We rejoin the ongoing beta test for this upcoming online game by playing as the Horde--an unholy alliance of orcs, trolls, tauren, and undead.
Unless you've recently been out of touch with the gaming world, there's a good chance that you've heard of World of Warcraft by now. The upcoming massively multiplayer game will let you play as a character in a persistent world based on Blizzard's popular Warcraft setting--a setting where noble human knights and staunch dwarf priests square off against fierce orc shaman and undead warriors. As with other such offerings, World of Warcraft is a role-playing game that lets you both create and adventure as a single character in a persistent world while simultaneously allowing you to gain experience levels, treasure, and better weapons and armor by fighting monsters and completing quests. As we've seen previously, World of Warcraft's character classes currently differentiate themselves from one another by relying--to different degrees--on different types of armor, weapons (like swords and axes), and magic spells (which are powered by magical energy, or "mana").
The game is currently in a beta test state, and Blizzard has recently introduced several new features, like the new druid character class (and the re-enabled shaman character class, which had been previously available during earlier test phases). The latest update also includes the Horde races, which consist of the savage, green-skinned, orcs; the crafty, sinuous trolls; the hulking, hoofed, and horned tauren; and the evil undead. Luckily, we're including new details on all these new additions.
On the far eastern side of Kalimdor lies Durotar, the home of the orc and troll races. Durotar is just as desolate and barren as the snowy residence of the dwarves and gnomes on the opposing continent, but Durotar, instead, is a dry, dusty, scorched wasteland lined with massive rock formations. Dry riverbeds make up the primary paths and roads for safe travel. At this point in time, when you create a new orc or troll character, you start your travels just outside of an area known as "The Den," which is a congregation point for the two races that consists of a large cave full of trainers, weaponsmiths, and other merchants. Follow the dry riverbeds away from this area, and you'll eventually encounter Razor Hill, home of the orcs, and Sen'jin Village, home of the trolls. Both towns are crudely built with lots of thick lumber tied together by rope, and most buildings also feature straw-laden roofs. Neither the orcs nor the trolls are particularly big on iconic imagery, save for the few banners that are hung throughout certain buildings that bear the flags of each race. Orcs may be warlocks, warriors, rogues, or shaman, while trolls may be mages, warriors, rogues, shaman, or priests. Both races will also eventually be able to join the not-yet-implemented hunter class (nature-themed warriors who can tame wild animals).
The tauren, who are essentially giant cow-people, reside in Mulgore on the continent of Kalimdor. Their home area features an impressive landscape with rolling hills and plains, few trees, and a vast blue sky. The tauren starting area lies near other settlements, like Bloodhoof, which is a medium-sized town that features trainers and a number of new quests. Additionally, the main tauren city of Thunder Bluff resides near Bloodhoof. Thunder Bluff is quite a sight because it's situated on top of four mesas that are connected by bridges; from Thunder Bluff, players are presented with scenic, panoramic views of the plains. Like big cities in other lands, Thunder Bluff has a large number of trainers and vendors. Like in Warcraft III, tauren architecture and clothing draw inspiration from Native American culture. The villages consist of tepees that are bordered by totem poles, and they are ruled by chieftains. Tauren are very mindful of nature, and many of their quests revolve around restoring the balance of nature and driving out invaders. The tauren may be hunters, warriors, shaman, and druids, and at level 40, they apparently gain the high-level ability to plain-stride, which involves exceptionally fast travel. (Currently, characters may only reach level 35 in the beta.)
We also took the opportunity to explore the native undead lands of Tirisfal Glades. Having played through the previous phase of the beta test with the Alliance races (humans, night elves, dwarves, and gnomes), we were surprised to see that much of the architecture in the Tirisfal Glades area was highly reminiscent of the Elwynn Forest area--though, admittedly, it was much more run-down. But this does make sense, since the undead were once humans themselves. However, this architecture--with walking skeletons and shambling zombies that roam the dreary, gray countryside--definitely has a look of its own. The Undercity was the first major city we encountered on our adventures. This sizable underground area has a much more sinister look to it than the rolling countryside that surrounds it, since it presents bulky blue mutilated guards at major entrances, and a sickly green flow of liquid courses through the city, much like in the necropolis structure from Warcraft III. Undead characters seem to look appropriately grotesque and can become warriors, rogues, priests, mages, and warlocks. They currently possess powerful immunities to certain types of magical attacks, in addition to possessing the ability to breathe underwater.
- Release Date: Nov 23, 2004 (US)
- ESRB: TTitles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older.