Warlords of Draenor alpha testing has begun! A very small amount of invites were sent out lat week and, as of June 3rd, Warlords of Draenor is in full swing.
Blizzard has been hard at work on their latest expansion for long-running MMO World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, since its reveal at last year’s Blizzcon. They’ve been beavering away on overhauling character models, as well as bringing us character housing, a new continent and much more – and now they’re finally ready to start revealing just what all their hard work has resulted in.
On top of that, Warlords of Draenor sees Blizzard introducing a new file format, called CASC. For those of you who know about Blizzard’s usual file format of Mo’PaQ, than this is a huge change. Blizzard has used Mo’PaQ for almost 20 years now, and it’s been the main format used to compress and store game files in every title that they have released.
With their new CASC format, they’re hoping to put an end and start a lot of new things. File repair tools will be forgotten, as CASC repairs itself, which will help to prevent errors during installs. The speed of the game should increase for all players, since the file structure in CASC is cleaner and gives the game a quicker access to the things it needs to run. This will also make patches and installs much faster for everyone across the world. But what’s even better is that CASC will make it so that double installation size on-disk while patching will no longer be required, saving us all on time and space. There will also be Client Hotfixing available, making them able to fix client problems without shutting down and patching. There is much more that CASC will make available for World of Warcraft that Mo’PaQ just couldn’t handle, and Blizzard is excited to start trying out these new features.
Blizzard has recently tested out CASC file formatting on their Heroes of the Storm technical alpha test, and so far everything looks to be running smoothly. But World of Warcraft is a much larger game, on a far wider scale, so the developer will be need to get every player to update their installations to the new format before the expansion even hits. But they are currently working on a way to make this easy and as seamless as possible for everyone – players news and old.
But all of this testing during alpha phase comes with a price. Testing will be extremely limited, and many of the expansion’s major features – such as Garrisons – won’t be available to testers until much later on in the process. Alpha testing for Warlords of Draenor is strictly for testing the integrity and capabilities of CASC files and the game itself.
So if you haven’t seen your alpha invite, don’t fret – there will be plenty of time to jump into Warlords of Draenor in the near future. Blizzard promises that after this early phase is complete and everything is stable, they will be inviting many more people in what we anticipate to be Warlords of Draenor beta testing.