Today at BlizzCon 2019 we got a lot of details about the upcoming return of a Blizzard classic. A full year after it was announced at BlizzCon 2018, Warcraft III: Reforged is finally out in open beta. With many improvements and a great deal of visual polish, one of the best games in RTS history is once again available to newcomers and returning players alike.
Warcraft III and StarCraft II mainstay pro Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen was on hand to chat with developers. Grubby has also been playing the beta for a while now. You can see some quick beta gameplay in his video below. The majority of the Reforged deep dive show focused on the campaign and visuals. Nevertheless, we got to learn a few interesting things coming for multiplayer too.
Amid the beautification in Warcraft III: Reforged are a couple of things that will actually impact gameplay. One of the best things in the works is custom health bars for heroes. Now no Liches will have to needlessly perish because an Abomination’s health bar somehow got stuck over theirs. Small improvements like this can go a long way.
Warcraft III: Reforged will play on the regular Battle.net servers. Latency issues have such a deep history in this game that they have their own lore. Over time many players were driven off to alternative servers, but it is time to come home. Reforged players will have shared matchmaking with those who stuck with the original Warcraft III over the remake.
Blizzard has evidently put a lot of work into the custom editor as well. The original Warcraft III map maker was the tool that inadvertently birthed one of the biggest things in gaming history. If enough creative minds pour some time into Warcraft III: Reforged‘s new editor, we might just witness another paradigm shift.
Grubby also asked the Warcraft III: Reforged dev team about their balancing rationale. They expressed how fickle of a task it is to keep a competitive RTS balanced at all levels. There aren’t many things that can be done to fix issues at the professional level while keeping the game fun and logical for casual players. However, it can be argued that a perfect balance shouldn’t be something to be developed and forced into place.
Warcraft III is an unsung success story of competitive balance. Without a single balance patch over the last 10 years, the game has sustained a competitive community. Regular professional tournaments have seen meta after meta come into favor and rotate out. No one race, unit, hero, or composition has emerged superior for more than a few months at a time. Over time, even the legacy of the Blademaster as the default Orc opening hero came to pass.
Without forced changes, it was left to the ingenuity of players to figure out how to shake off each new dominant strategy, to usher in the next one. That era is over, with Blizzard preparing to foster the next generation of Warcraft III competitive play. We can only hope they pay attention to the lessons of the past.
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Games player and write-abouter from Ottawa. Doom basically raised me.