The launch of Warcraft III: Reforged last Tuesday was not a return to glory for Blizzard’s vintage fantasy RTS. The prettied-up remaster’s changes are less dramatic than Blizzard have advertised (particularly the cutscenes), it’s got quite a few bugs, and players can’t even go back to the original unadulterated Warcraft 3 because Blizzard ‘updated’ it to the same troubled client as Reforged. Blizzard last night responded in a statement, saying they’re working on fixes and are “fully committed to supporting the game for a long time to come”. Disappointingly, they also tried to weasel out of building players’ expectations for cutscenes.
While Warcraft III: Reforged isn’t as horrible as some would have you believe (it’s rocking a 0.5/10 user score on Metacritic), Blizzard have dropped the ball – especially considering vintage Warcraft 3 is a game that was, until the launch of Reforged, still in perfectly fine condition. Reforged may have fancier models and textures but overall does not come off well in comparison. Reforged has bugs that classic WC3 didn’t, it’s missing several classic features like custom campaigns and clans, and Blizzard now claim even greater ownership over custom maps and modes made by players. Because classic WC3 has been forcibly patched to run through the Reforged client (in a limited ‘Classic’ mode without all the new art), there’s no going back to the original.
Blizzard’s statement last night addressed the bugginess:
“One of the concerns with Reforged that we’ve seen are the visuals when selecting Classic Mode. We’ve identified the bug causing the colours and shading to look different from the original Warcraft III, and we’re testing a fix that will be incorporated in a larger patch addressing this issue and others. We expect to release that late this week. The patch will also address many other known issues, such as fixing some portrait animations and audio bugs, implementing some UI fixes, and more.”
They’re planning more patches beyond this too. “This game is an integral part of the Blizzard DNA, with a team that loves Warcraft III, and we’re looking forward to pouring our hearts into Reforged and the Warcraft III community for the long term,” they say. Blizzard also say that leaderboards and clans, which were in the original WC3 but are now gone, will be added to Reforged in a patch (including for Classic players).
Some features are staying gone. Automated tournaments and the Reign Of Chaos ruleset (which made multiplayer matches like WC3 pre-expansion) were removed from regular old WC3 in May 2019 and will stay gone. Blizzard say they “saw very low usage” and that “eliminating the maintenance for underused elements has helped us streamline our overall support of the game and focus on areas impacting the most players.” They suggest players might find mods using that old ruleset – Blizzard will not make one themselves.
Reforged is also disappointing in comparison to itself. When Blizzard first announced it in 2018, they crowed about “reforged cutscenes” and showed off a classic scene remade with dramatic new camera angles and animation. Later on, they changed their minds and went back to the old clunky way. This video from GyLala compares the BlizzCon 2018 version with the finished product:
Blizzard are well within their rights to change their own game before launch, of course. Their statement explains that, as they had said during a panel at BlizzCon 2019, “the campaigns tell one of the classic stories in Warcraft history, and we want to preserve the true spirit of Warcraft III and allow players to relive these unforgettable moments as they were (albeit rebuilt with new animations and the higher fidelity art).” But they revealed this change of direction in a BlizzCon panel, which most people won’t have seen, and the game’s website still highlights this 2018 trailer showing the now-scrapped style:
Yes, that has the label “work in progress – art and effects not final” but I would never assume that meant they’d binned the whole idea – especially considering they’re still prominently displaying that trailer. You can’t actively advertise a game with a video like that then shrug that you mentioned on a panel last year that you changed your mind.
Reforged’s problems would be so much smaller if Blizzard hadn’t also smashed classic WC3 into the same client. Releasing a wonky new game is one thing but they’ve also wonked a game they themselves declare “a real-time strategy classic.” Not classic enough for you to leave well alone, is it.
Some players have reported that Blizzard seem to be offering instant automated refunds on request, even if they’ve played a fair bit.
Our Alice Bee is currently playing Warcraft 3: Reforged to tell us all wot she thinks.