This is Part 2 of the article, you can read Part 1 here.
For those of us looking for a more relaxed experience, but still wanting to enjoy StarCraft II with others, there are co-op missions. These spin-offs to the events happening in the campaigns allow players to team up with a colleague or a random other player through matchmaking and fight against AI on one of 16 (!) new objective-based maps, similar to those in the three campaigns. The Commanders feature special abilities and units that are unlocked by acquiring experience through playing games. There are several base characters available for free, all the other premium heroes can be played until level 5 and have to be purchased to progress further. All of the maps are available completely free and they provide as much content as the single-player story campaigns. There is also the Custom tab, where creators outside Blizzard make entire games using the StarCraft II engine, including classics such as tower defense.
And then there is all the StarCraft II content that can be enjoyed outside the game itself. Though Blizzard withdrew its support of the SC2 World Championship Series in 2019, in 2020 they partnered with ESL and DreamHack – the two of the world’s biggest esports giants – to continue the competitive tradition of the game. The StarCraft series has long been considered the “traditional sport” of South Korea, and the Global StarCraft II League (GSL) has been organized since the games release in 2010. All of these events can be watched on streaming platforms, and though nowadays you will not regularly see StarCraft II high on the list of most watched games on Twitch, its largest tournaments draw thousands of enthusiasts placing the game once again among the Top 10.
Cancelled projects and hopes for the future
Blizzard has already cancelled a number of projects related to the StarCraft universe. StarCraft: Ghost, designed for the original Xbox, PS2 and GameCube was supposed to be a third person stealth-action game with both a single-player campaign as well as a multi-player component. The trailers and the more recently leaked gameplay footage can still be watched on YouTube. The game’s cancellation was a huge disappointment to many fans wanting to experience the universe from a different perspective. Later on, Blizzard reportedly worked on another SC shooter, but the project was also cancelled as the company wanted to focus more on their other franchises. Both of these new SC titles were in development at a time when the RTS games were still actively evolving. Now, with StarCraft II support ended, one could wish for a StarCraft III somewhere on the distant horizon. This, however, raises a number of questions. SC: Brood War has left us with several story aspects to look forward to. These plot hooks were resolved across the three campaigns in the sequel, leaving very little if anything to build upon. The third SC would probably have to introduce new protagonists and threats, with veterans remaining in the background or lost in history. A similar decision was made in the Gears of War series. After GoW3, which largely concluded the events of the Locust War, the timeline was pushed 20 years forward and old characters were replaced by new ones. Another concern is the steady decline of RTS games that we could see in recent years. However, the trend might be changing now, with the release of remasters for many beloved series, including Blizzard’s own games. Right now, the developers have reassured us of their love for StarCraft, but have not announced any plans for the future of the series – not yet. Unfortunately, BlizzConline 2021 has left us without answers, but it would be difficult to imagine the esports scene, or the RTS genre, without another StarCraft paving the way.