As part of their coverage at BlizzCon 2011, GameTrailers.com posted footage from a panel describing three new Terran units for Starcraft 2’s Heart of the Swarm expansion. The Warhound, Shredder, and a new transformer mode for the Hellion were demonstrated for journalists attending the show. As with all things Blizzard, it is important to note that these additions are not final and still subject to change before release.
First revealed was the new Hellion upgrade. Previously teased in silhouette released earlier in October, this upgrade allows the unit to transform from a fast raider into a slower, more heavily armored mech good for countering massed infantry. While its defense seems to be increased and speed lowered, the range of the Hellion’s flamethrower appears unchanged.
Next unit demonstrated was the Warhound, a new anti-air and anti-armor unit designed to replace the Thor. The Thor, a heavily armed mech from the core game, will be adapted into a super unit with a build limit of one. The smaller and more mobile Warhound will take over the Thor’s original role as a tank hunter and anti-air unit.
To understand why Terran players might be excited about the Shredder, people who never played Starcraft first need to know about the Zerg, one of the other playable sides in the game. The Zerg are a race of insect-like creatures similar to the titular creatures from the Alien series that employ large swarms of relatively cheap units. Zerglings are a fast basic infantry exemplifying this philosophy, created two at a time for the same price as similar Terran and Protoss units. An early game tactic for Zerg players is to produce six workers then invest heavily into building zerglings. Such a strategy effectively generates a force that gives even advanced players trouble.
The Shredder is a new defensive unit designed to address this tactic and provide the Terrans with some cost-effective zone control. Looking like a robotic mite, two of these machines were shown burrowing into the ground at narrow pass. Once buried, the Shredder projected an energy field that made short work of invading zerglings. Despite its potential for area denial, the unit is not without obvious drawbacks. For starters, it must remain stationary to deploy its radiation field. Also, to prevent friendly fire incidents, the Shredder deactivates its field when it senses allied non-Shredder units walk in range.
Heart of the Swarm does not currently have a scheduled release date. Rumors suggest it will be released around April 2012 however those rumors cannot be confirmed at this time. Game coverage can be found here