Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
|Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne|
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne CD cover
|Director(s)||Frank Pearce Jr.|
|Composer(s)||Tracy W. Bush
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Classic Mac OS, Mac OS X|
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne is the expansion pack to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, a real-time strategy video game by Blizzard Entertainment. Released worldwide on July 1, 2003, it includes new units for each race, two new auxiliary races, four campaigns, five neutral heroes (an additional neutral hero was added April 2004 and two more were added in August 2004), the ability to build a shop and other improvements such as the ability to queue upgrades. Sea units were reintroduced; they had been present in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness but were absent in Reign of Chaos. Blizzard Entertainment has released patches for the game to fix bugs, extend the scripting system, and balance multiplayer.
For each race, The Frozen Throne adds several new units and buildings, including a player-controlled shop, and one new hero per race. Two new auxiliary races, the Naga and Draenei, have also been added. The Naga feature in all four campaigns, and as playable units, allies, and enemies; while the Draenei, which are actually more sophisticated creeps, are found only in the Blood Elf missions. Both can be put in custom maps if their worker units (the Naga Mur'gul Slave or the Draenei laborer) are added via the World Editor. The old siege engines of the Humans, Orcs and Night Elves have been renamed and remodeled, receiving new upgrades in the process. The food limit has been increased from 90 to 100, and the upkeep requirements have been relaxed by 10 food units each, leading to the ability to mobilize somewhat larger and more powerful forces.
The weapon and armor type system has been completely revamped and a lot of units have had their weapon or armor types changed, and the weapon types are effective and ineffective against different armor types compared to Reign of Chaos. Because of this, battles and strategies are slightly different from the ones in The Reign of Chaos.
The expansion and its subsequent patches made the addition of neutral Hero units, which appear in the single player campaigns. Neutral heroes can be used in melee maps via the Tavern, a neutral building used to hire them. The tavern can also instantly revive any fallen hero, with an increased resource cost, and reduced health and mana of the revived hero. A nearby unit is needed to access the tavern.
In addition, The Frozen Throne re-introduces naval battles, which were almost completely absent in Warcraft 3. Although generally only available in the campaign, naval units can be placed using the World Editor and can be purchased from certain buildings in melee maps such as the Goblin Shipyard.
The Warcraft III Map Editor program now allows the user to do more custom work with regards to editing skills, providing more functions in the triggers, new units, more global map settings, and new tile-sets to work with.
Battle.net servers host PvP Ladders for The Frozen Throne. Kalimdor (Asia), Lordaeron (USWest), Azeroth (USEast), Northrend (Europe) all have influential players of their own. However, the varied styles of play and range of skill is heavily favored towards non-US realms such as Kalimdor and Northrend. These competitive ladders have driven the game along with yearly pro competitions. The battle.net ladder includes Solo, Random Team, Arranged Team (2vs2, 3vs3, 4vs4) and Free For All, giving a wide range in which a player can determine and choose which ladder best suits them.
The current matchmaking system also prevents players with very positive records and very negative records from being able to find a game in a reasonably short time. At the same time others will join and leave many games repeatedly with an automated program to be matched against players with negative records in what is referred to as "lossbotting".
This system's methodology, ELL (Expected Ladder Level), was implemented by Blizzard to eliminate the potential benefit of players of greater skill creating new accounts with blank records to face off against weaker players. The ELL system attempts to predict a player's "true skill level" as quickly as possible, by taking into account win streak, the ELL of the player's opponents, and the outcomes of these initial matches. This system frequently results in players with a low number of games but high win percentage (i.e. 7-0 win-loss) facing off against players with poorer records but many more games (300-250). While many players on Battle.net complain about the increased search times due to the matchmaking requiring players of similar ELL to be matched before finding a game, the ELL system is an improvement over traditional styles of pitting players against one another.
On the most basic level, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne is a game of economy and warfare, requiring players to exert control over two major aspects of their play: the gathering of resources, and the direction of a mobile army. At higher echelons of play, however, the number of viable strategies quickly dwindles, and games between professionals can be commonly expressed in terms of game theory. The value of precise control of specific units (player-controlled characters/objects) also increases, and often can decide matches.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne also includes a world editor which enables a plethora of custom, community-created games from which the players can play cooperatively online, or in single player. After clicking on the Custom Games button located on the Home Page, users are brought to a screen which has a list of games currently being hosted and a picture and short description that provides more details about the game such as the number of suggested players, the map size, and the creators of the game. Many custom games are hosted by automated bots that continually host (auto-host) a map designated to a specific by independent bot owners or gaming networks. The games that these communities host are usually the most popular games that users are always seeking to play, and the list includes well-known games such as Defense of the Ancients, Island Defense, Demonic Defense, Footmen Frenzy, Gem Tower Defense, Trolls and Elves, Role-Playing Maps, Arena Style Maps and many different variations of tower defense games, which are extremely popular and administrated by bot administrators designated by the bot owner. In addition, all users also have the option of hosting custom normal games, which are often called Observer games. In these types of games, the experienced players will play a normal game while many other users will simply observe and watch these more experienced players play. Many more amateur and novice players utilize these observer games to watch what the experienced players do and learn from their different tactical strategies. These observer games are also often used to determine individual skill level and qualifying so to speak.
