These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Mengsk does mention he feels like Kerrigan is his biggest mistake, but the game leaves it ambiguous if he actually feels guilt for creating one of the biggest mass-murderers in Koprulu by doing so or if he is just pissed off he created the biggest obstacle to his plans. Either way, there are no more doubt about him being a bastard. For the matter, is Mengsk a hypocrite who is just trying to save his own skin, or does he genuinely believe he is the last chance of survival humanity has?
The game doesn't specifically says why Kerrigan abandons Niadra, so this part of her attitude is completely up to interpretation. Did she do that because she was disgusted about what she just used her for? Or was this just a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness caused by what remained of the Dark Voice's influence? Could it be because the ship teleported to Shakuras and thus might be out of range for communication? Could it be that Amon is blocking Niadra's connection to the Swarm?
Anticlimax Boss: Zurvan is considerably easier than the preceding boss Slivan, as all his attacks are highly visible and not very fast. Slivan on the other hand constantly mass-manufactures living explosives without warning.
Many fans complained that Raynor's vow to kill Kerrigan or Fenix's death weren't mentioned in Wings of Liberty. Both are referenced when Raynor finds out that Kerrigan has turned back into the Queen of Blades. The scene implies that Raynor mentally divorces the Queen of Blades persona and Sarah Kerrigan, and that he was saying he would kill the Queen of Blades when he had the chance in Brood War. StarCraft II was about doing that without killing Kerrigan; when he sees that she's voluntarily turned back into the Queen of Blades, the rationalization seemingly blows up in his face. Hence his initial reaction.
As noted on the YMMV page for Wings of Liberty, it was pretty dickish for Raynor to kill the Tal'darim, defile their temples and steal their artifacts to sell for money. What's that? It turns out the Tal'darim work for Narud and worship Amon? Oh, okay then, fry them.
As well, some fans complained about the Retcon that the Tal'darim were just a splinter group on Aiur serving Ulrezaj and had no influence beyond Aiurs since they were stranded there, and Blizzard's explanation that the Tal'darim were a larger group that the Aiur branch was just a small part of seemed like a Hand Wave. With the reveal that they worship Amon, who is very likely the mysterious entity Ulrezaj serves, suddenly their role in the game makes much more sense.
The Umojans appearing in the starter missions could also be considered this as many fans have complained to Blizzard over the years for not giving this Terran faction any role whatsoever in any of their titles until now. And even despite their Heart of the Swarm appearance, they're still considered no more important than a nameless Terran faction. Perhaps justified. Umoja only has three worlds while the Dominion have dozens. Even the Kel-Morine Combine is gigantic compared to them. They get some light in the novels, being the faction that supported Acturus' father and the place where Valarian grew up. It is also stated that they put a lot of money and effort into making technology more advanced than the Confederacy. Still, they don't have nearly enough power to throw their weight around.
Broken Base: Many fans were generally unimpressed with the story in Wings of Liberty, not really hating it but not finding it all that great. This game's story, containing several Retcons to deeply engrained lore, coupled with many of the same storytelling problems that first game had (Cliché Storm, etc), pissed off a lot of the more dedicated fans.
Mengsk's death is heavily influenced by Star Wars where the Emperor is killed. Despite the huge explosive death, it feels... lackluster oddly.
Cliché Storm: The game's plot is so predictable that this guy was able to predict pretty much 90% of what would happen after only beating 3 missions on launch day of the game.
Complete Monster: If there was any doubt about Mengsk being one before, he definitely classifies as one now. Kerrigan is now de-infested, she and Raynor are cooperating peacefully with Valerian as they experiment on her, and he has control of Char. Perhaps he could bury the hatchet, leave his enemies alone and all could be well. Well no, he attacks the facility to try and kill Raynor and Kerrigan, is implied to be willing to kill Valerian to do it, and during the course of the campaign resorts to nuking his own bases of power, killing off his own citizens, to protect himself from the Zerg.
Mengsk: I made you into a monster, Kerrigan! Kerrigan: You made us all into monsters.
Another moment is when he callously abandons his own soldiers to die to try and kill Kerrigan and Raynor. More specifically he talks about how "all those brave men will have to die". The soldiers are confused by this....than the blasts start erupting. As the soldiers scream, Mengsk venomously tells her that Kerrigan and Raynor can "burn together."
