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Zerg revealed in StarCraft II

First details of mutant race's new units.

At a press event at its headquarters near Los Angeles on Monday, Blizzard revealed the first details of the Zerg race in its forthcoming real-time strategy sequel, StarCraft II. We also have some pretty screenshots, if you're into that.

The Zerg, like the game's two other factions, Terrans and Protoss, will be familiar to players of the original 1998 StarCraft. But like those factions, this one features an extensive number of new units that will change tactics considerably. In total, more than half the units in the game are new.

The Zerg is a fast-moving, fast-building race of alien mutants that overwhelms enemies with sheer numbers. It's so famous for that tactic that it spawned a gaming slang verb - zerging, meaning to charge en masse.

Among the new units revealed was the Queen, a complete revision of the Queen from the original game. Formerly a support unit, the Queen is now the "ultimate base defender", according to lead designer Dustin Browder.

Queens can only be controlled one at a time, and like some other StarCraft II units it can be customised and evolved into larger sizes over time. They are powerful fighters that can also create or modify special base defence structures, heal buildings fast, and instantly tunnel between any building on the map.

The Corruptor is an air-to-air unit that possesses enemy targets and turns them into floating, stationary turrets that target their own forces. Similarly, the Infestor is a support unit that can sneak into enemy basses underground and infest buildings so that they spawn hordes of infested marines that attack base defences.

And then there's the Roach - which Browder highlights as an example of the really simple unit design which can work well in a game like StarCraft II. The Roach is a basic ground attack unit that can heal very fast, so players with fast enough reflexes can keep roaches alive for an inordinately long time under heavy fire, by burrowing them underground to heal every so often.

Other changes mentioned at the presentation include destructible obstacles on the map - for example, a rock barrier that will take concentrated heavy fire to take down, but will open up new areas and tactical possibilities if destroyed.

Look out for more from Blizzard HQ, including our hands-on impressions of the game, later in the week.