converts his body to energy. Another popular version of this method is the idea that when the Protoss dies, his body rejoins his brethren in the Khala. Its greatest strength is aesthetics, however it does nothing to address the thinning numbers of the Protoss and it still has the issues that were detailed earlier in this article.

Perhaps we can have a combination of both. Protoss can still turn their bodies into pure energy upon death. The Protoss that are mortally wounded and unable to fight should be teleported back. The Protoss that are killed very thoroughly could just die on the battlefield in the same flash of blue light. Alternately we could simply distinguish between time periods by saying that the Protoss only began using this technology after the Brood Wars. However, we still run into the issue of visual consistency and this entire concept seems rather artless when compared to the new way of doing it.

Conclusion

This retcon has a decent share of its positives and its negatives. Perhaps in the coming months more information will be revealed about why this retcon had to take place. Our staff had the following things to say about this retcon.

ChaosSmurf wrote:

My opinion is that it isn't as big a thing as everyone is making out. Sure, it's a retcon, but it can also be used in the argument about "Why if the Protoss are so highly advanced do they get beaten by a guy with a nail gun?". I like the change, I think it's a nice little piece of lore. Quite WHY it was done I'm not sure, but it's possible it may make sense once SC2/Dark Templar 3 is released. Also, we do not know the extent of the damage that it teleports at. Is it teleport before MAJOR damage is done, or teleport once it has got to the point where it's death for the unlucky, and a dragoon for the lucky?

 

Drake Clawfang wrote:

This revelation invalidates all we know of Protoss society. The Protoss live for glory, and honor. They are a race of warriors. They are all prepared to give their lives for Aiur, they say so themselves. Now it seems that every Zealot we thought died honorably defending Aiur, instead teleported away to survive. Avoiding death by using teleportation? That is cowardly, the Protoss face death with honor. Everything we've seen about them in game shows that the Protoss value dying in battle like a warrior should. Now, they do not die, they flee. And they are reconstructed in Dragoon walkers. The existence of a Dragoon must be one of torment, for the warrior inside to know he fought hard but still failed, and is forced to use machinery to continue the battle. Why would any Protoss want to continue living in such a state? Simple: they don't. Why do the Zealots and the Templar flee like cowards when the battle is too great? Live a coward's life or die a warrior's death. Which do you believe the Protoss would choose?

In closing, in StarCraft, the Protoss had a battle cry;

"My life to Aiur!"

Now it seems that this quote needs to be restructured to suit what we now know about the Zealot. So the new Zealot battle cry is:

"My life for Aiur, unless I'm actually about to die, in which case I'll teleport away to be revived as a robot."

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For the last nine years the issue of the Xel’Naga and the hybrids has been the most uncertain part of the StarCraft Universe. All we have had to work with was a bonus mission from the Brood War expansion and some minor details from the manual. But now, as StarCraft II draws closer, we are having more information revealed to us in the form of The Dark Templar Saga by Christie Golden, which has been confirmed to be part of the StarCraft Universe canon. Even though the Xel’Naga remain as ambiguous as ever, we now have a better opportunity to extrapolate some of the events of the StarCraft II storyline.

Let’s start with the mysterious Terran known as Samir Duran. Duran claims he served as part of the Confederate Alpha Squadron before the fall of the Confederacy. He could very well be lying however, since Blizzard was quick to mention that this information is only “by his own account” and that he might have had to make up this story in order to infiltrate the ranks of the UED. During the Brood War mission Dark Origin, Duran reveals more of his enigmatic nature.

I've had many names throughout the millennia, young prodigal. You would know me best as Samir Duran.

I am a servant of a far greater power. A power that has slept for countless ages. And is reflected in the creature within that cell.

This creature is the completion of a cycle. It's role in the cosmic order was preordained when the stars were young. Behold the culmination of your history.

 

The most widely accepted explanation is that Duran is a servant of the Xel’Naga who survived or didn’t participate in the battle over Zerus. Presumably, Duran is a shape shifter who has spent his long existence masquerading as other beings, which at the time of StarCraft was a soldier in the Alpha Squadron. When he saw the Zerg come into conflict with the Protoss he knew that it was time to dust off the cobwebs and restart the ancient Xel’Naga experiments.