Because Kerrigan was the first game's Big Bad, and today dances the line between Anti-Hero and Villain Protagonist, she can come across as falling into this trope. Is Mengsk an evil bastard? Certainly. Does he deserve to die for his crimes? Most would say yes. Does this justify all the Dominion soldiers Kerrigan massacres to do it, especially after an early cutscene reminds her that many of them are normal men and women with loved ones? That's trickier. Kerrigan is even aware of this to a degree, telling a captured Protoss who tries to guilt-trip her over her actions, that "we're all still killers in the end", which is not untrue either.
Given what the story actually entails and reveals about her Queen of Blades persona, this trope is actually somewhat subverted. Queen!Kerrigan was essentially an emotionless, brainwashed slave of Amon's reprogramming of the zerg to make them even more hostile and vicious, and wasn't entirely responsible for her own actions. The entire game is about her trying to to preserve her new!old conscience against the desires of the zerg-who are fully revealed to be a simple Draco in Leather Pants situation, being The Social Darwinist as a species even out of Amon's control-and she finds it, becoming a full, sympathetic Noble Demon who is just as much a Restraining Bolt on the Horde of Alien Locusts as a ruler...though she's still a Villain Protagonist, just A Lighter Shade of Grey than before.
The million dollar question remains tough: Was this the way it was originally planned or did Blizzard decide along the way thy didn't want Raynor to kill Kerrigan after all because they just liked her too much? There are subtle hints in Broodwar that point to both. Kerrigan being exhausted and down after her MoralEventHorizon is a clear hint to a lack of free will.
Kerrigan herself makes the campaign a breeze. She starts with two spells, one of which is essentially Yamato Cannon with no charge time and lower energy cost, the other an AoE stun with damage, and she has an innately high energy and health regeneration rates. From there she moves on to doubling the health and attack rate of allies for a time, spawning overlords instantly, summoning an army of primal zerg instantly with drop pods, and healing allies nearby. If you know how to use her abilities properly and micro her carefully, Kerrigan can solo a lot of missions. As an added bonus, while Kerrigan is far from indestructible (in fact on the last few missions she die very easily if the player is careless if she's at a high level), she respawns for free at your main hatchery/lair/hive sixty seconds later.
One of her abilities creates Broodlings whenever she kills a unit, either with her attack or with an ability. One of her ultimate abilities, Apocalypse, lets her deal 300 damage to all enemy units in a large area of effect. Nuke a base's defenses and all of them create Broodlings to attack what's left. Granted Apocalypse has a huge cooldown of several minutes, but one use is usually going to be enough.
She can also spawn a bunch of banelings right on top of her targets. Which bypasses the banelings only weakness and results in the instant liquification of said targets
Also, as in Wings of Liberty, the campaign involves a lot of tech and upgrades that aren't present in multiplayer, and they snap the game's difficulty over their leg like a twig.
Zerglings can be upgraded into Raptors, which have cliff-jumping, leap at targets to attack similar to Charge, and have a +2 damage buff.
Zerglings can also be made into Swarmlings, which mutate 3 from an egg and only take a couple seconds to mutate. This effectively renders the Spine Crawler, Lurker and Impalers completely useless, as base defense turns into having an extra hatchery with 9 larvas and a few hundred gold; if anyone attacks you can instantly summon 27 zerglings to bite their faces off, then proceed to ram whatever's left at the enemy's door. You can also upgrade them to banelings afterwards, for even more fun.
Banelings can also be upgraded into either Hunters or Splitters. Hunters are devastating on the right maps, being able to bypass defenses by leaping across hills and other zerg, while Splitters double the fun by splitting into 2 tinier banelings when they die. Combined with minor upgrades that can either increase their damage by 100% (but not splash damage) or increase their splash radius by 50%, this means you can literally steamroll entire bases with banelings alone.
Roaches can be upgraded to have a slow-on-hit effect like the Marauder, better than the Marauder in fact.
Mutalisks can be upgraded to have their glaive worms bounce three more times, hitting a total of 9 targets, or to give up the bounce entirely for a +9 damage buff to armored targets. Or they can get a rapid bonus to HP regen rate when out of combat. Because ya know, Mutalisk swarms weren't deadly enough already, they need to tear through targets even faster, or hit and run more often thanks to better health regen.
Swarm Queens. Their Heal ability is autocast compared to the normal Queen, and they move faster off of creep. The result is similar to the idea of taking a Hydralisk and giving it the Medic's heal ability.
