Developed by: Blizzard
Warcraft 3 official page: http://www.blizzard.com/war3/
Estimated Release (based on peon torture and peasant bribery): Q4 2001
If you've been under a rock
For most FiringSquad readers, WarCraft III needs no introduction. We've done a couple previews already on FS, and just about all RTS fans have been eagerly awaiting this game since its announcement in late 1999. But for those of you who have just returned from an extended incarceration in a Turkish prison, we'll give you a quick rundown anyway. WarCraft III is the sequel to Blizzard's mega hit RTS, WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness. Cosmetically, the game has changed with the addition of a full 3D game engine, the first ever in a Blizzard software title. In terms of gameplay, WarCraft III borrows elements from the role playing genre, allowing players to use upgradeable heroes in the game. As they level up with experience, the hero characters can be customized with various spells to suit the gamer's playing style. Neutral merchants and hostile NPCs populate each map, so expect item usage and encounters with computer controlled "creeps" (even in multiplayer) to be a part of each WarCraft III match.
Death Knight and Frost Wyrm
Additionally, the game's units will be tougher and relatively more expensive than in previous Blizzard RTS titles. The point of this is to ensure more a more tactical style of gameplay. Players will be spending more time micromanaging their battles instead of worrying about their economy. While there won't be any massive battles of 8 dozen Hydralisks going head to head with 100 Terran Marines as you saw in Starcraft, there will be plenty of spell and counter-spell action going on in WarCraft III.
A couple of major details have been announced since Wayne "soso" Chiang last previewed WarCraft III for FS
and since I previewed it on Gamers.com
. First of all, the number of playable races has been finalized, down to four from the six that were announced originally. The sixth race was never revealed, but the fifth one, the Demons, remain in the game as a non-playable race. The Demons are the primary villain in the single-player campaign. Leaving them non-playable gives Blizzard the flexibility to make each of their units more powerful than they might have been if they had to be balanced for multiplayer. Aside from the more recent announcement about the Demons, the Night Elves have been announced as the final playable race, joining Humans, Orcs, and the Undead.
Abomination with Ghoul entourage
The first thing we noticed about the build that we saw on our visit to Blizzard was the graphical polish that has been added to the game. The camera is a bit closer into the action than Starcraft and WarCraft II players might be used to, but this helps to highlight the detail put into each of the game's character models. No longer relegated to a few dozen pixels on the screen, WarCraft III models are more graphically lush than in previous Blizzard games.
Each character exhibits a good variety of idle animations - shifting weight on their feet, twirling weapons, as well as the occasional swish of a tail and a backflip from the more agile animals. No longer is the game confined to low resolutions as in previous Blizzard titles. At 1024x768, it's easy to appreciate the subtle touches in each smoothly rendered animation. Trees shudder as peasants chop at them. Hero souls seep out of their body and escape upwards with a flash of light into the sky when they "die" (remember, heroes can be resurrected at the Altar). Units don't just fall into a pile of gibs and blood upon death - we witnessed a Kobold stagger away two steps before falling down after a killing blow by a Human Knight.
Blizzard is also including a good number of tilesets into the game to mix things up graphically. Think of the tilesets like the different settings in Starcraft (jungle, installation, plain, etc). Representing the various lands of Azeroth, like Lordaeron, Northrind, and such, the different tilesets will also be modified by season. You'll see variations in the foliage and ground cover depending on if it's summer, winter, or autumn.