Blizzard launched StarCraft II seven years ago, and it had a lot to live up to after the phenomenal success of the original game. StarCraft II has become one of Blizzard’s most popular titles, and anyone who hasn’t gotten around to playing it will soon be able to do so free of charge. At BlizzCon, the company announced the game will be going free-to-play. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean a lot of premium upgrades are about to flood your gaming experience.
The story of StarCraft II is broken up into three parts. The first chapter was Wings of Liberty in 2010, which contained the Terran single-player campaign and access to the multiplayer mode. It was followed in 2013 by Heart of the Swarm (the Zerg campaign) and Legacy of the Void in 2015. All three titles can operate as a standalone game, but they add some features to the multiplayer experience as well.
Blizzard isn’t giving away the entire StarCraft II experience–it’s just Wings of Liberty that is going free. There are also some additional restrictions for free players. The free version will include the full campaign, but that doesn’t take long to beat. The multiplayer is what people are really after, and the free version provides access to regular ranked play. However, it must be unlocked by getting ten “first of the day” wins in unranked online or AI play. Co-op commanders up to level five are also included in the free version.
The new free offering is different than the “Starter Edition” of StarCraft II, which launched way back in 2011. That only included a handful of missions and single-player skirmishes. The remaining two campaigns are still paid products at $ 15 each. There’s also the Nova Covert Ops mission pack, which is also a $ 15 purchase. A bundle of all three can be yours for $ 40. There have long been premium cosmetic upgrades in StarCraft II, and that will continue to be the case. There won’t be any game-changing loot boxes added now that the game is free, though. You still have to build additional pylons–no one’s going to try and sell you packs of pylons for $ 0.99.
What if you already bought part of StarCraft II? Blizzard is rewarding you with a free skin for the Ghost unit and three new multiplayer portraits. You only get the bonus if you bought one of the campaigns on or before October 31st. The new free-to-play version of StarCraft II goes live on November 14th.
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