Abberations can now walk over smaller units like the Colossus, and have a powerful damage buff against armored enemies like the Immortal. Your main opponents for the campaign is the Terran Dominion. Marine, Reaper, Ghost; those are the units that aren't of the Armored type. Everything else is going to be shredded.
Ultralisks can be upgraded to revive upon death with nothing needed for it to happen but a 60 second cooldown on a second revival, or to release noxious clouds of gas to damage enemies further. Even without those two evolutions, they can get Burrow Charge, which is like the Zealot's Charge but they burrow to do it and stun enemies when they erupt. Ya know how the biggest problem with the Ultralisk was getting them close to the target and not stuck behind your other troops? Not a problem anymore.
In Wings of Liberty, Raynor said to Orlan he ought to kill him when he'd captured him after trying to sell him out to the Dominion, but he might need to hire him someday, and hands him over to Mira as a prisoner. This time around, Orlan is hired to hack the Dominion network to find out where Raynor is imprisoned, after the Raiders fight Mira to free him.
Also in Wings, UNN's Donny Vermillion once accused Raynor of allying with the zerg to overthrow the Emperor, which is exactly what he did in the final mission.
A more minor example with the Hellion. One of the unit's Stop Poking Me quotes has him say "Like a bat out of..." before stopping. In heart of the swarm it gets anew form called the Hellbat.
Seeing Zurvan. When you are trying to wake him up by feeding him, with what you see of him, the player would guess he's some Sarlac thing. When he wakes up, turns out all you were seeing was his mouth—he's huge.
The mission chain where Kerrigan infiltrates the Dominion science labs. Stukov is back, he's infested again, Narud is Duran, the Dominion has been helping him create Hybrids, he's working for Amon, he's a shapeshifter, the Tal'Darim are his servants.
The final mission. You're not facing the standard terran fare, you're facing the mercenary upgrades of them. Things get really heated when the Prides of Augustgrad shows up, which are a pair of Jackson's Revenge (or improved versions of the Loki) Battlecruisers. And these things respawn. And if that wasn't enough for you, make it to Mengsk's base or wait 22 minutes and the Odin reappear. You know, that war machine you had in the last campaign that mopped the floor with the dominion defense force?
Inferred Holocaust: Kerrigan routinely is contacted by broodmothers wishing to rejoin the Swarm, and Kerrigan tells them the price of admission is to infest a world. The evolution missions also take place on planets you don't visit in normal missions, but are in the process of being invaded by another broodmother. All of the planets targeted are military strongpoints, but it's unclear whether they also have civilian populations.
Magnificent Bastard: Duran/Narud manipulated the Dominion, UED, the Protoss, the Zerg, and the leaders of the four factions, all towards a plan to create the Hybrid and revive Amon while marginalizing potential threats like Kerrigan.
It seems that developing/regaining a conscience after being freed of the Dark Voice's influence has not made Kerrigan any less clever. She just feels bad about tricking a Protoss mothership into taking a broodmother larva on board, inside of the person they were trying to rescue. Ladies and gentleman, the Queen of Blades is back, baby.
Valerian, assuming he takes the throne at the end of Heart. He ascends the throne with most loyalists of his father's out of the way (the numbers having already dropped due to Raynor's exposť in Wings), good publicity with his people (by helping in the evacuation) AND with Raynor's Raiders personal friends of his (which means he also indirectly has the support of the outer-worlds and possibly the Shakuras Protoss), and possibly Kerrigan too. His position is more secure than his father's ever was.
Memetic Molester: Abathur wants a sample of Kerrigan's essence. Not helped by the fact it's revealed he was the one who put her in the chrysalis that first turned her into the Queen of Blades.
Just in case there was still doubt about Mengsk being a bigger asshole than Kerrigan is in her current state, he proved it to us again by attempting to self-destruct the ship where Jim is retained in hope to kill both him and Kerrigan in the blast, uncaring about all the Dominion forces still inside it. Their reaction of panic and horror remove any possible sympathy you could still have for him. Even Valerian, his own son, thinks Mengsk need to be overthrown after seeing this.
Mengsk goes even further during the invasion of Korhal, where he calls down nukes inside a densely populated city. Recall that the event that lauched Mengsk on his Start of Darkness was the mass nuking of his home planet, since heavily rebuilt. By this point, he's showing less regard for the safety of the people on his own planet than Kerrigan is. And she's invading it!
