Warcraft 3 finally gets its own PTR

Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos was released in 2002, which for those of you who don't have a calendar handy was roughly 15 years ago. Yet it was just this week that Blizzard announced that it is finally getting its very own public test realm, which Classic Games senior producer Pete Stilwell said will initially be used to test "new Map Pools for 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's and Free-for-All." 

The core game has also been updated with a number of "general improvements and gameplay objectives," listed below: 

  • Balanced creep camp difficulty progression from early to late game
  • Balanced creep drop tables for better item progression from early game to late game
  • Item diversity: Varied Level 1 though 6 charged items and Level 1 through 6 permanent items
  • Balanced all start locations: total amount and starting distance from lumber, equal amount of spacing, equal size choke points, et cetera
  • Balanced expansion distance from start locations
  • Decluttered points of interest to reduce visual competition during gameplay
  • Retextured map surfaces for better visual clarity - both on screen and mini-map
  • Minimized the size of trees and doodads that obstructed player view of points of interest
  • Added cliff lines or deep water to edges of the map - removing hard edges (aesthetic choice for immersion)
  • Properly placed trees and doodads on the pathing grid: full-cell Medium Grid to half-cell Medium Grid alternate
  • Removed the rolling shoreline waves from rolling hills to remove the noise the waves created - remains for cliff shores

If you're really into the minutiae of this sort of thing, new map pool details are also available:

And finally, there are some known issues that they're still working on:

  • We are aware Warcraft III matchmaking is a bit long in the tusk; we will be improving matchmaker logic for a future patch
  • Automated Tournaments and Ladder Board are not functional for PTR
  • Latency was improved with 1.28, but still needs work to meet modern standards

It might seem a little odd for a game this old to be getting an update (and a PTR) now, but Blizzard actually rolled out a Warcraft 3 patch last year—the first since 2011—and patched the even older Diablo 2 right around the same time. It also recently remastered its classic RTS StarCraft (which is even older than Diablo 2), and while there's no indication that any of the Warcraft games are in for the same treatment, it's clear that Blizzard remains committed to its older games.

The Warcraft 3 PTR installer is available here (or here, if you're a Mac user) and is just a few meg in size, but the full client requires 3GB of free space, and of course you need to own Warcraft 3 to take part.