A few weeks ago, Blizzard announced that StarCraft, its genre-defining real-time strategy classic, would be getting a 4K remaster. Almost as an afterthought, the company also said that the un-remastered versions of StarCraft and the Brood War expansion would soon be free to play.
The day has arrived, and if you want to experience the original StarCraft saga without opening your wallet, all you have to do is follow a link.
Blizzard has posted links to both the PC and Mac clients of StarCraft version 1.18. In addition to making the game free of charge, the latest patch of the 1998 title also includes support for windowed mode, an Observer mode for multiplayer, better matchmaking for competitive players and stability improvements for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. Downloading and installing the game from scratch is self-explanatory, but Blizzard recommends that you use the Run as Admin option to patch existing versions.
For those who have never played either StarCraft or its sequel, the story takes place in the Koprulu Sector of deep space. The human Terrans have stumbled across the mindless, insectoid Zerg and the aloof, telepathic Protoss, and it’s not long before all three races are engaged in a desperate war for survival. Tom’s Guide has a primer if you want to learn the full story, although be wary in advance of spoilers.
Be warned that if you do play through the original StarCraft, the low resolution and choppy animations will be exactly as you left them. If you want a smoother experience, you’ll have to wait (and pay) for the remastered version, which will be coming out later this year and an unspecified price. Still, even if you only play through the first few missions, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to gauge whether you’d be interested in pursuing the rest of the series. There’s a reason why it’s still getting updates, almost twenty years later.