StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Collector’s Edition Unboxed

Blizzard’s Collector Edition games have become a staple of the Blizzard fanboy’s library.  StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm should be no exception.  With last year’s release of Diablo 3, the digital goodies have gotten more plentiful.  In-game character aesthetics, banner sigils, and banner accents are added to the exclusive in-game World of Warcraft pets and mounts and StarCraft 2 portraits and decals.  With different items appealing to different people based on preference or collecting habits, WoW pets are to me as Beanie Babies are to little girls, some prefer the physical items included in the Collector’s Edition.  To date, every Collector’s Edition has included an art book showcasing the amazing talent of the design team.  These art books sell for a premium by themselves, due in part to most collectors not willing to part with them.  Most editions include another special item made especially for the collector’s edition, such as a cloth map, mousepad, or custom USB drive.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Collector’s Edition

The construction of the box alone helps me appreciate spending the extra money for the collector’s edition.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Everything is very carefully arranged and packaged inside to keep things together during shipping.

My personal de facto standard on a Collector’s Edition, the art book.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Some of the illustrations are breathtaking.  Maybe a little scary, but breathtaking all the same.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

The behind-the-scenes DVD / BluRay.  These usually have some pretty interesting segments in them.  I usually only watch them once or twice though.  I tried to sell my Wings of Liberty DVD on eBay and wound up meeting Neil Kaplan.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Honestly, I’m a little better with the soundtracks, but not much.  These do sell after the fact pretty quickly.  I suppose it’s because Blizzard doesn’t sell a physical version in major retailers.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

The StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Game DVD.  The game itself is the same disc as a standard edition.  It’s the activation code that makes it special and gives you the digital goodies.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

The Zerg Rush Mousepad.  I like the Blizzard mouse pads fine, but I don’t usually use them.  However, today I think I will since I’ll be doing most of the campaign at the kitchen table on the laptop with headphones on.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Video

If you want to see the unboxing unfold via video, here’s a link to the short video I shot of the actual unboxing:

YouTube

The Call of Koprulu

Now that this thing is fully unboxed, it’s time to get it installed on my Gaming PC and laptop.  I plan on tacking as much of the campaign as I can in the next 24 hours.  Hopefully I get the game conquered before the weekend.  Sign up by email, using the box to the right, to be updated when I post the spoiler-rich, in-depth review of Heart of the Swarm.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard’s follow up to StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, will be released around the world tomorrow.  Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Kaplan, the voice of Tychus Findlay from Wings of Liberty.  Which is a humorous story all by itself.  But first, here’s a video discussing the upcoming release:

Neil Kaplan, the voice of Tychus

I occasionally sell some things on eBay.  Things just sitting around the house collecting dust, things for friends, things I pick up at secondhand stores, or things that might be under-appreciated by the locals but would be a treasure to someone somewhere.  For the last month or two I had the behind-the-scenes DVD from StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty sitting out there waiting for someone to bid or buy.  Last weekend, I receive an email from a buyer asking if I would bring the item to the local comic book / anime convention going on.  That buyer happened to be Neil Kaplan.  The family had plans already so I initially declined.  Along came some snow, and those plans changed, so I hopped in my truck and made the short trip to Oak Grove, KY.

Mr. Kaplan explained to me that he likes to buy a few copies of the behind-the-scenes DVD to sign for fans.  Not a bad idea at all.  So, I traded an item I was trying to sell for a one of a kind experience.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

I talked with Mr. Kaplan for quite a while.  When asked about the upcoming expansion, StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, he didn’t give me the usual “Sorry, I can’t say”, instead he explained why he won’t say.  Before personalizing the picture above, he made sure I had completed the campaign mode of Wings of Liberty.  Neil Kaplan hates spoiling things.  He told me that when he was a teenager, he had the opportunity to go see The Empire Strikes Back.  Upon his return home from seeing one of the most popular sequels in movie history, his mother asked how it was.  Of course we all know now that at the end of the film it’s revealed that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.  We take that for granted now, but that was a huge reveal at the time.  Neil wouldn’t give up the goods other than to tell her that she had to go see it.  Even with the threat of being grounded, he wouldn’t spoil the movie.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm ?

