Warcraft 3: Reforged – A Nostalgia Trip, Not a Reinvention
When it comes to the most successful game series of all time, Warcraft is right up there. After three successful RTS games (with expansions), the Warcraft name took to the MMORPG realm and became one of the most played games in existence with over 10 million active subscribers at the height of its popularity. This is where the Warcraft games remained until Blizzard came out of nowhere and surprised fans with an announcement of a new, high definition, reimagined version of the classic Warcraft 3 (WC3) RTS!
After 18 years though, even with a new HD shine, could the game still hold up? Or does the memory of WC3 work a lot better in our heads than it does in the real world? Let’s find out.
For those who forgot or were too young to have known, WC3 flipped the RTS formula on its head a little bit. Blizzard wanted an RTS that would focus on smaller army compositions as well as introducing special units called Heroes that had special abilities and were generally more powerful. As an added incentive to have smaller armies, the game would punish you with upkeep (lower income) once you broke a threshold of active units. Love it or hate it, these gaming elements helped spawn many things as a result, including the MOBA genre that we’ve all come to love today.
The nostalgic vibes are strong with this title and will immediately hit you hard and fast after jumping into the campaign. Both the original and the frozen throne single-player levels are back with all their glory, but some things have been changed. The most noticeable of which are the visuals. The graphics are quite incredible, this is much more noticeable when you zoom in but realistically, you’re never going to do this when playing the actual game.
In the lead up to the release, Blizzard were demonstrating in-game cutscenes and boasting how they’ve added new angles and close-ups for a more cinematic feel, and it looked good! As you play through the campaign you’ll notice that in some cases the shots and angles have been changed, but unfortunately, between now and then, they’ve had a change of heart and they have since switched it back to resemble the original more.
Another major selling point of WC3 Reforged was that all the old custom maps (Elemental Tower Defense, Wintermaul, Line Wars, DOTA, etc.) would all be compatible with this new version, but could now be played in glorious HD. Thankfully this promise remained true and you can easily lose yourself for many hours going through the communities custom map section.
It’s not all just trip down memory lane with fond memories though and sadly, there are some issues with this game. The user interface remains almost identical to its original release, which is really showing its age by now. Pathfinding is incredibly annoying at times, the animation is janky and the old limitations of the number of units you can select at any given time remains the same as it did 18 years ago. When a developer promises a reimaging or remaster, these are the sorts of things we expected to see enhanced or modernized for an RTS game in 2020.
There are some minor bugs as well, we managed to crash the game merely by loading up the in-game menu and our frames per second dropped to a crawl when certain animations or actions were being done in-game. Neither of these made it unplayable but we expected higher quality for this finished product, especially from a Blizzard title. As well as this, there are some features missing in Reforged that existed in the original. Ladder matches, Custom campaigns, and Clans are all missing. Blizzard has promised fixes and content in future patches, but currently, these problems all exist and there’s no timeline on when they’ll be resolved.
Feeling torn? Welcome to our world. We loved the original WC3 series and this reviewer especially loved DOTA when it was a custom map in the Frozen Throne expansion. What this really comes down to are what your expectations are for this game. If you want to just relive a classic, warts and all, then Blizzard has delivered here. Complete with a new high-res makeover and updated sounds. The custom maps are back in full force and the community continues to create and support this aspect. But if you expected more, then you’ll be severely disappointed, because it’s simply not here. This feels more like a new coat of paint with a couple of tweaks here and there, not a complete rehaul and remaster of a game that’s nearing its 20th birthday.
WC3 Reforged is … fine, maybe even more than fine. There are no big surprises or wow moments and that stops it from getting any sort of amazing accolades from a critical standpoint. Manage your expectations before making your purchase and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Warcraft 3 Reforged was reviewed on PC, with code provided by Blizzard ANZ