One of the biggest complaints surrounding previous batches of maps in StarCraft has been developer Blizzard’s insistence on including its own creations. Many players have opined that creators within the community tend to have offerings that are both more diverse and better constructed than those provided by Blizzard. This idea is now being put to the test, as each of the four new maps unveiled come directly from the community.
This is what the four new maps—Bridgehead, Dash and Terminal, Moonlight Madness and Terraform—look like.
There are some clear common themes between the four new maps. What immediately sticks out is the consistent threat of “backdoor” attacks, through which an opponent can bypass the main entrance into a player’s base by way of an alternative route. This can make defense challenging, especially against certain strategies.
Destructible rocks can be used to delay the use of backdoor routes, meaning that in the early stages of the game players need only defend one avenue of attack before later transitioning to a broader range of defense depending on when the opponent chooses to break down the destructible elements.
Overall, the maps seem to emphasize a more experimental style in layouts. This would in theory better promote unique and interesting strategies, though critics would counter that the maps might come off as gimmicky.
Dash and Terminal stands as a prime example. It boasts potentially vulnerable natural expansion locations and further expansion areas with golden resource patches, which can reward players who further expose themselves by expanding aggressively with a faster developing economy.
More broadly, the latest trends in StarCraft 2 maps likely speak to the movement towards the upcoming Legacy of the Void expansion, which Blizzard is angling to push as a faster, more micro-intensive game. The developer has even gone so far as to toy with the idea of imposing time limits on certain game modes. This different approach may prove wise, especially for a game that has struggled to regain traction in the international competitive scene after what was a strong launch period. But change is always difficult, especially for hardcore fans of a game like StarCraft.
The new maps are purposed for the upcoming third season of the World Championship Series, Blizzard’s professional circuit for StarCraft 2 players. And with the four maps coming in, a few maps had to be removed.
No one will be shedding any tears over the loss of Inferno Pools, but not every removal seems to make as much sense. Echo in particular had remained among the most popular maps in the latest rotation, yet it will be sent on its way while less popular maps as Cactus Valley and Iron Fortress remain.
Blizzard always faces a tough task in pleasing the community while also providing steady direction for the game with its choices for each new slate of maps. The willingness to leave the latest batch to members of the community shows that the developer is willing to listen, but only the trials of active play will show whether the maps belong—and if they’re moving StarCraft 2 in the right direction.