There has no doubt been a lot of drama surrounding the release of Warcraft 3: Reforged. Blizzard promised a lot more but we got a shoddy game with dated visuals, performance issues and half of what we were promised, did not arrive. How does it stack up as a game? Well, not so good as Warcraft 3: Reforged is a fantastic RTS but you have probably played it before and there’s nothing much new here to make it worth another buy. The “Reforged” part is lacking throughout the experience making it feel like a dated Windows XP game of which everyone has most likely experienced already.
What did I expect going into Warcraft 3: Reforged? Well, for starters I thought the game would be a full remaster improving the campaign, remastering the cinematics, a new UI and experiencing the cult classic with a fresh coat of paint. Apart from the visuals which have received a slight upgrade the rest simply did not arrive. That is both good news and bad news. The good news is that if you have never played the game before, it is the best way to experience it. The bad news; everyone most likely has so it kind of feels like repurchasing the same game just a few years later.
It is still the action-packed RTS game you enjoyed and we all grew up playing it which means nostalgia helps fuel the most tedious levels. There was nothing better than charging across a battlefield with your army led by the fantastic heroes in the game. It felt great back then and it delivers the same excitement now but for every great moment, you are weighed down by the thought of paying money for this “remaster”. While I did not technically pay for this review code, I have to look at things from a consumer point of view and there’s just this constant sinking feeling of “this should be better”.
When it comes to gameplay, Warcraft 3: Reforged holds up well. The micro-managing of troops, upgrading your units, building bases and simply creating an army of Horde, Alliance, Scourge and Night Elves is both thrilling and challenging. Every unit you build looks great, has their own unique upgrades and the sense of accomplishment you get when your base is up and running like a well-oiled machine, pumping out units, healing them and buffing them is why I love RTS games. The game still prides itself on the freedom to approach your army the way you want to and the handful of methods I used either worked or I was buried alive. Whatever happened, I learnt from the mistakes I made, adopted a few changed (watched a few videos too) and headed right back into the fight. It is honestly as RTS-like as you could possibly get and to think this game is ancient goes a long way to show just how great it was back in the day.
It was those maps that I spent countless time prepping my troops and raging war on that made Warcraft 3: Reforged feel so damn good. The core of the game is untouched and it never had to be in the first place. Blizzard can pat themselves on the back for creating this masterpiece all those years ago. What has changed are the graphics as units have seen a fresh coat of paint. Buildings have also been remastered with some noticeable improvements across the board. All in all, it is a more vibrant, prettier version of the game.
Unfortunately, that is where the enhancements end and I cannot help but feel that you pay for a simple HD texture pack. Cinematics are often an eyesore as the promised camera improvements are nowhere to be found. Blizzard showed off a fantastic new artistic approach when it came to cinematics during the game’s reveal with up-close camera angles delivering a more immersive narrative. This is not the case in the final release. They are simply bland and lack all the emotion which we felt when we saw the original improved style. It is a big shame given how great the story already is, the changes would have helped deliver a new experience not only for veterans but especially for the newcomers. At least the cinematics look great still but these are so far and few between that you often forget about them.
When it comes to gameplay, unit animations are still dated and stiff and even with the resolution jumps and higher frame rate support, they look choppy and dated. I could also not help but feel that the maps have also received no attention at all. Other than the graphical tweaks, it is almost a copy-and-paste situation. I did notice few gameplay changes like the locations of specific mines being moved but it is not an improvement by any means. There’s no getting around it, the game is dated and once you have gone and played any modern RTS, you won’t bother coming back unless you are a hardcore fan of the series. It is a case of “nice to own if I ever feel like playing it”. Unfortunately, you never will.
Then we have the missing features like the inability to rebind keys without using your third-party app. The game relies on quick presses of the buttons and the need to change things around to suit your play style is key to success. The same can be said for the UI which is hard to look at. The moment I opened the game I searched high and low for a way to make it smaller but I could not find it. No really, it is massive and it hard to look at. It blocks the gameplay, ruins the ability to zoom into the action and simply does not work. Why, Blizzard? Why!! The game is also missing competitive ladders which, wait for it, is present in the original game! There are just huge missing features here that made me scratch my head in confusion.
One thing that Warcraft 3: Reforged does well is delivering a great story and if you can sit through the dated visuals old-school mechanics, then you are in for a treat. I highly recommend everyone to play through it at least once and it is indeed the complete experience covering all the campaigns and expansions available. It kind of made me feel like Blizzard needs to stop focusing on older games and release a damn Warcraft 4 now. Even with the voice acting coming out muzzled and the character animations being stiff, the story is told to perfection and there are some superb moments in the game which brought back all the feels.
Warcraft 3: Reforged is a great RTS with a fantastic story to experience but it is by no means the best version of the game. You are better off playing the original for that old-school factor. For every great moment, there was a missing accessibility feature, bad visual bug or uninspired cinematic that brought it down. Blizzard plans on fixing these issues in the coming months but honestly, the novelty will be long gone by then.
This Warcraft 3 Reforged review was based on a code sent to us by Blizzard