There are games I am grateful of growing up on. I’ve already shared my stories of Doom II and Diablo II. Those are games that I have developed a strong connection to, and due to that, it’s the main reason why I never left those games after many years later.
Warcraft III is another game that belongs to that echelon. Yes, it is another game I grew up playing as a child, and it was a mesmerizing game for me to play.
Before I discovered Warcraft III, I vaguely remembered being aware of Warcraft II while walking around in local PC shops. I don’t remember if I played the game before the third sequel.
The real-time strategy genre is nothing new to me. My first RTS experience was the original Age of Empires, and I also did play the sequel after it. Going from those games to Warcraft III was like entering into a new universe.
The Importance of Heroes
The thing that really caught my attention with Warcraft III was the heavy emphasis on the hero units. The hero mechanic is nothing new for veteran RTS players. These types of units generally appear in the campaign portion of them, and they’re generally a buffed up version of a standard unit.
Warcraft III’s hero units are more than just that. They’re very distinctive compared to the standard units, and there is a heavy RPG design into them.
They have levels you need to worry about, various abilities you can learn, and you may acquire items to increase their effectiveness. All of these mechanics were so cool and invigorating for me when I first played the game.
I knew this feature would add another layer of depth to the standard RTS stuff that you’d expect: learning every unit purposes, scouting, and multitasking.
Back in the Reign of Chaos days, I learned the value of the Archmage’s Water Elemental spell. During those days, there were no shops that you can make to use healing items while leveling your hero by attacking neutral targets called creeps.
The additional of having buildable shops would later on be added to Warcraft III’s expansion, The Frozen Throne.
This means the Water Elemental was very useful for tanking damage while my real units would stay healthy in battle, and I don’t have to stress out being attacked and having an army that’s severely injured.
It was also cool that you could add multiple heroes to your first hero you made to create interesting synergies between them.
The Archmage has an aura called Brilliance Aura and it’s basically an aura that’s designed to increase the base regeneration speed of a hero’s mana; your main resource of using spells.
I would later on learn the second hero choice I‘d choose to synergize my Archmage was the Mountain King. He is a very offensive-based hero because of how strong his abilities are. However, he doesn’t have much base mana when the player spawns him from the altar.
As a kid, it was cool to experience this type of brainstorming that I never encountered from any RTS game or games in general I played before.
An Engaging Campaign Experience
I’ll be honest here. I never was a big campaign player in RTS games. I do love my single player shooters or RPG games though. So it’s not like I only play video games that’s designed to solely focus on having an engaging multiplayer experience.
The campaign in Warcraft III was the exception. I never felt so engaged in RTS campaign that just felt like you were on an epic journey. Especially, it was interesting to learn the moral principles of the four factions and the characters were also engaging too.
The beautiful thing about the campaign was you truly never know who the good or bad guy was until you play through all the missions and you finally know.
Just like Blizzard’s Starcraft’s campaigns, there are multiple campaigns that have you playing the four factions of Warcraft III: Human, Orc, Undead, and Night Elf. Each of them tell their own unique stories and have the player controlling various protagonists or antagonists.
What generally grabs my attention to replay a game’s campaign no matter what genre they are is the level design. There are definitely some interesting campaign missions that Warcraft III has the player tackling to.
My personal favorite is the final mission of the Night Elf campaign in Reign of Chaos, Twilight of the Gods. This mission has always struck a chord to me during my childhood. It felt like a perfect final mission to end an epic saga that Warcraft III has created.
The whole idea of fighting an insurmountable force of Undead and Burning Legion forces was so cool while defending your base, and the two Human and Orc allies of yours. It was also the only mission that allowed you to use one of Night Elves’ iconic units, the Hippogryph Rider.
Also, this mission showcased how powerful the two ultimate abilities of the two heroes you were using. It was both fun to use and it was very stylish to look at.
But outside of Twilight of the Gods, there are other missions I enjoy playing. When playing these maps through the eyes of someone who’s closely focused on game design, there are multiple missions that rival the final Night Elf mission from Reign of Chaos.
I’ve always appreciated the third mission of the Undead campaign from Reign of Chaos. Into the Realm Eternal is excellent for teaching the player how powerful the Necromancers are. They are a unit that was designed to summon two Skeleton Warriors from corpses and is a caster-based unit.
This was a cool mechanic back when I played the game as a kid, but it’s also the whole premise of the mission that was appealing. You’re basically storming into various Elven territories and it was cool to finally play an Undead mission where it was lengthy and action-packed. Since Necromancers are going to be an important unit for this mission, you’ll appreciate the sheer mass of your army.
