Generally favorable reviews - based on 68 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 68
  2. Negative: 1 out of 68
Buy On
  1. Mar 15, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic expansion for StarCraft II. The campaign is solid and very enjoyable, the new units are amazing and the multiplayer is so fun and addictive as always.
  2. Mar 19, 2013
    This is a very good expansion, but be aware that the focus on improvements is to be found in multiplayer, while Kerrigan’s revenge campaign delivers rather solid entertainment.
  3. Apr 15, 2013
    The AI puts up a decent fight in every mission.
  4. Apr 6, 2013
    StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm offers a challenging campaign, plenty of story and character to consider, and much in the way of production value that few other games can match.
  5. Mar 22, 2013
    Its accessibility over previous entries may be its biggest strength as for those who’ve always been curious about StarCraft multiplayer but may have felt too intimidated to give it a try will find that learning has never been easier, and is still a hell of a lot of fun, even if you’re not in it to climb ladders and make a name for yourself.
  6. CD-Action
    May 7, 2013
    Simply put, Heart of the Swarm shows how PC games should be done, however I wish the campaign was longer and more epic (Wings of Liberty did a better job in that department). You can treat the final rating as an average of 7/10 for the single-player mode and 9/10 for the multiplayer. [CD-Action 05/2013, p.54]
  7. Mar 14, 2013
    The campaign is solid, but I can’t help but feel it could have been a bit more robust. The improved multiplayer more than makes up for this fact though.
  8. Mar 20, 2013
    While Heart of the Swarm definitely sets the groundwork for the next game, it doesn’t do it in a cheap way that leaves you frustrated and cursing at where the game decided to end. Kerrigan stole my heart and made me understand the Swarm. Now my eyes are focused on the Void.
  9. Mar 19, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic addition to the StarCraft series, and quite frankly feels on par with a $60 game. It brings almost nothing new to the table, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula you know works well.
  10. Mar 20, 2013
    StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, yet it's a fan-pleasing addition to one of the best real-time strategy titles of recent years that will have a revitalising effect on its multiplayer community.
  11. Mar 14, 2013
    For an expansion, HOTS is a dense package, adeptly fashioned and hugely enjoyable. But while its core game might be perfection, HOTS itself isn’t.
  12. Mar 19, 2013
    If there's a single competitive bone in your body, you really need to play Heart of the Swarm. If you're only interested in the tactical tasting menu of the campaign - you still need to play it.
  13. Mar 22, 2013
    Blizzard has once again proven its flair and a sure hand in expanding upon StarCraft 2's multiplayer. Don't expect big innovations, though, it's just reasonable improvements that are on display here. The campaign is entertaining enough and some of the mission designs are a real treat, even though 'zerging' through enemies by way of simple bases still promises sure success a bit too often.
  14. Mar 15, 2013
    For the die hard fans of the StarCraft series, Heart of the Swarm is a no-brainer buy. But those who expected more from Wings of Liberty will find few reasons to buy this expansion.
  15. Mar 25, 2013
    For those who play Starcraft II this will always be a mandatory purchase; for others it is a huge challenge and probably the best RTS on the market.
  16. Mar 25, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm accomplishes what seemed impossible after Wings of Liberty: improves something that was already perfect.
  17. Mar 24, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is a superb evolution of one of the best strategy games on the planet. The campaign has a great distinct Zerg feel all over it and the changes made to the multiplayer are likely to breath new life into an already huge and thriving community.
  18. Mar 18, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is an all-around experience. A must have for anyone: passionate about the saga or not.
  19. Mar 18, 2013
    Accompanied by the incomparable multiplayer, Heart of the Swarm is a worthy middle act to tide us over until the protoss warp in for the impending conclusion.
  20. Apr 1, 2013
    Why would they do anything more than improve the game cosmetically, create a few new units while tweaking others, and leave most of the game alone? The answer is they wouldn’t, and they didn’t, not for Wings of Liberty, and not for Heart of the Swarm.
  21. Mar 15, 2013
    StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is conclusively a must-have for anyone who wishes to continue being relevant in competitive play. For casual players who merely enjoy building a base and waging war in sci-fi space, it’s a worthy, although non-groundbreaking, expansion.
  22. Mar 22, 2013
    The solo may not be revolutionary, but it remains solid; the production values are spotless, was revised for added comfort, and it supports a multiplayer that could very well be described as a dangerous time-consuming wormhole you won't be able to escape. There's no denying it: StarCraft 2 remains the mother of all STR games.
