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This week in 'World of Warcraft'

"World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor" beta has begun
"World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor" beta has begun
World of Warcraft Facebook page

"World of Warcraft" news came fast and furious this week, as Blizzard Entertainment gears up for the release of its flagship game's next expansion, "Warlords of Draenor." From updates to the live game to the "Warlords of Draenor" beta announcement, there was something for everyone interested in "World of Warcraft."

This week's patch to the live game was a small one, and involved a change to the Deserter debuff. This debuff is applied whenever a player "deserts" an arena or rated battleground, or leaves a battleground before the match is over. The debuff now lasts five minutes (down from 20 minutes), but will be reapplied for five additional minutes if someone keeps deserting arenas or battlegrounds within a 20-minute window.

This week the live game also saw the Midsummer Fire Festival begin. This in-game event centers around eternal flames that symbolize keeping ancient evils at bay. More info on the Midsummer Fire Festival can be found here.

Moving on to "Warlords of Draenor" news, Blizzard released another character model update preview. This week we got a look at the updated male Human model. As with other character model updates, the team at Blizzard is trying to fix some long-term criticisms of the old models, and the male Human has been one of the most heavily criticized in the game.

The big news this week was the opening of the "Warlords of Draenor" beta test. Testing is now focused on the Tanaan Jungle starting area, and players who are invited to the beta test can use level 90 character templates or copy over one of their existing characters to use. There's no NDA (non-disclosure agreement), so players are free to post screenshots or stream game video so that others who aren't allowed in yet can see the new content and features.

Interested players who aren't invited to the beta test yet by Blizzard aren't out of luck. The "World of Warcraft" fan site Wowhead is giving away beta access keys.

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