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StarCraft 2 Beta Open!

By hagrin - Posted on 18 February 2010

Finally, finally, finally. Blizzard has opened the StarCraft 2 Beta! I was lucky enough to win a beta key through Twitter and following the SC2 Team via their updates there. Promptly after the beta opened, I received my email with download instructions and beta key.

The download was 1.64 GBs and went pretty quickly considering I am sure the beta servers were being hammered by downloads from all over. Once the download was complete, you are presented with a well-done installation screen and installation is remarkably painless for a beta product. On my 64-bit system, it defaulted to the Program Files (x86) directory.

Starcraft 2 Beta Download     Starcraft 2 Beta Install

Click on the thumbnails for larger images

Upon setting up your StarCraft 2 user ID, you actually have to pick two names separated by a period which is definitely a little confusing. This is supposed to prevent naming collisions, but I think the entire system is too confusing and could definitely be simplified. After setting up my account, I immediately created a 1v1 game against a computer AI. Currently, the computer AI is locked into "Very Easy" mode which basically means you can build uninterrupted with no aggression from the computer. Immediately, there are some pretty noticeable differences from the original StarCraft - mainly, old buildings have some new key shortcuts and some buildings have new add-on options and research capabilities which I will hopefully address in future, separate posts.

Tech Trees
Currently, the only way to really see the tech trees, since there is no manual, is from within the game itself. Therefore, I decided to use the game's screenshot function to capture the tech trees for each of the races.

StarCraft 2 Protoss Tech Tree     StarCraft 2 Terran Tech Tree     StarCraft 2 Zerg Tech Tree

Click on the thumbnails for larger images

One of the biggest omissions from the Zerg tech tree that I noticed is that the Lurker unit has been removed from the beta. The Lurker was a powerful, burrowed attack unit that did range damage to everything in its path in the original StarCraft and I believe was originally in the plans for StarCraft 2, but is currently unavailable.

Original StarCraft vs. StarCraft 2 Beta
Wow, there are so many differences it's almost nothing like the original, but similar enough that outsiders may just see "only new pretty graphics". I will try to address the differences race by race as I find them.


  • Command Center - Mostly the Command Center is the same - builds SUVs, can take off, has a scan add-on just like the original. However, there is an additional add-on that allows for the Command Center to become a powerful defensive turret, but anchors the CC to the ground. This "replaces" the nuclear silo add-on from the original.
  • Refinery - no real change from the original.
  • Barracks - Almost completely different. The only thing the same from the original is that it can produce marines and that's it. Barracks now have two possible add-ons - one that allows you to produce 2 marines at a time, but you can't build any advanced units and an add-on that allows you to build more advanced units like Reapers and Marauders. There are no medics at the barracks anymore and have been replaced by a Medivac airship.
  • Engineering Bay - Mostly the same with your infantry upgrades done here with a few new additions. The biggest mechanic here is the queuing of research which wasn't available in the original.
  • Bunkers - Very similar to the original.
  • Factory - Similar to the original in purpose; however, the units you can create, outside of the siege tank, are different. However, the same game mechanics apply.
  • Ghost Academy - Brand new building from the original. As the name implies, allow for Ghosts and nukes to be built.
  • Armory - Very similar to the original.
  • Starport - Very similar to the original in terms of game mechanics. The main difference with Starports in SC2 are that all of the ships available, except the Battlecruiser, are different than the original. Medivacs replace ground unit medics and also act as cargo ships as cargo ships have been removed from SC2.
  • Fusion Core - A new building specifically used for being able to create Battlecruisers.