So this will be my final blog post reviewing HOTS. .
My others: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=343884 Day 2
http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=343614 Day 1
First off I'd like to point out that above all else, I had a lot of FUN playing the HOTS demo. The new units and mechanics do not just mesh well with the existing SC2 units, but they all make their intended match ups, MORE not less fun.
I'm really impressed by what I was able to experience thus far. I am a Random player so it would be only fitting for me to review the HOTS by each individual race. I will first talk about how I felt about each race while playing them and then I will discuss my early take on balance.
Terran actually felt like the most changed of the three races. While the other races got new units or abilities that enhanced their other playstyles, Terrans got a whole new playstyle. Mech is completely changed and for the better.
It's more mobile, versatile, fun to play and above all else, viable than it ever was in WoL. I had so much fun using factory based strategies at the HOTS demo that it actually made me seriously consider switching to Terran full time when the game actually goes live.
The Battle Hellion is everything mech needed, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite units in the Terran arsenal. It's a solid front-line fighter, that has the ability to change into a mobile harassment unit and back again. Between it, the Viking, and the Siege Tank, Mech players now have THREE transforming vehicles to play with, and for someone like me that grew up watching Robotech, Gundam Wing, and Transformers, this is just plain cool and much more appealing than the bio-centric Terran armies we see dominate the WOL scene.
My one major concern with this unit is that I really feel as though having battle mode available by default is too powerful especially against Zerg. Reactor-Hellion builds are going to be incredibly difficult for Zergs to deal with, probably even more so than in WoL and the increased straight up combat prowess of the unit will make the dreaded, Hellion/Marauder/Stim all in combo much deadlier than it ever imagined it could be in WoL. I feel the battle mode transformation should be researched out of the tech lab for 50/50 with about a 40-60 second research time. This will give Zergs added time to get out Roaches or Spine Crawlers to deal with early battle mode hellions while still giving Terrans the ability to use the Vehicle Mode hellion to gain map control, deny creep and scout.
The Warhound was not a unit I liked when I first saw it, or played with it. After 3 days though and multiple playthroughs I began to fall in love with it. It's a mechanical Marauder. A Mobile Thor, it will single-handedly make Protoss players HATE Mech as they watch their Stalkers get obliterated by this unit.
The Warhound as advertised is spectacular against Mechanical units. It's baseline Railgun is an overall solid weapon with good damage output, range and no particular armor type that it's bad against. It's secondary missles have a long range and pack quite a punch. Those missles and the Warhounds respectable movement speed make these babies amazing for assaulting Siege Tank lines.
Against Protoss this unit will replace the Siege Tank as the staple unit Mech relies on. Unfortunately the Siege Tank still seems very underwhelming in HOTS late game against Protoss but this unit does not.
Mech vs Protoss will probably look like a Viking, Hellion, Warhound, unit composition that will probably add in both Ghosts and Ravens as well. It'll be mobile, capable of matching the mobility of Protoss ground forces, and deadly in a straight up fight. The lack of anti-air on this unit, however leaves a very large glaring hole in the mech style in general, and that's ok. Mech will still rely very heavily on Vikings for anti-air especially against things like the Tempest and Viper which are both going to be very good units for dealing with mech-centric armies. Against mass Mutalisk the Thor is still a good option but all of its weaknesses will transfer over to HOTS.
The Warhound doesn't appear to have much use against Zerg though. Perhaps it'll be the answer mech players have to the ultralisk, but at this point I don't know.
The Widow Mine This unit got a lot of exposure because of its damage output and flashy appeal but to be honest this unit not only looked very underwhelming to me, but it also seemed to lack direction.
It definitely packs a punch, 200 damage. And will probably terrorize the lower leagues as Terrans mass these things to destroy any army composition, but in the higher tiers the 10 second fuse just simply makes these units incredibly easy to deal with, just simply take the unit being mined, easily identifiable by the red circle above them and move them away.
