Thursday April 20, 2017
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A 2001 ‘StarCraft’ tournament in an internet cafe in Daejeon, South Korea. — AFP picA 2001 ‘StarCraft’ tournament in an internet cafe in Daejeon, South Korea. — AFP picNEW YORK, April 20 — Seminal real-time strategy game StarCraft is now free to play, ahead of a remastered edition anticipated for later in 2017.

The foundational RTS title StarCraft has been released for free 19 years on from its 1998 debut.

A game of rock-paper-scissors layered with complexities to the nth degree, StarCraft ruled its genre for 12 years, at which point successor StarCraft II arrived, becoming a cornerstone of the emerging eSports scene.

Released as a free download thanks to an update from developer Blizzard Entertainment, StarCraft and its expansion now contain an Observer mode, automatically saved replays, and a clutch of fixes that improve its performance on modern Macs and Windows PCs.

Consider that a number of the updates contained within April 19’s Patch 1.18 reflect changes in the ways that video games are consumed — not just as something to play, but as something to watch as part of an online community — and the free StarCraft becomes a taster for paid release StarCraft Remastered, due mid-year: weekly teases are planned up until May 12, according to official website starcraft.com/en-us/#new.

Remastering StarCraft as well as its expansion StarCraft: Brood War for Summer 2017 then involves a full graphical overhaul, support for up to 4K resolution, a soundtrack and dialogue pass, plus cloud saves, better matchmaking, and so on.

Activision-owned Blizzard built itself on the pillars of three successful game franchises: fantasy strategy Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994, eventually delivering MMO World of Warcraft in 2004), combat-oriented adventure Diablo (1996), and intense RTS sci-fi twist StarCraft.

Following decades of iteration, it then produced polished digital card game Hearthstone in 2014 and multiplayer online battle arena genre entry Heroes of the Storm in 2015.

The team-based action game Overwatch arrived in 2016, also a first attempt at the genre from Blizzard, and, like Hearthstone, became a critical and commercial success.

StarCraft Anthology, free: battle.net/shop/en-us/product/starcraft — AFP-Relaxnews

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