As in Warcraft III, the single-player campaign of The Frozen Throne follows each of the main races in sequence. In this game, that is Night Elves (Maiev Shadowsong tracks the escaped Illidan Stormrage), human (or Blood Elves, following the struggles of the last High Elves in Lordaeron after it was destroyed by the Scourge and the Burning Legion), and Undead (following Arthas' return from Kalimdor to Lordaeron and his subsequent journey to find the Lich King of the Scourge). The Orc campaign is separate from the other three, being a stand-alone story and using more role-playing game mechanics over real-time strategy game mechanics. The campaign chronicles the early days of the Orc Horde's establishment in Kalimdor.
In the first campaign of the game, Illidan's former warden, Maiev Shadowsong, hunts for Illidan and finds the serpent-like Naga, who vow to "retake the surface world" from the Night Elves. Maiev later follows Illidan to the islands Gul'dan had raised in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. It is revealed that Illidan Stormrage has gained the allegiance of the Naga, former Night Elves mutated by The Sundering, and obtained an artifact called the Eye of Sargeras. Maiev Shadowsong calls for the aid of Malfurion Stormrage and Tyrande Whisperwind to capture Illidan, who flees to Lordaeron after acquiring the Eye. Partway through the pursuit, Tyrande is swept away by a river while helping a group of Blood Elves to retaliate against the Undead. Maiev convinces Malfurion that she died at the hands of the Undead. When they finally capture Illidan and destroy the Eye, he explains that he planned to use the Eye to destroy the Lich King, ruler of the Undead. At this point, Illidan's Naga scouts discover that Tyrande may still be alive. She was surrounded by water and Undead settlements. Only Illidan and his Naga can reach her (by water). The brothers Stormrage work together in order to rescue her. Malfurion then pardons Illidan for his actions done with the Eye, but reminds him that he is still exiled. Illidan then flees to Outland (only known after the cutscene where Blood Elves met Illidan at Outland, where he speaks of how he came to be) with Maiev in pursuit.
The second campaign follows the Blood Elves, the last of the High Elves, led by their prince Kael'thas. They are given the job to fix watchtowers and defend them by Garithos, the racist human warlord they are allied with. He later discovers that Kael'thas was helped by the Naga and imprisons the Blood Elves for this. They are rescued by Lady Vashj, leader of the Naga, who leads them all to Outland. Once there, they join forces with Illidan and conquer Outland, with promises of claiming magical energy to satisfy the Blood Elves' addiction to the arcane. Once Outland is conquered, Illidan's master - the warlock Kil'jaeden the Deceiver - finds Illidan and prepares to punish him for his failure to destroy the Lich King. However, Illidan convinces Kil'jaeden to give him one more chance, claiming that he was gathering more forces to assault the Lich King's Frozen Throne. The Deceiver lets Illidan's failure go, but warns him to kill Ner'zhul or face his 'eternal wrath.' The Blood Elf campaign is the shortest in Warcraft III, with only six chapters (seven, including the secret mission).
The third campaign follows the Undead, who have split into three factions. One is led by Arthas and is loyal to the Lich King and accompanied by the necromancers of the Lich, Kel'thuzad; another is led by the banshee Sylvanas Windrunner; and the third is led by the Nathrezim, three dreadlords and are loyal to the Burning Legion. The player controls Arthas' and Sylvanas' factions in the different chapters, opposed to the dreadlords' faction. The demon brothers are complaining that they haven't heard from Archimonde the Defiler, who was killed months ago and are unaware of the Legion's retreat. The conversation is interrupted when Arthas bursts through the gates and informs them of the Legion's downfall at Mount Hyjal. Arthas crowns himself King, and the Dreadlords retreat. After emptying the kingdom of the remnants of the Alliance, Arthas is called to Northrend by the Lich King himself, and finds that his powers have diminished (Illidan's use of the Eye of Sargeras in the opening campaign has damaged the Frozen Throne, and the Lich King's power is seeping from it). Further more, Sylvanas has regained her free will and plans to take revenge. The dreadlords stage a coup d'état and in the chaos of his flight from the capital, Sylvanas tries to assassinate Arthas. Fortunately, Kel'Thuzad appears from the shadows and drive Sylvanas off; Arthas leaves for Northrend, charging Kel'Thuzad to keep order until his return. When he and his forces get there, Arthas learns that he needs to defend the Lich King from Illidan, the Naga, and the Blood Elves' combined assault. First they are given help by Anub'arak, the Spider King of Azjol-Nerub. The Crypt Lord informs him that the subterranean kingdom will be a shortcut to Icecrown Citadel. Along the way, they encounter a large blue dragon named Sapphiron and steal his treasures, all the while turning him into a frost wyrm which impresses Anub'arak.
