Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne Single Player Impressions

We got an in-depth peek into Frozen Throne's single-player campaign at E3 2003.

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Over the past couple of months, we've written numerous updates on the state of the Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne beta test. The updates have already given us quite a clear picture on how multiplayer Frozen Throne is shaping up, so at E3 we decided to get some much-needed information on the single-player campaigns. Frozen Throne's solo aspect is divided into two campaigns, one of which continues the story from Reign of Chaos and involves the night elves, humans, and undead. The other campaign allows you to control the orcs and is remarkably different in style from the story campaign.

The story campaign starts out with the night elves, then segues to the humans and then on to the undead. Each of the races will have around eight missions; at the show we got a chance to check out the first three missions of the night elves. Recalling the end of the story in the Frozen Throne, the treacherous Ilidan escaped from his night elf jailors in search of an artifact of great power. The night elf warden Maiev starts out the Frozen Throne quite literally "hot" on Ilidan's tracks. In the first mission you'll follow Ilidan's trail of flaming footsteps and his burning swath of destruction through outlying villages. Eventually you'll come upon a seaport that opens up the next mission, where you'll load up your army into some transport ships.

Yes, longtime Warcraft II fans have something to look forward to in Frozen Throne's single-player campaign, which includes naval units such as transports, frigates, and battleships. The second mission of the night elf campaign includes some stylish-looking frigates that fire bolt projectiles from the bow of the ship. You can use the bolts to attack land units near the coast. The game's battleships will reportedly have more traditional cannons as their weapons. You'll need all the firepower you can get on island maps, as many of Ilidan's Naga army have amphibious capability.

In a later mission we got to see how Blizzard is designing scenarios around the new heroes' abilities. Descending into the Tomb of Sargeras to continue the chase of Ilidan, we encountered a number of small areas that only Maiev could reach, using her blink ability. These little alcoves contain treasure items, and one will give you an equippable item called the shadow orb. This item opens up a little side quest that challenges you to find all 10 pieces of the shadow orb. If you choose to try to complete the side quest, your shadow orb grows more and more powerful, bestowing even greater attack bonuses on Maiev with each found piece.

The orc campaign follows its own story arc, with the orcs setting up a new nation called Durotar on the continent of Kalimdor, where they fled after the events portrayed in Reign of Chaos. You'll start out controlling a nomadic beastmaster named Rexxar, who ends up joining Thrall's fledgling government in the city of Ogremar. There's absolutely no base building in the orc campaign, making the combat and gameplay style a lot more reminiscent of Diablo than an RTS game. You'll explore huge maps and take on larger groups of creeps and enemies than you would normally see in a Warcraft III mission, and buildings have also been scaled up in size to give the campaign a more RPG-like feel.

The orc campaign also shows off a number of new features in the campaign editor, such as zones. For example, you may get a mission that requires you to travel to a mountaintop to gather up some special herbs. You'll find an area of the map that can warp you to the mountaintop, in essence transferring you to an entirely different map. But with the new campaign editor, the objectives and mission states remain the same as you travel back and forth between maps. In addition to the included orc campaign, Blizzard plans to make an Act II and Act III available for free download after the release of Frozen Throne for players who enjoy the RPG-style gameplay and who wish to continue the story of Rexxar set forth in the retail expansion pack.

Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne is coming along quite nicely and looks to be well on track for a release sometime this summer. Keep your eyes on GameSpot for more updates on the game in the weeks leading up to its release.

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