Above: When Optimus Prime speaks, you need to listen.
It’s difficult to know a classic when it comes out. When Warcraft 3 came out, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. I was expecting more like Warcraft 2 with the Humans vs Orcs and a gameplay similar to Warcraft 2 and Starcraft. Instead, I got a campaign where everything goes to hell in the game world (literally) and the game was half RTS and half RPG. The ‘half RPG’ felt like the RTS had a virus. The music also changed. I was a huge fan of Warcraft 2’s music so much that I listened to the CD in my car. Warcraft 3’s music was not as bombast which was disappointing.
Warcraft 3 had many issues at first. Everything seemed imbalanced towards spellcasters which made online play not fun. Because everything was 3d, the game engine couldn’t handle many units at a time. This meant that there was ‘upkeep’ to put pressure on the player to have low unit counts. If you made enough units, you got ‘low upkeep’ which meant your gold income was ‘taxed’. When you got ‘high upkeep’, the income got ‘taxed’ even more. Now, when I play RTS I play with throwing tons of giant armies at each other. This was not how I wanted to play!
Warcraft 3 also was originally intended to have SIX races. Having only four felt like I was getting shortchanged!
I was completely turned off by Warcraft 3. Then I got the expansion because you always buy the Blizzard product (at least you did). Frozen Throne fixed the game balance, made the game more ‘RTS-like’, de-emphasized the spellcasters, and added shops.
I would always play Warcraft 3 online off and on until World of Warcraft. When WoW came, well, that game devoured all your time (and your life!). The custom maps of Warcraft 3 were also fun to play around in.
Throughout this time though, Warcraft 3 has always been crapped on. It was crapped on by the original Warcraft fans (of 1 and 2) who didn’t like the big picture of the game moving away from the Humans VS. Orcs. It was crapped on by the RTS community who didn’t like the cutesy style of the game (Command and Conquer fans). But the one that still gnaws is the crapping the Starcraft: Brood War fans placed on the game. The elitist turds kept badmouthing the game even going into Starcraft 2 until Warcraft 3 players began to compete evenly with them. With the mess that is Starcraft 2, you don’t see anyone badmouthing Warcraft 3 anymore.
Warcraft 3 has been forgotten due to its famous spin-off title: World of Warcraft. While MMO companies keep trying to make something that compares to Vanilla WoW, the secret ingredient all along was Warcraft 3. It was Warcraft 3 that established the World of Warcraft, put in place the major characters, the major themes, the creatures of the world, the races, and the main cities and settings. World of Warcraft was so realized because of Warcraft 3. This goes beyond the content. The gameplay of World of Warcraft has a precursor in Warcraft 3. In Warcraft 3, you do go on quests. Your hero ‘levels’ and can get additional abilities and items.
Warcraft 3 was released in 2002. Nearly twelve years later, this game has definitely stood the test of time and should be considered a classic. It does something that I find extremely rare in games: it is able to deliver VERY WELL done single player, VERY WELL done multiplayer, and VERY WELL done replayability (especially with the custom maps and map editor). Most games are lucky to get one or two of those three, very very few get all three.
I’m currently playing Warcraft 3’s single player campaign on hard. Geez, it is fun. And challenging at times. The story goes from LOL at times to WHOA. It is consistently entertaining. The map design is engaging with the except of the first missions of each campaign (where they introduce you to the basic units of the race). The online multiplayer is still vibrant. I can get 4 vs 4 matches in no time. The custom maps are also fun to explore. This is the cradle of Tower Defense and DOTA along with other fun maps. Oh, and there is also OFFLINE PLAY and LAN. How you Starcraft elites like them apples? You don’t have that in Starcraft 2!
Why is this game so much more fun than Starcraft 2? The only thing Starcraft 2 does well is the single player mission designs. Those are as entertaining if not more so than Warcraft 3 and other RTS games. Starcraft 2’s story is full of fail. I’m not talking about Raynor pining for Kerrigan. The joy of RTS story telling is the use of multiple perspectives of different contexts due to the factions. Starcraft 2 only has one context per faction which makes the game seem so hollow. Warcraft 3 offered four perspectives. In hindsight, Starcraft 2 would have been better if it had 10 missions of each race instead of 30 missions of one race per expansion. Better story telling comes in having more perspectives. Events also move much faster too. Going from mission to mission in a game like Warcraft 3 is watching one nation fall after another. In Starcraft 2, it is going to another planet to get more resources. BORING. In multiplayer, Starcraft 2 is just way too fast, much faster than the original Starcraft, and doesn’t bode well if you don’t dedicate your life ‘training’ your macro and micro for it. I like how in Warcraft 3 I can just make multiple accounts, smurf, and not give a damn. It’s just a game after all. I can play an online game of Warcraft 3 right before bed and be fine, but that is not possible with Starcraft 2 where I feel I need to drink 10 cups of coffee to be competitive. The map editor in Starcraft 2 sucks donkey balls because nothing in it is fun and has no fun assets to use. Warcraft 3’s editor allows cut and paste (want a new hero? Cut and paste. Cut and paste its image, its spells, etc). Warcraft 3 also offers a large asset stable to create your map. The RPG system for Warcraft 3 already lays the framework to make easy maps. Starcraft 2 just seems… empty in comparison. Warcraft 3’s heroes are like action figures we can use to make our own maps and stories. Starcraft 2 doesn’t offer those action figures or the creeps, or non-race critters, to make an interesting world.
I can’t stop playing this game. If you like RTS or even liked WoW, Warcraft 3 should be played. It is easy to recommend with its full and impressive single player campaign, still active online multiplayer, and TONS of custom maps to play. For $20, it is one of the best gaming deals around.