previews\ May 15, 2003 at 8:00 pm

World of Warcraft - PC - Preview

E3 2003 - Hand On

The world of massively multiplayer online role-playing games has been abuzz for some time about Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, for PC.

There is good reason for this. With stunning graphical details, and exceptional gameplay, the title – which appears slated for release toward the end of 2003 – is pure joy to play. The general gameplay is in line with other MMORPGs, but the game takes some detours.

The actual timeframe for WoW is three years following the aftermath of the world that was the basis for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Players will have numerous tasks or quests to perform and while some of the actual details surrounding PvP and guild or allegiance halls were sketchy during the demonstration at E3, all indications point to a rich, rewarding experience that takes the genre to the next level.

Some of the details of the game include:

• A massive world that will require the use of transportation, such as horses, gryphons, ships and wolves to navigate.

• Regular content updates bringing new lands, quests and monsters into the game.

• Several different character classes with distinctive gameplay styles and different paths for development.

• Unique weapons and armor which will affect the look of characters as well as gameplay abilities.

• Five races including night elves, humans, orcs, tauren, and dwarves.

• Gambling, as well as PvP zones that may allow players to watch and bet on the fights.

The environments are rich and lush, and the attention taken in creating them is amazing. Your character has reached the ability to summon a pet black bear (once you have the ability to summon a pet, it remains with you for the rest of the game, and the pet can be named), and with your companion by your side, you head off across the snow-covered forest, leaving footprints behind. The paw prints from the bear are realistic, as are the tromped down areas generated by your character. They do fade quickly but the designers felt it necessary to add that touch of realism to the game.

A gryphon is flying, as a taxi service, your character from one region to the next. The feather detail on the winged beast is remarkable and the landscapes below are a delight.

The sound of the game is also remarkable. Each race has its own language and if another race is yelling at you, you likely won’t know what it is saying, unless you have consumed a potion that allows you to understand it. Once trained in a crafting trade, the chances of failing at a task are slim, though you may have to craft in the right location to achieve the desired results. For example, you can “craft” some potions while in the environments, but some will require you to be at an alchemy lab.

The gameplay has many similarities to the games currently on the market. There are common control options that should have veterans of the genre into the game quickly. For those who have never played a MMORPG, the interface is relatively simple and should not cause much concern, especially in the new lands, which not only act as learning stage, but hold mobs that are somewhat easy to conquer.

World of Warcraft plays very well, and is a remarkable-looking game. Fans of MMOs have been waiting for the next big game to come along and WoW may very well be just that. The only disappointing aspect came when it was time to leave the world and move along to the next game.

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