How Would You Rewrite StarCraft's Story?

It’s the common consensus that StarCraft 2’s story is rather meh, especially compared with StarCraft 1’s grittiness and complexity. Whereas SCI had political intrigue, twists & turns, multi-layered characters, and themes that spoke to real-world issues such as xenophobia & changing societies, SCII chose to go a different route with much simpler character motivations, a recurring MacGuffin, and the introduction of space Satan.
There’s also been a lot of criticism over SCII’s story, which is deserved, but I rarely see anything that’s actually constructive or positing possible ways the story could’ve been done right.

So, as the title says, how would you rewrite StarCraft’s story?

This doesn’t just have to be just SCII’s plot, as there were quite a few things that could’ve been improved with SCI’s story as well. I’m also not asking about gameplay in the campaign, though certainly gameplay would be (or at least should be) informed by lore.

Although I don’t have anything cohesive myself, some personal things I would’ve liked to see:

  • Take out Amon, and the physical Xel’Naga species, as a whole. The Xel’Naga worked better as part of the mythology of this universe rather than actual creatures inhabiting it.
  • If SCII needed a big bad for the three races to unite against (which admittedly was cool in concept for the finale), make it Duran/Narud, as he was already a prominent figure in the Brood War. It could be that if the Xel’Naga were just mythical figures, then like in some real-world belief systems some would go to extreme lengths to prove their idea of “god” was correct. In Duran’s case, he created the hybrid thinking that they were the true image of the Xel’Naga, and damn anyone who thought otherwise.
  • Make the hybrids actual characters. In this case, I really wished Maar was expanded upon beyond just a one-mission boss. As the hybrid were pretty quickly reduced to just being another enemy the game threw at you, I would’ve liked to see what their budding motivations and personalities were. If Duran was to be the primary antagonist, Maar could’ve been the secondary one.
  • WoL lacked consequences, HotS was driven by a shallow & confused motivation, and LotV forgot about the more grounded stories that made the StarCraft universe so interesting to begin with. It makes me think that the story wasn’t planned out, and that it was written as things went along. An actual outline needs to be written beforehand or else the story just meanders and becomes a muddled mess.
  • All three races exist concurrently. Raynor, Kerrigan, Artanis, etc. all are living and existing at the same time. So what were Artanis and Vorazun up to during the events of WoL? Were Kerrigan and Zagara just faffing around looking for poorly-defined plot devices when not taking over worlds? Are we to believe Arcturus was just sitting around while his enemies were very clearly conspiring against him? Even if each campaign was just focused on a specific set of characters, there needs to be some hint as to what the other major characters are doing in the meantime.
  • Although a broad suggestion, I would’ve liked to see the return of the more grounded and complicated elements of the SC story. The shifts in allegiances, having to adapt to new stratagems, and clashing of ideologies were things that made SCI’s story so impactful. Missions like New Gettysburg, The Culling, and The Trial of Tassadar were great at expressing just how complex this universe is. A simpler story may appeal to a more mainstream audience, but the flaw in that thinking is that an RTS game isn’t exactly a mainstream form of media, so the story is trying to appeal to people who most likely wouldn’t even bother to glance at it while simultaneously off-putting people who would actually give it a chance.

I have more I would change, but for sake of time and in interest in opinions, I want to see other people’s vision of an ideal StarCraft story.

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My biggest pet-peeves has always been just the set-up going into SC2:

  • Raynor should have moved on from Kerrigan. The Fenix death moment was the final nail, and it should have stayed that way.
  • The Dominion had no business suddenly being back in complete control over the sector. They were beaten to death by the UED and Kerrigan’s Swarm. It should have been Umoja or the KMC stepping in to take over as the new Terran rulers.
  • The UED invasion should have left a major impact amongst the people of the sector. Something that grand wouldn’t be simply glossed over and forgotten about just because of a 4-year timeskip.

Point is, I still remember seeing major red-flags before WoL even came out.

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I mean I am kinda surprised. I actually like all your points. It’s a critique, but it’s actually focused, it’s not just whining.

I would add one small thing.
Jettison Safe Haven into the Sun and make Haven’s Fall canon.

