Heart of the Swarm Campaign

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Heart of the Swarm BoxartI just beat the Heart of the Swarm campaign, and I have to come right out and say I absolutely loved the story.  The gameplay was really fun (more on that in a moment), but what kept me pushing through all of the missions was an unquenchable need to know how the story progresses.  I wont to spoil anything, but I felt a lot more connected to the characters this time around.  The story kept me engaged throughout, and began building up (not destroying as some people think) the Wings of Liberty campaign.  Heart of the Swarm paved a road right to the next expansion.

Gameplay wise, HotS offers a lot of variety.  Normally I don’t enjoy the ‘take control of a single character’ type of missions, but in the HotS campaign I felt Blizzard added a lot to make it feel almost… almost closer to an RPG (dare I say WoW?).  The boss battles were somewhat hokey, and definitely contrived from the WoW boss experience: Don’t stand in the fire.  But they’re fun, and add yet another layer of non-standard gameplay.  Hero abilities and mission objectives were diverse and I can’t say I ever felt the need to rush through a mission because I was bored of a particular mechanic.  In fact, most of the missions ended rather quickly (~20-30 min tops).

Upgrades are handled a bit different this time around.  For most of the zerg units you get to choose 1 of 3 specializations, but you can change them any time you’re not in a mission.  For example, two of the choices for Zergligns are the classic speed increase and the attack speed increase; both are normally upgraded in-game, but in the campaign you choose between them pre-mission.  You also get to do the same for Kerrigan by picking many different abilities for her to use as she levels up and gets stronger throughout the campaign.  Lastly, there are mutations which act as permanent ugprades for the core units.  These mutations are actual mini/short missions where you obtain the genetic alterations and get to test them out briefly before having to choose which of the two mutations you want applied.  The mutations definitely impact strategy.

Overall, I loved it.  I’m going to eventually replay on Brutal mode and see if I can get a few more of the portrait rewards.  Definitely worth the price of the expansion without even taking multiplayer into consideration.


  • I thought overall the campaign was pretty good, but not as good as WoL. I found the story relatively predictable and not terribly interesting, but the mutations and things were pretty fun to play with and it had a decent amount of mission variety.

    My biggest issue with the campaign is the difficulty, I completed it on Brutal and it started easy and by the end it was a cake walk. I think the mutations and Kerrigan abilities are partially to blame, they’re just way too powerful and the more you get the easier the game becomes.

    Of course, in WoL there were easy missions, but some were incredibly challenging (the last Protoss mission and the final one of the campaign spring instantly to mind) and I felt a pretty high level of achievement when I finished it on Brutal.

    Without a challenge and the accompanying feeling of accomplishment HoTS failed to live up to the standards of the WoL campaign. The story would have had to have been fantastic to make up for the lack of challenge, and at best it was average.

    While I don’t consider it as good as WoL, I still enjoyed HoTS and would recommend picking it up to people who are interested.

  • I’ll agree with Morningstar on the difficulty. And worse, many missions are TIMED. In fact, they all seem to be. So many are only like 20 minutes and done.

    It probably cost more money to make the map and “cool mechanic” than was put into unit placement, AI, and difficulty adjustment.

    And really, how hard is it to appropriately place units and AI for a semi-okay level of difficulty? WHY?

    One stream I watched a player played it at normal and he was just doing very very very stupid things because he didn’t care. When he actually was “interested” like on boss fights, he was decent. Or when he decided to try, I could see he knew the basic mechanics he was ignoring 90% of the time. I think he was trying to make it harder by doing things like “sending Kerrigan away and winning only with troops”, now that I think back on some of the idiotic things that he did. Still ONE SHOTTED ever mission.

    That’s the replay value. ONE SHOT while not even trying, no cheat books, not even trying, on normal. On brutal, I imagine you will have to try and played it once before.

    That sucks.

  • There were only 2 maybe 3 missions that are timed, some of the missions I literally went on for 40 minutes to an hour just building things up and exploring the different units and strains in the campaign.

    I do agree that the difficulty of the campaign is low, however at the same time, I don’t mind this as in my opinion the game is not meant to be difficult in the campaign. I also think the person who said Wing of Liberty was hard has a bad memory, I redid that campaign a couple weeks ago on hard and still one shot every mission with no trouble at all. The campaign itself for both of them is pretty easy if you have any understanding of the mechanics of the game at all.

    I actually enjoyed the campaign though and found myself wanting to get through it and see what happens next and despite taking my time with the missions to mess around with the units I did not ever feel like any of the missions actually dragged out to long or were boring, despite the fact that they were quite easy, and despite the story being somewhat predictable, I thought it was pretty good. There is nothing wrong with a straightforward story.

