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Monday, August 20, 2001
Gamespy Offers New Warcraft III Insights
10:19 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

For those who just can't get enough information on Blizzard's upcoming RTS title Warcraft III, don't worry -- your fix is at hand. GameSpy recently sat down with Rob Pardo, lead designer for WC3, who took the GameSpy crew through a walkthrough of the more recent developments, including new additions to returning races as well as more information on new races, gameplay features, and the like.

Doubtless, of primary importance to most gamers are the changes and implementations of the races, both old and new. Concerning the Orcs, the Ogre has been replaced by the Tauren, which is a Minotaur. The Wolfriders have returned, and now carry nets which can be thrown at flying units to bring them down so that ground units can pummel them. There's also a Kodo beast, which boasts both a morale-boosting drum-playing rider and the ability to devour enemy units. In an interesting little twist, units devoured are digested slowly and can still be recovered if the Kodo is slain before they are completely dissolved.

The Undead, a new race to the WC series, seem similar to the Zerg of Starcraft fame in that they must blight the land before they can build any structures. They accomplish this by sacrificing Acolytes, the "peons" of the Undead race, who explode in a fountain of blood that causes the blight to spread. Of further interest is the way the Undead build structures. Rather than constructing them, Acolytes summon them into existence. Also, rather than harvesting gold like most races do, the Undead simply possess gold by surrounding a gold mine with five Acolytes and casting a spell, which summons a green shield dome that protects both the gold and the Acolytes. Other units features are the Ghouls, which can devour the dead to regenerate health, and the Necromancer, which can raise archers and skeletons to add to the Undead legions.

Night Elves, another new race, add some interesting variations the game. Their structures are trees, which can uproot themselves to both move and fight when necessary. The Night Elves also need no food, living off the energy of their Wisps instead. The female Warriors have the ability to Shadowmeld, turning invisible during the night when standing still. The male Druids have the ability to shapeshift into ravens or bears, each with its own set of features, including a battle roar that gives bonuses to nearby units.

Each race also boasts three heroes, which will have both stats and a limited inventory for carrying magical items. Pardo notes that "Many people build their whole early game strategy around their choice of first hero, so the first hero will obviously be the most important." However, Heros cost a significant amount of mana stones, which have been described in the past as a limited, finite resource. Heroes will also be easily identifiable targets on the battlefield, as they will be surrounded by glowing lights. However, if killed, they can be resurrected for a certain price.

Neutral structures will also be in place in various maps, providing various advantages to players enterprising enough to use them. Merchants and Marketplaces sell magical items. Goblin Labs will allow the building of zeppelins and sappers as well as provide a "Comsat-style" view of the overworld, per Starcraft's Terrans. A Mercenary Camp will allow players to hire units such as Forest Trolls and Orge Lords. A Fountain of Life will award health and mana to nearby units. As of now, these buildings can neither be captured nor destroyed, though players can attempt to blockade them if they wish.

Some of the new gameplay features of WC3 should put an interesting spin on player strategies. Some spells can now be turned on or off. For example, some priests may automatically cast healing and stat-boosting spells, a feature that can be turned off if the player so desires. Day and Night will affect rates of regeneration. Humans and Orcs can regenerate both during day and night, while Night Elves and the Undead only regenerate at night, though they regenerate twice as quickly then. The Fog of War, which obscures the overhead map, will also change during day and night. Players will have a much farther sight range during the day than at night, which will most likely lead to more sneak attacks during the night cycle. A nice control feature being added is the use of the mouse scroll wheel as a zoom switch, allowing players to zoom in and out simply by rolling the wheel.

In addition to the random matching that will take place on multiplayer ladder matches, other variations are being considered, including two-on-two and three-on-three ladder matches. Clan ladders are also being considered, as well as the idea of automated games, where players will show up at a designated time, select a game, and have it automatically start up. Anonymous matchmaking, where players fill in desired factors such as maps, resources, and the like, is also being considered. The single-player mode will have 30-40 missions and a skirmish mode where players can square off against the computer.

For the rest of the story, be sure to check out GameSpy's current preview. Pardo is currently hoping to have a beta of WC3 ready around October, with a release date currently slated at early 2002. The Mac and PC versions, both being developed by Blizzard, are currently set at a near-simultaneous release.

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Archives  News  Gamespy Offers New Warcraft III Insights