The one thing this unit has going for it is its low cost. Which will give Terrans a desperate option for dealing with any huge deathball the opposing races can throw at it. Simply massing Brood Lords will not work anymore, if you can manage to latch one of these onto every Brood Lord in the flock.
In general though, this unit appears to function best as an added defense for Mech players to get their economy up while they build their better units. Offensively the burrow time and low HP of the unit makes it very easy to shut down.
I really look forward to seeing the sorts of playstyles, builds and strategies Terrans will come up with with these new units.
At first it felt to me like Protoss got the short end of the stick as far as HOTS content went. Only 2 new units and some new abilities. But the more I got to play with them and against them the more I realized just how profound each individual unit or ability will dramatically change the way Protoss approaches each match up, and then I got nerd chills.
I hope you're ready Protoss players, because none of your new toys will be easy to use, but they will be worth it just wait. By the time HOTS is over, that stigma if the 1-A move Protoss will be gone forever.
The Mothership Core
Take everything you knew about Protoss early game, the builds, the rushes, everything and throw it out the window. This thing completely changes the metagame against Protoss and is the single most game breaking change in HOTS. When I say game breaking, I do not mean it in a bad way. This fixes all of the things Protoss players HATED about the early game.
It makes Gateway expanding viable, it's superb for dealing with drops, it can be transferred to different Nexii, it can turn the Nexus into something stronger than a Planetary Fortress. It can boost the Protoss economy, it can save the Protoss in the event of a base race. If Protoss was allowed any more than ONE Mothership core they would NEVER lose to anything. Good thing they're only allowed one.
Purify is quite simply and excuse my language FUCKING AMAZING!!!!! Its range rivals that of a siege tank, does a ton of damage, and it fires quickly. You know how PvP for the longest time was a 4 gate fest? This cannon makes the 4 gate completely unviable. How do you plan on attacking a Protoss player with 3 gates plus this cannon, with just gateway units? Quite simply you can't.
Energize is basically the MULE of Protoss. for 25 energy you can completely restore the energy of a Nexus. I'll let you sit for a moment to let that sink in.
Recall is going to be one of the coolest things you'll see Protoss players utilize at the professional level. It costs 150 energy which is nearly all of the energy on the Mothership core, but it has a huge radius allowing an ENTIRE Protoss army to teleport to the Nexus the core is located on. This ability makes so much sense on the Nexus and simply feels from a flavor perspective so iconic for Protoss.
New players are going to have a hard time using the mothership core as all of its abilities are more complicated than anything on the Orbital Command for example, and it requires a brand new control group just for itself in order to utilize, but this thing will completely change Protoss at the professional level. How each pro utilizes the Mothership Core will be a sign of how skilled he is in the same way larva injecting and creep spread is with Zergs. I love this change and I love Blizzard for designing it.
One more thing, Protoss don't simply build motherships anymore. Rather they can upgrade their mothership core into a mothership. HOW COOL IS THAT?! It's as though this brilliant building grows wings and flies away. It feels so sci-fi that it just simply makes me ooze all over with nerdy goodness.
My one beef with the Oracle is they just didn't bring back the Arbiter and give it all of the Oracle's abilities.
That's my only beef with the unit however. Otherwise, this thing is just incredible. Pre-ordain might be the most overpowered thing in HoTS right now that most lower league players won't even know how to use.
It lasts for 2 minutes and grants vision AND detection around any unit or structure. It's a scan on steroids. To be quite honest the duration might be too long and should be lowered, but that'll have to wait for beta to know for sure.
Entomb definitely does what it's advertised to do. It harasses. I definitely felt harassed when I was playing against my friend who was using this ability. It forced me to leave squads of Marines behind at my base and watch frustrated as my Vikings got left in the dust by the movement speed of the Oracle. A single entomb will block an entire base from mining minerals. It's definitely going to be a powerful tool, one I'm sure the professionals will happily abuse.
