If you’ve heard next to nothing about StarCraft, somehow the one thing you know of is its harsh learning curve. It’s not without good reason, StarCraft has more than earned its reputation as a brutal game to get into. Especially so if you’re new to the RTS genre. Getting into the competitive ladder means coming to terms with how much you don’t know about the game. And for most this is quite a lot. It’s a humbling experience that only players with a genuine love for the genre are usually willing to endure.
The ability to provide a continual playing experience for casual players has always been the gap StarCraft has been unable to bridge, until now. Enter, Co-Op Missions, the feature that has completely terraformed the StarCraft experience, which isn’t talked about enough.
Co-Op Missions are the newest game mode in StarCraft 2, developed alongside Legacy of the Void. Unlike Legacy of the Void, Co-Op Missions are completely free to try. In Co-Op you take control of the armies of various StarCraft Commanders on missions alongside an ally. Out of the 11 Commanders currently available, all players have access to three commanders to start with: Namley, Raynor, Kerrigan, and Artanis.
These three Commanders serve as super-powered introductions to the three races.
The harsh and unforgiving cliff has finally become a smoother, more natural curve.
A life of its own
What started off as a feature to make StarCraft multiplayer a bit more accessible has at this point become a skillset in itself. For those that pursue challenges, every week Blizzard rotates in a new “Mutation”. Mutations are mods or mutators that complicates the mission in someway.
This can be anything from chaotic attacks raining across the battlefield that require you to keep your mechanics sharp to more cerebral resource taxes on issuing commands that test your ability to plan ahead efficiently.
According to recent polls on StarCraft’s twitter, 16% of players find Co-Op Missions the most interesting aspect of the game. Blizzard’s own reports the number of players playing Co-Op Missions at times surpass number of players on all StarCraft competitive ladders combined.
Just getting started
Blizzard spent most of the year leading up to Legacy of the Void, promoting Archon Mode and the Nova Covert Ops. But Allied Commanders (as it was then known) became the resounding success story no one saw coming.
Throughout 2016, the focus on expanding Co-Op was slowed by production of the Nova mission packs. Even so, Blizzard continued to release commanders at a steady rate thoughout the year. With the Nova story line now complete, they’re now free to dedicate their available resources to expanding Co-Op. They’ve expressed every intention in doing so.
Co-Op leaderboards, the first major addition to Co-Op, is still to come this year and will make the first major step towards making Co-Op Missions its own competitive experience.
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