BlizzCon 2018 StarCraft II: What’s Next Panel Transcript

Co-op Commander: Zeratul

Day[9]: Once again this is going to be in War Chest #4. Kevin, I understand that there is a new Co-op commander in the works.

Kevin: Indeed you are right Sean. Our newest Co-op commander is going to be Zeratul; and Zeratul is very exciting for us because he’s one of the most iconic characters both from StarCraft I and StarCraft II. We had a challenge with Zeratul in that there is already a Nerazim commander that exists in Co-op, so our challenge was to differentiate Zeratul enough from Vorazun so that you both play and felt differently.


Day[9]: So talk to me about how you overcame that challenge making Zeratul feel both separate enough from Vorazun and still unique and kick ass in his own right.

Kevin: So we had to really dig deep into who Zeratul is other than the fact that he’s a dark Templar. So in order to do that, we played through the campaign and really look to the missions he played a large role in, and also the lore surrounding those missions. So first of all, we knew that Zeratul had to be a control war hero on the battlefield; and in addition to that, we knew that he needed to have a small but very powerful lead Army, because he was often featured in insurgent-style missions in the campaign; but Sean, the rest of what Zeratul is today came much later in the design process.


Day[9]: Show me, show me right now.

Kevin: Alright, I will. So throughout the campaign, Zeratul looked to the wisdom of the Xel’Naga for guidance. So we really leaned into the Xel’Naga concept as far as we could. So what we came up with is Xel’Naga enhancements to very traditional Protoss units. So Sean, I have a job for you. I know you are a big fan of the Immortal and how it moves and dances. Show us.


Day[9]: Oh you mean like this. Is this the Immortal that you’re talking about?

Kevin: Well, Sean. With Xel’Naga enhancements, Immortals can turn into Xel’Naga enforcers which have learned to tilt their cannons up and shoot air units.


Day[9]: Does this mean I actually be the Newbie I’ve always wanted to be, and build an only immortal army, and shoot air and ground?

Kevin: Well, Sean… in addition to your voice pack you are now in Co-op commanders.

Day[9]: Aww yes, yes! Alright, what else with the Xel’Naga? Talk to me more about the way the Xel’Naga influences Zeratul’s design.

Kevin: Well, not only do we have a lot of Xel’Naga influences, we also have a lot of Prophecy influences. In the StarCraft II campaign, Zeratul often was searching for prophecy, searching for Xel’Naga artifact fragments. So we incorporated that into Zeratul’s design. For the first time ever, Zeratul will be able to use his Prophetic Vision ability in order to find procedurally-generated artifact fragments on the map.

Day[9]: So is this like having an additional mission objective for each map where just if you’re Zeratul you go and you find the fragments, right?

Kevin: Right. Some of the feedback we’ve gotten is players would maybe like to see more side missions in Co-op. So Zeratul in a way has his own unique side missions, and if he completes these artifact fragments quests in a way, he can gain additional power-ups to both his units, his calldowns, and also himself.


Day[9]: Yeah, and I saw the way that these are placed around the map. Is it just like generally in difficult locations like depending on the difficulty?

Kevin: So actually we tested it around with a lot of different variables there. At first, we tried maybe for each map we’ll select exactly where they are; we also played around with kind of they can be all over the map; but we found that each had its own challenges. So we ended up with something midway. Each artifact fragment can spawn within a given area, but they’ll also be limited in that they can’t spawn right in the middle of an enemy base.

Day[9]: Now I want to ask as someone who loves Karax… talk to me about the top bar abilities, these global commander-esque abilities. What’s in store for Zeratul?

Kevin: A lot of our commanders have these very powerful global abilities that you can use anywhere on the map; but for the first time, Zeratul will be able to customize and choose his own top bar abilities as we can see right here.


Day[9]: Now walk me through some of the more basic ones are that people can expect.

Kevin: As you can see here, at the start of the game you’ll be able to select one of three legendary legion abilities; and with each artifact fragment you find, you’ll be able to select one additional ability.

Day[9]: So that’s kind of how the tech tiers work: 1, 2, 3…

Kevin: It’s kind of like a very different style of progression in the game, and I can show you some of the legendary legion abilities right now.

Day[9]: Well, then let’s do that. I think that’s a great idea.

Kevin: Let’s do it. So these legendary abilities are kind of inspired from the campaign itself. In the campaign, Zeratul had a very curious habit of finding allies who were more than willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. So with these abilities, Zeratul will be able to summon Protoss units or Protoss legions from other factions to fight for Zeratul. You won’t be able to directly control them, but you’ll be able to direct them.

Day[9]: So it literally is like properly having an extra Ally on the battlefield with you, so you can still focus; and some of the new ones controlled with Zeratul, and Zeratul’s forces.

Kevin: Right. That’s I think exactly what we are going for and we can see some of them right now. Zoraya and her void rays have the ability to– they are void rays, so they are more of an all-around choice. Karax and his zealot legion are good for your AOE needs; while Serdath and his dark archon squad are great for dealing with a lot of powerful enemies.

Day[9]: I wanted to ask about the most powerful ones here. It’s always fun to have a little character work towards. What are these Tier 3 most legendary abilities?

Kevin: As we can see, we have the Avatar of Form and the Avatar of Essence. We wanted Zeratul to feel very powerful once he collects all three artifact fragments. So once he does, you’ll be able to summon these ultimate constructs of ultimate Xel’Naga power. So first, we have the Avatar of Form. The Avatar of Form represents the Xel’Nagan ideal of great psionic potential. So have a lot of powerful psionic-based abilities, have greater versions of psionic storm, psionic blast, all sorts.


Day[9]: That is so sweet. This is my commentary on this.

Kevin: Well, in case that’s not your cup of tea, we also have the Avatar of Essence — which features the Xel’Nagan concept of evolution. So he’ll be able to buff your units and also debuff Amon’s units into lower evolutionary tiers.


Day[9]: So this Xel’Naga construct… is it functional like the original legendary units you were talking about, in that you can’t control them?

Kevin: So these guys… because they’re Xel’Naga-based, because they’re a part of Zeratul, you’ll be able to control exactly where they go.

Day[9]: Oh my God. Awesome. Yes! I appreciate it so much. I’m really excited to get a chance to actually play. I mean… I say this every chance I can, but if any of you are new to StarCraft II and are looking for a way to hop in, maybe you’ve been watching the StarCraft II eSports, I cannot recommend Co-op Commanders enough. I pretty much consider myself a try-hard, right? Competitive like 1v1 type person; but still, in the last 18 months to 2 years I have done so much Co-op just because it’s so fun to play with friends, and it’s just a really nice entry point.

So I strongly encourage all of you to check it out; and of course, I’m excited to play Zeratul.


BlizzCon 2018 StarCraft II: What's Next Panel Transcript
1. Intro2. War Chest #43. Co-op Commander: Zeratul4. Versus: Design Patch
5. DeepMind

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts



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