Safe Haven is a good mission from gameplay perspective, but lorewise it destroys one of the best parts of WoL.

This actually points out a major issue in WoL and HotS.

Lack of obstacles/loss for protagonists.

WoL is like… We always win, because we succesfully get what we wanted and bail in time - Smash and Grab, Welcome to the Jungle, Moebius Factor, The Devil’s Playground, Piercing the Shadow, Supernova.

The only time we “lose” and fail to achieve our goal is Haven’s Fall.

Tychus’ death doesn’t count since Raynor doesn’t show an ounce of remorse here. Which is a pretty douchy move imho.

HotS - Kerrigan doesn’t even face an obstacle. The only time she would actually face possible loss we find out Ray-Ray is still alive. Brush with Narud? Bothersome, but ultimately… Inconsequential.

She basically steamrolls opposition.

LotV crams loss into the first three missions, but boy do Protoss get hit hard.

Loss of Khala, Death of Zeratul, costly failure to reclaim Aiur the first time … and then we go on to steamroll.

Honorable mention to poor Talis.
Dishonorable mention to Epilogue.

NCO does it best. At the end of the second pack we were actually losing, which is refreshing.

It cures the player victory syndrome with failure to achieve goals in story.

First mission - we got away, but we lost our team
Second mission - Defenders save the day, while we get embarrassed
Fourth mission - we save the civilians, but Defenders get the credit
Sixth mission - Valerian gets discredited which at the time of release actually mattered, because it wasn’t resolved immediately.
Eighth mission - we stop T’D, but Davis gets away.

We always need to pick up our own trash and face it again. And I loved it.

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Also losing Shakuras

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That as well, although it’s different from the others, because it was Pyrrhic victory for Amon.

Shakuras exploding was Amon’s greatest loss in terms of Hybrid numbers until Second Daelaam Invasion of Aiur.

I would say Ulnar or Ravenscar because in the first return to Aiur mission you kill hybrid only as Karax and Fenix in the Host there are only few and the last mission is Zerg and Protoss only. On Ravenscar you stop Amon making more Hybrid and on Ulnar you kill a lot of them

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Yeah, but Shakuras made these fights possible by greatly reducing the number Hybrids and Amon’s Zerg. Revanscar was crucial in preserving these reduced numbers though.

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Shakuras was a lose / lose technically but strategically it was Amon’s biggest defeat of end war, for sure! At least up until the 2nd invasion of Auir.

Over a billion Zerg and hundreds of hybrids is not something you just shake off even if you are a xelnaga god. After Shakuras it’s pretty much the Golden Armada and Mobius rampaging the sector, not the Zerg. Amon’s zerg brood was still a threat to a single system (Endion) but they couldn’t be a sector wide threat.

Without the battle of Shakuras, Amon would have the zerg going wild across the sector to, the Daelam almost certainly lose the purifiers on Endion. As it is I get the impression the last mission on Endion is kind of a blood bath. Without the purifiers they don’t have the forces to retake Auir.

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I meant that next to Shakuras either Ulnar or Revanscar are where he lost a big number of Hybrid, because in the last 3 missions there were only a few hybrids

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Revanscar was the last breeding facility that wasn’t wrecked by Kerrigan, so I’d pick that one.

I’d remove the prophecy story arc completely, and keep things grounded in military science fiction.

I also wouldn’t have the long dead creator race come back in any form; they’d stay long dead.

4 Likes

Guys, I love this.

Before I start, this is gonna be a little bit in backwards order.

One thing that really stood out to me when I was playing through HotS was how easily Valerian accepted Kerrigan killing Mengsk. I’ve read a little bit of the Starcraft 1 books that Blizz accepted (apparently) as canon, the Dark Templar Saga. In it, we see Valerian beginning to connect with his father briefly and begin to have an actual father-son relationship, albeit distorted because not everyone’s dad is the leader of an inter-planetary coalition (of sorts.) I would make Valerian have an extreme moral decision to make here; Deny Kerrigan the chance to kill his father, and allow the ruthlessness of his rule to continue, (possibly costing more millions of Terran lives) or lose one of his parents. I know plenty of people who know how hard that is, even if they didn’t have a good relationship with them. In LotV we should see the impacts of Mengsk’s death more, though that chapter focuses on the Protoss. In WoL we should see more evidence of how Mengsk is unfit to lead and how the Dominion begins to fall apart because of it.