The Frozen Throne expansion was definitely fun to play from a campaign standpoint, but I’ve always preferred the Reign of Chaos missions more. The missions just seemed better to me in the base game versus its expansion, but The Frozen Throne was still enjoyable nonetheless.
The one thing that always left me an impression after The Frozen Throne release was the fact you could play the Naga race. That was really unsuspecting at the time, and I thought it was a welcoming and exclusive feature for the campaign to have.
Another interesting feature the expansion did was it had a bonus campaign which felt more like a traditional RPG experience rather than RTS. It was called The Founding of Durotar, and I remember enjoying it during my younger years.
As of right now, it’s currently unplayable due to a bug from the latest patch, but I do hope it will be addressed in the upcoming patch because I haven’t played that campaign in many years. With that mentioned, I always appreciated that campaign for an example of some of the cool stuff you can do within the game’s sandbox. This is something I’ll eventually talk more about later on.
The Excellent Skirmish & Multiplayer
If you’ve reached around this point in the article, I think you already know what my main race I play as. It’s Human, but I also enjoy playing Orcs as my secondary faction.
I’m a casual Undead player if I want to take a break from the two other races, and I personally don’t enjoy playing Night Elf in skirmish or multiplayer matches.
When I first laid my eyes on Warcraft III, I always thought the humans looked the most interesting faction for me to play. I liked the look of the units, it’s something I’m familiar playing as because of Age of Empires, and I also enjoyed the base Human campaign too.
From then, I used to play a lot of skirmish matches against bots for fun until one day I finally had decent internet connection. I was able to take my skill level against real life players in the online battleground.
This game was my very first online experience, so it was weird for me to go against actual players instead of AI. I never had good enough internet connection until the early 2000s and Warcraft III was an amazing online experience.
Entering in the online world really brought new life into the game. It was really cool to fight against opponents that were unpredictable and it definitely encouraged me to become a better player.
During the time I fought against computer AI opponent, I would’ve never learned techniques like militia creeping or dealing with early game harassment.
I’m sure every Warcraft III player had experienced the good ol’ Blademaster harass strategy. I still remember being young and inexperienced towards this strategy, I used to lose games fairly quickly because I wasn’t well equipped towards this strategy.
The thing with fighting bots even on higher difficulties was they were very predictable, and they would never do this type of harass, so I never had to learn how to counter it.
But that’s the beauty of multiplayer games, there’s a sense of progression for you to get better. I remembered beating the computer on the hardest difficulty and thought it was cool, but then I truly learned that if you want to get good at Warcraft III, you have to play against real players.
The many years I’ve invested my time within the game and going against real players, I’m a different player than I was when I first touched the game and only had access to playing it against AI.
Warcraft III’s Battle.net system was designed to keep players engaged with so many of its features. It had a ranking system for those that wanted to climb the leaderboard, it had a daily tournament feature for those who were aspiring to be pro players, and the one unique feature it had was the custom game browser.
This was another amazing component for Warcraft III’s online experience. It was basically a bunch of maps that differs from the standard Warcraft III gameplay. Most of the maps that were hosted by users were generally maps that take advantage of the game’s sandbox and turn it into something completely different.
Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) is probably the most well known custom map from Warcraft III. I remember it was hosted on a daily basis during my younger years, but I never got into it because it just felt like I was playing Warcraft III, but without the base building and RTS aspect of it.
It basically felt like a stripped down version of the game I was play, but I did enjoy Uther Party which was the Warcraft III version of Mario Party. I used to love the novelty of Run Kitty Run also. That map screams the early 2000s, and when I play it, I feel like I transformed back in time.
The custom game experience is what got me into the game’s map editor which is called World Editor. I used to make some maps for the fun of it, and it was really my gateway to game and level design which is something I truly admire in the later years of my life.
As enjoyable the custom game experience was for Warcraft III, I always preferred playing the standard game mode. It’s what convinced me to buy the game in the first place.
My all time favorite mode was 2v2. When you have four equally skilled players together, it’s a magical experience. The maps were also very good for this game type too.
Most of the maps require a lot of strategy that’s involved in terms of getting your team to the late game stage. I also believe the 2v2 maps back in the times when I played heavily were fairly balanced too.
Back in the days, I used to have friends I would play in an arranged team setting, and those games were some of my favorites to experience.
