One cannot speak of a good start with Warcraft 3 Reforged, the remaster of the real-time strategy game hit Warcraft 3: Blizzard faced a lot of criticism and malice and even more “hate” after the game was released. The fact is: the video game has its problems. But it's also a fact: Warcraft 3 Reforged is not as bad as some “haters” of the scene would like to make other players believe. In our game test we reveal whether Warcraft 3 Reforged is actually the “player cheat” that some fans are promoting.


Outdated graphics, boring gameplay, controversial topics or wrong design decisions: There are many triggers for scandals - and scandals about failed video games are not new. Almost every publisher has already been hit, some several times. Now it's Blizzard's turn again. After the release of Warcraft 3 Reforged the fans got it right, The criticism was not always expressed fairly. Some media were not too bad either and were heavily involved in the first gaming scandal of 2020.

Warcraft 3 Reforged: Worst PC Gamer Ever?

The reviews of Warcraft 3 Reforged were partly devastating, especially from the fans. With a user score of 0.5 points, Blizzard's remaster for Warcraft 3 on the Metacritic platform was already down in the basement shortly after its release. And the Californians are still holding the red lantern. Sure, Metacritic is hardly to be understood as a serious rating platform in the pure user area; rather, the portal seems to be instrumentalized for hate campaigns by disappointed fans. This is also the case with Warcraft 3 Reforged - although something seems to be wrong with the game - even if the mood is benevolent - when players express their displeasure so emphatically.

Is it really possible that Blizzard has produced a total slap from the grandiose template, which is overloaded with top ratings? Yes and no. Warcraft 3 Reforged works as a game, just as it did in 2002. Blizzard hasn't changed much anyway. A reamed look and improved sound contrast with a game principle that can also be found in the original. It cannot be because of the existing content that Warcraft 3 Reforged is being punished in this way.

It all starts with an inexperienced prince and his mentor. Screenshot: André Volkmann

It all starts with an inexperienced prince and his mentor. Screenshot: André Volkmann

Eight campaigns with a total of just over 60 missions offer solo players no fewer hours of gaming fun than 18 years ago. The developers only made small changes for the remaster, but these should be viewed as a modernization. If, for example, the “Stratholme” map is much more like the setting that players will find in the MMO World of Warcraft, then the change is a consistent adjustment to the scenarios given today in the Warcraft universe. You can't see anything bad in it. 

Especially since the missions are as playful as ever. Suddenly there are new side missions that invite you to make excursions into unexplored areas of the map and lure you with equipment. You discover ambushed units that join the player after the rescue. It's fun and motivating.

From bombast cinema to old-school wasteland

Warcraft 3 Reforged offers a lot that a remake or remaster has to offer. Obviously, first of all, there are the new HD models of heroes, units and monsters. Everything is a bit more detailed, colorful and modern. That should also apply to the cutscenes, which Blizzard had touted as a cinematic marvel at BlizzCon in 2018 - with wild tracking shots, exciting close-ups and great animations. What remained of it in the finished version of Warcraft 3 Reforged - exactly: nothing. What is now offered is what veterans have long known from the original and what newcomers can hardly inspire today. 

Because Blizzard has made the difference and the technical possibilities palatable to players, the cutscenes now seem carelessly processed. Somehow you stay true to the guideline of a “remaster”: Change in detail, but do as little as possible. Everything looks a little nicer, but no one wanted to make any effort. That has the bland aftertaste of cashing in.

The cutscenes are close to the original - a point of criticism for many players. Screenshot: André Volkmann

The cutscenes are close to the original - a point of criticism for many players. Screenshot: André Volkmann

Especially since not only all the technical possibilities would have been available, but also one of the perhaps most grandiose background stories that the video game scene has to offer. The drama about Arthas Menethil would provide material for a movie - and Blizzard misses the chance to stage the story in a contemporary way.

Overall, Warcraft 3 Reforged is anything but ugly. Rather, it seems that the developers worked on areas that did not need to be revised - but the necessary improvements were not made. The landscapes are mostly chic, but optically sometimes drift off into the unimportant. In combination with the camera view, that doesn't always look right.

Some scenes seem involuntarily funny due to the wooden animations. When Prince Arthas, armed with a powerful two-handed hammer and clad in heavy armor, hops like an elf towards his mentor Lord Uther, then you can hardly help but smile. 

Again and again, short dialog sequences drive the story forward. Screenshot: André Volkmann

Again and again, short dialog sequences drive the story forward. Screenshot: André Volkmann

If Blizzard had made as little effort with the optics as they did with the soundtrack, the overall picture would probably be much better. In terms of sound, it fits with Warcraft 3 Reforged, apart from a few ridiculous new dubbing. After all: the portraits are almost lip-synchronized, the soundless chattering animations from back then are history. 

A no-go: the interface eats up the screen

If you are starting Warcraft 3 Reforged for the first time, you will be surprised by the “filigree work” that Blizzard has put into the user UI. The interface is - in the truest sense of the word - the player's greatest enemy. This is mainly related to the sheer sprawling dimensions of the “control bar”. The user interface in Warcraft 3 Reforged hides a lot of the game, but offers no significant value for it. In other words: despite its gigantic size, the UI has nothing that cannot be achieved with a third less space. 

