Earlier this year at BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that Starcraft 2 is going free to play as of November 14, 2017. What does that entail, though? This article will describe not only what you get for free, but also whether it’s really worth coming back to play Starcraft 2 after all these years since the release of Wings of Liberty in 2010.
What do you get for free?
So what do you need to buy to start playing Starcraft 2? Absolutely nothing. The Wings of Liberty campaign is free for everyone. It is one of the biggest releases of 2010 (if not the biggest), and it is completely free. Don’t worry if you already own Wings of Liberty; you’ll get Heart of the Swarm, the Zerg-focused campaign, for free. All of the multiplayer is free as well, but there are some restrictions. To unlock ranked versus mode on a free account, you first need to play 10 days of at least one unranked or vs AI game.
You also get three co-op commanders for free: Raynor, Artanis, and Kerrigan. Other co-op commanders can be played for free until level 5. You don’t have to buy the game to unlock other co-op commanders, though. All non-free co-op commanders can be bought separately. Arcade modes are still completely free to play, with thousands of different mods.
Why is it worth coming back to Starcraft 2?
The game has seen constant improvements, with a dedicated development team working on it since 2010.
Not only has multiplayer been improved, but with Legacy of the Void, Archon mode has been added. It is a mode where you and your friend control one base against two opponents who likewise control one base. While Archon mode did not gain much popularity (I still find it fun, as it requires much communication with your teammate), there is a mode that did, and for a reason: co-op mode, where you choose a commander and fight against enemy invasions alongside your friend (or matched with a random player that does not have friends to play with either). Co-op has many different maps with different objectives, from defending temples to destroying trains before they escape while they are guarded by enemy AI. Each of the heroes you can play gains XP and can unlock new units and abilities or upgrade the ones that commander already has.
There are different difficulties as well, from easy to brutal; however, if even brutal is not challenging enough, it is possible to add mutations that makes it even harder, so even extremely experienced RTS veterans can always find a challenge too. The harder the difficulty is, the more XP your commander gets rewarded. Commanders are a great way to diversify play styles because everyone can find a commander they will love. For example, my favorite is Alarak, the highlord of Tal’Darim, who commands his protoss forces. He is egoistic to the point that it is hilarious – how can you not love that?!
Playable commander Alarak
Coming back to the game just after the F2P launch myself, I was amazed by the amount of content and how much the game got improved. There is a whole new microtransaction system with skins; announcers (voices that instruct you during the game) of popular Starcraft personalities such as Day9, Tastosis, and others; as well as Starcraft characters such as Abathur, Alarak and even D.Va from Overwatch.
Even though I am quite a competitive guy and enjoy versus mode the most, I find myself playing co-op and other modes such as Archon and Arcade more than 1v1 ladder. Before stopping to play Starcraft 2 back in late 2015, I was strictly 1v1 versus mode player, as back then there were no co-op commander and Archon modes or microtransactions with tons of decals, portraits, announcers, and unit skins. Co-op commander is probably the most popular mode currently in the game – yes, it’s played even more than versus or campaign modes.
Co-op mode action with Commander Alarak and his forces
I never thought I could have so much fun in Starcraft 2 while not playing versus. Co-op has so much variety due to the large amount of maps, difficulties, and commanders. It is basically endless fun, and it is free. While I still enjoy versus a lot, which is as good as it has ever been in Starcraft 2, I cannot believe how great of an idea co-op was. My hat’s off to Blizzard for this one.
A known Starcraft 2 streamer, Neuro recently said on his broadcast, “If you are unsure about Starcraft 2, just go for it. If you don’t like it, you can get your money back. They are doing a really nice deal right now where you could pay zero dollars for Starcraft 2, and you get multiplayer and everything, and if you don’t like it, they give you back that zero dollars.” And he is right: If you are even remotely interested, just give it a try.
As a hardcore 1v1 player, I was skeptical about all these new changes, thinking, “It might be fun for someone, but I am sticking to 1v1.” I got proven wrong quickly after trying co-op. It simply is too much fun, and there is so much to unlock in the game, which I did not thought would ever be the case in Starcraft 2.
To start playing for free, check out Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 page.