I’ll be the first to admit that this one is a bit of a cheat. I wracked my brain longer about 2015 than any other year on this list. I can’t say any of the handful of games I’ve played from 2015 have really changed my life — and 2015 is so recent, it’s hard for anything to have had the time to change my life.
So here I was, skimming lists of games released in 2015, just in case I’d forgotten something, and that’s where I found it: StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. I had no idea Legacy of the Void had came out in 2015. Did anyone? Did anyone know Blizzard was still making StarCraft II stuff? The first chapter of StarCraft II came out in 2010!
That’s not to say I didn’t spend years — years — wishing for, waiting for, and watching beta footage of StarCraft II. In a lot of ways the whole affair was a repeat of Doom 3; but this time there was no lesson to learn, no wisdom to come out the other side with. There was only the cold disappointment, the impotent rage of watching something I loved be trampled on.
As was the case with Doom 3, games can be great even if they’re not what you’re expecting. And we’ve already established that playing a game you don’t like can be an interesting experience. You get to take out your magnifying glass and figure out why you didn’t enjoy it and learn more about your own preferences. Even games that are flat-out bad can be a lot of fun just to laugh at and wonder how anyone thought it was a good idea. But StarCraft II is none of those things; it falls under a fourth category: games that are well-made and play well, but that have made me genuinely angry despite my best efforts.
We had two big betrayals in 2010. Metroid: Other M spat in the face of everything that the series had stood for, and everything its protagonist had meant to us; and the community spat back. But StarCraft II has always made me sadder… because I was one of the few people who cared when its characters were twisted beyond recognition.
Let’s backtrack a bit.
I’m a big ol’ fan of classic Blizzard games. WarCraft, StarCraft, Diablo, even older games like Blackthorne and Rock n’ Roll Racing. I grew up on Blizzard’s back catalog and adore all those games. StarCraft is probably my favorite, though, even if the RTS gameplay wasn’t particularly interesting to me. What spoke to me in StarCraft was the storytelling, simple as it was. I loved StarCraft for its characters, its relationships, its villains. The unlikely hero of Jim Raynor. His strange and unexpected friendship with Fenix, a member of an alien species that was wiping out entire human colonies. The seething, clenched-teeth vow Raynor made to avenge Fenix when Sarah Kerrigan cut him down on the battlefield.
Oh wait. The entirety of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is about Raynor… going on a mission to save Kerrigan… because he’s… in love with her…?
Even as I write this retrospective, I still feel a real sadness over how wrong StarCraft II got its characters (the Raynor/Kerrigan relationship wasn’t the only issue)… but the anger over it is gone. It took a long time, and maybe it’s in writing about it that I was able to let go of the last of it.
I can’t say that StarCraft II changed my life in a positive way when I first played it… but at least, in the long run, it helped me learn how to forgive.