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Blizzard Entertainment
Strategy & War
Release Date

WarCraft III
April 2, 2001 | Michael Yanovich

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Like all RTS games, buildings are crucial elements of the game. They let you create units, upgrade abilities, research magic. WCIII adds a new element though: neutral buildings. These can not be destroyed, nor can they be controlled by any one player. You can try to keep other players from getting in, but once they fight their way past your troops they can buy anything inside that you can.

Rob compared the Goblins – a neutral, NPC race in the game, to the Ferrengis in Star Trek. Neither good nor evil, they simply want to do whatever they can to make more money. During staff games the Goblin Merchant building has so far been the most coveted real estate on the map. Units for hire include Goblin Zepplins and Sappers, so we haven’t seen the last of those short explosive experts. You’ve been warned, start planning your strategies now.

I have to interject a personal comment here. My favorite building so far is definitely the Sacrificial Alter, where you can sacrifice your own units for extra experience for your heroes. The sheer evilness of that one made me chuckle madly. And the coolest name for a building is the Voodoo Lounge. No, I won’t tell you what it is, just that it plays some groovy music when you click on it.

Wow. Talk about a giant leap forward from previous Warcraft games, the terrain is looking great. For the first time, Warcraft is being modeled in full 3D. That means you can build a mountain range and choose your “ramp” brush, and add multi-level ramps anywhere you want. Yes, that does mean that the “kick-ass level editor” (Rob’s words, not mine) will be included with the game, as it has been with the other WC and SC titles.

Unlike most 3D games, you will not have complete camera control in WCIII. Rob explained that they are currently working on finding the ultimate camera position to use, though there may be some additional presets you can switch between when all is said and done. Also, they are working on using the mouse wheel to let you zoom in and out of the action, though the code for that has not been implemented yet.

Other new touches are the tile sets. Instead of just having several tile sets to choose from, each tile set now comes with several variations. For example, a summer and an autumn variation. Trees and grass look the same, but the colors of the leaves will shift to reflect the season you choose. Weather effects like these or snow are, for the moment at least, merely visual. They will not affect gameplay at all.

However, the time of day does change during the game, and this does affect gameplay. Certain units have advantages at different times of day, and some of these will be explained shortly.

WCIII also introduces multi-level water, so water can flow from a high cliff to a waterfall where it cascades into a running stream. The particle effects (splashing water, etc.) aren’t done yet, but rest assured they are coming. Also, mapmakers can designate areas of water as shallow (units can pass through it) or deep (no units can pass). And mountain terrain can also be raised high enough that peaks will be surrounded by clouds, and these high altitudes will be impassible to even the flying units.


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