Upon reflection I think the problems with Starcraft’s story happened long before WOL even came out. Much like how the Star Wars prequels overshadowed how bad Return of the Jedi’s ewok stuff was (Wood logs thrown against a military titanium tank (ATATs) by furry primitive beasts somehow causes said tanks to explode??? Military grade stormtrooper armor that can’t even stop small sticks and stones from knocking out their users? Yeah right!) the cringy Amon/Xel-Naga/quasi-religious mythology/Raynor-Kerrigan romance/primal zerg/etc. stuff overshadowed the problems that had developed even before SC2.
I’m talking about Brood War. Yes, BW, the game everyone loves for being dark and gritty and supposedly the antithesis of the hollywood-lite cheesy marvel superhero story SC2 devolved into. Except that’s not really true, since 95% of Brood War’s plot hinges upon everyone holding the idiot ball and allowing Kerrigan to become undisputed ruler of the sector.
The Terran campaign was mostly fine. It introduced us to the UED, the Earth government that had been secretly keeping tabs on the Koprulu sector, where they had watched with growing unease as alien forces grew ever more powerful than their wayward colonists, until their ruling council and analysts finally had enough and decided to say: “You know what SCREW YOU XENO SCUM time to FACE THE MIGHT OF HUMANITY!” and sent out an expeditionary force (not even a full fleet!) to scout out and then beat the stuffing out of everyone threatening humanity, including the dumb egotistical humans and governments like Mengsk and the Dominion who had proven very ineffective in holding the alien threat back. As for as introductions to factions goes, nothing beats this in all of starcraft media. Just one problem: Stukov, who DuGalle knew for literally decades, was killed over the most BS reasons. As if DuGalle would believe the word of a Confederate turncoat (Duran) over the word of his best friend, as if they wouldn’t TALK OUT wtf was really going on rather than let mutual suspicion morph into actual betrayal. If Stukov was suspicious of Duran and the reasons for disabling the Psi-Disrupter he would have just contacted DuGalle via a private channel, laid out his suspicions and evidence, and they would have both tested the Psi-Disrupter in a safe zone and found out that it works, which would have probably been enough to hand out an execution order on Duran as a revealed traitor sabotaging their military. Like I said: idiot ball. DuGalle was a tactical genius until the story dictated that Stukov had to die to make the UED lose something and thus made DuGalle retarded.
Likewise in the Protoss campaign. Alright, fine, Aiur fell, and the Protoss had to manage the problems of a vast exodus and factional conflict as their civilization was on the verge of being totally wiped out. Totally fair and the story beats revolving around Dark Templar and Khalai distrust after years of segregation and mutual loathing are mostly fine. Except no one detected the Dark Templar Matriarch was infested? Protoss have been fighting the zerg for YEARS - if they were truly so incompetent and had not managed to come up with a way to detect infestation and set up regular system of medical and psionic checks, they should have lost even FASTER than they actually did. So the Protoss were retconned into idiots who couldn’t even detect that one of their highest government officials was a zombie zerg puppet; wow that’s amazing. Not to mention that the Dark Templar have always been smarter and less arrogant than the mainline Khalai Protoss, so if any Protoss faction was the LEAST likely to fall for the infestation ploy, it would be the Nerazim.
And boy oh boy the worst offender has to be the Kerrigan/Zerg campaign, where all of the idiocy comes to a head and people repeatedly hold idiot balls just so the story can move to the end state of the Zerg being dominant over Koprulu.
First off: Raynor. Yeah, he’s a freedom fighter. But he’s not so idealistic that he is unwilling to think of the bigger picture. Remember that Raynor started as a CONFEDERATE OFFICIAL. He was willing to work for a visibly oppressive government because he thought it was the best option, until that government broke his trust by experimenting on their own people with the zerg, ignoring cries for help, and preventing their own military from responding to the new alien threat.
THAT’S why Raynor then threw in with Mengsk. His hatred of Mengsk is a PERSONAL one based on the betrayal of Kerrigan and everything they went through, not an IDEOLOGICAL one based on the merits of a free and open government, no matter how much SC2 tried to retcon this. The UED, as far as Raynor is concerned, just strolled in, beat the stuffing out of the Dominion and Mengsk’s empire, thus indirectly avenging Raynor, and then proceeded to beat the stuffing out of the Zerg and GUARANTEE HUMAN SAFETY IN THE ENTIRE SECTOR. Raynor would NEVER in a million years GIVE UP that sanctuary just because he might have some quibbles over how authoritarian the UED may or may not have been. At the VERY LEAST he would have been willing to give the UED a chance and time to stabilize their regime and to see how things played out, because none of those people are associated with what Mengsk did, and they seemed to be proud patriots bent solely on protecting humanity and not concerned with personal power and wealth like Mengsk or the old Confederacy were. And yet a single talk with Kerrigan is enough to make Raynor think they are so bad that they have to be brought down? LOL NO.
Likewise, WTF is the Fenix and the Protoss angle for helping Kerrigan overthrow the UED? At least humans can be reasoned with! Even if the Protoss don’t like the UED the worst they would ever resort to is a policy of self-isolation. They have no quarrel with the UED. Why would they be mad that the UED just ended the Protoss-Zerg war decisively in the favor of all civilized species? That would give the Protoss the time needed for their civilization to get back on their feet and rebuild. Fenix and the rest would gladly take said time to lick their wounds and rest rather than immediately go on a crusade with Kerrigan to take out the only power that has proven capable in the past few years of outright dominating the zerg? Whaaattttt?
None of Kerrigan’s rise to power makes any logical or lore-based sense. Thus, I can state with 100% conviction that the bad writing started in Brood War, not anywhere else, and not with SC2. SC2 was just the nail in the coffin.