The release of Warcraft III Reforged didn't go as planned by Blizzard. The developer wanted to trick the players, so now the players... don't leave a dry thread on him. Refreshed, although it sounds better "powdered like a dead man" game has been smashed both by industry reviewers and ordinary players. But does such a slaughter have its justification and Warcraft III Reforged deserves a rating lower than 1?
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos was released by Blizzard in 2002, continuing the story begun in 1995 in Tides of Darkness. It is almost a typical representative of real-time strategy with an isometric view. However, there were a few elements that made Warcraft 3 stand out from the crowd of other RTSs. One of them was the addition of a "small drop" of RPG in the form of heroes, the ability to develop them and select the appropriate artifacts to increase their effectiveness in combat. Another was the engaging storyline despite the clichéd plot of the fight between good and evil. In addition, four races, not two as usually assumed, and we had a recipe for a nearly perfect game. We also can't forget about the multiplayer mode and the bonus of player maps and mods, which gave birth to a whole new genre - MOBA. This elevated Warcraft 3 high in the pantheon of all-time games.
The community and the ability to expand the game proved to be the way to the longevity of the title, which was further refreshed with a shot of vitamins in the form of the Frozen Throne expansion pack. Not only did it introduce new units and multiplayer challenges, but it also closed out the story of the characters we were able to bond with. Interestingly, the king of RTSs was dethroned a few years later in a fratricidal battle by StarCraft 2.
I had my first contact with Wracraft 3: Reign of Chaos in August 2006. I still have the boxed edition of Platinum Collection along with the invoice issued by CD Projekt. From the very first moment the game made a good impression on me and drew me in for the next few months. It was a stormy but short love affair interrupted by an exam session, after which we couldn't get back together. However, Warcraft 3 has always remained in my heart as one of the best games I've ever played.
The big comeback?
When Blizzard announced that they would be making and improving my old love after 18 years, I felt great joy and memories returned. The same must have felt for the thousands of fans who still spend many hours playing the game as well as the younger players who haven't had a chance to try what a true RTS is. The latter, however, are repelled from games from the beginning of the century by archaic (by today's standards) mechanics and controls, not to mention the visuals. I secretly hoped that Blizzard, while preparing the re-release, would adjust the game to the current times, both in terms of graphics and mechanics, while giving players a choice of what they want to use.
Let's not kid ourselves - Blizzard didn't start the Warcraft revamp to please the players. The company wanted to ride the wave of re-releases and remakes that have been growing like mushrooms over the past few years, in many cases preying solely on player sentiment. And while many of them are successful, serving us a well-known and loved dish as something completely new, Blizzard hasn't quite succeeded. In the case of Warcraft 3 Reforged, we get the same tasty dish served on a nicer plate, but this one turned out to be cracked and its contents underdone and deprived of several ingredients, caused by errors and shortcomings of the production.
New players theoretically get a title that's up to today's standards in terms of both graphics and gameplay. Old-timers, on the other hand, will play good old Warcraft 3, which turns out to be a powdered corpse with a falling off hand. I'm referring to the numerous bugs in the multiplayer mode and an ugly change in the rules, which may completely discourage fans from creating modifications to sustain the life of the game. While Blizzard should eliminate most of the bugs in future updates, they're not going to do anything with the rules, which means that the distaste will remain until the end. The first update of the game was supposed to fix minor bugs by default, but it brought new ones. Problems with downloading resulted in players not being able to launch the game at all.
New vs. old
Warcraft 3 Reforged is based on the StarCraft 2 engine, which has been slightly updated and adapted to present the conflict in a fantasy world, but that doesn't change the fact that it's almost ten years old. What bothered me in the new version was the lack of possibility to zoom out the camera view, which would allow to see at least a little more of the terrain. And it seemed like that would be one of the core capabilities of the game. Originally Blizzard announced changes to the script to make the story fit perfectly with the story in World of Warcraft. In the end, it stayed the same, with only the character models changed, which now look like they were ripped from WoW. Not to be nitpicky, the visuals were definitely good. However, the creators can not declare 100% success - some models still look like angular blocks straight from Minecraft. This slightly spoils the effect of novelty. But it's not bad anyway.
Warcraft 3 Reforged proved to me in a rather brutal way that memory can be very fallible, and games that we remember from years ago in reality looked completely different. While after the first playthrough I thought that the characters and cutscenes look pretty much the same and in principle the changes are not as big as Blizzard announced, after switching the game to classic mode I found out how wrong I was. It's just a shame that Blizzard completely cut off the classic view from Reforged, making it impossible to load game saves from the new version on the old one and vice versa. The graphical refresh has been handled lightly and there is no room for advanced shadows or real reflections. There is also some texture blending and fading at the edges, mainly on character portraits.
What has remained the same are the gameplay mechanics. Warcraft 3 is still a great strategy game. Blizzard, apart from graphical changes, left all the mechanics the same. The economy is still based on three resources: gold, wood and food. The unit bin, which was introduced in the original version of the game due to the limited computing power of computers at the time, has also remained. If someone has an exceptional muscle memory and used the shortcuts in Warcraft 3 18 years ago, he will master the gameplay very quickly. All commands remained the same, both when it comes to heroes, normal units and buildings. I wasn't so lucky and I have to admit that I'd love to easily modify the assigned keys. Unfortunately, it's a bit of fun. The game requires manual editing of the settings files in the game directory. It would be definitely useful to be able to assign keys directly from the menu.