The closed beta test for Blizzard's highly anticipated online game has ended. Get the last details here.
Though a few features, such as talent trees for the paladin and hunter classes, have yet to be implemented, Blizzard has clearly moved into the polishing phase of its World of Warcraft beta test. This is evident in some of the game's fundamental mechanics, such as the rest system. Though it was decried by testers when it was first introduced, the rest system has evolved in such a way that it no longer penalizes players who wish to play for extended periods. Rather, it merely rewards those who haven't played for a long time, just as it was intended. Blizzard has also implemented a few new features recently, including item durability and raid groups.
Prior to the introduction of raid groups, parties were limited to a maximum of five members. A raid group is essentially eight parties put together. Although you no longer get quest items from quests when you join a raid group, the advantages of these parties drastically outweigh the disadvantages when in a player vs. player (or "PvP") situation. When in a raid group, the fact that you can communicate with everyone else in the group greatly facilitates attacks on enemy settlements. In addition, the raid-group leader can organize each of the individual five-member parties in any way. This allows each party to have the requisite priest and warrior for healing and tanking capabilities.
The concept of item durability has also been introduced to the World of Warcraft. Weapons and armor now have a durability value that will decrease with use. So, stabbing enemies with your sword will gradually subtract from that sword's durability, and getting attacked by enemies will cause the durability of your armor to slowly decrease. The items remain at full strength until their durability reaches zero, at which point the items lose their effectiveness. You'll have to keep your weapons and armor in good repair as you travel--fortunately, any armor or weapon vendor in the game can repair your equipment for a fee.
In practice, we found that we didn't have to repair our items too often in the course of normal play at higher levels. In particular, the magic-casting classes tend to have things a bit easier, as they normally are blasting foes with spells from afar instead of using their weapons and putting their armor in harm's way. Blizzard has stated that, ideally, all character classes will experience roughly the same rate of decay in their items, and that frequently used items should eventually have to go in for repairs every few days. However, at this time, an extended excursion into one of the game's tough instanced dungeons seems to require a visit to the village repair shop ahead of time. We quickly learned that making a pit stop at the repair shop was a much better alternative to having our armor-protection level drop to zero while facing a ghostly dragon or a prince of thieves.
The travel systems in the game have constantly evolved, from the addition of more linked flight points in the Eastern Kingdoms to the introduction of ships and zeppelins. Another recent addition to this system has been the Stormwind-Ironforge tram. The ingenious gnomes were responsible for the design and implementation of this invention, which is essentially a subway route that connects the human city of Stormwind to the dwarven capital of Ironforge. The tram is free, it's faster than flying overland, and it provides a nice, soothing underwater view during one stretch of the trip. On the player vs. player server, however, the tram has served an additional purpose--it's provided a backdoor of sorts for Horde raids moving from one major city to the next. While the cities themselves are rife with high-level guards roaming their streets, the tram currently has no security presence of any sort (and to get on and off the subway, you need to make a level transition, which is accompanied by the proper load time and has the side effect of getting guards off your tail). Horde players who attempt this tactic frequently find themselves coming up against waves of Alliance players, however, especially in Ironforge, where players tend to linger as they visit the auction house and gather groups for adventures.
The loose basis for the so-called "honor system" on the player vs. player faction-war server has been implemented recently. When fighting players of the opposite faction, you will now see a message on the screen if you manage to defeat them. If that player was close to you in level, you'll be given an "honorable kill" message. If you kill a player many levels beneath you, you'll be given a "dishonorable kill" message. This system is planned to be more robust in the future, with titles given to players who rack up numerous honorable or dishonorable kills, though nothing has emerged yet. It's also not known if and how this system will account for raid situations, in which there are typically great numbers of players of all levels onscreen at once, and groups of lower-level players cannot effectively be ignored by higher-level players.
- Release Date: Oct 4, 2007 (AU)