Lots of graphics for little function. Note the beefy interface. Screenshot: André Volkmann

Lots of graphics for little function. Note the beefy interface. Screenshot: André Volkmann

Because some players already know this from World of Warcraft, the solution to the problem is known: Switch to the menu and simply scale the UI down to a tolerable size. Not in Warcraft 3 Reforged. Not only is this out of date, it is ugly, especially at high resolutions. The functional scope of the UI is almost zero: Sure, the equipment needs to be easily accessible in order to be activated and the same applies to the character skills, but it shouldn't have been such oversized action buttons. Today, less is more - also when it comes to the user interface. 

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Sometimes it becomes inexplicable when a maximum of twelve units can be displayed in the mega troop window - and can only be combined into a troop formation in this maximum size. Ok, Warcraft 3 doesn't rely on escalating mass battles even as a remaster. But if I wanted to run over an opponent with 50 meat carts, then I would like to do it the easy way. Overall, however, the control of the game is successful: directly, without long distances and with the option of using chain commands. The fact that units are sometimes blocking each other can be accepted, many real-time strategy games suffer from this, especially on “unit channels” caused by the maps.

With the red felt pen through the design list

All of the criticisms could be described as not so important if the playful concept worked; in the case of Warcraft 3 Reforged: if it were there. 

Blizzard has not been skimpy with the deletions. Contents that existed in the original are completely missing. The excuses don't help the developers either. Leaderboards? Miss. Detailed player profiles? Clans? Miss. Automatic tournaments? Missing, but according to Blizzard they were hardly used by players.

In combat - even when zooming - Warcraft 3 Reforge runs smoothly. Screenshot: André Volkmann

In combat - even when zooming - Warcraft 3 Reforged runs smoothly. Screenshot: André Volkmann

This affects the game not only because of the lack of content, but also in terms of what is there. How to search for opposing players is currently a mystery. The simplest variant would be: the next best player is assigned to, regardless of his skill level. Because Blizzard made a lot of things pretty easy for Warcraft 3 Reforged, it can be assumed that matchmaking is no different. Those who long for the classic version of Warcraft 3 will also be disappointed. Reforged is brazenly replacing the old version, which is no longer available through the site. 

In the end, Warcraft 3 Reforged remains the great solo part. The game was a highlight at the time, especially in the multiplayer area. Because there is currently no trace of that, the remaster version is clearly losing quality. Not because the game is fundamentally bad, but because Blizzard withholds all the content that could make Warcraft 3 Reforged from fans. 

It's fun to play through the campaign in a completely redesigned look. It's great to bring the epic story to life - especially with reference to what you know from World of Warcraft. However, Battle.net would not need it for Warcraft 3 Reforged. As a purely offline player, the remaster would have received solid grades, as a multiplayer game, which it is basically, the new version fails almost all along the line. 

The missions are all exciting: Warcraft 3 Reforged comes up trumps here. Screenshots: André Volkmann

The missions are all exciting: Warcraft 3 Reforged comes up trumps here. Screenshots: André Volkmann

As if that weren't enough, Blizzard has also redefined quality management - at least that's how it seems with the abundance of existing bugs. Some of them are so critical that regular reboots cannot be avoided. Unpleasant for a developer studio that has always been committed to quality over quantity.

Warcraft 3 Reforged still runs smoothly, even if there is a lot going on on the two-thirds of the screen released by the UI. There are also lags, at times rare - but sometimes massive. So technically, Warcraft 3 Reforged doesn’t run that smoothly. After all: Blizzard is working at full speed on the game. A first patch (1.32.1) fixes bugs and even some camera positions during the cutscenes. In addition, some crashes are a thing of the past. Blizzard has dealt with some of the worst blunders with it, but there is still a lot to do. 

Infobox

Number of players: Solo mode (campaign, AI opponents) and multiplayer
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 60+ hours of play
Difficulty: high
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: PC
Language: German
Cost: 29.99 to 39.99 euros

Summary

With all the criticism, you can already guess that Warcraft 3 Reforged is not the highlight we were hoping for. The remaster isn't the worst PC player of all time either. As is so often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between. In Warcraft 3 Reforged, however, only just above the middle. 

The cozy feeling of nostalgia spreads when you start Warcraft 3 Reforged for the first time. And it stays there as long as you play your way through the campaigns and missions. The story is still terrific, the optics support the action on a solid level and the content and processes of the individual missions look as fresh as they were around 18 years ago. Anyone who likes the Warcraft universe with all its iconic characters and locations will be far less disappointed with Warcraft 3 Reforged than anyone who hoped for a purely competitive game.

The game suffers from the unsuccessful communication on the part of Blizzard - this includes the many promises that have not been kept. You can't tell players what they're going to get for their money and then not deliver it. It would have been bearable if Blizzard hadn't shown in advance what you could get out of the dusty strategy game skeleton if you wanted to. Much is missing; there is too much of other things, namely bugs.  

But we didn't see the real-time strategy game as a scandal. Yes, the game has problems - many of which Blizzard will fix in time. If Warcraft 3 Reforged only consisted of the solo player part, you could also add the rating 15 points. So - and taking into account the current state of technology - there is nothing left than to devalue in parts. One thing is clear, however: Warcraft 3 Reforged is literally crying out for a follow-up test like hardly any other video game before.

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