WOW patch opens new Battlegrounds

Version 1.5 opens a host of new changes as well as two new instanced player-versus-player wars.

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As intense as things have gotten between Warcraft's Horde and Alliance factions, they just got a bit more heated. Blizzard today announced that the latest patch for the massively multiplayer (and massively popular) online role-playing game World of Warcraft, GameSpot's Game of the Year for 2004, is now available.

Version 1.5's biggest additions are two new battlegrounds, which are instanced events that pit the monstrous Horde against the human Alliance in large-scale player-versus-player combat. To join the battlegrounds, players need simply to enter the queue for their respective clan by entering portals in designated regions.

Once in line, gamers can proceed with their lives in Azeroth, and a dialog box will appear when it's their turn to teleport to the battle. Players can also designate which of the instances they'd like to play for easy meeting among friends (or enemies).

The battles take place in two locations, the Alterac Valley in the Eastern Kingdoms and Warsong Gulch in Kalimdor. Both have unique game types and requirements, and both will reward players with unique items.

Alterac Valley is open to players level 51-60 and allows a maximum of 40 and a minimum of 30 players per team. On the mountainous and snow-blanketed map, each army will attempt to destroy a series of enemy towers and an opposing computer-controlled general.

Warsong Gulch is open to levels 21-60 and is divided into battles between levels 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60, with a maximum of 10 players on each side. The hilly, forested map is much smaller than Alterac Valley. The battle format for Warsong Gulch is capture the flag, with each base, located on opposite sides of the battlefield, housing a flag.

In addition to containing new battlegrounds, the patch also changes a number of features, including putting the shoot-wand ability on a toggle, increasing pet speed out of combat, and penalizing players for dishonorable kills.

To download the patch, players need only log into World of Warcraft to initiate a download, or head over to GameSpot DLX to download the 51.1MB file and read a full list of the patch's changes.

World of Warcraft is rated T for Teen and retails for $49.99. For more information on the game, read GameSpot's full review.

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