Zeratul is a commander for the Co-op Missions mode. He brings the power of xel'naga-enhanced protoss to bear against his enemies, and can utilize xel'naga relics to turn the tide in his favor. He is the mode's second hybrid-type commander, combining elements of the protoss and xel'naga arsenal.
Zeratul is deployed to the battlefield as a hero and can build advanced protoss forces augmented with xel'naga technology. Scattered through the map are a series of random artifact fragments Zeratul must collect. Using prophetic vision will give Zeratul a hint as to its location, and once found it will give Zeratul's forces new upgrades and top bar abilities.
Zeratul's top bar abilities are customizable, and each tier has options to select from. Zeratul can call down Legendary legions to help him in battle, which cannot be directly controlled but directed to locations. Zeratul can also utilize these customizable top bar to augment his army with passive abilities or new calldowns. Upon gaining all three artifact fragments, Zeratul can call down one of two xel'naga constructs, the Avatar of Form or the Avatar of Essence.
"Alas, the day has finally come. The End War is upon us... and all of creation depends on our victory. I must look again to the wisdom of the Xel'Naga... their ancient constructs hold the power that could be our salvation!"
Zeratul deploys personally to the battlefield to aid his army. He serves as a viable source of air and ground damage, dealing 100 damage per attack. Zeratul himself can hunt around the map for artifact fragments, and use Prophetic Vision to close in on their location. While Zeratul himself is relatively fragile, his high mobility with blink and Void Seeker can let him move in and out of combat and strike key targets.
Zeratul can customize his calldown abilities from a variety of options. His Legendary Legion calldowns are gained at the start of a match, but his other three top bar abilities are obtained for each artifact fragment collected. Once a top bar ability is chosen, it is finalized for that mission.
The following abilities are available to pick from at the start of the game, and focus on Zeratul's summonable Legendary legions.
Call down Telbrus and his legendary legion of Zealots to aid in the battle. This legion cannot be directly controlled but can be guided via the top-bar and will fight for 60 seconds.
Summons an invulnerable Void Suppression Crystal that slows the movement and attack speeds of enemy units by 70% and disables enemy structures. The Void Suppression Crystal is controllable and lasts for 30 seconds.
Zeratul acquires the following talents as he levels up.
Power of the Xel'Naga
Zeratul has a 100 starting supply and his units have increased life and damage. Buildings do not require pylon power and units cannot be warped directly onto the battlefield. Zeratul's ancient nexus can automatically construct ancient assimilators.
The Avatar of Form gains the ability to summon Charged Constructs that can individually cast miniature Psionic Storms. The Avatar of Essence gains the ability to transform all enemy units in a large area into a lower evolutionary form.
Rally at Xel'naga Void Array: Since Zeratul doesn't have powerfield usage, walking is not a good option. Yet Xel'naga Void Array is so effective at cost and function, I suggest more than 1 pair. Leave one at base, take one to battlefield and scatter others around the map. Since Void Array moves very fast, be careful when you F2 A. You could use Void Array to snipe Void Shard without engaging front guard.
Legendary Legion Cost: With Zoraya legion, Zeratul can expand very early!
Instant immobile detection: Tesseract cannon projection during deployment doesn't draw much aggro and is durable enough. Redundancy is recommended. Xel'naga watcher is nice with 0 supply cost but I don't think spending gas is worth investment.
Tesseract rush: [Insert your rapid fire here].
Using a legion cooldown early on over producing probes can get you a quick expansion, and potentially, depending on the map, even your ally.
Void blink and void templar are great for anti ground, especially against clumped units and units with less than 150 health.
Immortals are great anti air in most cases, notably against protoss and terran.
Canceling tesseract cannon projections starts the cooldown early so you should cancel them after you are done with them.
Cannon detection is preferable when you have excess minerals to spend as you aren't ever at risk of losing one in the field unlike with the observers.
6 to 8 sentries is a good count to keep your shields high, adjust for lower army sizes.
The void crystal calldown seems like a good way to invade opposing bases and deal with the absolute largest attack waves. Otherwise, the tesseract monoliths seem like the better option.
Void rays seem like the best out of the legion options.
Niche use for archons on maps with high tech units in entrenched positions, notably chain of ascension as you can still use it to clear the expo as well. (With minor difficulties if its a zerg, cuz of the ultralisk)
While you cannot control the legion, you can control units the legion mind controls and they will not follow the legion around the map, so you should remember to control them yourself.
If you can offset the timing of your tesseract monoliths, you can stunlock a large portion of an enemy force till they die.
Cannons and monoliths add to your defensive coverage nicely so you can still push into enemy camps if you have enough cannons at home.
