The StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void campaign overview panel at Blizzcon began with James Waugh, Lead Director of Story Development detailing how the story evolved over the trilogy and what the real focus was for Legacy of the Void.
The team wanted to create a distinctly Protoss story while also wrapping up the ongoing threads in the trilogy's story. Not only did they want players to experience the Protoss themes; they wanted to create an end-times scenario for them to stand against with the coming of Amon.
Waugh then went into the details of who the Protoss are and what their past is. The key traits of the Protoss is that they are an ancient, noble race; so ancient that they consider themselves the "first born" of the universe. Their empire was huge and at the very height of achievement; similar to the ancient samurai of Japan, they have a deep sense of honour and a strict code of justice. Now they are very few in number over eons of war and sacrifice; each Protoss warrior is a rare and precious army of one.
Another major aspect of the Protoss is the Khala; a mystical energy field that unifies every Protoss' emotion and thought. Waugh expressed how the Khala really allowed the writers to play with the ideas of collectivism and the individual and trying to balance the two; those themes will resurface in this brand new campaign.
Waugh then moved on to the question of what the Protoss have been up to during the last two games. After the Protoss homeworld fell to the Zerg, the Protoss had to go live with their exiled bretheren, the Dark Templar. The Dark Templar had been exiled because of their desire to sever their nerve cords and live as individuals, thus giving rise to a totally different civilization. With the two cultures clashing, unity has been extremely difficult to achieve and Artanis - hero of the Brood War - has been chosen as the defacto leader and must try to make this society function. Right before the beginning of Legacy of the Void he believes he has found that way: reclamation of their fallen homeworld, Aiur. He then builds the largest armada ever built, the Golden armada, and the game begins with the player on that reclamation mission.
The crux of the story is the coming of Amon; as the Protoss attempt to reclaim Aiur, he manages to corrupt the Khala and unleashes legions of hybrid. Artanis and a small band are forced to sever their nerve cords and flee on the Spear of Adun. This adds another layer of conflict to the story; the remaining Protoss must all sever their nerve cords to survive while also re-uniting the various factions and ultimately retaking Aiur once and for all.
Next up was Jason Huck, Lead Level Designer, who stated that their goal was not only to come up with new mission mechanics, but also to capture the essence of playing as a Protoss. Due to their strong sense of honour and justice, when seeking assistance on Korhal they find it is being assaulted by the Shadow Corps and decide to help them instead of the other way around.
The first level is called Sky Shield which takes place on a sky platform that is plummeting toward the surface of Korhal, threatening to fall on the Terran troops underneath. In this mission Artanis has a limited amount of time to clear up enemies so that Raynor and his crew can repair the damaged stabilizers and stop the platform from killing everyone.
Huck then talked about how coming up with new mission mechanics was a challenge. The team then worked on fulfilling a fantasy mission that they were never able to before; what if the player was able to move their base? And not floating it around like the Terrans do; actually driving it across the map. This mission is called Unleashed and is encountered late in the game. In this mission your base is on a platform that the player can drive around the map in specific directions whenever they choose.
Next to speak was Allen Dilling, one of the Lead Artists on the team. He spoke about how there were a number of new artists on the team that really helped raise the bar for Legacy of the Void. Two of the areas they focused on were places spoken about but never shown before: the Protoss city on Aiur and the Dark Templar homeworld. The art team tried to capture the feel of these two races within their respective maps and the feel of Aiur having been ruled by Zerg for a long time.
He then detailed more of the areas in the game such as the platform in Sky Shield, the City of Augustgrad, Shakuras and Cybros. All of these will feature some of the largest "doodads" (eg: Sky Shield includes a giant Marine gun battery) and lots of weather and light effects. The art team is confident that they've created some of the best looking assets in the series so far for Legacy of the Void.
Justin Thavirat, part of the story art team, then came up to speak about the characters and environments within the game. He described how Artanis looks different from other Protoss with his white and gold armour, denoting how he is an important leader and Zeratul, who has tattered black robes which speaks to his past roaming. Then he introduced new characters: Vorazun is a female Dark Templar Matriarch who has a lot of design elements patterned on traditional Persian motifs. Karax is a Fayesmith who is essentially an engineer who monitors everything on the Spear of Adun; he has replaced his nerve cords with cybernetic tentacles that allow him to interface with tech easier. Finally there is Rohanna, a female Protoss Preserver who keeps the collective memory and intelligence of the entire Protoss race; she has a headdress that looks like it is made of clockwork and floats above the ground, meant to symbolize her deep connection to the Khala.
Moving onto the environments, Thavirat showed screenshots of the inside and outside of the Spear of Adun. It is an absolutely massive ship that houses the entire Protoss civilization and numerous armies of zealots, a mothership and even more tech. The art team wanted it to look very advanced and high tech but also have the ornamental look of something ancient.
Within the ship are numerous different rooms the player can view, including the War Council and the Bridge. The War Council is the place to customize your army and speak with any characters that are there. The room is dark, foreboding and the background shows the units aboard the ship. Over time this view will change; unlocked units will begin showing up and large ships will leave the docking bay. All of this movement really shows the player how many troops they've amassed. The bridge is the main area of the game where you will talk to characters and select your next mission. The background appears almost entirely open to space so players can see the planets and stars of wherever they are. The room also contains the Celestial Ray, a 3D Holographic map of the galaxy that players click to set up their next mission.
Last to speak was Matt Morris, the Lead of Campaign Design. The big question for his team was What is the fantasy? The Terrans are about building a bigger, stronger army while the Zerg adapts to hostile enviroments and evolves into a more efficient killing race. How do you make the Protoss more powerful?
The answer was the ability to unite with other Protoss factions and gain brand new tech for units. One example is the change in the typical Zealot; eventually they will have the ability to do spinning attacks with a powerful weapon that makes them far more effective against regular Terran troops than before. Customizing your army will be the key to winning battles in the campaign; however, these special forms will not be available in multiplayer.
As you progress through the storyline, you gain the ability to power the solar core inside of the ship. This is a synthetic star that powers all the special attack and defense systems; gathering power for this core from special objectives on maps will allow you to unlock powerful abilities. The Spear of Adun will be usable during battles in the campaign and its abilities range from orbital strikes to stopping time for a limited period. Every build of the ship will end up different as players cannot unlock every ability on a single playthrough.
Lastly Morris spoke about an all-new game mode which is called Allied Commanders. This will be a co-op mode where each player picks their favourite commander and teams up with a friend to conquer the AI. As this mode is in its infancy, there was very little information about it. It is likely that more information will be forthcoming in time.
So that's the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Campaign. Is there anything specific that you are excited for? Anything that sounds like a bad idea?