  • There were only 2 maybe 3 missions that are timed

    You are wrong. Do you even care to defend such a totally wrong statement? Or will you simply disappear when called on being completely wrong?

  • @Whatever: There area few missions that have a time limit before certain things happen but there are not many that have a time limit before you outright lose the mission. Some of them have mechanics that you have to work around and that if you ignore you lose after a certain amount of time (the egg mission being one, where there is no actual time limit depending on how you play it).

    I think the only one that do are the 2nd one, I guess the 5th one (gorgon cruiser) can be counted as timed, the 8th mission would count, the 11th mission, 14th, 15th.

    So 6 out of 20 missions are actually timed. Though even some of those are “timed” in a way that it does not actually feel like a time limit and is very similar to the fire mission in WoL campaign which was one of the better missions. To be fair, quite a few of the WoL missions where timed as well. Either way it was more than I had originally said, I give you that.

    Also, why so defensive o.0, you actually sounded quite angry that I was wrong.

  • Look, the story was good. The graphics were good. But the difficulty was dialed down to one and there were 8 timed missions out of 20. That’s a lot. And several other missions had timers of some sort. Missions are also short. The final, big mission can be completed in less than an hour. That’s a long LoL game. THE FINAL MISSION WAS ONLY AS LONG AS A LoL GAME!!!!

    I hate it when games like Plants Vs. Zombies that could be really, really fun have the difficulty set so low that after a short time the game is no longer challenging. It’s a trend, and it is awful.

    Mission 1:Not timed

    Mission 2:Timed after first start. First with a timer clicking down and then the Tram is timed.

    Mission 3:15 minutes in you receive MASSIVE reinforcements. If you view “stomping terrans for giggles” as part of the mission, then I guess you would call it not timed.

    Mission 4:Domination:Semi-timed, as Zagara can’t collect more than a hundred eggs. But it technically isn’t timed.

    Mission 5:Fire in the Sky:Absolutely timed. You have to activate a spire every x minutes or die. And one x Gorgons are destroyed you win. And you “guess” this is timed?

    Mission 6:Old Soldiers:Not timed
    Mission 7:Harvest of Screams:Not timed

    Mission 8:Shoot the Messenger:Absolutely timed. Stop periodically launched waves. Stop all waves, and you win.

    Mission 9:Enemy Within:Not timed
    Mission 10:Waking the Ancient:Not timed

    Mission 11:The Crucible:Timed. Defend Chrysalis while timer ticks down.

    Mission 12:Supreme:Not timed
    Mission 13:Just Getting Inside:Not timed

    Mission 14:Hand of Darkness:Timed. Hybrids periodically spawn and must be destroyed in a certain time limit or Kerrigan dies. Destroy them all, mission ends.

    Mission 15:Phantoms of The Void:Timed. With helpful huge green and purple lines to underline it.

    Mission 16:With Friends Like These …:Not timed.

    Mission 17:Conviction:Partly timed. Last area is timed.

    Mission 18:Planetfall:Timed. Once all 5 cannons are up, a very small terran base waits to die.

    Mission 19:Death From Above:Not timed.

    Mission 20:The Reckoning:Not timed.

  • Again, the campaign isn’t meant to be challenging, WoL campaign was not challenging either, I don’t know why you expected it to be all that challenging.

    8/10 missions being timed… is not a big deal since each mission is still around 20 minutes long… which I don’t see a problem with. Also, the last mission being as long as a LoL match… really… how much longer do you want it to be. No RTS mission should take over an hour by itself.

  • I never felt pressed for time. Sure, it was easy, but if it was hard then it would have only frustrated me in my quest to see the story unfold.

  • I don’t see the need for Whatever’s confrontational tone, but he’s got a good point about the excessive number about time-limited missions in HotS.

    I noticed it immediately and I found it annoying.

    Then again, I’ve been playing this series for around 15 years, now. The reason I feel that way is because SC1 and Brood War were positively stuffed with missions in which the computer was massively built-up before you even started the mission and you had to spend a good hour slowly clearing away miles of missile turrets and photon cannons (anybody remember the mission in which Duke and Fenix are killed? FML!!!)

    So, yeah, the difficulty has been dialed back, and the excessive number of (particularly HotS) missions in SC2 which are limited to 20 minutes through no desire of my own (even “disable winning conditions” cheats seem to fail) is annoying and no doubt a nod to people who, unlike me, haven’t been playing chess and RTS games since he was five.

    Still a great game. A-, at least. WoL and HotS were well worth the money, but Whatever’s right; that time limitation thing is a major weakness in HotS, imo, and took some of the fun out of the game for me.

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