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While KingsIsle has been heavily focused on Pirate101's recent launch, the studio wanted to send a strong message that it's still fully behind Wizard101 and has a dedicated team working hard to keep improving and expanding the game. In fact, the Wizard101 team is larger now than it was at launch and has a huge announcement to share.

So what's the big exciting news of the day? Producer Leah Ruben was bursting at the seams to tell us in three words: "Dinosaurs are awesome!"

Actually, the big news is that Wizard101 is preparing to release its ninth new world since launch, a dinosaur world named Azteca. Azteca not only will challenge players to progress through 13 areas but is going to raise the level cap. And the biggest surprise of all? It's going on test servers this week for players to try out.

Keep on reading to find out what Azteca is going to do for the landscape of Wizard101!

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A tale of two dinos

At the start of the update, players will head to Halley's Tower in response to a distress call. There they find famed Aztecosaurologist Edward Halley, who tells the player wizards that the fabled land of Azteca has been discovered -- but it's in dire danger.

Upon traveling to Azteca, players will find themselves in the middle of a tribal land full of intelligent dinosaurs. While savagely beautiful, Azteca is facing two great threats. The first is a giant comet that's heading its way, and the second is the machinations of the evil sorceress Morganthe, who has turned many of Azteca's inhabitants against the heroes.

Thus it becomes a race to stop the apocalypse -- and in 2012, no less. If that's not exciting enough, players' jaws will drop as one significant character from the past makes a return!

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A land before time

Azteca was the brainchild of Kingsisle's Todd Coleman and Josef Hall, who came up with the odd mash-up of dinosaurs and Aztecs. The dev team took his idea and ran with it, spending over six months developing this gigantic new area for Wizard101.

Don't judge the world just on its girth, either; Azteca represents growth in almost every area of the game. The level cap will increase from 80 to 90, a new crafting tier will become available, and there will be loads of cool-looking pets, mounts, and gear to attain.

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A park for the Jurassic in all of us

KingsIsle is also including new epic spells, one for each school of magic, with the update. Ruben promised that these spells have some of the coolest cinematics in the game to date and are themed off of Azteca itself (a first in the game). The team's also working on expanding the Astral school with star- and moon-themed spells.

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As far from extinction as possible

It might be easy to underestimate Wizard101 when thinking of the movers and shakers in the MMO industry, but you'd be unwise to do so. Since its launch, Wizard101 has racked up well over 30 million registered players and still sees "strong growth," according to the company. During this past summer, the website saw a staggering 20 million unique visitors per month, which is indicative of the game's continued popularity.

The studio hopes that Azteca will come as a pleasant surprise to its playerbase and invites players to check it out on the test servers. When it goes live, it will become immediately available to all members, while free players will need to shell out around 12,000 crowns to purchase all of the new areas.

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This article was originally published on Massively.
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