Warcraft 3 Reforged Review – For the newbies
As a predominantly console gamer, especially in my younger days, my only real exposure to PC RTS games was Age of Empires II. For some reason, it had been installed on the dodgy PCs at school — along with Descent — so my mates and I would play it in spare periods. By the time Warcraft 3 was released, I was playing GameCube and didn’t even own a PC. Sadly, I feel as though I’ve missed out on one of gaming’s true milestones and legacies.
Fortunately for me though, we live in the age of the remaster and with Warcraft 3: Reforged, Blizzard has given me the chance to jump in. Albeit, 18 years late.
As a Warcraft RTS virgin, I’m altogether removed from the issues and controversies surrounding this release. It seems to go without saying these days that whatever Blizzard does is accompanied by some outcry from fans, however, in this instance, SOME of the complains seem justified.
The problem for me as a reviewer is that these issues simply don’t apply to me, so I can’t properly comment on them. I didn’t play Warcraft 3. I don’t have any of the expectations of features and I didn’t closely follow Blizzard’s announcements. So, I’m somewhat of an anomaly, but I’m guessing there are plenty of others just like me.
This review is for them. For a full rundown of the controversy of this game’s launch, check out this great PC Gamer post.
Warcraft 3: Reforged Review
Warcraft 3: Reforged includes a lengthy single-player campaign and a PvP multiplayer mode. The campaign sees you control four different factions — Orcs, Humans, Undead and Night Elves — and tells the story of an Azeroth before World of Warcraft. Having the majority of my Warcraft knowledge comes from Hearthstone, it was a genuine thrill for me to see these characters in a living breathing world.
I particularly enjoyed the storytelling and the pacing of Warcraft 3, despite it being an 18-year-old game. If you didn’t play it back in the day, then chances are, like me, you’ll find the narrative, engaging, exciting and an excellent example of the quality that Blizzard has been known for, for many years.
When I have, occasionally, played RTS games in the past, I’ve struggled with unit management and control overall. I get overwhelmed easily and give up right away. Thankfully, in Warcraft 3: Reforged, in the campaign mode, you’re focused on controlling your hero character and a small group of allies.
In multiplayer, you can only select a maximum of 12-units at a time. In this way, you learn to quickly make the most of those 12-units and figure out how to be the most effective. That being said, I’m still terrible at PvP and after devasting loss after humiliating defeat, I stuck to the campaign. It feels as though unless you’ve been playing Warcraft 3 since 2002, you’re not likely to stand much of a chance in multiplayer.
Or I’m just really bad.
In any case, regardless of if you’re playing the original or Reforged, you can play multiplayer games. This is an incredible engineering feat on Blizzard’s behalf. The coding that must have been required to make both versions work together seems insane to me, but it unites the community, which is a good thing. Where the wheels have fallen off a bit — and where I can understand some fan frustrations — is that in order to make both versions work together, Blizzard has updated the original game to the Reforged client.
Doing so has removed some of the features players have enjoyed for nearly two decades. This is clearly a bad move but one that Blizzard has promised to rectify. The sooner the better but the omission of clans, a competitive ladder and tournaments really must sting for dedicated players.
Elsewhere, Warcraft 3: Reforged isn’t a powerhouse of visuals but it does stand alongside World of Warcraft, at least. The character models have all been updated and are far more detailed than their original counterparts. The same can be said of buildings. It gives Reforged a nice, modern sheen, though it that not everything in the game has been overhauled.
Animations are a bit stiff across the board. I’m not sure why. Maybe in order to ensure both versions work together, the Reforged animations couldn’t stray too far..? In any case, while the models have benefitted, animations haven’t. So Reforged is caught in a strange middle-ground. The maps and textures have also been updated though not quite enough. Sure, they look decent but there’s a bit of a disconnect between the two and so the character models tend to stand out and make the maps look slightly worse than they really are.
Sadly, the UI is enormous and — at this stage — is unable to be changed. It’s a real shame too. The UI is laughably big and only detracts from the experience. Hopefully, Blizzard patches this soon as, at the moment, it’s a bit of an eyesore. Additionally, zooming in and out does almost nothing for your view which seems a bit at odds with the genre. One other issue I had was the inability to select key bindings. For a 2002 game, sure, this might have been ok, but in 2020, it’s an oversight, to say the least.
However, Warcraft 3: Reforged is still great. Despite the controversy. Despite the minor changes and the missing or incomplete features, Warcraft 3: Reforged is a simply extraordinary RTS that delivers truly inspired gameplay.
Fans of the original are clearly miffed but, if like me, you missed it the first time, or haven’t played in ages, Warcraft 3: Reforged is a game that simply must be played.
It took me nearly two decades but I finally got around to it. And it was well worth the wait.
Warcraft 3: Reforged was reviewed on PC using a digital copy provided by Blizzard.
Game title: Warcraft 3: Reforged
Genre defining gameplay - 10/10
History and Lore of Azeroth in spades - 9/10
Missing features and strange choices like the giant UI - 5/10
Tonnes of content, cross-version PvP - 9.5/10