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StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm video details new community features, usability improvements

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StarCraft 2's first expansion, Heart of the Swarm, includes a host of usability improvements and features designed to bring players closer to the greater StarCraft community, as seen in a developer video released today by Blizzard.

Blizzard community manager Kevin Johnson takes viewers through the changes to the game's home screen, which has been redesigned with an eye toward simplification, consistency and usability. It also brings relevant information and features to the fore, such as custom games, chat channels and featured groups.

Heart of the Swarm allows StarCraft 2 players to join clans and groups. They'll initially seem relatively similar, but clans are invitation-only affairs designed to be small, while groups can be about anything. That's the other main difference: Groups are casual, meant to unite players around a particular interest, while clans are built for competitive play.

The expansion also features a Players Near You feature that lets people quickly find others on the same local network, like at a university or internet cafe. And Heart of the Swarm introduces Global Play, allowing users to play on servers outside of their home region (Americas, Europe, Korea & Taiwan and Southeast Asia) and upload custom maps worldwide.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm launches March 12 on Windows PC and Mac OS X.