Blizzard has plenty new in store for the first showing of World of Warcraft at E3. The online role-playing game, first announced at ECTS in London last September, builds on the story and characters from the Warcraft real-time strategy games, translating them into a vast 3D world. The game is still pretty early in development, and it hasn't even been announced if it's for 2003 or later. Blizzard is being more careful with what it reveals about World of Warcraft early on than it was with recent games, so each new detail seems particularly significant.
At the game's initial announcement, Blizzard revealed three of World of Warcraft's playable races--the humans, orcs, and taurens. The transition from real-time strategy to online role-playing game is sure to play up some characteristics of races more than others. Now we know the game's fourth race: the dwarves. These warriors are excellent craftsmen, and they're considered to be the hardiest of all races. They're particularly well suited to venturing into the dark depths of Azeroth.
Three character classes are also a part of the E3 demo: warriors, mages, and shamans. These are the first of the game's classes to be made public. The game's character development takes classes as a starting point, and players can customize characters beyond this through a branching skill system.
Blizzard is showing two additional environments, the deadmines and the monastery. The Warcraft series has thus far included only part of Azeroth, so we can expect to see plenty of new regions even beyond what Warcraft III will introduce when it's released this summer. World of Warcraft takes place four years after the conflicts captured in Warcraft III's story. As the various races begin to rebuild their ravaged kingdoms, enemies both new and ancient will rise again to challenge adventuring players.
We'll have a full report on Blizzard's E3 demo of the game after the show starts this Wednesday, May 22.