Blizzard has finally confirmed that the long awaited Starcraft 2 HoTS patch 2.1 will begin rolling out this week.
Blizzard also graced us with a schedule for the gradual rollout of the patch, which states that the patch will be releasing today in North America and Europe. It will then be available January 22 in China, Korea and Taiwan and January 23 in Oceania and Southeast Asia.
As with every Blizzard update, when you launch the Battle.net launcher, you will be asked to update your game and it will automatically download it for you. Just keep in mind, though, that you will not be able to play with those who have not downloaded the patch.
As well as making a few tweaks to how Clans and Groups work, the biggest and most important change is to the Arcade. Patch 2.1 is making SC 2’s The Arcade completely free to access, and users will no longer have to own a full copy of Starcraft 2 Heart of The Swarm in order to play the mods and modes featured there. Naturally, they will need to have the free starter edition of the game, but they are under no obligation to part with cash to access The Arcade.
What’s also rather awesome, though, is that a set of 3ds Max art tools that the Blizzard developers use, which will open up a whole new realm of possibility for modders. This will allow gamers to craft their own textures, models and more.
While this obviously has very little effect on the pro scene, or on the multiplayer ladder, it is huge for the game and for Blizzard. Blizzard is obviously hoping that, given these extra freedoms and tools, users will create another winning mod like the one that spawned Defense of the Ancients. There could even be mods and maps within the now free Arcade that will add whole new units to it, both old and new.
The possiblities are rather interesting, and I think I shall be keeping a close eye on The Arcade to see what pops up in the future.