StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

StarCraft2 LotV header - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

StarCraft2 LotV verdict - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

StarCraft2 LotV verdict - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

The Verdict

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void is in most ways, a fitting conclusion to the StarCraft saga. It’s a game that will be relevant for years to come. Although the days of LAN parties have gradually died off (though there are still a few hardcore enthusiasts that remain), StarCraft has evolved in such a way that is congruent with the times and its fans remain as loyal as ever. Blizzard will continue to tweak and update the game via patches and content packs, so to say that this is the end for StarCraft is premature, if anything, it’s just entering its prime.

For fans of the series, Legacy of the Void is a no brainer. For fans of strategy games, I say the again, StarCraft II is the best strategy game you can buy on PC. If you’ve been waiting for any reason at all to jump in, don’t. The game is deep, the competition is fierce and anyone of any skill level can jump in and appreciate what the game is all about. There aren’t a whole lot of games that can say that.

StarCraft2 LotV positives - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

StarCraft2 LotV positives - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

The Positives

  • Legacy of the Void’s campaign kicks off with a bang as Artanis and company set off to take back the Protoss homeworld of Aiur at the behest of the Dark Templar, Zeratul, whose prophecy warns of the coming apocalypse. During the first mission, I found myself in control of hundreds of units simultaneously that mowed down any and all Zerg opposition in my way. It was the perfect balance of letting me ease my way into the campaign while maintaining an epic sense of action around me. 

  • One of the things that the campaign does well at the outset is variation. The second mission slowed things down tremendously, going from several hundred units to only three. The mission variation forces the player to succeed with different strategies, and by the end, you will know the ins and outs of the Protoss race like the back of your hand.

  • The Spear of Adun (your home base) is a major pillar of the campaign’s mechanics that oversees everything from narrative beats, to battle preparation and even bonus objective rewards. Legacy of the Void does a good job of making it feel vital to your success in game by tying into the moment-to-moment gameplay.

  • The rewards the player gets for completing bonus objectives are cleverly woven in seamlessly to everything that you are doing. There is a sort of pseudo currency in the game called Solarite that the player can allocate in between missions that unlock abilities that the Spear of Adun can use to affect the battles on the surface from space which does a great job of reinforcing its importance aside from being a simple point and click menu. Completing the bonus objectives themselves can be an endeavor that can cost you the success of the main objective, so pulling them off is a true reward.

  • Another really cool aspect of the campaign, is the War Council room on the Spear of Adun, which lets the player swap different units from different Protoss factions, each with unique abilities. Blizzard could have just settled for reskinning units, but instead went above and beyond to make each unit play differently in the game, which also sells the narrative context that these are really different factions of Protoss. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with the units, to figure out which ones fit your strategy the best.

  • I think it goes without saying, but the Legacy of the Void is a visual treat on Ultra settings. The amount of detail Blizzard has poured in, particularly on their ships, is nothing short of impressive. The units in game are sacrificed somewhat, but it doesn’t matter much since the player’s perspective is so high up. 

  • My favorite part about the campaign were its champion levels that had you take control of various characters like Artanis, Kerrigan, Alarak, Karax and Vorazun. Each of the Champions plays differently and comes with their own unique abilities that affect their battles in different ways. The champion levels feel like something akin to a single player MOBA. The missions are fast paced, narratively oriented, require no build up to complete and do a good job of breaking up the standard strategy gameplay.

  • Alarak is the best character in Legacy of the Void bar none. He provides such a stark and refreshingly calculating contrast to the warm and idealistic group of heroes. He easily stands out the most from the cast of secondary characters plus it doesn’t hurt that he’s voiced by the charismatically smug John de Lancie, who played Q on Star Trek.

  • Six new multiplayer units enter the fray (two per race), The Adept and Disruptor (Protoss), the Cyclone and Liberator (Terran), and the Ravager and Lurker (Zerg). None of the units will revolutionize their respective races, but they do add new wrinkles for harassment, long range and splash damage tactics.

StarCraft2 LotV negatives - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

StarCraft2 LotV negatives - StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Review

The Negatives

  • Although the pacing of the campaign missions is varied, some levels can take up to or over 30 minutes to complete consecutively. A lot of this is due to a high number of “build up and destroy X number of object” missions which can make things feel like they drag on longer than they should.

  • Ultimately the narrative in Legacy of the Void is a bit of a letdown and feels too focused on not villainizing any race almost to the point where it felt like Blizzard was afraid of its fans potentially perceiving undertones. The narrative really strives for the happiest outcome possible in a “we all must ignore our differences to defeat this big bad evil” which, while nice on paper, is a little too cliche and ignores the drama tensions of the three way war that has worked so well in the past. 

  • Piggy-backing off the point above, Kerrigan’s character has suffered the most from the happy ending syndrome. I get that her character is popular, and people tend to lean more towards heroes than villains, but her unpredictably violent nature and hero-turned villain/anti-hero story is what made her so fascinating in the first place. Nevermind the fact that her part in Legacy of the Void’s main campaign is fleeting and under-developed, but she just isn’t interesting anymore as a heroine. 

  • Artanis is pretty much a by-the-book hero. He inspires his troops with colorful speeches and ideals, but his problem is that he has no real flaws, which makes him the weakest of the trilogy’s protagonists. Artanis’ character is a main reason why Alarak’s contrast is so apparent and necessary to the story. There’s even one moment when Alarak calls out Artanis on his blind idealism while ignoring the realities of death in war, so I couldn’t really tell if the writers were pushing Artanis or Alarak as the “right way of thinking”. I sided with Alarak.

1998 is considered by many to be the greatest year in gaming’s history. Just check out these releases; Marvel vs Capcom, Resident Evil 2, Xenogears, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Parasite Eve, Gran Turismo, Banjo-Kazooie, Mega Man Legends, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, Fallout 2, Pokemon Red/Blue, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Grim Fandango, Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus, Half-life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tomb Raider III, Thief: The Dark Project, Baldur’s Gate and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Oh and there was also this little sci-fi Strategy game on PC you might have heard about called StarCraft.  What a year. 

StarCraft would go on to become a staple in LAN parties over the next 12 years until in July of 2010 when Blizzard released the first entry of the long awaited sequel in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. When Wings of Liberty first launched, it felt like the beginning of something huge that would last for years to come. After all the original StarCraft stayed relevant to a large portion of PC gamers for over a decade, so it was entirely plausible that StarCraft II could last at least as long if not longer. In 2013, Blizzard followed up with the successful Heart of the Swarm, but now with Legacy of the Void, a grand total of 17 years after the launch of the original game, the entire story arc of StarCraft has come to a close.

Legacy of the Void expands the conflict to the largest scale that the series has seen to date, with the game’s three races, Terran, Zerg and Protoss banding together to defeat the universe’s most ancient evil, the dark lord, Amon. On the outside, this seems like the logical move. If you want to end a revered series the right way, you’ve got to do it with the biggest bang possible, right? Well yes and no. Legacy of the Void continues to sacrifice some of the more interesting aspects of the established StarCraft narrative in order to set up this “biggest of big evils” showdown and the result is a story that feels more like typical sci-fi meets Lord of the Rings.

Plenty of fans will argue that the story is secondary to its tremendously balanced and addictive gameplay, and if you view the game from that angle, you have every reason to be excited for Blizzard’s final entry in the StarCraft II saga. Legacy of the Void is yet another reason why StarCraft II is the best Strategy game on PC, period.

That said, let’s take a look at what worked and what didn’t in StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void.

The Positives / The Negatives

The Verdict

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