Up until recently, I was heavily focused on the campaign – Kerrigan portrait unlocked, thank you very much – for StarCraft 2. Naturally, this caused my multiplayer game count to remain low. After completing the game on Brutal, I set my sights on bringing my campaign skills – *cough* – into the multiplayer game. It took me a few dozens games to notice, but StarCraft 2, and its incarnation of Battle.net, is actually less feature-rich than Battle.net for Warcraft III or the original StarCraft.
This struck me as incredibly odd. After all, haven’t the multiplayer options for video games far surpassed that of 1998? Look at Xbox Live, Steam and PlayStation Network. Heck, even the “small” fish, like Stardock’s Impulse, have robust systems and blossoming communities. Outside of Nintendo and its friend codes (sorry), gaming landscapes have exploded with features, taking humble home entertainment devices into the Internet age.
So it left me and the other MMOcast members scratching our heads when there were some glaring omissions from StarCraft 2’s “upgrade” to Battle.net v2.0. Simple features that have been removed:
- tournament support
- guild support
- chat rooms, public and private (hello 1995)
- profile customization, mainly notes
- annoying custom game settings including searching, sorting and observation games
Battle.net v1.0 features be damned. This is the 21st century. We want new toys, new ways to antagonize our friends and new activities to waste time on.
- Spend hours claiming the Kerrigan portrait? Too bad it only gets displayed during loading (~30 seconds) and most people don’t know what it means. Mouseover support for portraits during loading would be nice.
- Love World of Warcraft’s customizable chat interface? Don’t expect it here. Receiving a message in-game isn’t nearly as in-your-face as it should be.
- Dustin Browder promised me an awesome custom map shop at BlizzCon 2009, but it didn’t launch with the title. Blizzard recently released its first custom map for StarCraft 2, but hasn’t approached the subject of a release date for the shop. One can only hope that the company is waiting for a stockpile of good custom maps before launch.
Don’t get me wrong, these are minute complaints. Not having them doesn’t ruin the core game in any capacity. They are (mostly) features Blizzard said Battle.net v2.0 would have, so we know the company is working on them. That being said, Activision blamed Battle.net v2.0 development for the delay of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, so who knows where that development stands.
At least we have achievements and the complex ELO-style ranking system.