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Strategy & War
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WarCraft III
April 2, 2001 | Michael Yanovich

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A few notes about some of the various races. This section will be brief, as much of the unit information is still in flux, and besidesÖ I can only scribble notes so fast as I try to keep one eye on the game screen. Also, there is room being saved for additional units after the beta testing process begins, a technique they first used in Starcraft. This will allow them to fix any game balance issues that may arise.

Humans and Orcs<
We know what humans look like, but Iíll give you a taste of the hero types for the humans. These are: Ranger, Mountain King, Arch Mage, and Paladin. Orcs are a staple of the WC series as well, so letís jump ahead to some of the new freakish races.

These funky little critters are cloaked at night. Remember the Nightstone I promised to explain a few pages ago? Well if you are a Nightelf and want to make an attack on, say, a tribe of clumsy, drunken humans during their high-noon siesta, it would behoove you to first use a Nightstone and push the sun along its path to instant dusk, thereby cloaking your bad selves for a surprise attack. And humans? Be sure to have a Daystone or two in your arsenal to flush out those sissies hiding in the bushes before they wipe you out.

Nightelves are very susceptible to spells which slow down their movement. Thatís because this race is strongly geared towards ranged attacks. Even their base unit, which is a basic melee grunt for the other races, is an archer. These guys have evolved to hit and run tactics. They wonít take a lot of damage if you can get in close, but be prepared to dodge a lot of arrows to find out just how much they will take. Because I got to watch a small group of them take on a troop of Centaurs. Letís just say there was Centaur meat for all that night.

Now THIS is a cool race. First, they regenerate at night. And many of their spells and abilities are based on corpses, a touch that horror fans like myself are sure to delight over. For example, one unit can cast a spell that prevents a battlefield corpse from rotting away, then another unit comes along and reanimates it. And yes, they can take over friendly or enemy corpses. And if your ghols get there first, then they will simply eat the strewn corpses to regenerate themselves. *Shudder*

One of the coolest units they have is the Shadow Hunter, which carries several totem poles strapped to his back. To cast a spell, he grabs a pole, sticks it in the ground, and the spell grows from there. For example, the Grim Wards spell which resurrects units nearby. Hey you Nightelves, you may want to double check that your crossbows are loaded.

One of the recent changes was the removal of the Demon race from the game. They are actually still there as computer-controlled NPC units, but players will not be able to control them. Rob eloquently explained that this was simply because they were much cooler as NPC units that swoop down from the sky and reign terror. The idea of balancing the super race with low end units simply weakened their impact.

To which I had to ask: will they be available for player use in the expansion pack? Now let me clarify one thing: Blizzard has not announced an expansion pack, and I do not want to get them into trouble by implying they have. But the official answer is itís simply too early to tell. They are playing with the idea of adding 3 discarded races to an expansion pack, but they are not sure if itís feasible yet. So donít get your hopes up, but there is a possibility that weíll be seeing some of this in the future.

WC III and your Macintosh
The last stop of the tour was a brief meeting with Brian Fitzgerald, manager of the Macintosh Department. There is good news overall. While no promises are being made, they are making every effort for a near-simultaneous release. While those of us who remember waiting six months after a Blizzard PC release for the Mac version might find that a bit hard to swallow, Blizzardís last few Mac titles have been released within two weeks of their PC counterparts, so itís looking good. They also brought their Mac porting team in-house some time ago, which also speeds up the porting process.

Brian assured me that the Mac department is currently up to speed with the PC version, and a Carbonized version of WCIII is being worked on as well. And yes, Macintosh WCIII screen shots will be posted very shortly. As Brian said, they will look identical to the PC ones, but just the fact that they were taken on Macs should make the Mac gaming community feel very good about the gameís progress.

Gíbye for now
So itís time to play the waiting game. Advances are being feverishly worked on for the E3 show which is just a few months away, and all we can do is cross our collective fingers and hope for a pre-holiday release. Til then, Champagne Orcs and Caviar Nightelves to all.

WarCraft III
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
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