Video Game Thoughts: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a 2010 real-time strategy game by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. When I saw the first video of StarCraft II, I thought it looked great. The problem was my computer had long been outdated. I was only able to play Blizzard’s other game, World of Warcraft, because it was several years old. I would not be able to play any newer game. That all changed when I graduated college. I decided to get a new computer as a present to myself. A year after I got the new computer StarCraft II came out. I got to enjoy it with all the graphics maxed out. It was the first game I had been able to do this in probably six years.

My time playing StarCraft II started with the closed beta in February 2010. I was one of the lucky few to get invited to this special testing period. I had applied for beta tests before but had never been invited. I was so excited about the game, I was trying all kinds of things to find bugs. I quickly made a list of all the keyboard shortcuts in the game and shared it on the forums. Later, I wrote a guide to the map editor for the game. Towards release, I wrote a Walkthrough and Frequently Asked Questions for the game. I couldn’t get enough of this game.

The main reason was because I saw it as a possible job opportunity. I had long envied the competitive players of other games. I thought maybe this was my chance to hit it big. The job search after graduation wasn’t going well. I was desperate for any source of money. I read all sorts of strategies and practiced a lot. I was hoping I could get good enough to win tournaments. Any money won was better than the zero income I currently had.

My excitement for the game continued all through the beta and after release. Unfortunately, as I improved my skills and got closer to the best I could be, it just became too stressful. Playing at my peak ability would get my heart pounding. I didn’t feel good after playing. My body would settle down by the next day, but it just wasn’t fun. At some point I realized I would never be able to make a living doing this with my body’s stressful reactions. I quit serious competition, only playing online here and there.

That’s when I got into watching others compete. This is called esports, or electronic sports. It’s a very popular thing in the gaming community these days to watch the best players compete. It was my dream to become one of those top players, but since I couldn’t, I settled for just watching the best. Early on, the tournaments were not organized very well. It was very hard to find the video footage to watch. Some tournaments I only got to read about afterwards. Others were hosted in Europe or Korea, so I would have had to stay up all night to watch them. Most of these problems were fixed, but by then I had lost interest in esports. I’ve only ever watched competitive StarCraft II. No other game has caught my interest enough to watch others compete.

The game itself was classic Blizzard quality. It had all the great gameplay from the first game plus an awesome new campaign, a sleek interface, better graphics and sound, a more advanced map editor, and a built-in hosting system for custom maps. The only thing that was worse was the in-game social features. They just weren’t there. Players couldn’t chat with others outside of a game. They couldn’t form persistent clans with their friends to play together. All of these were added later on in free patches, but they should have been there from the beginning. Until then when I started up the game, I felt all alone. It didn’t feel like anyone else was playing.

Overall, my time with StarCraft II was short but sweet. When I was into it, I was obsessed. I couldn’t get enough of it. I cared about nothing else but StarCraft. When I lost interest, I didn’t care about it at all. I didn’t keep up with news, read the forums, or watch any tournaments. I only heard about the expansion pack from one of the video game news sites I frequent.

Heart of the Swarm expansion

The expansion pack added a new campaign, several new units, and more features to the online mode. The campaign featured the Zerg faction, which until this point, didn’t have a campaign of its own in StarCraft II. The story picked up where the previous campaign left off. The campaign was shorter than the last one but more refined. They had some amazing scenes in the cinematics. I generally thought the missions were more interesting than the ones in Wings of Liberty, but I still would have liked having more missions. I had so much fun with it, I wrote a Walkthrough and Frequently Asked Questions for the Heart of the Swarm campaign too.

There were many new units in the campaign, but what was more important were the new units for multiplayer. Each race got at least one new unit, with some upgrades. They were designed to fill any holes in the strategies each faction could employ. The new units were fun to use in multiplayer, but I had already lost interest in the online mode a long while back. I played a number of games to try them all out but never got to appreciate them long term.

One new online feature I liked, however, was the leveling system. Each time the player finished a game, they would gain some experience points for the faction they picked. Players got more experience for wins than losses, but they still got something for losing. All the rewards for leveling up were cosmetic, but some of them were pretty cool looking. I ended up playing until I got to the maximum level with each faction. After that I never touched multiplayer again.

The campaign was fun for a few more playthroughs, but my time with StarCraft II was mostly done. For many months I debated if I should buy the next expansion (featuring the last faction), but in the end, I decided to move away from Blizzard games. I really liked them, but I was starting the process of reducing my unnecessary attachments. I didn’t like feeling like I had to keep buying expansions to hear the latest story. They were too expensive.

That process still continues today. It is the main reason why I am writing all my thoughts down. I am putting everything I remember from the past here. That is my previous life. When I am done with this process, my new life will be united with Christ and His Church. I will still play video games but in a very limited fashion compared to before. Blizzard games are a little too involved for that. I’m really excited to get everything written down and finally move on.


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