When Warcraft III: Reforged was announced November 2018, more than 16 years after the release of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, fans of the fabled series rejoiced. The aging but beloved games (including The Frozen Throne expansion) were together undergoing a relatively major overhaul. Intended to be released 2019, Blizzard announced a late-stage delay that pushed the release date to January 28, 2020. No problem; Blizzard’s reputation for polish had to be protected. The new character models, modernized graphics, and fresh cutscenes would certainly be worth the extra wait.
Warcraft III: Reforged met its delayed release, and you can play it right now. Whether you want to play is a different issue. Those following the story know that fans have review-bombed the Metacritic user score, pulling it down to a dismal 0.5 (out of 10) with more than 27,000 ratings. What went wrong? What went right? I played through the Warcraft III: Reforged campaigns and got wrecked in multiplayer matches to see where the game sits and why exactly so many people are so mad at what Blizzard has on offer here.
What Could Have Been
- Campaign storylines alone are worth the price
- Warcraft III core gameplay is still a blast
- Updated graphics are mostly pleasant
- Features were under-delivered
- Character animations are sometimes jarring
- Classic Warcraft III client is gone
- Some networking bugs
What you’ll love about Warcraft III: Reforged
To make things extra interesting — and to differentiate itself from other RTS giants — Warcraft III features heroes that level up and gain access to new skills as they gain experience. Heroes have inventories that hold items, either purchased or pillaged during gameplay. Some items passively award the hero with extra power or protection, while others can be used to heal or protect nearby allies. When downed in battle, heroes can be resurrected, for a price. These roleplaying game (RPG) elements tacked onto the standard RTS base are a major part of what makes Warcraft III so enjoyable, and that is still present.
Source: Windows Central The third campaign shown here doesn’t actually show up until you’ve completed the campaign before it.
The Warcraft III campaigns still hold up and are still worth your time 18 years later.
Blizzard has added a new “Story Mode” difficulty to the campaign for newbies, though the regular difficulty I used to play through was easy enough for anyone who has played an RTS in the past. Some map layouts have been tweaked slightly to better fit in with World of Warcraft (WoW) lore, and some units have been shuffled around, but otherwise, story changes that were discussed previously are not present.
Custom games are readily available to play against computer or human opponents on Blizzard-made maps (think skirmishes where you start with almost nothing and build your way up), and there are also custom games created by other players, like tower defense, available to download and play. Versus mode offers ranked games against other humans with just a couple of clicks. Multiplayer has its fair share of issues (which I discuss in the next section), but I’ve still been having fun getting absolutely stomped by Warcraft III pros.
Those pining for the classic look of Warcraft III, especially since the classic client is gone, are not completely doomed. Blizzard included a toggle to switch back and forth between Classic and Reforged graphics. Unfortunately, ultrawide monitor support is broken, and the UI hasn’t been reworked to accommodate higher resolutions. Playing on a 2560×1440 (QHD) monitor, the UI seems enormous and crowded into the center of the display. With subtitles and hint popups turned on, the center square of the screen is quickly filled with information to the point where it’s tough to see the action.
PC requirements have taken a big step forward (nevermind the relatively huge installation size), and the Reforged client has replaced the classic version. Those satisfied with classic Warcraft III have been relegated to finding an old copy and playing LAN over internet or singleplayer matches. That just won’t do for a lot of people, especially once we start digging into some of the flaws that come with Warcraft III: Reforged.
What you’ll dislike about Warcraft III: Reforged
Character animations are often janky and stiff. The settings menu hasn’t received an update, to the point where you still need to open a .txt file to change hotkeys (yes, that’s right). Custom games, once a huge draw to Warcraft III and the laboratory from which multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games likes Dota 2 and League of Legends were birthed, now all belong to Blizzard and are subject to its discretion.
Source: Windows Central I need to exit the game and tweak a .txt file in 2020?
It could have (should have) used valuable feedback to improve the game.
Blizzard released a statement a few days after the game’s release to explain its position. Blizzard reiterated its long-term commitment to Warcraft III: Reforged, stating fixes are coming for classic version graphics, portrait animation bugs, and UI bugs. It’s unclear if that includes any kind of scaling. Leaderboards and clans are also expected to return at some point, with more information coming at a later date. This is ultimately good news, but questions remain. Why wasn’t this stuff included at launch? Why was so much of this a surprise upon release?
Blizzard could have been upfront about its progress with the remake. It could have better-involved members from a passionate community of players. It could have (should have) used valuable feedback to improve the game. Warcraft III: Reforged is a bit of a mess right now, but at least the mess would have been expected. Along with the clear transition to a setup that won’t allow any sort of Dota 2 situation (where Valve took the MOBA idea and ran to the bank with it), Warcraft III: Reforged in this state does not seem like a labor of love. Especially compared to Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition — another classic RTS remake that received a lot of praise when it was released late 2019 — Warcraft III: Reforged is a disappointment.
Should you buy Warcraft III: Reforged?
Source: Windows Central
Warcraft III: Reforged in this state does not seem like a labor of love.
I mostly had fun playing Warcraft III: Reforged, but I should be considered a casual. Others who like a story-driven campaign will no doubt also have a lot of fun with hours of quality content, as well as the blend of RTS and RPG elements.
However, gamers seeking a nostalgia trip back to Azeroth will be let down. Overwriting the classic client is an extra slap in the face of dedicated supporters, and I’m sure many fans wish there had been no remake at all. None of these issues help with Blizzard’s failing reputation, and it’s becoming difficult to trust the company that was once lauded for taking its time to polish games to a shimmer.
A patch released February 6 fixed some smaller bugs, but there’s still a long way to go to reach the expectations. I hope Warcraft III: Reforged eventually becomes the game everyone wanted, but it’s up to Blizzard to continue working on its creation well after the money stops rolling in.
What Could Have Been
Fear and loathing in Azeroth
Newcomers to Warcraft III have a far more accessible entry point to a game that’s still good at its core, but veteran players are understandably turned off by some major changes.
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