The Cloaking Field on the Oracle, completes this unit as the ultimate support package in the Protoss arsenal. I simply dread imagining what Protoss timing attacks will look like combined with cloaking field.
Yea yea, I know 22 range.
So what? This thing shoots at half the rate of a Siege Tank in siege mode, and costs as much as a Carrier. As far as this thing goes as a straight up combat unit, the Carrier is a far better option. The one thing the Tempest has going for it is that range, which makes it the ultimate siege weapon in the game. Fitting I think for the most advanced race in the cosmos.
I forsee this thing being used in a lot of silly rushes once beta opens up, but I think once everyone gets settled down a little bit I think it'll go largely unnoticed except in some LATE LATE game situations where a dedicated sniping or siege unit will be useful.
In general though, this is the only Protoss HOTS change that I didn't fall in love with. but 2/3 isn't bad.
Protoss is changing for the better, it'll require a lot of skill to utilize these new units and abilities. Hope the Protoss are up to the challenge, I know Bisu will be. Are the rest of you?
Ironically, with this being Heart of the Swarm the Zerg are the race I'm the least excited about after playing the HOTS demo.
Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like they'll be underpowered or anything and I am thrilled that the Hydralisk will once again be a staple unit for the race, but none of their new units or abilities blew me away the way the Protoss or Terran's did. That said, they'll definitely be getting some great new toys.
I for one am most happy that in HOTS the two units Zerg complains about the most, the Ultralisk and the Hydralisk two staples from Brood War will now be probably their most beloved late game combo. Ultralisks with their burrow charge are going to inspire both terror and whining from the opposing races of that I am confident. You can't kite Ultralisks anymore really, you're forced to deal with them straight up while the Hydralisks behind them and their new speed off creep rain death down upon you.
As far as their new units go
This unit is going to be tricky. It's either useless or overpowered depending on how you look at it and what it's being used against. It's a heavy gas investment at 200 gas each and is relatively fragile as the casters all tend to be.
It gives Zerg a definitive answer for dealing with the big units of the other races in the abduct ability. In the hands of a DRG or a Nestea this ability will crush any attempt the other races have of playing a positional game with Zerg. It breaks contains, and deathballs alike, but is largely useless against Terran bio units with which it has another ability seemingly designed specifically to counter.
Dark Cloud redefines TvZ and ZvZ in HoTS. Between Dark Cloud, Fungal Growth and Banelings it's going to be very hard to be a Marine in HOTS, and combined with how sexy Ultralisks are going to be, completely changes the way late game ZvZ is going to look.
Overall the Viper changes the game a lot, and it leaves me wondering just how much potential this unit truly has. I am eager to see what the pros do with this thing.
The Swarm Host
I'll be honest. I really don't GET this unit. I just don't.
It isn't a lurker, it isn't a brood lord, it isn't a siege tank. The one thing I have to say about it is that it is probably the most unique unit I have ever seen in an RTS. The closest thing I can compare it to would the meat wagon, necromancer combo from WC3 rolled into one.
In low numbers this thing doesn't appear to have much use at all. in large numbers it's an endless Zergling runby, that's slower and can attack air.
I cannot really give feedback on this unit like I can with the rest of the units from the demo because I simply don't understand it very well. I don't understand how it's going to be used, or how powerful it'll really be. I am hoping a Zerg with much more vision than I have will show this unit to be the most powerful unit from HOTS, but until then, I will just scratch my head at it and keep making Zerglings.
Overall, Zerg will feel the most unchanged of the races and from a certain point of view that is a good thing. The core feature of this race has always been its macro mechanics and those will remain in HOTS. The buffs to the Hydralisk and Ultralisk will make for some new and interesting unit compositions and the Viper and Swarm Host will provide some interesting additions as well that are hard for me to predict the ramifications of.
Despite the fact that I am less excited about the Zerg than I am about the other races after this weekend, I think the Swarm will be a lot of fun to play in HOTS,
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog. I enjoyed writing it.
I can't wait for HOTS.