  23. Mar 21, 2013
    A much more enjoyable and satisfying game than Wings of Liberty and is superior to the base game in every way. If I may paraphrase “Hey Jude,” Blizzard took a great game and made it better.
  24. Mar 26, 2013
    Blizzard, once again, delivers a stunning strategy game that is so much more than an expansion pack.
  25. Apr 1, 2013
    With a huge singpleplayer campaign, and shrewd changes to multiplayer, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm has something to offer every RTS fan.
  26. Mar 19, 2013
    The single player campaign alone makes this first Starcraft 2 expansion worth the two-year wait. The campaign feels like a complete game, thanks to unique gameplay that’s been tailored for the Zerg. In the multiplayer it’s recognizable for what it is, but it lengthens the life of StarCraft 2 with new units and maps. Heart of the Swarm offers countless new possibilities for new strategies, without it affecting the balance or accessibility negatively. Along with seemingly unlimited amounts of small changes, HotS makes StarCraft 2 better than it already was.
  27. Mar 14, 2013
    Blizzard's newest expansion keeps StarCraft II as the king of real time strategy, even though I'm not a huge fan of the narrative. The campaign is composed of well-crafted and varied missions, while multiplayer also offers some new and interesting additions to the formula.
  28. Games Master UK
    May 9, 2013
    Accomplished, if not exactly groundbreaking. [June 2013, p.80]
  29. Mar 20, 2013
    In the age of DLC, Blizzard serves up an expansion pack that easily outmatches many great games in its content. Viewed from all angles, Heart of the Swarm is extremely well-made and honest experience of the completely new with essential innovations, a long full-blown campaign with a great ending, expanded possibilities of a single-player game or of a precise cutting multiplayer game. Also, let's not forget about Arcade, a powerful editor and first-rate optimization. If you like the classical RTS genre a bit, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is the best thing you may get these days.
  30. Mar 18, 2013
    No one expected the single-player campaign to be a milestone in video game literature, so I can excuse its meandering tone and appreciate it as a window into StarCraft’s development.
  31. Mar 20, 2013
    The lackluster story is disappointing, but taking control of the Zerg--those nutty world-devouring insectoid-dinosaur hybrids--makes Heart of the Swarm well worth the investment.
  32. Mar 14, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm transforms the StarCraft II landscape in all the right ways--enough to surprise and excite you, while still being amiably familiar at its core. As with its predecessors, it offers fast-paced real-time strategy with a great amount of accessibility and no skill ceiling in sight. Rather than feeling like an ugly middle child between Wings of Liberty and Legacy of the Void, Heart of the Swarm is a star in its own right.
  33. Mar 14, 2013
    There's currently not a better real-time campaign anywhere.
  34. GameTrailers
    Mar 16, 2013
    Series savants won’t be disappointed by the game’s catalog of well-constructed missions and stellar multiplayer experience, but players may still find themselves hoping for some sort of wild mutation from the franchise’s established norms.
  35. Mar 20, 2013
    StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm embodies an evolved RTS that shows Blizzard has taken on even more superior genes from other gaming greats, even when those greats coincidentally happen to be of their own creation. If this is what happened since Wings of Liberty, then we should be in for a real treat when Legacy of the Void drops out of hyperspace.
  36. Apr 1, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm delivers a fun single player experience and updates to the multiplayer portion of the game. It took a while to get here and the 20 or so missions available is a little shorter experience that I would've liked for waiting two and a half years. The graphics are good and the cut scenes are amazing to watch.
  37. Mar 17, 2013
    For those of us who still deeply love this specific style of real-time strategy and want more of it, this is a must-have add-on.
  38. Mar 19, 2013
    Blizzard's new game has two different faces and both of them show clearly, that Heart of the Swarm is a truly great game for both fans of storylines and scripted missions, as well as for avid online players, that dream of defeating the entire Korean nation during some kind of tournament. Blizzard continues to release boxed expansions and that's a good strategy. Buying a big add-on, full of new content for the price of several DLCs is an excellent offer.
  39. Mar 14, 2013
    For RTS fans starved of major releases, PC fans increasingly abandoned for exclusive IPs and, of course, Starcraft fans in their millions, HotS is a massive slice of expertly crafted, beautifully balanced and totally tactical gameplay...Just don't make us wait so long for the final chapter, please!
  40. Hyper Magazine
    May 9, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is ScarCraft made better. Welcoming to newcomers, but never dumbed-down, the franchise at its best. [June 2013, p.66]
  41. Mar 19, 2013
    Kerrigan's vengeful rampage may come with a generous helping of cheese and some tedious boss fights, but the chance to play with increasingly powerful units and abilities makes up for a lot – as does some inventive mission design and greater-than-average replayabilty appeal.
