Starcraft 2 news » Co-op Commander Preview: Zeratul
Zeratul’s gameplay will revolve heavily around the Prophetic Vision ability, which allows the player to discover three Xel’Naga Artifact Fragments on the map. Players are encouraged to seek out these Artifact Fragments as they will improve Zeratul in a variety of ways:
- Zeratul, his units, calldowns, defensive structures, and even Probes will gain weapon, armor, and shield upgrades with each Artifact Fragment.
- Zeratul has no traditional researchable abilities. Instead, Artifact Fragments he finds will grant his units Artifact Enhancements, which are either new abilities or improvements to existing abilities.
- Zeratul has a potential of four top-bar abilities, but only one is unlocked at the start of the game. Players unlock new top-bar abilities with each Artifact Fragment they find.
- The Legendary Legion calldowns improve with each Artifact Fragment found.
- Zeratul himself gains bonuses.
In addition, uniquely among Commanders, Zeratul’s top-bar will be fully customizable. Both at the start of the game and with each Artifact Fragment recovered, you’ll be able to choose one additional top-bar ability from a selection of two or three. Players should select these abilities carefully based on both their individual playstyles and the needs of the mission.
We’ve always been huge fans of Zeratul as a character in the StarCraft universe, so we knew we wanted to bring him to Co-op. However, we already had a “Dark Templar” Commander in Vorazun, so we had to take special care to make Zeratul feel different enough from his Nerazim counterpart.
Right off the bat, we knew we wanted to have Zeratul as a controllable hero on the battlefield. And we wanted him to have a small elite fighting force, as he was most often featured in insurgent-style missions in the StarCraft II campaign. But we also knew this wouldn’t be enough, so we played the campaign to really dig into Zeratul’s identity beyond the fact that he’s a Dark Templar.
Throughout the campaign, Zeratul looked to the wisdom of the Xel’Naga for guidance, obsessed with finding their prophecies. We experimented with how we could incorporate this into his Commander design and eventually came up with the Prophetic Vision ability, which allows players to pierce the void to find the locations of procedurally-placed Xel’Naga Artifact Fragments hidden on each map.
In addition, we were committed to creating a Commander that felt and played differently from his Protoss brethren. To that end, Zeratul’s army will receive unique Xel’Naga enhancements, which should hopefully allow players to see traditional Protoss units in a completely new light. Our intention is to make Zeratul feel like a Xel’Naga Commander as much as he does a Protoss Commander.
Finally, during our playthrough of the campaign, we found that Zeratul had a curious habit of finding allies who were more than willing to sacrifice themselves for his sake. Inspired by this, we created the Legendary Legion calldowns, which allow players to call in reinforcements from other Protoss factions (often to send them to their deaths).
Top Bar Abilities
A level 15 Zeratul will have 3 choices for each of his top bar abilities. Adapt to the enemy and your mission objections and select your powers accordingly.
Telbrus and Zealots will make short work of swarms of units, preventing your army from being overwhelmed.
If you’re facing aerial threats, Zoraya and his fleet of Void Rays will keep the skies clear.
The Dark Archons lead by Serdath will quickly turn the tide of any battle with their mind control abilities.
Stasis Beam:The Stasis Beam can be used to cut the attack army in half, temporarily giving you the upper hand, or it can protect your expansion until reinforcements arrive.
Tesseract MonolithThis defensive structure can be summoned anywhere that you have vision to provide extra firepower and soak up enemy fire.
Void Suppression CrystalThis powerful ability will drastically reduce the attack and movement speed of your foes.
Steadfast ReinforcementGrabbing this passive will increase the duration of Zeratul’s Legion and Avatar calldowns by 50%.
Tesseract MatrixThis will increase the power of the Tesseract Monolith, making it more mobile and durable.
Void BlinkThis will reduce the cooldown of Zeratul and his units’ Blink abilities by 50%.
- Avatar of Form: This Avatar showcases the full potential of psychic power. It can use powerful area-of-effect abilities and summon charged crystals.
- Avatar of Essence: Your units will be continuously strengthened while near the Avatar of Essence, and enemies near it will devolve into lesser forms.
- Can rapidly use Blink to engage instantly or to retreat from danger.
- Summoning the Void Seeker allows Zeratul to instantly be transported to any part of the map.
- His Shadow Cleave allows him to dispatch clumps of units in one blow.
- Zeratul’s most important ability, Prophetic Vision, allows him to locate a Xel’Naga fragment.
AmbusherRanged anti-armor unit which will leave a Void Apparition after blinking which will attack the nearest enemy for bonus damage.
ShieldguardSupport unit which can reflect damage back at the enemy and recharge lost shields.
Void TemplarThe Void Templar can damage enemies with it's Blink ability and can also retreat into the Void upon taking fatal damage, returning with full health and shields.
EnforcerHeavy anti-armor unit that can attack ground and air units as well as full heal any damage taken whenever it's shield barrier is activated.
AbrogatorThe Abrogator is powerful against clumps of ground units. It's Purification Nova will split into smaller blasts, causing even more damage.
Void ArrayTransport vehical that is contructed in pairs and creates a two-way worm hole, allowing instant transportation and unmatched mobility.
