Since yesterday, November 14 2017, Blizzard Entertainment‘s real-time strategy game StarCraft II can now be enjoyed for free, at least parts of it.
I’ve always been a fan of Blizzard’s games and played the original StarCraft together with its add-on for countless hours, although only in a few multiplayer sessions. The whole competitive pro-gaming aspect wasn’t really my thing, with the epic storytelling and great sci-fi presentation being more important to me than winning all sorts of online or LAN battles. I remember buying the sequel and its first add-on during Gamescom last year, but only finished the first mission or so, as too many review copies had to be taken care of. Now after what seems like ages, it’s possible for everyone to experience StarCraft II partly for free.
What this means is that the story campaign Wings of Liberty can be played in its entirety without any restrictions, which was the reason for me to buy the boxed game in the first place. If one purchased Wings of Liberty before October 31, 2017 (like me), one will receive the add-on Heart of the Swarm for free as a limited time offer from November 8 to December 8… if one doesn’t already own it (like me).
Multiplayer is also relatively free with competing on the ranked ladder with all the units from the base game and its two add-ons. In order to unlock it permanently one has to earn 10 First Wins of the Day in Unranked or Versus A.I. play.
In co-op missions it’s possible to play for free with current and upcoming co-op commanders, although they can only reach level five. However, the co-op commanders Raynor, Kerrigan, and Artanis (all three well-established in the game’s expansive mythology) will remain free without any level cap.
The game can be downloaded after creating an account on the StarCraft II website. If you’re interested in the first game and its expansion pack, then you can also check out the Blizzard download page where you can get both for free. The reason for this is that a new remastered version of the game has been released, something that has passed me by completely.
So all in all, despite not being a big fan of free-to-play titles, so far I don’t see much of a problem of getting the first StarCraft II for free if one only wants to experience the story and do some multiplayer sessions, especially in co-op. Of course Blizzard is no charity shop, as they want people to stay with the company and buy their future games. As the retail games are bound to an online account like on Steam, I don’t see much of a problem with the concept here, to be honest, especially for people who simply want to try out the game and see what all the pro-gaming fuss is about. Be prepared to see detailed environments and character models, high-quality cinematic cut-scenes, hear great music and voice acting, and simply have a great RTS time.
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