Expired cannon projection can be salvaged (pair with H&H). I recommend aggressive cannon rush unless it's considered a bug in future.
Enforcer is really anti everything but not anti crowd. Mixing with some abrogator and shield guard can make a perfect comp.
Due to expensive unit, no upgrade and chrono boost, Zeratul likely doesn't need extra army production building.
Starting with free assimilators, Zeratul could share his chrono boost with ally.
Zeratul's gameplay will revolve heavily around the Prophetic Vision ability, which allows the player to discover three Xel’Naga Artifact Fragments on the map. Players are encouraged to seek out these Artifact Fragments as they will improve Zeratul in a variety of ways:
Zeratul, his units, calldowns, defensive structures, and even Probes will gain weapon, armor, and shield upgrades with each Artifact Fragment.
Zeratul has no traditional researchable abilities. Instead, Artifact Fragments he finds will grant his units Artifact Enhancements, which are either new abilities or improvements to existing abilities.
Zeratul has a potential of four top-bar abilities, but only one is unlocked at the start of the game. Players unlock new top-bar abilities with each Artifact Fragment they find.
The Legendary Legion calldowns improve with each Artifact Fragment found.
Zeratul himself gains bonuses.
In addition, uniquely among Commanders, Zeratul's top-bar will be fully customizable. Both at the start of the game and with each Artifact Fragment recovered, you'll be able to choose one additional top-bar ability from a selection of two or three. Players should select these abilities carefully based on both their individual playstyles and the needs of the mission.
Unlike other protoss commanders, Zeratul does not utilize pylon power and thus cannot benefit from nor provide benefit to other protoss allies in that manner. Chrono boost from the nexus however remains a vital asset. Xel'naga shieldguards are capable of restoring the shields of all allied protoss units and structures.
Artanisremains ever a trusted companion for Zeratul. Guardian shell serves to allow Zeratul's very expensive units a safety net to retreat. High templar or archons with Plasma Surge can be used to charge shields in an area, with shieldguards topping them off. Enforcers provide the answer to all of Artanis's anti-air problems, and pair well with immortals on the ground for dealing with armor. Watchers can be spread around the map for no detriment to supply, giving Artanis the ability to intercept attack waves with warp-ins on a moment's notice.
Vorazunis a great ally to her fellow Nerazim. Strike From the Shadows boosts Zeratul's damage, while Veil gives him stronger shield regeneration. These benefits are also applied to the cloaked void templar as well. Time Stop can be combined with Serdath's legion to quickly strip enemy positions of strong defenders, and Vorazun's normal dark archons can clean up. Zeratul can blink into a black hole full of enemy defenders, use Cleave, and leave them crippled; abrogators can also provide splash damage potential to erase attack waves. Time stop also provides Zeratul a safety net where he can quickly retrieve artifact fragments without fear of attack.
Karax, while not the most obvious of choices, proves a valuable asset to Zeratul, and receives benefit from him in return. Reconstruction Beam benefits all of Zeratul's units save for void templar and Zeratul himself. Combined with shieldguards and shield batteries, this allows all units to remain at full health. Enforcers provide a wonderfully strong ground-to-air unit to make up for Karax's lack of, and energizers are invaluable in boosting the effectiveness of Zeratul's force. On the defensive front, tesseract monoliths provide the perfect addition to Karax's already solid static defense, with an AoE stun allowing his cannons and khaydarin monoliths to be more effective than ever in holding a position. Tesseract cannons can be projected in to provide reinforcement should it appear Karax will not be able to hold. Chrono Wave is not as valuable to Zeratul as any other commander due to his lack of timed research, but it still quintuples his production, and thus should be taken advantage of.
The designers of Co-op have stated that they always had been huge fans of Zeratul as a character in the StarCraft universe, and wanted to bring him into Co-op Missions. However, there was already a “Dark Templar” commander in Vorazun, so care was taken to differentiate him.
The team wanted him both to be on the field as a hero and have a small elite fighting force, as he was most often featured in insurgent-style missions in the StarCraft II campaign, but to go beyond his singular identity as a dark templar. Throughout the campaign, Zeratul looked to the wisdom of the xel’naga for guidance, obsessed with finding their prophecies, and as such the idea to have him hunt xel'naga relics to aid him was made.
In addition, the team was committed to creating a commander that felt and played differently from his protoss brethren. To that end, Zeratul's army was given xel'naga enhancements, with the intention of making him feel as much of a xel'naga commander as a protoss commander.
The Legendary Legion mechanic was inspired by Zeratul's propensity to have allies sacrifice themselves to aid him in the campaign.