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World of Warcraft
September 7, 2004 | Michael Phillips

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Show a Little Class
Upon its retail release, World of Warcraft will play host to 8 playable races and 9 character classes. One can bet the proverbial farm that more will be added in ensuing expansion packs, but whatís offered at its initial launch will be plenty.

As I said, WoW contains the following 8 races under 2 faction umbrellas.

The Alliance:
Gnomes (the cute race)
Night Elves

The Horde:
Undead (the Goth race)

Aside from the obvious starting location and appearance differences, each race in World of Warcraft will have unique traits. These traits arenít currently functioning at this stage of the beta, but once implemented these traits will help differentiate like classes among the various races. Speaking of classesÖ

Though there is still much balance work to be done, all 9 character classes are now playable in the beta. First, Iíll give quick list of said classes.

Paladin (Alliance only)
Shaman (Horde only)
Druid (*cough*wusses*cough*)

Blizzardís goal is to make each race viable in most solo combat situations, but in groups each class will be best used in a certain role. Warriors are the groupís meat shield, Mages deal damage at a distance and so on. Then, there are the more unique classes, like the Paladin. Paladins are still undergoing skill changes, but when allís said and done, they will be sort of a Warrior/Priest hybrid. They can wear plate armor like a Warrior and raise the dead like a Priest. Their skills also center around the ability to quickly dispatch Undead foes. Another interesting class is the recently implemented Hunter. Hunters excel at ranged combat with guns or bows. They can infuse their ammunition with deadly poison or charge it with arcane energy. They also have the unique ability to tame beasts and keep them as pets. A Hunterís pet acts as a distraction in combat, attacking its prey while the Hunter lets fly from a distance. Hunters can even give their pets unique names. I named my dire wolf, Ghost and my lion, Cersei. The first person to identify where I got my pet names will win their choice of any currently shipping Blizzard game. I just canít resist good trivia! (Note: We have a winner! The correct answer was George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of novels.)

Lastly, World of Warcraft will feature Player vs. Player (PvP) action. PvP is largely unfinished at this stage in the beta, but if anyone can balance this many races and classes, itís Blizzard. When WoW ships, each server will have its own set of PvP rules. For example, on the dedicated PvP server, players can attack each other any time and anywhere. Whereas on the standard Player vs. Environment (PvE) server, PvP combat is strictly consensual. With this philosophy, Blizzard should be able to keep both gankers and questers giddy.

Even in beta, World of Warcraft is absolutely incredible. Iíve never had more fun playing an online game, period. Itís also amazing how well Blizzard is supporting us Mac users. On the WoW forums, Mac specific questions get answered just as fast, if not faster than their PC counterparts. Next, Iíll be writing a character focused WoW preview. So, stay tunedÖ

World of Warcraft
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
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