We might still be recovering from Starcraft's 20th birthday bash, but Blizzard are still ready to party like it's 2002. After a long and mostly uneventful trial period on their public test servers, Warcraft III has received probably it's biggest update in the past decade, Patch 1.29, bringing the game far closer to modern spec, although it's still not quite the HD upgrade or overhaul that some are still hoping for.
For casual players, the biggest upgrade is immediately visible: The game now supports aspect-correct, horizontally expanded widescreen, giving you both a larger field of view and a cleaner interface. Quite frankly this is something that should have been patched in a long time ago, but it's nice to see now. More interestingly for the long-term is the addition of 12 new player colours and lobby support for up to 24 players, which you can see in action below, as captured by Youtube channel ToDGaming during the beta.
Naturally, custom maps will have to be made to support these new enormo-scale matches, but that should be easier than ever thanks to some major upgrades to the map editor. Almost all limits have been raised - a map can now support up to 30,000 objects, 2,000 neutral units and 4,300 player-owned units. A lot more stuff has been improved under the hood, and the addition of a slew of new scripting commands might just lead to a second wind for the mod scene that brought us the MOBA genre as we know it.
On top of all of this, Blizzard are making a serious push to make Warcraft 3 a competitive multiplayer game once again, and have brought an enormous number of balance tweaks and changes to just about every hero character in the game. Given my lack of experience with the game over the past 14 years or so, it would be a ridiculous undertaking to even try to summarize half of these, so I'll just leave you with a link to the complete patch-notes here. Ominously, they mention that this will be 'The last version to support Windows XP', suggesting that an even more fundamental upgrade to the game is planned.
Sadly, I've long-since lost my original copies of the game and it's expansion, The Frozen Throne. I also don't think I ever got the chance to register them on Battle.net, so if I ever want to return to the land of the pointy polygonal orcs, I'm going to have to pay full price. Then again, I've still got a campaign and a half worth of Starcraft 2 to complete, so perhaps I'm best off not tapping into this rich new wellspring of RTS nostalgia.
Warcraft 3 version 1.29 is live now, and anyone with keys for the original game and it's expansion can grab the game off Battle.net now.