Blizzard announced on Tuesday that StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will be available in stores and online beginning March 12, 2013. The Standard version will run players a good $39.99 USD in both digital and physical form, $59.99 for the Digital Deluxe version, and $79.99 USD for the Collector's Edition DVD-ROM. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be required to play this expansion.
"With Heart of the Swarm, our goal has been to expand on the multiplayer action and cinematic storytelling of Wings of Liberty," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "Combined with features like unranked matchmaking and our new leveling system, this expansion elevates the StarCraft II experience for players of all skill levels."
Here's a list of what will be added in the $59.99 Digital Deluxe version (in addition to the core expansion:
* StarCraft II Torrasque: Crush the enemies of the Swarm with the indomitable Torrasque, a fearsome new look for your zerg Ultralisks.
* StarCraft II Battle.net Portraits and Decals: New Swarm-infested Battle.net portraits and decals help you customize the look of your online profile and in-game army.
* World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: The Baneling companion pet is bursting with enthusiasm and ready to explode onto the Pet Battles scene.
* Diablo III Blade Wings and Banner Sigil: Grow zerg-like wings in honor of the Queen of Blades, and unfurl an exclusive banner sigil to mark your allegiance to the Swarm in Sanctuary.
Now here are the contents to the $79.99 Collector's Edition DVD-ROM in addition to the core game and the Digital Deluxe content:
* Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-ray: Immerse yourself in the StarCraft universe with developer commentary, interviews with voice actors, and an in-depth historical retrospective on StarCraft's eSports legacy narrated by key members of the community.
* Collector's Edition Soundtrack CD: Enhance your Heart of the Swarm musical experience with this collection of more than a dozen tracks from the game.
* Heart of the Swarm Hardcover Art Book: This 144-page tome features never-before-seen art from the expansion, including early concept sketches and meticulous 3D renderings.
* Zerg Rush Mousepad: This Collector's Edition mousepad depicts the Terran Dominion holding out desperately under the onslaught of the Swarm.
"Heart of the Swarm picks up the story of StarCraft II where Wings of Liberty left off, focusing on Kerrigan's quest to reunite the Swarm and exact revenge on Arcturus Mengsk," Blizzard said. "Over the course of 20 campaign missions, players will follow Kerrigan as she sweeps across the galaxy, incorporating a variety of distinctive zerg species into her brood. Kerrigan will grow in strength from mission to mission, and players will be able to customize her with powerful new abilities, as well as evolve various zerg strains into fearsome new subspecies to suit their play style."
"New weapons of war also debut in Heart of the Swarm's multiplayer, including new units such as Terran Hellbats, Zerg Swarm Hosts, and Protoss Tempests, while certain existing units from Wings of Liberty will be updated with new capabilities," Blizzard added. "New features will enhance the game experience, including group and clan systems; unranked matchmaking; Global Play, enabling players to battle others in different regions around the world; additional stat tracking; user interface improvements; an enhanced physics system, for more visceral looking battles; multiplayer replays, to watch replays with friends; a leveling system that gives Heart of the Swarm players a new way to earn customization options for their online profiles; and much more."
The Standard and Digital Deluxe versions can now be pre-purchased now at the official StarCraft II site and be ready to play the moment the expansion launches. Those who pre-purchase will automatically be digitally delivered their expansion and added goodies via StarCraft II's streaming launcher prior to the expansion's release. Those who want to pre-order physical copies – including the Collector's Edition – can do so at participating retailers.
Players who purchase the standard edition digitally or at retail will have the option to upgrade to the Digital Deluxe version at any time (for as long as the standalone Digital Deluxe version remains available) for an additional $20 USD, Blizzard said.