WatcherZeratul uses the trusted Watcher to reveal invisible enemies and to warn of impending attacks.
Power of the Xel’NagaZeratul has a 100 starting supply and his units have increased life and damage. Buildings do not require Pylon power and units cannot be warped directly onto the battlefield. Zeratul's Ancient Nexus can automatically construct Ancient Assimilators.
Unlocks the ability for Zeratul to find the third and final Artifact Fragment. Once all Artifacts are found, Zeratul unlocks the following abilities:
- Call down the Avatar of Form, the embodiment of psionic potential.
- Call down the Avatar of Essence, the embodiment of evolutionary potential.
Passageway Enhancement Cache 1
Unlocks the following Passageway-level Artifact upgrades after the second Artifact Fragment is found:
- Allows the Xel'Naga Ambusher's Blink to leave behind a Void Apparition that attacks once for 200% of its weapon damage.
- Increases the energy regeneration of the Xel'Naga Shieldguard by 100%.
- Allows the Void Templar's Blink to deal 50 damage to units caught in its path.
- Allows Tesseract Cannons and Tesseract Monoliths to absorb up to 100 damage every 60 seconds.
New Unit: Xel’Naga AbrogatorRobotic Disruption unit. Can use Purification Nova to deal heavy area damage. Built at the Constructs Facility. Can attack ground units.
Tesseract Enhancement Cache
Unlocks the option to select the following Artifact abilities:
- Deploys a Tesseract Monolith at the target location. Tesseract Monoliths can stun enemies, project themselves, and protect themselves from damage.
- Improves the effectiveness of the Shade Projection and Shade Barrier abilities by 100%.
Constructs Enhancement Cache 1
Unlocks the following Constructs-level Artifact upgrades after the second Artifact Fragment is found:
- Allows the Xel'Naga Enforcer's anti-air weapon to knock back enemy air units, dealing 50% of its damage to units caught in the path of the blast.
- Reduces the cooldown of the Xel'Naga Abrogator's Purification Nova by 50%.
- Increases the movement speed of Xel'Naga Watchers by 50%.
Path of the Void
Unlocks the option to select the following Artifact abilities:
- Call down Serdath and his legendary legion of Dark Archons to aid in the battle. Serdath cannot be directly controlled but can be guided via the top-bar.
- Summons an invulnerable Void Suppression Crystal that slows the movement and attack speeds of enemy units and disables enemy structures in its vicinity.
- Reduces the cooldown of Zeratul and his units' Blink abilities by 50%.
Legendary Legions gain new abilities once the third Artifact Fragment is found:
- Telbrus gains the Feedback ability, which drains energy from an enemy unit. Telbrus' Zealot Legion gains the Charge ability, which allows them to intercept enemy ground units.
- Zoraya and her Void Ray legion gain the Prismatic Range ability, which increases the range of their weapons as they continue to attack.
- Serdath and his Dark Archons gain the Maelstrom ability, which temporarily stuns enemy units in an area.
New Unit: Xel’Naga Void ArrayFlying wormhole generator. Builds two at a time. Can deploy to create a link between all Xel'Naga Void Arrays on the field.
ChronometryReduces the build time of units produced by the Xel'Naga Passageway and the Constructs Facility by 50%.
Passageway Enhancement Cache 2
Unlocks the following Passageway-level Artifact upgrades after the third Artifact Fragment is found:
- Allows the Xel'Naga Ambusher to store up to 3 charges of Predictive Blink and regain a charge every 8 seconds.
- Allows the Xel'Naga Shieldguard to create a range 4.5 aura that reflects 50% of all projectiles back to the attacker.
- When a Void Templar takes fatal damage, it retreats to the Void and regenerates its health and shields over 10 seconds.
- Allows Tesseract Cannons and Tesseract Monoliths to project themselves to a target location for 60 seconds.
Dark AgencyReduces the supply cost of Xel'Naga Shieldguards to 1. Reduces the supply cost of a pair of Xel'Naga Void Arrays to 1. Reduces the supply of Xel'Naga Watchers to 0.
Constructs Enhancement Cache 2
Unlocks the following Constructs-level Artifact upgrades after the third Artifact Fragment is found:
- Increases the damage absorbed by the Xel'Naga Enforcer's Barrier by 300%. The Xel'Naga Enforcer's Barrier will fully restore its health whenever it activates.
- When a Xel'Naga Abrogator's Purification Nova explodes, it generates three smaller Novas that deal 50 damage each to enemy units in their paths.
- Units near a Xel'Naga Void Arrays in Wormhole Mode have an increased shield regeneration rate of 2 per second.
- Increases the sight radius of Xel'Naga Watchers by 50%
Purity of PerfectionThe Avatar of Form gains the ability to summon Charged Constructs that can individually cast miniature Psionic Storms. The Avatar of Essence gains the ability to transform all enemy units in a large area into a lower evolutionary form
Purity of WillUpon finding all three Xel'Naga Artifact Fragments, Zeratul gains additional health, increased damage, increased Shadow Cleave damage, and can store 3 charges of Blink.
Zeratul will be released alongside patch 4.7.0. You can pick him up alone or grab his Master Bundle, which will include his announcer and a Co-op Stimpack.
Let us know your thoughts on our Co-op forums.