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Sunday, September 2, 2001

Blizzard Announces World of Warcraft
10:07 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our first item of ECTS news is definitely the most anticipated item: Blizzard Entertainment has announced their next title. While a little of the surprise is gone, as the news item was accidentally leaked more than 24 hours before the actual release, we're sure Blizzard fans will look forward to World of Warcraft as ardently as they awaited Diablo II: LoD and the upcoming Warcraft III.

But what is World of Warcraft? The PC genre of the massively-multiplayer online game is not a new one, but one which has been steadily picking up steam since the days of Ultima Online. Blizzard has never been one to ignore a market trend for long, and fans have been demanding a more persistent online world for their Diablo characters for years, so it seems only logical that their next venture will be a MMORPG of typically epic scope and style.

While the press release is understandably vague in its terms and descriptions, as the game itself is undoubtedly years from release, there is enough substance here to whip those anticipating WC3 into a frenzy. For those of us that remember the first few rumors about Warcraft 3 back in 1998 (yes, it has been that long!) Blizzard originally promised that there would be a persistent online world for players to train and adventure with their heroes, as well as engage in territorial battles. After a while it became evident that WC3 was being scaled back to a more WC2-like title, but it seems Blizzard felt the persistent-world idea was powerful enough to spin off into its own game. While WC3 will retain all of the planned netplay features, World of Warcraft will be a separate game based on the same world of Azeroth) which will shift from RTS to RPG, and allow players to participate in an ever-changing world with thousands of players (knowing Blizzard games, make that tens of thousands) online simultaneous.

Here is the press release:

During a press conference today at the European Computer Trade Show, Blizzard Entertainment® unveiled World of Warcraft™, a massively multiplayer, online role-playing game set in the rich fiction of Blizzard's Warcraft universe. Featuring bold 3D graphics and deep, immersive gameplay, World of Warcraft will allow thousands of players to adventure together in this epic world and will provide them with a new, in-depth perspective on familiar lands, former battlefields, and heroes from the legendary universe. In addition, World of Warcraft will introduce new, uncharted territories and foes never before seen by followers of the series.

World of Warcraft takes place four years following the aftermath of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos™, where a great tension has settled over the ravaged world of Azeroth. As the various races begin to rebuild their shattered kingdoms, new threats, both ancient and terrifying, have arisen to plague the world once again. Players must explore the lands of Azeroth, forge fellowships with other players, and build their strength in order to prevail.

"World of Warcraft is our largest undertaking to date," stated Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment president and co-founder. "We are extremely focused on increasing the scope of the Warcraft universe, giving gamers an incredibly dynamic online gaming experience complete with endless possibilities."

An action-packed combat system delivers fast, furious combat against multiple opponents, while minimizing delays between battles to keep players on the move. A rich, evolving story and questing system will keep players engrossed as the world is regularly updated with new content.

Fully customizable character classes, innovative races, and thousands of weapons allow for a truly diverse gameplay experience that will appeal to both hard-core and novice gamers alike. A simple, intuitive user interface will allow players of various skill levels to easily join the adventure. World of Warcraft also features support for advanced graphics hardware, giving the player superlative graphical enhancements, as well as a sophisticated, massively multiplayer network architecture capable of supporting thousands of players in a world simultaneously.

You will note a lack of anything even resembling a release date, which is standard Blizzard policy. However the Worlds of Warcraft web site has several screen shots and a gameplay movie, ample evidence that this game is already well underway. What is perhaps slightly disturbing, however, is a lack of mention of a Mac version of the game; Blizzard's last title Lord of Destruction and the upcoming WarCraft III have both had explicit declarations in their debut press releases that mentioned a Mac OS version of the game.

Of course furious discussion has already broken out all over the web as to whether the MMORPG is the way to go for Blizzard; obviously there are many heartbroken Starcraft fans who were hoping for a sequel to that long-neglected branch of the Blizzard universe. More than a few have also noticed that while this game will be set in Azeroth and feature the fantasy of WarCraft, visually it looks a heck of a lot like a 3D online Diablo II -- barbarians, women with javelins, gorgeous jungle landscapes and face-to-face combat. While we haven't seen the gameplay movie yet (due to outrageously clogged servers) we'd love to hear your speculation and wishes for this future title in our Forums.

IMG has a correspondent at the ECTS show, and he hopes to bring you more details on this game in the near future (along with much more news from the show vendors and exhibits) throughout the next two days -- so stay tuned! And of course see the Worlds of Warcraft web site for more details.

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GameSpot Previews World of Warcraft
10:25 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

It must be nice to be a huge, multiplatform site and score monster exclusives over everyone else, just because you can. GameSpot has flexed their muscle and posted a preview of World of Warcraft, the just-announced MMORPG in the works by Blizzard Entertainment.

The seven-page preview is quite in-depth, and reveals the differences and similarities between Blizzard's upcoming game and existing titles such as EverQuest, Ultima Online and Shadowbane. It seems clear from their description that Blizzard intends to avoid many of the design mistakes that have made other games tedious or repetitive, but we shall see how they fare in untested territory.

Here's a sample:

...and it will feature familiar personalities, including the orcs, the humans, and many others from the Warcraft games.

The concept behind World of Warcraft will be familiar to you if you know of games such as Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, and Anarchy Online--all of which are often referred to as massively multiplayer online role-playing games. These games allow for thousands of human players to coexist in a single gameworld, exclusively available over the Internet. It's still an exciting concept, even though Ultima Online, the first major game in this genre, was released back in 1997. The concept is made all the more exciting when applied to the Warcraft setting--one of the richest settings ever made for a computer game.

World of Warcraft will let you create a persistent character who will live, learn, and fight in the land of Azeroth. You'll have plenty of options even at the outset--namely, Blizzard has already announced three playable races (of an indeterminate total number) that will be featured in the game. These include both male and female versions of the stalwart humans; the fierce orcs; and the massive taurens, a bull-like race that will first be seen in the forthcoming Warcraft III. These characters look extremely impressive already, as does the rest of the game, if only from a visual standpoint, thanks to the game's striking visual design.

For more details, read the rest of the preview; the screen shots and movies are the same as the ones on the official WoW site. Be sure to chuckle over their estimate that the game will be due in Christmas of 2002.

World of Warcraft Preview at GameSpot

Warcraft III Gameplay Movie
10:11 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment and FilePlanet have teamed up to offer a monster (70 MB) movie of Warcraft III in action for download. This movie has been launched to accompany a showing of the game at ECTS, a video game conference in London which started today.

The description for the movie ("This exciting video shows a ton of gameplay from Warcraft III") is a short as the wait is long; as you might expect the servers are totally choked with traffic and will likely remain so for days. Nevertheless we urge IMG readers to get in line, and post your thoughts on the trailer on the comment thread of this news article so others can determined whether this will be worth the effort (and download time) to grab.

Stay tuned for more ECTS news!

Warcraft III Movie at FilePlanet
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Mac Games News for Friday, August 31, 2001

Mac Gaming Gods: Brian Greenstone1:28 PM
Red Faction PC Due Sept 18th12:18 PM
New Centurions Test #5 Available11:49 AM
Rogue Spear Patch Available11:34 AM
Alien Legion Reappears10:38 AM
Official Master of Orion III Site Opens10:04 AM
Blizzard Teaser Evolves9:58 AM
Garage Games - Call Closed for Mac Testers9:50 AM
Spiderweb Update on Geneforge, Avernum 39:31 AM
Preview of Myth III Tools9:24 AM
Mac Update on World War II Online9:21 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 31, 2001 on one page

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