However, the Xel’Naga are a seemingly benevolent race, whereas Duran seems more focused on the destruction/subjugation of the entire universe. So who exactly are Duran's masters? Perhaps there is a separate Xel’Naga faction bent on the extermination of all lesser species. Another theory is that the Xel’Naga were trying to speed up their own evolution by attempting to create a ‘perfect’ race to use as host bodies. This would make sense since Duran himself is using a human as a host body. It has also been suggested that, since the Xel’Naga are not native to the Milky Way Galaxy, they are instead refugees that have been forced out of their homeworld by an ancient enemy and have come to the Milky Way Galaxy to produce warrior races in order to help retake their homeworld.

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With all this new material being revealed to us, there is increasing evidence of a “cosmic cycle” which brings about the culmination of the universe. The book Shadow of the Xel’Naga by Gabriel Mesta is referenced in The Dark Templar Saga: Firstborn. In Shadow of the Xel’Naga, a Xel’Naga artifact is uncovered by a violent storm and all three races converge on it to claim it for themselves. However, a strange phoenix-like energy creature emerges from the artifact that absorbs Zerg and Protoss life forms, as well as any energy attacks. This phoenix creature is another race developed by the Xel’Naga. In The Dark Templar Saga: Firstborn another such artifact was found, except this time it was dark because the energy-creature had already left, however no Zerg or Protoss appeared to be absorbed. These phoenix-like energy creatures could be Duran’s masters. They are a power that has slept for countless ages, contain Zerg and Protoss DNA (through absorption) and therefore have both purity of form and essence (thus the ‘reflected by the creature within that cell’ quote). It appears that these mysterious energy creatures awaken whenever the “cosmic cycle” is about to end.

It has been confirmed in the Blizzcon single-player demo that the Xel’Naga are indeed returning. Karune has stated that in the campaign we will be seeing some unique units related to the Xel’Naga. In addition, the StarCraft manual mentions that not all of the Xel’Naga were destroyed above the planet Zerus. It also appears that the Xel’Naga have learned from their mistakes. The Xel’Naga temple on Shakuras, perhaps built as a weapons test after their defeat, is capable of ridding a planet of Zerg. The phoenix-like energy creatures that emerged from the temples on Nemaka and Bhekar-Rho have been specifically designed by the Xel’Naga to absorb both Zerg and Protoss for some special purpose.

But why would the Xel’Naga need two methods for absorbing Zerg and Protoss DNA (Duran’s method and the phoenix creature)? Maybe the phoenix creatures are delivering the DNA straight to the Xel’Naga to use for creating more hybrids. That’s why the phoenix creatures in the novel needed to absorb so many Zerg and Protoss. An alternative is that the Xel’Naga might not be coming here as enemies, but instead as allies. The Xel’Naga have been described as peaceful, so it seems kind of strange that they would want to initiate this kind of experiment in the first place. Zeratul’s apocalyptic warning didn’t necessarily indicate that the Xel’Naga are coming here as enemies.

I bring tidings of doom. The Xel'Naga return, the cycle nears its end, the artifacts are the key... to the end of all things.

 

Just imagine, the Xel'Naga would return to heal the racial wounds they inflicted upon the Protoss those many eons ago. The Protoss morale would sky-rocket, to be able to fight alongside their ancient progenitors. It would also be a total surprise, since many of us were expecting the Xel'Naga to be evil.

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In The Dark Templar Saga: Firstborn, the preserver Zamara talks about this mysterious “cosmic cycle”.

But this knowledge, of the pattern that happened so often before and was about to happen again- ah, this was what made the Preserver more than important to her people. She opened to what was out there, every second that ticked by in its nonlinear, unique majesty challenging her to close in on herself, to not expose herself to the pain of the debris caught in the swollen river. She could not allow herself such luxuries. Not when the horrific knowledge of what had come before, and what was certain to come again, polluted the waters of time in her psyche.

 

Zamara can only hold the memories of Protoss. Have the Protoss been destroyed and recreated many times before? According to the manual, the answer is no. But what does this all mean then? Are we going to see something similar to The Matrix where a civilization is repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt in order to facilitate a method of control for some purpose? The Xel’Naga are hundreds of millions of years old; they most likely evolved when the universe was starting to take shape. When Duran said, “It’s role in the cosmic order was preordained when the stars were young.” he could have been referring to this method of control that the Xel’Naga may have set up. Perhaps this time around, as in many pieces of literature, it will be the human spirit that will be the determinant in irrevocably destroying this cycle.

Even now, there are many possible outcomes for the future of the StarCraft Universe. Perhaps it will even be something that we have predicted. Who knows? Maybe Blizzard will surprise us.

 

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) editorial.

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