Blizzard Entertainment has announced that StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the first expansion to Blizzard's real-time strategy game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, will be available in stores and online beginning March 12, 2013. Heart of the Swarm features a new campaign continuing the story of Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, as she gathers the remnants of the Zerg Swarm and plots her revenge against the treacherous dictator of the Koprulu sector, Arcturus Mengsk. It also introduces several new multiplayer units and features.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will be available for Windows XP/ Windows Vista/ Windows 7/ Windows 8 and Macintosh at a retail price of $39.99 (approximately Rs 2,200). The expansion will also be available digitally directly from Blizzard's StarCraft II website for the same price.

The beta for Heart of the Swarm has kicked off!

Set to release in March 2013

Blizzard is also offering a Collector's Edition of Heart of the Swarm loaded with digital and physical bonus items, available exclusively at select retail stores for a retail price of $79.99 (approximately Rs 4,400). Players will also have the option of purchasing a Digital Deluxe version of the expansion, which will include all of the digital items from the Collector's Edition. The Digital Deluxe version will be available directly from Blizzard via the official StarCraft II website at a price of $59.99 (approximately Rs 3,300). Players who purchase the standard edition digitally or at retail will have the option to upgrade to the Digital Deluxe version at any time (for as long as the standalone Digital Deluxe version remains available) for an additional $20 (approximately Rs 1,100).

Presales for the standard digital and Digital Deluxe versions of Heart of the Swarm are now available. Players who would like to purchase either version and be ready to play the moment the expansion launches can do so now by visiting the official StarCraft II website. For players who prepurchase, the expansion content will automatically be digitally delivered via StarCraft II's streaming launcher prior to the release of Heart of the Swarm.

“With Heart of the Swarm, our goal has been to expand on the multiplayer action and cinematic storytelling of Wings of Liberty,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Combined with features like unranked matchmaking and our new leveling system, this expansion elevates the StarCraft II experience for players of all skill levels.”

The Digital Deluxe version of Heart of the Swarm includes a full digital copy of the expansion along with the following in-game bonus items:

  • StarCraft II Torrasque: Crush the enemies of the Swarm with the indomitable Torrasque, a fearsome new look for your zerg Ultralisks.
  • StarCraft II Portraits and Decals: New Swarm-infested portraits and decals help you customize the look of your online profile and in-game army.
  • World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: The Baneling companion pet is bursting with enthusiasm and ready to explode onto the Pet Battles scene.
  • Diablo III Blade Wings and Banner Sigil: Grow zerg-like wings in honor of the Queen of Blades, and unfurl an exclusive banner sigil to mark your allegiance to the Swarm in Sanctuary.

The Collector's Edition of Heart of the Swarm includes the full version of the game on DVD-ROM and contains the following exclusive bonus items, in addition to the content from the Digital Deluxe version:

  • Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-ray: Immerse yourself in the StarCraft universe with developer commentary, interviews with voice actors, and an in-depth historical retrospective on StarCraft's eSports legacy narrated by key members of the community.
  • Collector's Edition Soundtrack CD: Enhance your Heart of the Swarm musical experience with this collection of more than a dozen tracks from the game.
  • Heart of the Swarm Hardcover Art Book: This 144-page tome features never-before-seen art from the expansion, including early concept sketches and meticulous 3D renderings.
  • Zerg Rush Mousepad: This Collector's Edition mousepad depicts the Terran Dominion holding out desperately under the onslaught of the Swarm.
  • Heart of the Swarm picks up the story of StarCraft II where Wings of Liberty left off, focusing on Kerrigan's quest to reunite the Swarm and exact revenge on Arcturus Mengsk. Over the course of 20 campaign missions, players will follow Kerrigan as she sweeps across the galaxy, incorporating a variety of distinctive zerg species into her brood. Kerrigan will grow in strength from mission to mission, and players will be able to customize her with powerful new abilities, as well as evolve various zerg strains into fearsome new subspecies to suit their play style.

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