There's also the part when he has his forces keep firing on the Hyperion even though Valerian, his own son is onboard it. The saddest part is that Valerian is the least surprised person onboard.
"[Mengsk] is willing to sacrifice any piece on the chessboard, so long as he takes the queen."
The Zerg, particularly Abathur and the Primal Zerg, are obsessed with "essence" to the point of Cargo Ship. It's a play on their "purity of essence", and it's made clear that the term is used for genetic sequences that could strengthen them if assimilated. Still, "we must absorb their essence" and the many permutations of the phrase sound silly, and after you hear the word repeated over and over and over until the end of the campaign, it will likely just sound sillier each time. It gets worse with Dehaka, who apparently based every one of his responses around the words "essence" and "collect". The writers were apparently aware of this, since some parts (including the argument between Dehaka and Zagara) play it for laughs. They'd initially planned for the sequences on Zerus to be much longer, and the Primal Zerg's evolution through essence to be more prominent. Since ultimately Zerus only got a handful of missions, they had to stress the point through dialogue.
The leader of Narud's protoss is so OUTRAGED at everything you do it's hard to take him seriously.
See the building that enables Swarm Host? One of the unit-enabled icon in it looks like Scaredy-shroom. It doesn't help that Swarm Hosts are shroom-on-four-legs.
Zeratul putting his hand over Kerrigan's face and saying "BELIIIIIIEVE" as he gives her a vision of Zerus.
Kerrigan slamming Narud into the wall while riding a Nydus worm.
As Famous Last Words go, "Ah made you into a mawnster, Kerrigan" aren't exactly in the top ten.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Jim Raynor's fight with Nova. We only see the set-up, and all we know about the aftermath is that they both survived, but its safe to assume the entire facility was destroyed.
One-Scene Wonder: The game makes a big thing about spawning a new broodmother named Niadra and giving her the objective to destroy the Protoss, but she is abandoned on-board a derelict Protoss vessel with her brood after just one mission. Given her last few lines, we will be seeing her again in the Protoss campaign.
Nova, seen only in the second mission before disappearing for the rest of the campaign.
Player Punch: The final Char mission is an exercise in this, since the goal is to kill the Four-Star Badass / Reasonable Authority Figure who helped make Kerrigan human again in the previous game, gained Raynor's trust and respect, does his best to evacuate civilians and wounded from the Zerg onslaught. Most of his lines are What the Hell, Hero? which Kerrigan doesn't have an answer to.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Many fans believe the romantic plot between Jim Raynor and Kerrigan is this because they feel the romance is forced and takes away meaning from the plot of the first game, despite justifications from the story author. The other half of the audience are begging Blizzard on their forums to give Jim and Kerrigan a happy ending in Legacy of The Void. But since that expansion is supposed to be centered on the Protoss (and because of the dislike of their romance mentioned earlier) this leaves the first half of the audience to fear their romance is taking over the plot.
Scrappy Mechanic: Blizzard's recent introduction MMR decay, which makes players start from lower divisions based on how active they are. For example, if you are in Masters but don't play any games for a month or two, you can find yourself bumped down to Silver. This has led to situations were extremely skilled Masters level players are getting bumped down to the lesser skilled divisions, resulting in a lot of Curbstomp Battles. It's also disheartening for people who are used to being in higher levels then being crushed by other people used to being in higher levels, especially if they come back and don't know what MMR decay is. To sum it up, they are low level players upset because they are being crushed, there are high level players coming in who are disheartened for ending up in lower levels then normal, and there high level players who are being bored or feel bad about crushing players who are way less experienced than them.
The campaign starts off with several tutorial-like levels. In addition, the protagonist will lean on the fourth wall a bit to nudge the player (though without What the Hell, Player?, more like "For your information player"—such as "Hey, I should use X ability right now"). Finally, the interface now contains more direct hints ("Move hero here," "Click the Mutate Structure button"). This "assistance" persists into at least the second-highest ("Select only if you are a StarCraft veteran") difficulty level.
Izsha will inform you it takes three Drones to mine Vespene at maximum efficiency right up to the final mission, and if you put off going for an optional objective, she pops in to remind you about them.
Izsha's recommendation to make Zerg Units that can attack flying units will pop up on a frequent basis towards the end of the game, too.
