Blizzard reports that the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm beta is now live. This multiplayer-only test will initially be limited to a select group of pro-gamers, members of the press (cough), Arcade contest winners, and shoutcasters. But there's no NDA, so expect to see tons of hands-on coverage from here on out.
"We will soon be inviting other players to participate in the beta, so be sure you’ve opted in by clicking on the 'Beta Profile Settings' under the Account Management section of your Battle.net account, the company states. "Signing up from a Battle.net account that’s actively playing StarCraft 2 will help your chances of being selected. Note that opting in doesn't guarantee beta access."
Blizzard also reports that it's currently working with fansites and "community personalities" to provide additional beta access opportunities, so fans need to keep checking back with Battle.net to see where additional keys are being handed out. On that note, we're looking into handing out beta keys here, so stay tuned to this Tom's Hardware news channel for more information.
"For those who are in the beta already, we appreciate your assistance in helping us test the game," Blizzard writes. "If you’re interested in joining the beta, we wish you luck with the opt-in and (future) giveaways, and hope to see you in a match soon! Please note: Customer service representatives are unable to provide players with beta access. Please refrain from contacting them directly regarding beta access."
According to a FAQ, beta testers are chosen according to their system specifications and other factors (including an element of luck) when selecting individuals during each round of invitations – Blizzard is looking for a wide variety of players and system types. Beta participants also don't need the retail version of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty although chances of gaining access are greater if players have logged some game time with the sci-fi RTS.
"To start off, we will be focusing on the multiplayer experience only. We’ve added an exciting array of new units and abilities to the terrans, protoss, and zerg, and we’d like to have as many eyes on them as possible," Blizzard states.
For now, the number of beta participants will be based on the team's testing needs. Additional opportunities will open up if Blizzard determines that additional players are needed for testing.
To read the full beta FAQ, head here.