The original StarCraft and its expansion, Brood War, are true real-time strategy classics, but playing them is not as easy as it once was. When the game launched in 1998, 4K gaming was a distant pipe dream, and computer monitors as big as living room TVs were unthinkable. That's going to change when a new version of StarCraft lifts off this summer.
If you've never experienced StarCraft — or if you're dying to relive it on modern systems — Blizzard is planning a summer release for StarCraft: Remastered. And for those who can't hold out that long, the original game will soon be free-to-play.
Blizzard announced the remastered StaCraft over the weekend (March 26), with no price set for the summer 2017 release. Beyond that, the game is exactly what it sounds like — the original StarCraft duology, now with 4K resolution and sharper graphics. Based on early footage, the game doesn’t appear to use the same graphical style as StarCraft II, instead hewing closer to the animated look-and-feel of the original StarCraft, just with sharper details and bigger explosions.
All six campaigns and the entire multiplayer suite will make their way into StarCraft: Remastered, although Blizzard plans to tweak the multiplayer experience slightly. The gameplay itself won’t change, but players will now have access to algorithmic matchmaking and ladders, which help pair players of similar skill levels against each other. Single-player aficionados will be able to enjoy cloud saves for the campaign and recorded replays.
If you’ve never touched the series before and simply can’t wait until this summer to play StarCraft, Blizzard also announced that the original game will receive a new patch: Version 1.18. The update will include some stability fixes for newer operating systems and address a few bugs, but the big news is that once the patch hits, the original StarCraft and Brood War will be free-to-play for everyone. It’s not as exciting as getting expanded multiplayer options and full 4K resolution, but if you want to get a taste for the original before you plunk down money on the remastered version, the price is right.
An older game getting a remaster may sound like business as usual, but StarCraft is not just another piece of ‘90s nostalgia. It’s the game that first brought real-time strategy to the masses and paved the way for the eSports scene. The storyline is a beautiful bit of military sci-fi, and the multiplayer balance between the three playable races — the human terrans, insectoid zerg and psychic protoss — is still very nearly unmatched.
An update to 4K graphics isn’t only for aesthetics, either. For RTS games, the resolution also determines the field of view. Being able to keep your entire base or a bigger portion of the battlefield onscreen at the same time could help both new players master the game’s niceties or veteran players refine their strategies even further.
Either way, expect a contingent of fans who will be very excited to put the original StarCraft back at the forefront of eSports — and another equally vocal contingent to swear their undying allegiance to the original, lower resolutions and all.