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Warcraft 3 gets a major new update for public testing

An old Worgen learns some new tricks

There's been rumors circulating for some time that after the success of their Starcraft remaster, Blizzard were looking at giving a similar treatment to Warcraft 3, their massively popular and immensely modded RTS, birth-place of the MOBA genre as we know it.

Whether or not it's part of remastering plans, we've certainly reason to celebrate: Blizzard rolled out a new public test build of Warcraft 3 yesterday, featuring native widescreen support, 24-player servers and a lifting of restrictions from the scenario editor on top of a slew of balance changes - the first of many, say Blizzard.

The first and most obvious improvement in this new version is proper widescreen support, explained here. This is something which has been conspicuously absent from the game for 16 years. For the first time ever, your UI won't be stretched out horizontally, and you'll get a good chunk more viewable screen-space, although I wish they'd maybe cut down on some of the extraneous status-bar greebles to free up even more visible space.

Expanding is the name of the game with this update, as Warcraft 3 now supports up to 24 players in a single match. To accommodate for this, restrictions have been lifted on the editor, as detailed here.  Larger, more complex environments can now be built with up to 16 tile-sets used in a single battlefield. They've also expanded the scripting system, meaning that existing Warcraft 3 modding wizards will be able to do even more with the tools.

For active and competitive players, you'll probably want to take a look at the balance and map-pool change list here. It's an extensive collection of nerfs and buffs, but apparently only the start of something larger. The patch-notes mention that Blizzard have 'larger ideas in the works long term', but aren't quite ready to roll those out yet.

Capping all of this off, Blizzard are clearly trying to drum up interest in Warcraft 3 as a whole, because next week they'll be streaming the first ever Warcraft 3 invitational tourney. Better late than never, eh? Starting on February 27th, they've managed to get together some of the old big names in competitive WC3 for an encore performance. Even if they don't follow this update up with an official visual upgrade, I'd be more than happy to see Warcraft 3 left in this state, all buffed up and friendly for modern machines.

While these changes will undoubtedly be making it over to the regular version of Warcraft 3, you can grab the public test build for PC & Mac here. You will, of course, still require CD keys for both the base game and the expansion.

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Dominic Tarason