E3 06: Draenei to be new WOW race

Fearsome blue-skinned demon descendants will be playable in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, The Burning Crusade.


World of Warcraft

LOS ANGELES--For months, rumors have swirled about the identity of the new playable race of the Alliance, one of two factions in the wildly popular massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft. They began when WOW publisher Blizzard announced that the first expansion for the game, The Burning Crusade, would introduce the blood elves as a new race for the game's other faction, the Horde.

Conjecture has run the gamut of crazed fans' imaginings, from the fuzzy pandaren to the fishy countenances of the reviled and adored murlocs. On the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, GameSpot editors descended upon the booth of Vivendi Games, Blizzard's parent company, to catch a first glimpse of the still officially unidentified new playable race.

The giant video display in the Burning Crusade area of Vivendi's booth clearly shows the demonic draenei piloting around a selection of forested zones. A huge wall display features a draenei in paladin trappings--complete with hammer, shield, spell tome, and lion-and-eagle armor--doing battle with a blood elf rogue. And if there were any further doubt left, the trailer goes on to show blood elves presenting themselves to orc warchief Thrall, a horde leader, followed by a draenei kneeling before the King of Ironforge, surrounded by a host of Alliance.

The new race carries the physical appearance of the Eredar demons. Fans of Warcraft III will remember the Eredar as otherworldly creatures controlling powerful magic, who served the cause of the evil titan Sargeras. The wicked Kil'Jaeden and the mighty Archimonde, who sought to topple the night elves' world tree, were counted among the very highest ranks of the Eredar and the forces of the Burning Legion.

The new characters are easily recognizable as hailing from the Eredar ilk--their huge stature, long tails, hooved feet, and snaking beards all paint an imposing picture. If the Alliance needed a "tough"-looking race, this is absolutely it. They also have an undeniably noble air, broad chests thrown forward and heads held high, and their eyes are a gleaming blue.

Despite their appearance, however, the hulking humanoids were revealed as draenei in an official Blizzard statement. Jeff Kaplan, lead designer, told The New York Times, "Lots of players have wanted to play demons, and Draenei are the closest you can get to looking like an Eredar." While the new race doesn't look like any of the draenei wandering around the current Azeroth, the draenei of the Burning Crusade are actually descended from Eredar, giving them their impressive new appearance.

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