StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a science fiction real-time strategy video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released worldwide in July 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. A sequel to the 1998 video game StarCraft and the Brood War expansion pack, the game is best known as the original installment of StarCraft II which was later followed by a number of expansion packs. Wings of Liberty has been free-to-play since November 2017.
Like its predecessor, the game revolves around three species: the Terrans (humans), the Zerg (a super-species of assimilated life forms), and the Protoss (a technologically advanced species with vast psionic powers). Wings of Liberty focuses on the Terrans, while the expansions, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, would focus on the Zerg and Protoss, respectively. The game is set four years after the events of 1998’s Brood War, and follows the exploits of Jim Raynor as he leads an insurgent group against the autocratic Terran Dominion. The game includes new and returning characters and locations from the original game.
The game was met with critical acclaim, receiving an aggregated score of 93% from Metacritic, and it has been cited as one of the greatest video games ever made. Similar to its predecessor, StarCraft II was praised for its engaging gameplay, as well as its introduction of new features and improved storytelling. The game was criticized for lacking features that existed in the original StarCraft game including LAN play and the ability to switch between multiplayer regions. At the time of its release, StarCraft II became the fastest-selling real-time strategy game, with over three million copies sold worldwide in the first month.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty features the return of the three species from the original game: Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. In the Terran campaign, the original StarCraft briefing room is replaced with an interactive version of the battlecruiser Hyperion, with Jim Raynor, a bitter and hard-drinking mercenary captain, as the central character. In a departure from previous Blizzard games, the campaign is non-linear, with Raynor taking jobs for money and using that money to buy additional units and upgrades. Although each play through will vary, the result remains consistent, keeping the storyline linear. Blizzard’s Vice President Rob Pardo stressed that each campaign will function very differently. The Terran campaign, Wings of Liberty, places players in a mercenary-style campaign, as Terran rebel group Raynor’s Raiders raise funds by taking assignments from outside groups. The second release, Heart of the Swarm, is Zerg-focused and has role-playing elements. Sarah Kerrigan is the focus of the campaign, and the story revolves around the possibility of her redemption. The Protoss-themed Legacy of the Void is the third expansion, with the Protoss Artanis attempting to reunite the Protoss tribes in order to stop Amon, a fallen Xel’Naga.
Wings of Liberty has 29 playable campaign missions; 26 are playable in a single playthrough, three missions are choice-related alternates, and one hidden secret mission.
The Wings of Liberty campaign contains several missions with unique features, such as lava that floods the battlefield every five minutes, forcing the player to move their units to high ground before they are destroyed. In another mission, enemy units attack the player only at night, forcing the player into a form of siege warfare. In one mission, the player must use a single unit to influence the tide of an AI-controlled battle. Between missions, players can choose units, buildings, and upgrades that are not available in the multiplayer missions.
Wings of Liberty features approximately the same number of units as the original StarCraft. Some units from the original game have returned, some featuring new upgrades and abilities. For example, the Protoss Zealot, a melee unit from the original game, has the researchable ability to dash forward and quickly reach nearby enemies as a refinement of its speed upgrade from the original. Other units have been replaced or removed. Other changes to unit design have been inspired by story events in StarCraft and its expansion StarCraft: Brood War, replacing old units with new or renamed versions which sport different attributes and abilities. Units in StarCraft II have new abilities, compared to the original, that encourage more complex interaction with the game environment. Among these are the inclusion of units that can traverse varying levels of terrain, or have the ability to teleport short distances. Some Protoss units can be warped into pylon-powered areas using the Warp Gate, a slight modification of an existing building called the Gateway. StarCraft II’s campaign has units that are only playable in the campaign and not in the regular multiplayer mode, though they are available for custom maps. These mostly consist of units that have been scrapped from development such as the Terran Diamondback as well as various returning units from the original StarCraft such as the Terran Wraith and Goliath. The campaign features hirable mercenaries, modified versions of certain units with enhanced attributes such as health or damage that become available for hire once the standard unit is unlocked.