I very much played through all the well known ladder modes back in the day. 4v4 will always be the “pubs” of Warcraft III for me because it’s a mode that easily appeals to both high level and casual players.
It’s easily a mode where so many things can happen when you have players with that kind of variability of skill level. Not particular my favorite, but it’s always going to be a mode you can easily find games and just have fun.
Warcraft III was the perfect game for me to start as my first online experience. It had so much to offer, and I honestly feel sorry for those that didn’t play it back in its heyday. You know what they say; all good things come to an end.
The Reforged Experience…
I haven’t played Warcraft III for so long and I decided to come back because of Reforged, and I couldn’t believe Blizzard was trying to get people excited for this beloved classic again.
The announcement of Reforged was enough for me to convince myself to return to the game, and it did take me a while to shake off the rust.
But when that was done, I was playing the game to enjoy myself. I couldn’t imagine to see how the game would get better with Reforged around the corner.
Well, Reforged was absolutely a disaster on launch day. It gave me flashbacks to the launch day of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
The game was broken, but playable at the same time. I remember there was a visual glitch where you could tell what race the opponent spawned, there were random disconnect issues, getting stuck in loading screens, and many more problems that you can search up.
I was in shock and awe by how bad Blizzard treated this game. It felt like they deliberately wanted to destroy my childhood for their sickening pleasure.
This re-release has absolutely destroyed my trust for believing Blizzard will do any justice towards the Warcraft RTS games.
Luckily, I never bought the Reforged edition because the new graphics never looked that appealing to me.
It was also very hard to tell what’s going on at times when there are many units fighting together. The Reforged graphics simply does a poor job at delivering proper visual communication to the player.
But I was also wondering how they were going to merge the classic and Reforged users. They decided to make the classic owners to have a mandatory update that changes the classic interface into the Reforged version.
There is a part of me that really misses the old Battle.net interface because I honestly think it was more user friendly overall to navigate.
But I totally get why they did it. They wanted both users to have a similar experience and not split the player base. During launch day, the new interface was severely downgraded compared to the classic version because there were so many quality of life features were missing.
Stuff like ranks, daily tournaments, clans, a profile system, a leaderboard system, and more.
The post launch patches have made the online experience better, but it’s not quite better. The game is still broken in some ways.
The ranks are not working properly because the stats seem to always changes every time you log into the game day by day. Sometimes, you lose your MMR (matchmaking ranking) even though you win.
You also still get stuck in loading screen at times, and I also noticed sometimes I’m not able to control my units once in a blue moon.
As you can tell, two years later, Reforged is still not a polished experience like the classic variant was. I honestly don’t know if things will ever get better for Warcraft III.
No Hope for Warcraft IV
Before the Reforged fiasco, I was hoping Reforged would be successful, so there may be a possibility for a new Warcraft RTS game. I personally never got into the World of Warcraft titles, so a new RTS game would greatly excite me.
But I can definitely say that I no longer trust or want Blizzard to control the Warcraft IP anymore.
I think it’s ridiculous that World of Warcraft had so many iterations throughout the years, but the RTS games have been neglected.
RTS games nowadays are niche for sure, but Warcraft started off as an RTS title and it was easily one of the biggest names from that genre. I believe a brand new Warcraft RTS title can still garner attention in today’s gaming world.
The kid in me desperately wants to imagine what a Warcraft IV would play like. There really have been no RTS games that came out after Warcraft III’s inception to scratch that itch for me.
All I really have is just Warcraft III, but it’s also hard for me to enjoy the game nowadays because of how bad Reforged has screwed up the game.
Warcraft III Deserves Better…
I love this game with all my heart even with all the issues that Blizzard has occurred on it. There are times where I wish I could go back in time, and play the game again when Warcraft III was in its prime.
That was a glorious time during my childhood, and I’m thankful for what the game has given me.
But as of right now, I simply play Warcraft III because of how much nostalgia factor it has. Reforged may have destroyed Warcraft III’s image, but it hasn’t destroyed its soul.
I hope in the future the game will return somewhat similar to its glory days, but I also don’t believe in Blizzard.
There is a part of me that want Microsoft to let another company take over the Warcraft IP, and I do hope they will treat it with care better than what Blizzard is currently doing.
But this is all hopeful thinking, time will tell what will happen to Warcraft III and its RTS titles. Warcraft III will forever be a defining PC title back in the early 2000s, and its influence has definitely made an impact for many games that came after it.