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Blizzard Entertainment
Strategy & War
Release Date

WarCraft III Multiplayer Beta
March 4, 2002 | Andy Largent

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It seems unfair. Most game developers have a love-hate relationship with their publishers. While a vital part of funding and marketing a game, it seems market pressures often take over a situation and push out a game before it's ready. It's a tragedy when you see a decent game that could have been great if only it had received a few months of polish.

Then there are a rare few companies like Blizzard who stand back from that foray and smile. They will ONLY release their next game "when it's done" and not a moment sooner (much to the chagrin of anxious fans). It's this attitude that virtually guarantees them selling games into the millions of copies. The positive feedback loop ensures they'll have the money to fund the next major title, which now just happens to be WarCraft III. We snuck in on the current beta test of the project to give you an idea of how the game is progressing so far.

WarCraft II still holds a fond place in the hearts of many gamers. This real-time strategy series wasn't the first in the RTS market, but it excelled in its execution. The game shines with personality, high production values, and solid gameplay which has kept thousands awake into the wee hours of the morning. While WarCraft III has undergone a few radical shifts in gameplay during its development, the title should not only satisfy old 'Craft fans but also add new elements to help move the genre forward.

Still a Role-Playing Strategy?
Early in its development, Blizzard knew they wanted to do something different with WarCraft III. The idea of a RPS (Role-Playing Strategy) was much talked about, combining elements of role-playing into the strategy title. Much of the company was finishing work on Blizzard's other cash-cow series Diablo II, and it's hard to argue they don't know how to create an RPG. Eventually though, many of the original ideas were pared down into the form of WarCraft III today.

The most striking change still present is the addition of heroes. More than just beefier grunt units, the heroes in WarCraft III vastly change how the game is played. Heroes can learn spells, gain abilities, collect power-up items, and level-up. Heroes ensure your time must be very well managed. Besides having to build an army, you also need to lead your hero (or heroes) into adventure to gain experience. The stronger your heroes get, the better chance you will achieve victory against your opponents.

In battle, heroes will boost the attributes of your fellow warriors, giving you a distinct edge over leaderless armies. There is a certain amount of micro-management to it though, as heroes shouldn't be tossed out needlessly into the slaughter. Reviving slain heroes is possible, but the procedure is costly and should be avoided.


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