This article is a continuation of a previous post.
Last time, we established that the majority of improvements between Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 2 were actually improvements from Starcraft 1 to Warcraft 3. From the basic 3D camera to the UI and control improvements, a lot of the credit Starcraft 2 has received for its advancement since the original is probably a tad overstated.
More puzzling, however, was the large number of RTS innovations included in Warcraft 3 that are absent in Starcraft 2. The previous article focused primarily on anti-cheesing measures built into each race’s infrastructure that decreased the rock-paper-scissors aspect of early game rushes. With them, Warcraft 3 managed to remove the majority of all-in cheese from the game without placing awkward terrain or time restrictions on players.
What else did Blizzard’s oldest RTS include in its newest offering? For one thing: dynamic environments.
Now, let’s be fair. Warcraft 3’s environments are nothing like those in Red Faction or Battlefield Bad Company. But, to its credit, the game’s maps were contstructed in a way such that they evolved over the course of each battle. What was once a wall of trees became a backdoor entrance to a base. Previously impassable, NPC-filled routes were slowly cleared out for proxy buildings and access to special units and items. Entire strategies were built around the day/night cycle. In essence, the environment was constantly in flux.
Flash forward to Starcraft 2. What did Blizzard implement to revolutionize RTS tactics?
Piles of random rocks.
Yes, the extent of the entire game’s map-shifting is that in a few key locations boulders impede expansion or back routes. Wow, Blizzard, nice one.
Yes, there are vision-blocking plants and smoke in some locations, as well as Xel Naga watchtowers, but these are all static effects. You would imagine that if an SCV could (eventually) destroy 300 tons of rocks, it could also chop down some shrubbery, but no such luck. Maps are, in essence, completely static.
Was Starcraft 1 this way? Sure. But so was Warcraft 2, for the most part. Why didn’t Blizzard incorporate a day/night cycle (which is used in the campaign) or more destructable elements?
What’s the point of putting advanced physics into the game engine if they aren’t used for anything outside of explosions?
Blizzard could have easily added destructable bridges. Shifting environments. Native wildlife at certain locations. Neutral, unstable transportation wormholes. Something.
I understand that Starcraft was/is a beloved international e-sport, but why release a sequel after a dozen years if it isn’t going to bring current-gen standards to the table?
And nothing says current gen like blowing mile-wide craters into every inch of terrain in sight.