The lights are on
In the past few weeks of playing the StarCraft II beta, I've seen just how brutal multiplayer for this real-time strategy behemoth can be. Blizzard seems confident that they'll be able to pull in players of all skill levels when the final game releases later this year, but it sounds like they'll be expecting players to avoid one-on-one battles at first.
In our recent talk with StarCraft II design director Dustin Browder, we asked him how Blizzard plans to introduce new players to competitive multiplayer. Browder noted that beta users should not think of the beta as a demo -- it's still being balanced and has a much harsher ratio of hardcore players to newbies than the final game should.
Browder also revealed Blizzard's belief that players should begin with cooperative play against the AI and then move into team battles, saving 1v1 match-ups for last. In fact, Browder suggests players might want to get anywhere from 30 to 60 hours of time played under their belt before jumping into 1v1.
From the interview:
"We're definitely going to be looking at Achievements and other tools to encourage our players, once they graduate from cooperative vs. AI to move into team play before they move into 1v1. We're going to offer 4v4 and 3v3 to encourage them to get into a team play environment [and] get with a team. It's a much more casual environment than the 1v1. You've got somebody to help you to play with, you've got allies who can come to your rescue if you get into a little bit of trouble. We really consider the 1v1 the final endgame arena-style gameplay that we hope players will only get to after 30, 40, 50, 60 hours played depending on their enthusiasm for it."
"That's my hope as a designer, but whether any of that works out is anyone's guess," Browder admitted. "We're going to try to do anything we can with the UI and with the Achievements to encourage players to follow some kind of arc like that so that by the time they get to 1v1 hopefully they're feeling very comfortable with the game and they're ready for it -- they're not just thrown into the deep end."
Sixty-plus hours seems like an incredible time investment to get the best multiplayer a game has to offer, but with a community as hardcore and dedicated as StarCraft's, that might just be what it takes to break in. When StarCraft II hits, are you planning to put in the work to try and succeed in 1v1 battles, or are you content sticking with single-player and more friendly multiplayer content?