Beta begins for Burning Crusade

Blizzard cracks open the gates of its expansion of World of Warcraft to select players; new screens surface.

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Roaming Outland still does not count as getting outside for some fresh air.
Roaming Outland still does not count as getting outside for some fresh air.

For millions of PC gamers around the globe, the world in which they live is not nearly as big as it should be. Of course the world in which they live is Azeroth, the fictional realm of World of Warcraft.

Fortunately for those gamers, the world of World of Warcraft will be expanding--but not until later this year. The Burning Crusade expansion introduces several new features to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, including the new stomping grounds known as Outland. Though most won't get an opportunity to explore the new turn until The Burning Crusade hits shelves in November, a few lucky citizens of Azeroth are roaming the new area now.

The beta test for The Burning Crusade is now under way, running on two servers. Though Blizzard Entertainment would not disclose how many people are involved in the beta, GameSpot editors who are participating noticed that one of the two servers was already very highly populated.

E-mail invitations were sent out to select gamers who were able to register, either by attending Blizzcon or qualifying through various contests. Those who haven't been awarded a key to the beta shouldn't fret just yet. A Blizzard representative told GameSpot that invitations would be sent out in waves, with players being added to the beta incrementally as testing continues.

The game's alpha testing has been underway since August, with friends and family of Blizzard employees contributing.

For more information on The Burning Crusade, check back later today for a preview of the beta test, read our previous coverage, or take a look at more than 100 new screenshots posted on GameSpot.

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