Needless to say, he would not confirm or deny ift Tychus makes an appearance in StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm.  I’m ok with that, because what he did say was much more interesting.  He has been discussing the future of the character with Chris Metzen, Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard.  They would like to do more with the character.  Perhaps working on some of the early story of Tychus and Raynor or maybe bringing the character back from the dead.  It is a sci-fi universe after all.  The Protoss character Fenix had a similar treatment within the scope of the original StarCraft, with only a few missions between his fall and return.

With the game releasing and launching tomorrow, March 12, across the globe, I’m pretty excited.  Be looking for more video and articles about StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm in the coming days, including tomorrow mornings unboxing of the Collector’s Edition!

starcraft 2 wings of libertystarcraft 2 wings of liberty

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Retail Box Revealed

Mists of Pandaria

The following is the description of Blizzards latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, to their epic MMO World of Warcraft.

“Shrouded in fog since the world was sundered more than ten thousand years ago, the ancient realm of Pandaria has remained unspoiled by war. Its lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures. It is the homeland of the enigmatic Pandaren, a race that celebrates life to the fullest even while under siege by an ancient menace.

The new continent reveals itself to a broken world just as the Alliance and Horde are spiraling ever closer to a war that will consume all of Azeroth. Will the mists of Pandaria part to reveal the world’s salvation? Or will the battle to control this rich and breathtaking new land push the two mighty factions over the brink of war and into total annihilation? The answers await within Pandaria’s mysterious shores!”

Retail Box Revealed

Mists of Pandaria

This appears to be the actual retail box for Mists of Pandaria.  The barcode itself checks out as legitimate.  There’s nothing stopping Blizzard from changing the art, but this same monk does appear on the Pandaria site.

As a Beta tester for Mists of Pandaria, I can assure you that new content is being added regularly for this expansion.  Updates every week for a while now.  Blizzard does seem to be taking their time with this expansion, and for good reason.  They are adding and changing a lot to the game.  The new skill specialization menu is a little difficult to comprehend at first, but seems to be very straightforward.  Perhaps they are taking some game design cues from the Diablo 3 department.  The Pet Battling system, aka Pokemon, is something I have yet to test and am unsure if it is fully implemented yet.  September 18th, this year, seems to be the most logical day for release.  This is of course, unconfirmed and only speculation.

I’ll be posting whatever I can find on this, and eagerly await the official announcement of the Mists of Pandaria Collector’s Edition.

Diablo 3 – From Beta to Patch 1.0.2C

Diablo 3 very quickly became the best-selling game of May.  It broke Amazon.com’s Pre-sale records and set the PC Game Launch record by selling more than 3.5million copies in the first 24 hours of it’s release.  It was met with some criticism due to Blizzard’s unpreparedness with it’s servers.  Personally, I had almost no issues connecting to the servers.  Diablo 3 took the best of it’s predecessors and streamlined the game experience.

Diablo 3

The most noticeable difference between Diablo 3 and Diablo 2 is the skill system.  You gain new skills, and new ways to alter previous skills, as you level up.  It feels like a well thought variation of the skill and rune system in World of Warcraft. With the skill system, quest check points, and constant barrage of bad guys, this game feels very fast.

Since the initial release of World of Warcraft, Blizzard has offered a premium “Collector’s Edition” of their games.  Diablo 3 was no exception.  Included with the game is what has become standard offerings in the premium editions:  Art Book, Behind the Scenes DVD, and Soundtrack.  New to Diablo 3 is the addition of a Blu-ray disc with the DVD.  Also included is a USB Soulstone containing Diablo 2 and it’s expansion, Lord of Destruction.  For more information including in-game aesthetic items go to Blizzard’s Diablo 3 site.

The biggest disappointment I had with the game was the removal of the Necromancer class in favor of the Witch Doctor.  I’m not very impressed with the aesthetics of the Witch Doctor, but have discovered a random event in Act 2 that contains a Necromancer.  This warrior claims to be the student of the Necromancer that fought the three prime evils in previous games.  That’s the closest you’re going to get if you’re a fan of the Necromancer.  The biggest plus, as far as classes go, is the Demon Hunter.  A vast improvement over the complicated Assassin from Lord of Destruction.  Of course, if you play World of Warcraft, you will notice that a lot has been borrowed for Diablo 3.  Remember, WoW borrowed a lot from Diablo 2 when it was first released.

If you enjoyed the video review (overview) of Diablo 3, let me know.  I’m currently playing the Mists of Pandara Beta and will be sure to get some great video and screen shots for a review once the game releases.