StarCraft II – Heart of the Swarm storyline and gameplay predictions
With the rather unexpected ending of the first part of the Starcraft II trilogy, and the next game being at least well over a year away, what does the good Starcraft fan do? Speculate.
Here’s some predictions on what may happen in the next game starring the Zerg, Heart of the Swarm. Massive spoiler warning!
Note: This article also contains the supposed leaked ending video of Heart of the Swarm. While there is no confirmation that this is indeed the final ending, watch at your own risk!
What we know from Wings of Liberty
The Zerg were originally created by the Xel’Naga to merge with the Protoss in order to become the next cycle of Xel’Naga. Somehow The Dark Voice was able to override the genetic programming and change Zerg directive from ‘merge with the Protoss’ to ‘destroy the Protoss’ instead. The overmind had to obey this order, but to defy it’s own fate, it created the Queen of Blades, who was able to free the Zerg from control of the Dark Voice.
The main threat is no longer the Zerg, but the Zerg-Protoss Hybrids under command of “the Dark Voice”.
Kerrigan is somehow the key to saving the universe.
What we know about Heart of the Swarm
A Gamespy interview with Lead Designer Dustin Browder revealed a slight glimpse of what the Zerg expansion would be like:
One of the examples Browder gave us was to build the single-player Zerg around Kerrigan’s growing power and new mutations. Unlike the Terrans who have “hero” units but play much like their multiplayer versions, such a Zerg concept would make single-player Zerg more like Warcraft III. Zerg armies would need to be built around the need to get super-unit Kerrigan onto the battlefield and protect her while she garners what she needs to go up in power.
To quote the Starcraft II wiki as well
The campaign, viewed as a sequel, is focused on Kerrigan and the development of a zerg empire. The campaign operates similarly to an RPG, in which Kerrigan is focused on increasing her personal power through mutations. Zerg armies protect her as she garners this power
Predictions for the story
After the ending of Wings of Liberty, where Kerrigan was ‘de-infested’, people were kind of confused about how the next game could work. Wasn’t the next game supposed to be about Kerrigan controlling the Zerg? Well after reviewing the evidence, this is still the case.
The game will definately feature Kerrigan as the main character. Firstly, she is the only ‘Zerg’ character that players can relate with, and are most familiar with. Having Kerrigan as the main character makes the storytelling process much easier for both Blizzard and the players.
Kerrigan, despite being de-infested, still shows signs of the infestation in her ‘hair’ and eyes, leading me to believe she is now some kind of Zerg-human hybrid. With the overminds original ‘Queen of Blades’ plan and the prophecy stating that Kerrigan is key to saving the universe, reinforces the fact that she is supposed to become the new leader of the Zerg swarm in the sequel.
With Hybrids being the new threat, Raynor/Zeratul/Kerrigan now realise that they need the power of the Zerg swarm to fight against them (as well as to stop the swarm from being enslaved by the Hybrids as per prophecy). Kerrigan returns to become the leader of the Zerg again, either through her own personal choice or through common need.
We’ve talked about Kerrigan evolving herself personally. Raynor is not the kind of guy who can leap to the front of the battlefield and take a Yamato shot to the chin and survive. That doesn’t make a lot of sense for him. He would be somebody who’s more of a commander, like a real general in a modern army. But Kerrigan, she’s a monster of legend. This is a character who could potentially survive a fight with a battlecruiser–or several battlecruisers, possibly–so she may be more about evolving her own personal abilities, as well as evolving her forces, as she controls more and more Zerg creatures.
– Q&A The Starcraft II Brain Trust with Chris Sigaty and Dustin Browder
The story missions will involve Kerrigan regaining control of the Zerg swarm as well as her old Queen of Blades powers. I suspect the game will play much like the Undead campaign in the Frozen Throne (where Arthas is depowered at the start), with Kerrigan as a hero type unit, and probably be heavily focused on hero play, just as the original Zerg campaign was in SC1.
Armory ‘Upgrades’ will be replaced with mutations instead, both to buff up Kerrigan and obtain new Zerg units. For example, Kerrigan getting Psi Storm or Cloaking as a personal ability might be a reward for a mission, another one might be being able to build Brutalisks etc.
There will probaby be fighting against other Zerg broods (either ‘wild’ broods or under control by the Dominion/Hybrids) to bring them under her control, and gain access to their units.
Some of the plotline will also probably involve the Dominion hunting her down, the revenge against Mengsk, and fanatical Protoss groups who just want to destroy all Zerg.
Whether or not she will remain in her human form is unknown, but given her state at the end of WoL, I imagine she will be partially ‘infested’ due to personal mutations she will inflict upon herself. Given the mass genocide she commited as her time as the Queen of Blades, I think it would be a rather disappointing to see Kerrigan remain ‘normal’. I think it would be more fitting for her to return to her Zerg form…but this time with human compassion inside. Perhaps the title Heart of the Swarm has a double meaning?
Samir Duran will probably be a key antagonist in the story. With it being revealed that the Dominion (WoL Mission:Piercing the Shroud) are also secretly producing Hybrids and the rather suspiciously named Dr Narud in the Moebius Foundation, is it possible that he has somehow infiltrated the Dominion?
And as for Jimmy? Either:
- She will reject him in spectacular space opera fashion due to being unable to forgive herself for her actions, and run away to do her own thing
- Raynor, although reluctant, will help her in her quest, lending his resources and ship to help Kerrigan achieve her goals. This would give both the player and Kerrigan more interaction with human NPCs.
For the ending, perhaps there could also be a dark twist, where she takes her mutation too far and slips back into her Queen of Blades persona? It surely fits in well with the Blizzard RTS ‘fallen hero’ pattern we’ve come to expect in Warcraft and Starcraft.
Edit: In December 2010, the supposed ending for HoTS was leaked onto the internet. While in a very rough state, the voice acting seems legit enough. Watch at your own risk.