Blizzard is extending the life of StarCraft 2 with story-driven downloadable content focused on Nova, the Terran ghost who first appeared in-game in Wings of Liberty.
The developer revealed the DLC, called Nova Covert Ops, in an interview with Polygon and officially announced the news today during BlizzCon. Nova Covert Ops spans three packs with three missions each — a total of nine missions — and will focus on a spec-ops-type story that takes place post-Legacy of the Void. Blizzard currently aims to release the first pack in spring 2016.
Legacy of the Void lead producer Tim Morten, during an interview with Polygon, broadly described the story as a political one in which a covert xenophobic movement called Defenders of Man seeks to eradicate all Zerg and Protoss. Nova and several other Ghosts, meanwhile, have gone missing.
The DLC will introduce new game mechanics, with a specific focus on a new equipment system for Nova to match her "commando-like operative" skills. The content is not expected to impact Legacy of the Void's multiplayer.
"It doesn't mean we won't introduce a unit in some of the missions, but we've done a lot more in campaign than we ever did in multi," Morten said. "Multi is very surgical. But I do fully expect multiplayer to evolve too. We may add a unit here or there as we understand where we're at when players get there.
"We're super excited about multi because it's changed a lot. Legacy of the Void, the startup game is so much faster than what we saw in Heart of the Swarm. There's going to be a real opportunity for completely new builds, completely new things we haven't seen yet."
Although Nova first appeared in-game during StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, the character was initially conceived as the lead of a since-canceled project called StarCraft: Ghost. The game was announced in 2002 and eventually canned following a development hiatus. Nova instead appeared in a published novel and has since gone on to play a part in other titles such as Blizzard's multiplayer online battle arena, Heroes of the Storm.
Morten, speaking about the decision to give Nova additional time, called her "the perfect candidate" to explore more in depth.
"Nova feels like a character who has so much story behind her that hasn't necessarily been exposed to players," he said. "We wanted, when you see her in-game, to get that hint of backstory, and then blow that out and make it a focus on one character, more of a personal story."
"This is pivoting StarCraft to a new paradigm."
As for future characters or paths Blizzard might explore, Morten says the developer is "leaving all options open."
"We want to see how it resonates with players, but also how we feel about the content as a team, as we get through it," he said. "We have something in mind. Hopefully it plays out as great as we're expecting. But do we feel resolved at the end of it? Are there more things we want to explore with Nova? If so, there are lots of other great characters to explore. Do we feel like there are other aspects of Nova that are worth drilling down on? That'll be a judgment call as we get further in."
According to Morten, the game's community was sending "a really strong message" that it wanted more "micro content" in StarCraft 2. In figuring out how to pursue that path, Blizzard discussed what kind of content would feel good both for players and the team creating it.
"Mission packs stood out as something that felt like it would resonate," he said.
The developer added that Nova Covert Ops represents more to Blizzard than just extra content.
"What we're doing here isn't just some small afterthoughts to StarCraft," Morten said. "This is pivoting StarCraft to a new paradigm. That's a big deal. It's a shift for us as a team."
During a BlizzCon panel today, Morten said that StarCraft 2 would continue to receive other content as well following the release of the Nova DLC. Among those additions are unit skins and voice packs, as well as co-op missions, more multiplayer content and other mission packs.
For more on Nova Covert Ops and Blizzard's plans for StarCraft, check out our cover story.