On Warcraft III: Reforged & Preservation

It feels like for the last few months, Blizzard Entertainment haven’t been able to catch a break. With their disastrous 2019 is behind them, you’d think 2020 would be a chance for a fresh new start? Well it would, until the release of Warcraft III: Reforged.

This new version of Warcraft III aims to be what the Starcraft Remastered project was for Starcraft – updating the game with more integration with modern Battle.Net, some quality of life fixes and improved visuals. Unlike Starcraft Remastered, Blizzard attempted to be more ambitious, with newer cutscenes and some gameplay rebalances. The results are…less than stellar.

Normally I’d shy away from the hoopla surrounding a controversial release, but looking at what they’ve done to Warcraft III is astounding. Nearly everything about this product comes across as utterly and staggeringly questionable, and it baffles me why Blizzard thought it was fit for release.

Some of the ludicrous things include removing keybindings in said menus (which you can currently change via a txt file), or changing gameplay rebalances so that stuff that works in the expansion campaign works in the original campaign. Most of which I pray will be fixable, but that’s far from the most egregious problem in my mind.

Warcraft III: Reforged completely replaces the original Warcraft III client, so even if you don’t own Reforged, all players are forced to download the game and play with Reforged’s features, just with the older graphics. Reforged also just so happens to remove some of the online features that Warcraft III had like clans, ladders and more.

This is so ludicrous to me, I had to ensure that Blizzard didn’t do this with Starcraft Remastered. So I reinstalled the Battle.Net client and the 6GB that constitutes the modern version of Starcraft. I don’t own Remastered, and sure enough, I got absolutely none of the additions that it added. My original game was still intact, and worse case, I could still download it from Blizzard’s website.

I can’t do this with Warcraft III. Even though I don’t own the game, I can download an installer through Blizzard’s website, but doing that and launching it immediately updates the Battle.Net app and asks me to install WC3 Reforged. In an update to the community, Blizzard didn’t even bother to acknowledge people’s frustration at this particular aspect.

On a preservationist level this is a massive affront. I get Blizzard’s perspective that they’re wanting to unify all the clients into one that they can maintain, but to force people into a client that removes features and, frankly, is nowhere near close to par is ridiculous.

The only way you can play “classic” WC3 right now is with the original CDs, and with less of a need these days to even have an optical disc drive in your PC, but why should I have to resort to that in order to play a version of Warcraft III that doesn’t feel compromised? I don’t have to do that with Starcraft, orĀ  with Age of Empires, or Command & Conquer – all of which have decent remasters that aren’t fundamentally broken and/or are updated enough to play on modern computers.

I don’t doubt Blizzard will fix plenty of the issues currently facing Warcraft III: Reforged, but being a poor remaster, foisting it upon all its players and then removing all traces of the original is perhaps the worst decision they could’ve made. It’s far from the start of the decade Blizzard would’ve envisioned, and I pray it can only get better…

When he’s not being astounded at this release, Jamie can be reached via Twitter at @jamiemgalea.