EDIT: One more thing about HotS; Why did Raynor decide to break up with Kerrigan after becoming the Primal Queen of Blades? (which is gross, btw. If you want to make Kerri good, just remove the diabolic influence from the original QoB and keep the body the same.) She still has a human mind, and has sympathy, as we see from her decision to not go through civilian sectors during her Korhal invasion, after Valerian’s pleading.

Thanks for taking the time to read these, and Blizz, if you decide to make a SC3, put some thought into it.

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No epilogue. Artanis and company put an end to Amon on Auir. He’s in the void and he ain’t coming out. No Ouros. No angel Xelnaga Kerrigan.

Raynor / Kerrigan have cameos in Nova Covert Ops . Kerrigan still rules the swarm. They blame her for the feral zerg attacks. Leads to kind of a Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis with the Dominion and Kerrigan’s swarm, until Nova and Co resolve the situation with the defenders of the man.

Narud is not with Mobius but directly with the Dominion / Mengsk . Taldarim on behalf of Narud, Swarm, and the Raiders are all going for the artifacts as opposed to Raynor stealing them from the Taldarim. You’re still killing toss but it makes Raynor less evil if the Taldarim are showing up for these artifacts at the same time, rather than invading their worlds.

Heaven’s fall is cannon.

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Remove Tal’Darim arc from WoL. They can be introduced in HoTS. Raynor’s stealing from the Dominion like Tychus told Raynor from the get-go.
Remove the prophecy arc.
Kerrigan dies by Raynor’s hands. HoTS can revolve around Zagara instead.
Remove the Epilogue form LoTV.

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Shakuras Protoss are made a key figure in the story from the start of SC2. They’re pushed so far into the background throughout WoL and HotS that they just end up feeling completely wasted.

I still want my Vorazun+Selendis Buddy Cop DLC.

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I don’t think Selendis like the Dark Templar. :frowning:

Agree with all these points.

  • There was a hint of Raynor having moved on from Kerrigan, but then Zeratul and the prophecy telling us she’s some sort of chosen one suddenly reversed his stance. The death of Fenix still hits hard, and that really should’ve influenced Raynor’s view on Kerrigan apart from just a brief mention.
  • I found it jarring the Dominion stayed in the seat of power for so long. After the Brood War they were in shambles, and by the end of the Media Blitz mission Mengsk was still just as comfortable as before. That’s a big part of why WoL lacked consequences; nothing really changed with the Terran status quo.
  • The UED will always be a big factor that can’t just be ignored. They deserve more than just a cameo with some mercenaries or a reference from Stukov. Speaking of Stukov, you’d think someone who spent much of their first life with the UED would have more to say on them.

Great points.

WoL and HotS we rarely, if ever, feel a sense of loss. Unlike in SCI, which was so impactful because even when we do a mission right, we still feel like we lost in terms of story, the SCII campaign is more concerned about giving the players a power fantasy of just steamrolling through hordes of enemies.

Credit to LotV for at least inserting some losses and pyrrihic victories, but it was hardly enough.

NCO stands as my favorite of the SCII campaigns because it actually harkened back to that more layered storytelling, where even as an “omnipotent” player we can’t always anticipate what’s going to happen or get our way.

Consequences, bad endings, losses; these are what make any story compelling. If we, as the player, just constantly win and don’t have to deal with what we leave behind, then the entire experience will turn out to be shallow.

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I haven’t read many of the StarCraft books and short stories, but I read a few.

You’re right though in that, even if it’s not directly referenced, the expanded lore should reflect in the game. Valerian just accepting Kerrigan, or at least not having any sort of moral qualm against letting her be, always rubbed me the wrong way. Even if he realized his father was a despotic tyrant who needed to be overthrown, he could’ve at least offered an alternative aside from just a full-scale invasion of Korhal to kill him. Offer to imprison, defame, cripple (either socially or physically), or banish him. Something where he’s left alive but broken, just out of sympathy.
And yes, it bugs me that there was no solid evidence of the Dominion falling apart at the seams.