  42. Mar 19, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is not a revolution in the genre, but is what each StarCraft fan was expecting. It is an awesome RTS powered by amazing RPG elements, and its gameplay is able to bring the gamer’s mood to the next level, by unleashing some terrific cutscenes that drive the plot till the end.
  43. Mar 17, 2013
    Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm is the next chapter of the Starcraft universe that offers gamers a very sturdy single-player experience and neatly delivers a great chapter revolving around Sarah Kerrigan. The gameplay is flawless and if it's not broke, don't fix it which Blizzard seem to epitomize.
  44. Mar 18, 2013
    StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is an excellent continuation of the series. The campaign is great, Kerrigan's Hero-role is refreshing, the cgi-shorts are very impressive and it's good to see that Blizzard attempted to make some changes to the online spectrum. This is a must-have for anyone who enjoyed Wings of Liberty.
  45. Mar 19, 2013
    It's tough to deny the quality of StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. Little by little, Blizzard makes the original version more perfect and this expansion is logically a must-have for fans. Newborn strategists and skilled warlords will find what they're looking for. There is still one question, however: did Blizzard hold back enough new elements for the last expansion devoted to Protoss?
  46. Mar 18, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm isn't perfect. Blizzard spends time in the campaign teasing the story of Legacy of the Void when it could be doing Kerrigan's tale a bit more justice. Still, the expansion is well recommended to anyone who enjoyed Wings of Liberty. Heart of the Swarm shakes up the universe and moves a larger threat into place, getting us ready for the resolution in Legacy of the Void.
  47. Mar 20, 2013
    StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm presents a radical change in relation to the previous game. Kerrigan's story ends satisfactorily, although it seems a little clichéd at times, and the new gameplay mechanics are fun and they add a needed breath of fresh air to the single player campaign.
  48. Mar 18, 2013
    With a surprisingly long campaign, infinitely replayable multiplayer, improved spectating and community tools, and access to hundreds of user-made game modes, Heart of the Swarm is an absurd value and a complete necessity for anyone that enjoyed any aspect of StarCraft II. Unless you just hate using your mouse in video games, buy Heart of the Swarm.
  49. Mar 17, 2013
    Great expansion with interesting touches, a solid and entertaining campaign and very good additions to the interface and multiplayer aspects around its e-sport element. It's a bit expensive for new players, though, as it requires Wings of Liberty.
  50. Mar 14, 2013
    There’s little attempt at innovation in Starcraft II’s first expansion, but enough refinement and fine-tuning to please fans both new and old.
  51. Mar 20, 2013
    The new campaign satisfies the single player needs while an enhanced provides a better framework to enjoy one of the deepest multiplayer experience yet.
  52. Mar 22, 2013
    While Blizzard's attempt to evolve StarCraft II's gameplay is more successful in the multiplayer suite than single player campaign, this is still the most polished RTS experience out there and if you're passionate about StarCraft II it's simply must have.
  53. Mar 21, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm is a solid expansion that builds on and refines the Starcraft experience. As a stand-alone game, its campaign is oddly paced, it's got unnecessary bells and whistles, and it lacks strategic complexity. But whatever grumbles gamers might have, Blizzard’s devotion to good storytelling and character development still makes the experience worthwhile.
  54. Mar 20, 2013
    A traditional RTS essential for anyone interested in competitive strategy games, and highly recommended for anyone who isn't.
  55. Mar 19, 2013
    While not quite on par with Wings of Liberty, the Heart of the Swarm campaign still comes as a fine package with varied missions and great production values. Multiplayer is as absorbing and challenging as ever, while offering newcomers a good place to get their feet wet.
  56. PC Master (Greece)
    Jun 10, 2013
    The tutorials and the A.I have been improved, giving newcomers the chance to calmly try new tactics… before playing against experienced players that will go straight to their jugular. [April 2013]
  57. Which isn’t to say that these build and smash missions aren’t fun. They are loads of fun. I just didn’t get that same feeling of personal progression I did when I played WoL; I felt when I was done with that game I was better at StarCraft. Here I felt like I had just completed some enjoyable levels.