Meanwhile, back in the subcontinent of Lordaeron, Sylvanas is lamenting over her being an undead, although she and her forces are permanently freed of Ner'zhul's grasp. Later, a demonic portal appears. One of the Nathrezim, Varimathras, offers Sylvanas an alliance to rule the subcontinent and the Kingdom of Lordaeron. She refuses, to which Varimathras responds by sending his forces to attack her. However, Sylvanas and her forces attack and corner him. He begs for mercy and joins Sylvanas's force. They then approach a stronghold held in the grasp of Detheroc, the oldest of the 3 brothers. They brainwash what's left of Garithos' forces, besiege the stronghold and free Garithos by killing Detheroc. Although Garithos knows Sylvanas might be one of the Scourge, she reassures him that she is free and offers an alliance, promising them control of Lordaeron once the last dreadlord is defeated. They then besiege the kingdom and corner Balnazaar. Sylvanas orders Varimathras to slaughter him. He at first refuses, but is forced to attack. Garithos orders them to leave, but Sylvanas and Varimathras kill him too. Lordaeron is now the home of the free undead, christened by Sylvanas as the Forsaken.
Arthas, Anub'arak and the undead forces arrive at the entrance to the Spider Kingdom. However, a small group of dwarves have the front gates shut. Descending, they then meet with Baelgun, a former lieutenant of Muradin Bronzebeard who tells Arthas and his forces of the horrors that dwell deep within the kingdom. As they descend into the deepest areas of the kingdom, Anub'arak realizes Baelgun's stories are true. They encounter the faceless ones and slay their leader, a giant Forgotten One. More Faceless ones show up and chase them off. At the last leg of their journey, the two become separated, and Arthas weaves his way through ancient traps and puzzles while Anub'arak tunnels onward. They eventually find the exit just before the kingdom caves in.
The Scourge and Illidan's forces compete for entry to the Lich King's Frozen Throne. In a last-ditch effort, Arthas and Illidan duel, resulting in Arthas' victory. Once there, Arthas shatters the ice-prison that held the Lich King's remains, releasing him. Arthas dons the Lich King's helmet, joining their souls into one ultra-powerful being: the new Lich King.
The separate RPG-style campaign follows the Horde defending their land and building up a new kingdom called Durotar by Thrall in the name of his father Durotan. The main characters of the campaign are Rexxar, the beastmaster/adventurer, the private shadow hunter Rokhan, Cairne Bloodhoof, the tauren Chieftain and, optionally, Chen Stormstout, the Pandaren brewmaster. After defending Durotar from a series of lesser threats, Rexxar learns that a force of humans from the island of Theramore, led by Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, plans to invade Durotar. Admiral Proudmoore is unwilling or unable to accept a truce between the Horde and the Alliance despite their combined armies having defended the World Tree in Reign of Chaos. The orcs invade Theramore (aided by his daughter, a guilt-ridden Jaina Proudmoore) and slay the Admiral, ultimately replacing him with Jaina.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was originally announced on January 22, 2003. On February 14, 2003, Blizzard announced the first beta test for the game, which offered 10,000 players to sample the game. On March 10, 2003, 10,000 more players were selected to participate in the beta test. On May 29, 2003, Blizzard announced that the expansion set had "gone gold". There have been many patches, including patch 1.21b which allowed the game to be started without the official CD. On April 4, 2008 Blizzard released a new test version of Warcraft III patch 1.22. The patch was available for testing on the "Westfall" beta server. With update 1.23, many third-party programs were rendered unusable. Several third-party programs that reveal the entire map, commonly known as maphacks, were released for this update. It also disabled collided maps, which would make modified custom maps appear to be the same as the original. Another effect of the patch, which is not included in the release notes, is that custom maps with large filenames will not appear in the game. The limit is believed to be 20 characters, but this has not yet been tested.
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The Frozen Throne received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated The Frozen Throne for their 2003 "Expansion Pack of the Year" award, but it lost to Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII. It was also a runner-up for Computer Games Magazine's "Expansion of the Year" award, which ultimately went to EverQuest: Lost Dungeons of Norrath.
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- World of Warcraft Official Site - Blood Elves Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed April 20, 2011.
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- The Frozen Throne beta expands - PC News at GameSpot
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009. Version 1.23 patch notes
- "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
- Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
- Editors of CGW (March 2004). "Computer Gaming World's 2003 Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World (236): 57–60, 62–69.
- Staff (March 2004). "Best of 2003; The 13th Annual Awards". Computer Games Magazine (160): 58–62.