Zug Zug! The Battle for Azeroth is a long, complex war with many different attempts to invade the planet and make it a bastion for some or other evil power. Warcraft III finds the planet about to be beset by the armies of the Burning Legion, while also dealing with the undead Scourge. Humans, Orcs, Undead, Elves, Trolls and Tauren will all get involved in a call to war.
Going big, going small
Warcraft 3 took a different approach to RTS than previous iterations, going for smaller armies and a focus on heroes. This design decision was because of the hardware battling with unit counts with a shift to 3D, but the limitation made for something great. Instead of sending two massive armies against one another and seeing which side survived the carnage, Warcraft III zoomed in. Unit specific abilities were important, with each unit having a role to play. Instead of building the biggest army possible to get an edge, you needed the best mix of characters and a powerful hero at your side, which required scouting out neutral creep camps with your hero and some backup to collect XP and a few items for them.
While we try our best to review the product and not the marketing beforehand, there are situations like this where it definitely creates an impact.
This clash of heroes changed everything in terms of how they were viewed. In previous Blizzard titles, heroes were powerful but needed to be protected at all costs. Now they could die and respawn for some gold, meaning they saw much more front-line usage than ever before. Giving them an inventory also created a strong sense of the RPG, with heroes gaining strength, levels and extra utility as time passed. The story focussed on heroes and their stories.
Memory is a weird thing. In my mind, the graphics of Warcraft 3 were much better than looking back at what the models actually looked like. But taking those rose-tinted glasses off and confronting what things looked like, there are definitely moments where I am truly impressed with how the units in Warcraft 3: Reforged have changed. The Nathrezim look terrifying like they rightly should and I the Tauren look like fierce and strong.
Each unit and building, when seen by itself, looks amazing.
Each unit and building, when seen by itself, looks amazing. Seeing how the original units were transformed to look a bit more like their Warcraft counterparts, but not exactly like them, is pretty impressive. However, when all of them are on the screen together, something feels lost. Besides watching my frame rate plummet, there is something about the cartoony goofy animations and models of Warcraft III that has been lost, making things just too serious. Character animations have been toned down in some cases, away from the over the top exaggeration of the original. This results in some odd moments, like Arthas promising to chase someone to the ends of the world while standing there without any motion, which robs the scene of impact.
Refo -err- Remaster
The biggest problem is that Reforged pretended to be much more than it is. Initial marketing and the promotional material even after launch showcased something that was more than a simple HD remaster. However, many of the grand features that made Reforged stand out were removed. Things like in-game cutscenes with better animations and more story to flesh out the roles of Jaina and Sylvanas disappeared, leaving what was basically an HD Remaster. While we try our best to review the product and not the marketing beforehand, there are situations like this where it definitely creates an impact. Reforged is a fairly decent remaster of a game that set in motion so many things that it is basically a cultural cornerstone. Playing Warcraft III again is a treat, and brings back so many memories of the beginnings of Hero-based RTS, the entire MOBA genre really kicking off and how the story paved the way for a massive MMO.
However, Reforged sells itself as something more than an HD Remaster. Adding stories to flesh out characters who had minor roles in Warcraft III but massive impact on the WoW story would have been a great opportunity to align everything. After seeing what the Culling of Stratholme could have looked like, and having it dangled in front of us the entire time, then not getting anything like that is not only upsetting but disappointing. Had the game just been called Warcraft III: HD, it would have gone by without much fanfare and many fans would go for a trip down memory lane and maybe complain about the frame rate or connection drops. Now the game is in a precarious position after promising much and giving little, much like what the Burning Legion does.