Warcraft III: Frozen Throne E3 2003 Preshow Report

The upcoming expansion pack to Blizzard's latest real-time strategy game has been in beta for months and is near completion.

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Blizzard Entertainment will have Warcraft III: Frozen Throne on display at E3 2003. Frozen Throne is the expansion pack to last year's hit real-time strategy game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, which won GameSpot's 2002 PC Game of the Year award. The game has been in beta testing for the past few months as it approaches completion; the development team has been using feedback from beta testers to tweak the game's multiplayer balance.

Frozen Throne will include plenty of new content, including one new hero and a couple of new units for each of the game's four races. The new heroes and units will allow each race to implement effective new strategies, creating added gameplay depth. They will also address perceived weaknesses. For example, the new crypt lord gives the undead a strong melee-oriented hero. The new spell breaker unit gives the humans an extremely effective counter to massed spellcaster units, as it has the ability to automatically transfer spell bonuses from enemy troops onto allied units or transfer spell-based penalties from allies onto enemies.

There will also be player-built shops, allowing you to have easier access to special items for your heroes. Blizzard also plans to include a number of neutral heroes, which can be recruited from a new neutral structure called the tavern. These neutral heroes each have their own unique spells and abilities and are accessible by players of any race, creating plenty of new combinations and strategic choices. The amount of new content added by the beta has made Frozen Throne's gameplay quite different from playing the original Reign of Chaos.

For those more concerned with the single-player aspects, Blizzard is including two new campaigns in Frozen Throne. The first one continues the storyline from the original game, chronicling the story of Arthas and Illidan as they race to find the titular Frozen Throne and claim its mystical power. The humans, joined by a sect of high elves called the blood elves, stand in Arthas' path, while the night elves join the fray as they attempt to stop the treacherous Illidan and his designs for power. The other campaign features the orcs, and its plot is entirely unrelated to the main story. The primary purpose of the second campaign is to demonstrate the new features and tools available to mapmakers in Frozen Throne's enhanced campaign editor.

Warcraft III: Frozen Throne is slated for a summer release on the PC. We'll have more updates on the game from the show floor.

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