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Blizzard Are Considering An RTS Return For Warcraft

Possible Heroes of the Storm single-player too

A pair of recent interviews with Blizzard employees, conducted by IGN at Gamescom, have hinted at the future of the Warcraft franchise beyond the MMO's vice-like embrace. It's not only movies; there might be a new strategy game on the cards.

Finding that header image was a trip to nostalgia town, let me tell you. Did you know you can still access the old version of Battle.net from before SC2 launched? The hours I spent on that site waiting for information on StarCraft II in the early-mid 00s... Memories.

Anyway. Speaking to Tim Morten, a producer with Blizzard's RTS squad Team 1, who are currently polishing off Legacy of the Void [official site] for its release before the end of this year, IGN asked about what was next.

This isn’t the end of StarCraft, but it’s the end of this story for these characters. We don’t have any specific plans, but I’ll say that the universe has so much potential for more stories, clearly other stories could be told.

It’s very rewarding for us to hear that there’s demand out there for more RTS content in the Warcraft universe so once we’re done with Void I think we’ll get together as a team and talk about what would inspire us to work on next. There’s no question, though, that we’ll consider Warcraft, StarCraft, or even new ideas. Anything is possible.

There's some obvious difficulties with this, not least from a story perspective. WoW isn't going down any time soon, so any plot elements would need to fit into or around that, or ignore its existence completely and start afresh from the end of The Frozen Throne, Arthas happily chilling out on his new seat.

However, Blizzard's stories have never been a primary focus and can be changed to suit, so I think the biggest hurdle will be trying to turn what people remember about Warcraft into a good RTS. It was a fantastic system for handling characters in small squads, but there's a reason I most fondly remember Rexxar's mercenary campaign and the various 'commando' missions rather than anything involving building a base and training units. DotA was a sort-of multiplayer version of that and it's stood the test of time. A new Warcraft RTS would need significant system changes to do the same.

IGN also spoke to Dustin Browder, ex-StarCraft-man and now-Heroes-man, on the pseudo-similar topic of a Heroes of the Storm single-player mode.

We've definitely thought about it. It's not being worked on today, but it is cool.

We'd love to do it - we have the tools, we have the technology, we have a team that's very passionate about that type of content. I've certainly heard it mentioned around the office many, many times. No one's coding today, though. I don't want to overpromise and say it's imminent - it's not imminent. But it's something we definitely want to do.

Rather than just playing out Heroes matches against bots, he's talking here about something closer to those missions I mentioned from Warcraft 3. I could definitely get into that, although it would presumably remain a cross-universe thing rather than focusing purely on Warcraft.

It sounds like any announcements are years away, but we'll probably find out more about what Blizzard are working on at Blizzcon in November, including - I hope - the long-rumoured HD remasters of classic Blizzard games.

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Ben Barrett