Playing new standalone expansion Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void is like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers, or ordering your “usual” at a frequented restaurant. Knowing what you’re going to get is comforting. Legacy of the Void relies on your familiarity and love of Starcraft to create an enjoyable, if cheesy, campaign. And there are enough new features to warrant a return to the war-torn Koprulu Sector.
Legacy of the Void can be played separately from previous installments, Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm. But the story doesn’t make much sense without them. This is the third act of a very long, comic book-style story arc involving the science fiction races of Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss.
Legacy of the Void focuses on the mouth-less, psionic Protoss race. The new character Hierarch Artanis is our main protagonist. The campaign unfolds as the Protoss move to reclaim their home world of Aiur. It all goes terribly wrong as an ancient foe seizes control. The campaign follows Artanis and his loyal crew aboard the Spear of Adun. They gather allies, gain power, and fight back against the very cliché Ancient Evil Threat.
Despite reusing tropes and goofy, dramatic dialogue, Starcraft’s campaigns have always been a big selling point. Legacy of the Void is no exception. The main campaign presents varied objectives and challenges. The cutscenes are simply amazing, often showcasing cool comic-style fight scenes. Teenage me loved the original Starcraft’s storytelling. Adult me can appreciate that Starcraft II has held on to its fun, action-packed style.
The core gameplay hasn’t changed much since Starcraft II’s release in 2010 (and Starcraft in 1998). You still gather resources to build units, research upgrades, expand your empire, and clash with your foes. The already dauntingly fast pace has actually been sped up a bit in Legacy of the Void. The addition of even more advanced units and tactics probably makes Legacy of the Void the least accessible RTS of the series.
Yet credit has to be given for effectively incorporating two fascinating new gameplay modes—Cooperative Missions and Archon Mode. Co-op missions let you and a friend select from six different commanders from the campaign. Each commander comes equipped with their own set of units and abilities. Completing the fun objective-based missions earns XP, unlocking new upgrades and abilities.
Archon Mode is both maddening and intriguing. Two players work together, sharing a single race. This can either be a fascinating exercise in cooperation or devolve into a bickering, hilarious failure.
These new modes are a nice addition to standard multiplayer skirmishes, user-built custom levels, and frequent tournaments. Legacy of the Void offers myriad fun ways to play, whether you enjoy friendly matches against the AI or challenging player-versus-player online multiplayer.
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. Most of these qualifiers are in the main campaign, with nothing more extreme than what you’d find in the average Marvel comic book.
Despite its aging format, Legacy of the Void proves that Starcraft still has a winning formula for fast-paced strategy fans. It probably won’t win over any new converts, but returning (or lapsed) Starcraft fans will find a wealth of fun new content and another satisfying campaign.