Before November 10th, my knowledge of StarCraft was pretty limited. It was one of those games that I would see an advertisement for, and think to myself "Oh, yeah, I should get around to trying that one. Looks cool." Then I'd load up Skyrim and forget I ever saw it. But of course, when offered a free code to a game, one does not simply turn it down. I started the download, and felt a bit of...anticipation.
Upon beginning the game, the first impression was fantastic. Of course, it definitely helps that this is the best looking RTS game I've played, both in terms of design and smoothness. The game itself does the cinematic cut-scenes justice. The energetic soundtrack and suitably dramatic dialogue are gripping and pulled me straight into the lore. Even though I hadn't played a single minute before, I could already see how deep and intricate it was.
As I loaded up the first mission, I was actually a bit excited. I'm not very good at real time strategy games. Actually, most would probably consider me "****ing terrible" or a "filthy casual". I fully admit to both of those. And yet, the sci-fi nerd in me loves it anyways. Sure, those are my Protoss getting torn apart by Zerg, but it looks so damn cool. I realized as I played through the beautifully written campaign that for the first time, I actually wanted to get better.
See, my strategy for the longest time in RTS games was to build my base, mass my army, then rush wherever I wanted. While that would probably work for the Zerg, the abilities of the Protoss are to varied for that simple approach. I started strategizing more, pulling pincer movements and false retreats to herd my opponent's greater numbers into kill zones.
The campaign did this to me. In every mission, you seem low on personnel and resources, meaning all movements have to be carefully planned. Small units start becoming sacrificial scouts, sometimes sent deep into enemy territory to get that half-second glimpse of their units before being mercilessly slaughtered. Individuals became more expendable as long as the bulk of the army stayed safe, growing and expanding inch by inch towards new resources and enemy encampments.
The mere fact that the A.I. was that intense and strategically smart was both embarrassing and exciting. It means that single player games, both in the campaign and out, are sometimes more surprising and varied than multiplayer. It inspired me to adapt and rethink the strategies that helped push me through every other RTS I've played. The uniqueness and variety of StarCraft are one of the things that tells me the RTS genre hasn't fallen to MOBAs quite yet (and honestly, I hope it never does).
Of course, getting better at campaign didn't necessarily mean I was ready for multiplayer. As I bumbled through my first game, it took me a few minutes to realize that all the nearby mining spots were being claimed. Ten minutes in, two even sported brand-spanking new hives. It didn't take long after that for the bugs to overrun me completely.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed my time in multiplayer so far. The unit variety is incredible, and the strategy possibilities are pretty unlimited. I've got a ways to go before I'm a great player, but Legacy of the Void was a hell of a place to start.
Even though I'd missed a lot of story, I've done what I can to catch up and I don't at all feel left out. Learning some of the lore behind the Queen of Blades, Amon, the Protoss, and the Zerg has been pretty exciting, and will definitely have me going back to learn more. If you weren't in to StarCraft before, this is a damn good place to start.