In anticipation of Legacy of the Void's release next month, Blizzard has announced a significant refresh to the StarCraft II user interface. The updates will be released with the forthcoming Patch 3.0 for all instances of StarCraft II, including Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and even the Starter Edition. The overall goal of the revisions was to create a more social experience in the client and the specific areas of focus were a direct result of community feedback. The update provides extensive improvements to the Arcade, the chat system, and the menus throughout the client, including the introduction of additional hotkeys.
One of the most impactful changes is that the menu navigation is has been localized entirely within the top-left corner of the screen. The Arcade menu has been completely overhauled, placing map info directly in the menu screen and moving 'Open Games' to be the default module. Accordingly, the 'Open Games' list is now quicker and easier to browse. Chat now has a permanent space along the right side of the player's screen and the interface has been designed so that it will never interfere with the new menu navigation. Blizzard has eliminated the multi-window regime from the previous design and instead has streamlined the chat experience into one chat window with multiple conversation tabs. To learn more about all of the changes, you can read Blizzard's announcement post and watch a summary video below:
Overhauling the UI To ensure this new chat system would work well with the rest of the UI, it became clear we would have to redesign the rest of the game’s screens so we meticulously overhauled the spacing, format, and content of every section. In order to give our content more space, we moved the navigation, sub-navigation, and the party panel to the top of the screen. With this extra room, we saw an opportunity to inlay new 3D scenes into every screen to further bring the StarCraft universe to life in the UI.
As an homage to the nostalgia that has persisted for more than seventeen years, Blizzard redesigned the StarCraft II campaign menu in the style of the original StarCraft and Brood War menus. While we are delighted by the throwback, technically, Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void represent episodes 7, 8, and 9, in the StarCraft saga. Blizzard likely wishes to avoid the resulting confusion from new players to the franchise and view the StarCraft II campaigns as a standalone trilogy. However, we would love to see an alternative naming convention the respects the continuity of the story line. Better yet, having placeholder menus for the older campaigns that open short summaries and have links to the StarCraft and Brood War game clients would be an excellent gateway mechanic to entice a new generation to experience the original source material.
The Redesigned StarCraft II Campaign Menu
The Original StarCraft Campaign Menu
The StarCraft: Brood War Campaign Menu
The new interface design appears to inspired by minimalist design principles and due to the resulting simplicity, it possesses a clean modern aesthetic. By streamlining the menu and chat systems, Blizzard has addressed many of the longstanding original user interface issues that have caused vocal and widespread concern throughout the community since the introduction of Battle.net 2.0. The community has responded positively to the portions of the refresh previewed and, perhaps more importantly, to this example of Blizzard's willingness to invest in fundamental revisions to existing systems. Many in the community have noted and celebrated the similarities between the changes inherent in this revamp and the original Battle.net features found in Brood War, perhaps proving that great gameplay wasn't Brood War's only legacy. A perfect mix of new and old, Blizzard has always been forthright about their iterative process and this redesign is a perfect example of the goodwill and success that results that come from that strong commitment to game's ecosystem. These adjustments to the UI have the potential to drastically improve both current and future fans' StarCraft experiences.
While no specific date has been announced for Patch 3.0, luckily fans do not have long to wait, the update will be coming before Legacy of the Void's launch on November 10, 2015.