  58. Mar 14, 2013
    The campaign is poorly written, poorly acted, erratically paced, full of pointless upgrades and meaningless choices, crammed full of overproduced cutscenes that fail to relate to the gameplay, and without a shred of creative insight into how to use a real time strategy game to tell a story, much less how to get me to click "next mission" without heaving a tired sigh. For all their incomparable game design smarts, Blizzard remains one of the worst storytellers in the business, partly for how hard they try and mostly for how spectacularly they fail.
  59. Apr 1, 2013
    Days when people considered StarCraft a gold standard of the RTS genre are long gone. Nowadays, Blizzard tries to mask the old formula by grafting superfluous gameplay elements and tugging at nostalgia strings. Unless you’re a huge fan of StarCraft’s multiplayer, better save your money for Company of Heroes 2 and Wargame: AirLand Battle.
  60. Mar 15, 2013
    An amazingly crafted expansion that completely modifies the competitive metagame while maintaining the fine balancing of the best RTS around. The narrative could have been better, but the campaign is still a great piece of work that thrives on its amazing variety.
  61. Apr 8, 2013
    Heart of the Swarm sits halfway between an expansion and a sequel, yes, but also halfway between casual and competitive, singleplayer and multi, offering a huge amount and not really all that much at all. It’s bombastic and reserved, overwrought and beautifully finessed.
  62. Apr 4, 2013
    Blizzard have excelled once again at combining drama, eye-opening art design and finely honed gameplay to create another unmissable experience.
  63. Mar 19, 2013
    Some of the narrative elements are weaker this time around, but longtime fans will appreciate seeing character arcs begin to wrap up as the game moves to its conclusion in Legacy of the Void. Those looking exclusively for multiplayer will enjoy how the small differences change the game dynamics and strategies, though $40 might be a bit steep for just a few units if you're not actively invested in the ranked format.
  64. Mar 15, 2013
    It's a great expansion that takes a step forward from all we've seen previously. There are more situations in the campaign, a more competitive multiplayer and it's more accessible for new players. It's not perfect, but it'll keep us playing for a long while.
  65. Mar 18, 2013
    The multiplayer and campaign go to great lengths to make themselves more inclusive for new players, and yet the requirement that you already own Wings of Liberty ensures that very few of these people will play it. For a campaign this excellent that’s a huge shame, but the damage is more substantial when you look at the competitive multiplayer.
  66. Apr 11, 2013
    Realistically, if you own Wings of Liberty and enjoyed it, you should pick up Heart of the Swarm — not because it is more of the same, but because it's not.
  67. Mar 21, 2013
    More is better, and Blizzard knows what gamers want. More units, maps, features and options are the result of 2.5 years of work. Heart of the Swarm is a solid expansion to the original game and will provide you hours of fun.
  68. Mar 27, 2013
    The tactics and strategies devised are simply amazing, and truly speak to the balance for which the series has become known. Heart of the Swarm delivers plenty to give players a swift kick in the pants, especially thanks to the nuances delivered by the new units.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1391 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 13, 2013
    Overall, an excellent package. Blizzard has carefully crafted this expansion portion of Starcraft 2 to feel very different from Wings ofOverall, an excellent package. Blizzard has carefully crafted this expansion portion of Starcraft 2 to feel very different from Wings of Liberty with respect to its single player campaign, and the effort pays off. By having a different interface between missions used to tell the story, as well as mission structures that tend to favor the "zerging" mentality, they create a very different dynamic in how that story unfolds. Some of the dialogue is a bit on lame side (from a writing perspective, voice acting is top notch as usual), but generally this is a story that has weight and gravity, and sets itself up well for the grand finale with Legacy of the Void. I'm terrible at the competitive multiplayer, but it is still excellent fun (balance is different with new units, but still very tight). Great job Blizzard! Full Review »
  2. Mar 12, 2013
    the story of heart of swarm is very bad, but the cinematics are very good. Heart of the Swarm's gameplay has been focused way too much onthe story of heart of swarm is very bad, but the cinematics are very good. Heart of the Swarm's gameplay has been focused way too much on e-sports and multiplayer. They oblivion de people who play singlepalyer Full Review »
  3. Mar 12, 2013
    the game is everything they promised. if you loved wings of liberty, you'll love this game as well. the multiplayer is running surprisinglythe game is everything they promised. if you loved wings of liberty, you'll love this game as well. the multiplayer is running surprisingly smoothly. it's all working just like it did during beta. in fact, there was more lag during the beta than there is now. the slick new interface and leveling system should be a huge draw as well, in case multiplayer is not your particular cup of tea. this is the ultimate pc game, it requires fast hands and quick decision making. the ultimate skill based game for those who love the feeling of constant improvement. Full Review »