Infest and Consume, where art thou?

If there are two things that I found gruesome and fascinating about the Zerg army in StarCraft 1, they were the Infest Command Center ability, as well as Consume. Now in StarCraft II, these abilities — and any equivalent — are both completely missing from the Zerg. This really sucks, as a fan of the original swarm.

You know, the entire modus operandi of the Zerg is supposed to be one of infestation and mutation, according to the story, and in SC1 they had the abilities to prove it. I’ve only seen the Infest Command Center ability used once in a pro-league Korean game, but it was amazing when I saw it. But much like the Nuke for Terran, it’s just important that it’s there. In SCII, Nukes were made extremely easy to access and use compared to the previous game, and yet Zerg lost its signature end-game move completely.

We know that the Infestor unit was supposed to originally have the ability to — big surprise — infest buildings, but it was removed before the Beta started. It kept the name, though, which makes it a misleading unit that constantly reminds me of what’s missing.

Look at the signature moves for Protoss, such as the cloaking field and the ability to manipulate battlefield space, and you notice a huge boost in the options in SCII. Graviton Beam, Force Field, Vortex, Cloaking Field, and even the Warp Gates all reinforce this notion of Protoss mastery of space/time. They feel more Protoss-like. Unfortunately, Zerg doesn’t feel more Zerg-like.

The Infestor is a good unit, I’ll admit, but it’s absolutely lacking that one central ability that would define Zerg’s new form: INFESTATION. Think about the psychological impact of having your production buildings being stolen from you, and converted to the enemy, and just what that says about the nature of the Zerg. Think about how exciting it is to be able to infest the enemy’s buildings (or units) adding insult to injury. Why take this away? If anything, Zerg should have a whole new array of methods to assimilate the enemy’s forces into their own.

The Corruptor was another unit which was supposed to be able to — you guessed it — CORRUPT enemy air units, converting them into infested versions of their former selves, but that ability was also scrapped. Apparently Blizzard was even more terrified of the Zerg overtaking armies than the Terran or Protoss, because they didn’t even try to modify the ability into something that would be more balanced. Instead they threw the ideas in the garbage, or simply decided to wait until the Heart of the Swarm expansion to give them what they obviously need. Lots of SCII players feel like Zerg has very few options, and that’s true. The new Queen is a cute addition, and the Nydus Network and Overseers are great in their own way, but none of them feel aggressive or intimidating, which is what Zerg is all about.

The following are some ideas for how to make the Infest and Corrupt ability completely viable and not overpowered, while still having good impact:

Infest Building

– This ability must be prepared at the Infestation Pit at the cost of some of minerals and gas, much like the Tactical Nuke is prepared at the Ghost Academy. This is important for limiting the amount of times this ability can be used, because no matter how many Infestors there are, only one Infest Building spell (per Infestation Pit) can be used at a time.

– The function of Infested Buildings would not necessarily need to be one of producing attack units. It could simply start generating creep and steal some supply of the enemy player. It would also be interesting if the Zerg player could dissolve the building and salvage the cost of it! This way you could have the ability work on everything from Supply Depots to Stargates. This may seem too powerful, but remember that if the ability was prepared like a Nuke, it would actually cost money just to prepare the ability in the first place. If it resulted in a small amount of profit, the ability to effectively steal money from the enemy would be worth it, and at the very least, definitely not any more potent than an easily accessible Tactical Nuke!

Corruption

– Rather than being a passive debuff, this ability is cast on any enemy unit at the cost of some energy, and ensures that the unit will morph into a corrupted version upon death, if it dies within the time limit. This way it becomes necessary to skillfully choose which units to target, and thus which units the enemy must try to preserve, while not making the ability too strong. Weak units could do less damage in their corrupted form, while big units could do more damage, making it a more strategic choice.

Yeah I know these suggestions will probably never make it to Blizzard, and even if they did, they would probably never use them. BUT THEY SHOULD. I hate having these awesome abilities sitting on the shelf after they have already been introduced, while the Zerg twiddles their thumbs, wishing they had their cruel robbery techniques. It’s really not that hard to think of creative ways to make the abilities balanced and fun, and I think the current version of the Infestor and Corruptor are lame as a result, honestly. Spawning Infested Terran out of your ass and throwing them onto the map in a comically large arc? Spraying some kind of basic damage amplifier? Where’s the fun in that? If you could take over buildings and units, THEN you’d have the Zerg solution!

The other ability that I feel desperately needs to come back to the Zerg is the Consume ability, which formerly belonged to the Defiler.

The Consume ability was gruesome to even watch, when I was younger. It’s just straight up cannibalism! But not only was it freaky, it had a very interesting balance. Eating your own units means that you were essentially paying money to quickly regenerate your energy, which is awesome for an important caster support unit. It feels very Zerg. Having no unit that can cannibalize friendlies makes Zerg once again feel less ruthless and hive-like, and that makes me sad.

Here is my suggestion for how to make Consume awesome again:

Zerg Empress

– The Queen gains the ability to morph into an “Empress” at the cost of some minerals, gas and supply. The Empress is a battle version of its former self. It becomes faster off of creep.

– The Empress loses the abilities to Spawn Larva and plant Creep Tumors, but gains the Consume ability, allowing it to eat friendly units in the field and thus gain the ability to Transfuse more often.

– The Empress can research the ability to Climb Walls after the Hive structure is complete, thus giving it much greater mobility.

I know this is a radical suggestion, but originally the Zerg was supposed to have a single Queen to protect all of its bases, and it would level up every time a new Tier of Hatchery was morphed, so it’s not nearly as radical as Blizzard was considering! I think the Queen has tons of potential, but it needs to be able to morph and get aggressive. THAT would feel like Zerg to me.

Not only would the Empress ability encourage players to make more Queens earlier on (knowing they will be transformed after the tech requirements were met), it would make Queens a bigger target early on, AND grant them some much-needed abilities without introducing a whole new unit!

Am I a genius? Yes.

So guys, email this to Blizzard, or simply spam it everywhere so that they’ll put these things on their list of features for Heart of the Swarm. We need Zerg to feel cool again, and I don’t know if Blizzard can do it without my help!!

(Originally posted here: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?topic_id=152496)

Advertisements

About Mr. Wolfe
Mr. Wolfe has earned somewhat of a reputation due to his commendable feats of self-restraint while discussing and analyzing the world around him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: