With some online multiplayer games, developers create a test server for fans to try out new content and gameplay changes prior to their public release. This allows the development team to receive feedback about some of the changes and how they might affect specific mechanics or characters. Last week Blizzard added one of these test servers, which it called a Public Test Realm (PTR), to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
The PTR will introduce multiple changes to gameplay, such as balanced start locations so that all players have the same distance to resources and space for expansion, multiple variations of charged and permanent items, and an improved progression of difficulty for creep camps. Graphical improvements are also coming, including a decrease in clutter in points of interest in order to “reduce visual competition during gameplay.” Map surfaces also have new textures to make it easier for players to discern different types of terrain. In addition to these improvements, Blizzard outlined numerous changes to the game’s many maps, which you can read in detail on the studio’s forums.
In addition to these changes, Blizzard briefly mentioned some of its long-term plans to further improve the Warcraft III experience. These include improving the matchmaking system and further reducing latency.
Warcraft III is the latest title to receive a PTR. Other games such as Battlefield 1 and The Division use a similar feature to test out new features and changes to gameplay. Even some of Blizzard’s other titles, including Diablo III, StarCraft 2, and Overwatch (which is currently testing new Deathmatch modes) have their own test servers. However, Warcraft III is a special case because the game was initially released 15 years ago.
The sudden implementation is exciting for fans, but it could also be a sign that Blizzard has some plans for the franchise. It could launch a remastered version (similar to the original StarCraft), for example, or even announce an entirely new entry to the series. The annual Blizzcon event takes place in Anaheim in November, so we might hear some interesting news there.