Blizzard's StarCraft II wings into beta

The World of Warcraft publisher announced Wednesday that it has begun beta testing of the sequel to its 1998 hit, StarCraft.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has gone into closed beta. The sequel to the hit 1998 game StarCraft is expected to ship in the first half of 2010. Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard Entertainment on Wednesday announced that it has begun closed beta testing for its real-time strategy game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

StarCraft II has been a long time coming. It is the sequel to the 1998 hit, StarCraft. The new game will feature an entirely new 3D graphics engine, and like its predecessor, will focus on the battle between the protoss, terrans, and zerg. Blizzard said StarCraft II should launch sometime in the first half of 2010.

Already, the company said in a release, there are thousands of people in the beta test. One of the main thrusts of the testing at this stage is for the company to get as much feedback as possible on the "multiplayer balance" of the game. In addition, the testers will be the first to experience Blizzard's reworked online platform, which will be used for StarCraft II, WoW and all future Blizzard games, the company said. The new will launch with StarCraft II.

Delays in getting ready may have caused Blizzard to hold off on the launch of StarCraft II.

Players can set up a account now for a chance to be admitted to the beta.

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