The game simply feels more "hand-holdy" than previous installments. New abilities given to characters will be the only solution to the current situation when the ability is introduced, which, while obvious enough in and of itself, is accompanied by someone pointing out exactly this: "Use this button to solve the problem!"
Buildings now offer more information when selected—"This building allows creation of X, Y and Z units" features prominently on the command card. (Although this may simply be the analogue of Terran or Protoss production buildings where you actually have to *click* those buttons on the command card.)
Two different versions of the GUI used to give orders to units now exist. One is the "standard" array of buttons (at least six commands for any combat unit) while the "Simple" version offers "Move," "Attack" and special ability sections, excluding items such as Patrol or Hold Position.
Strawman Has a Point: Kerrigan already dances on the edges of being a Villain Protagonist, then comes this exchange. Arcturus's words do not change the fact he had a major hand in Kerrigan's rebirth as the Queen of Blades and the creation of the Hybrids, but his rebuttals to her are a bit more convincing than hers to his:
There's something endearing about young Broodmother Niadra and the way she tries her best to grow up... even if her 'doing best' means being a Xenomorph-expy.
The first time Broodmother Zagara meets Kerrigan in the leviathan, she is doing a certain Victorian gesture of respect, in which one lifts one's own gown a tiny bit while bowing. She continues being Kerrigan's posse through the game.
The broken-tusked Zerg that's always near Kerrigan in cutscenes near the start of the game, her interactions with it come across as being a bit like a dog and its master.
That One Achievement: Of the Mastery Achievements, there's a particularly large player agreement that "Premature Evacuation" for the Rendezvous mission is the most annoying of the lot; having to destroy ALL the Dominion structures before the Zerg reinforcements arrive after a 15 minute time-frame...with nothing but Zerglings, Queens and, at this point in the game, a fairly weak Kerrigan hero-unit.
That One Level: On Brutal, The Crucible is this which is a Zerg version of of Wings of Liberty's turtling mission, All-In, to protect a giant chrysalis. Hardly a surprise either since it's the one Heart of the Swarm mission where you don't have an overpowered hero unit at your disposal. (Unless you don't count Niadra)
Years ago, a cinematic was leaked depicting the hypothetical end of Heart of the Swarm. And when the game was finally released... that scene was recycled and used again, albeit with a few tweaks. Those tweaks really change the meaning of the ending though, despite some scenes having been reused.
It didn't take long after the first game to figure out that Emil Narud was Samir Duran. Some fans speculated though that they may have been rivals working against each other, or they were actually different characters. Turns out no, they were right all along. However, they never used the name "Duran". It is the sound files, but they don't say. They may decide to Retcon it or at least leaving the option open.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: While the anti-Zerg artifact from the previous campaign reappears in the final cutscene, it has zero impact on gameplay this time. It would have been interesting to see the player fighting against the clock, reversing the pattern seen in the final Terran mission and removing the question of why Mengsk didn't just use the artifact against the entire swarm. Even if one questions the value of parallelism in a narrative, it would also have given Raynor's Raiders more to do in that last mission, as Terrans aren't affected by the artifact's energies. Finally, it would have forced the makers of the game to come up with a better cutscene than the predictable, Emperor Palpatine-syle death that Arcturas Mengsk gets.
Villain Decay: Mengsk, despite being Big Bad of the game, is largely demoted to a secondary character, and his motivations are no longer explored in any detail.
The Woobie: Raynor keeps being this. At least half of his effort from Wings of Liberty are seemingly completely destroyed by the beginning of this game.
Iron Woobie: Stukov; after getting killed by Duran and having his whole faction killed by the original Queen of Blade in Brood War (making him a Senseless Sacrifice), then being resurrected as an infested terran and cured, it turns out he has been infested again, as well as kept prisonner and experimented on by Narud for years. He can never goes back on Earth, and if he could, there would be no place for him, since he is half-Terran half-Zerg. Yet, you don't see him mourning about it. He even seemed a little excited about possibly fighting "a good death" against Amon, since he has no other purpose left in life.
Jerkass Woobie: Kerrigan, big time. She has barely recovered from being Brainwashed and Crazy into acting like an Omnicidal Maniac for entire years, and shit just start being thrown at her again: Mensgk keeps wanting her dead, her boyfriend is apparently killed, and when it turns out he is alive, he is so horrified by what she has done to herself that he doesn't want anything to do with her anymore until the finale. Any wonder she is so pissed off?