Warcraft III is making its triumphant return with Warcraft III: Reforged, and it feels so good to jump back in.
I had a chance to play Warcraft III: Reforged — a remaster of Blizzard’s indelible 2002 real-time strategy game — at BlizzCon, running through the Culling of Stratholme and being transported back to one of the most impressive stories to ever grace the genre.
The thing that immediately struck me when I started the Warcraft III: Reforged demo was the aesthetic. It’s probably been about 10 years since I last played what I consider to be my favorite RTS game, and Reforged manages to capture that old Warcraft III vibe while updating it to something that looks more modern.
Warcraft III: Reforged doesn’t take character models from World of Warcraft or try to mirror that game’s aesthetic. Instead, it keeps the exaggerated features seen in Warcraft but polishes them with much better detail and lighting.
You can see how the game has been transformed in the gameplay trailer:
After watching a cutscene where Arthas Menethil decides he’d rather kill the innocent citizens of Stratholme now than watch them be consumed by the Scourge, and seeing Uther Lightbringer and Jaina Proudmoore abandon him over this atrocious task, I jumped right in.
I haven’t played many RTS games in the past 10 years, just a few here and there (and usually not for very long) so it took a minute to get re-acquainted with the genre and start building up my army for the grisly task at hand.
Soon I was tearing through building after building, killing doomed citizens one after another while maintaining my base and keeping an eye on resources and soldiers.
The Culling is a pivotal moment in the Warcraft series, showing the descent of Arthas and the fall of the human kingdom of Lordaeron. But it isn’t just a big plot point, it is a difficult mission that makes you question your morals and maybe do something that you’re not exactly comfortable with.
As the Dreadlord Mal’Ganis works his way through the infected city of Stratholme, converting humans into mindless, evil Scourge grunts, Arthas and his followers are trying to kill the humans before they turn. Uther and Jaina refused, showing just how inhumane Arthas’s decision is, but you still have to carry it out and destroy one of the biggest human cities on Azeroth.
The Warcraft III: Reforged demo at BlizzCon was just a tiny slice of the whole game, but it reminded me of what makes Warcraft III — a game that still holds up — such a successful title: The lore is deep and interesting, the stories are unparalleled, and the gameplay is fun and dynamic.
The rest of this remastered classic will be playable sometime in 2019 along with some of the other features that made Warcraft III so great: an improved map editor and the ability to create custom games.