Blizzard’s StarCraft and the follow-up expansion Brood Wars are considered two of the greatest real-time strategy (RTS) games ever created. First released in 1998, the original game had three related campaigns between races (Terran, Protoss, and Zerg) that played dramatically differently from one another. This was a significant departure from earlier games like Warcraft: Orcs and Humans or Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, which had little practical differentiation between the races.
Blizzard has made a pair of announcements concerning its classic franchise. First, both StarCraft and Brood Wars are going to be completely free as of March 30th. There’s a new patch for Brood Wars this week as well, with support for windowed and windowed fullscreen mode, keybind options, an observer mode, better gameplay responsiveness during multiplayer, improved compatibility with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, and better anti-cheat mechanisms. Two unit bugs that affect Valkyrie and Dragoon units are also getting fixed. Team Liquid has more details on this patch.
The second major announcement is the unveiling of StarCraft: Remastered. Blizzard’s release video is embedded below:
The game features all redrawn sprites with new support for 4K (and presumably 21:9 aspect ratios as well). We’ve put together a slideshow below with some images of the new game versus the old one. Each slide can be clicked to be enlarged.
It will be interesting to see how well this remastered StarCraft sells, and how well it compares with other, more modern games already on the market. StarCraft’s gameplay loop was heavy on micromanagement, abbreviated as “micro.” The player that could precisely control their units and target their abilities without losing track of what was happening back at their base was usually the player that won the fight. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and later RTS games have typically put less emphasis on micromanagement, partly thanks to the ability to put powers on autocast rather than manually casting them in all cases.
It isn’t yet clear if Blizzard will include any nods to modern gameplay or offer these features as options for players that might find it difficult to get into classic StarCraft. Presumably all of the units and missions will have unchanged abilities and requirements, since Blizzard is calling this a remaster, not a remake. At least some new views will be available (Battlecruiser-eye views and close-in zooms are two new modes). Comic-book style intros and re-recorded dialog will also be available, possibly replacing the iconic (but now extremely dated-looking) videos that were present in the original game.
The company has not yet revealed any details on pricing or timing, beyond saying that StarCraft: Remastered will drop this summer.