Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm has launched at an eSports extravaganza in Versailles.
100,000 viewers tuned in online to watch the launch, and a bunch of professional gamers battle it out.
Right now servers for Europe, Asia and Australia are now up and running - however North American players will have to wait a while.
Heart Of The Swarm is the first expansion pack for Blizzard's critically acclaimed Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) game Starcraft 2: Wings Of Liberty.
From trailers already circulating the web, players know that Heart Of The Swarm's will focus on the Zerg horde and its leader, Kerrigan.
Although a release date has yet to be confirmed, anticipation for the new title is high. Here, we look at all the news, trailers and rumours surrounding its forthcoming release.
Starcraft 2: Opening Cinematic and New Units
Blizzard has begun to amp up the hype surrounding it's ground-breaking Real Time Strategy (RTS) game by releasing its opening cinematic. Here's a taster of what fans can expect this March:
Alongside this drool-worthy footage, Blizzard have released information about the new units for the Terran, Protoss and Zerg races.
The Terrans can add the Widow Mine and Hellbat to their ranks. The former is a terrain-control device that burrows into the ground and launches a missile if an enemy unit approaches it, while the latter is a flame throwing walker than can transform into a fighter jet - much like the Viking.
The Protoss gain Oracles and Mothership Cores. The latter is the stronger of the two, boasting a multitude of attacks including the ability to slow enemy movement speed, long range attacks and the power to recall its units back to the Nexus. Oracles are psionic warships that can detect cloaked units and can fgire devastating Pulse Beam attacks at ground units.
The Zerg see the addition of Vipers and Swarm Hosts. Vipers are new flying units that can blind ranged attacks from enemies, pull units towards their location and gain energy from nearby Zerg structures - at a cost of damage to the structure in question. Swarm Hosts, for their part, are slow ground units that can't affect combat until burrowed. Once this happens, they spawn a continuous stream of units called Locusts which can lay siege to enemy positions.
All the units are subject to change, but, at the time of this writing, they're scheduled to appear in the game's superb multiplayer mode.
Starcraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm Campaign
Heart Of The Swarm’s plot picks up right where the story in Wings Of Liberty left off, with the Zerg/Terran hybrid Kerrigan attempting to take control of the Zerg race.
The Zerg has splintered into several opposing factions, each with its own Brood leader who are vying for control of the Zerg Swarm in its entirety.
Kerrigan, who has escaped from the clutches of the Terran (human) forces, is tasked with tracking down the rival Broods across the galaxy and rallying them to her cause.
She only has one objective in mind beyond reuniting the Zerg: to use them to take revenge on the Terran Emporor Arcturus Mengsk for betraying her to the Swarm in the first place.
Starcraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm Features
Besides the new story, the most prominent content Heart Of The Swarm brings to the table is the addition of new units.
Early reports about new Zerg units such as the Viper and Swarm Host make them sound like they're geared towards breaking up siege attempts, while the Protoss Oracle and Tempest look built to interrupt resource collection and long-range attacks respectively.
At a recent Major League Gaming Championship event in Anaheim in June, players were given their first hands-on with the new units, which are still subject to QA testing to make sure they're balanced within the established framework of the game.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the Starcraft 2 package that will come courtesy of Heart Of The Swarm is the game’s Marketplace, a shopping interface that allows players to sell their mods.
Wings Of Liberty cam bundles with a set of tools, which more creative members of the Starcraft community have been using to build new maps, campaigns and mini-games such as RPGS, shooters and tower-defence games.
They’ve even developed a couple of Kart racing mods into the bargain.
Marketplace will operate on a tier-based system, with the best mods being offered for sale with a cut of the revenue going to Blizzard.