Content of the article: "Even 10 months after release, Warcraft III: Reforged is still missing central features of the original game: Ranked Ladder, Clans, Player Profiles, Custom Campaigns"
The release of Warcraft III: Reforged on January 28th was, mildly speaking, a disaster:
- The updated graphics – the main selling point – were often criticised for changing the art style entirely, units not meshing well with the background, and unit silhouettes being much harder to distinguish in fights.
- The game itself still had performance issues, even in the main menu (which was, puzzlingly, implemented as a web application). Or
- Only 3 of the game's 60+ single player campaign missions received noticeable changes while the game's reveal had featured one of those, leading people to expect the showcased reworks everywhere.
- Speaking of campaigns and expectations: the game's website still advertised 'Reforged Cinematics' with better camera movement, animations, and new voice acting after the game had already launched. These did not exist in the game.
- The game's EULA was changed to give Blizzard full rights on any custom maps created.
Perhaps most importantly: The old Warcraft III client no longer works (without workarounds). Instead, you're made to download all of Reforged but are only able to use its old graphics style. The old client would be automatically uninstalled.
On top of that, the old graphics style had a number of issues like missing shadows and effects, or bad saturation on some models.
Additionally, the following features from the original Warcraft III were not present in Reforged:
- Single player custom maps. Everything needed to be hosted online, even if you were the only player vs AI. This meant no saving for larger maps.
- Custom campaigns. Used to be its own menu point, now it's just gone with the only way to play their maps individually by opening them in the map editor.
- Player Profiles
- Ranked Ladder
- Automated Tournaments
- An IRC-like chat system with custom chat rooms
All of this led to massive protests by fans, including review-bombing the game down to 0.5 user score on Metacritic. But even the critic score only sits at 59 compared to 92 and 88 for the original game and its expansion.
A few days after launch, Blizzard made a post on their forums, trying to smooth the waves. In the post, they announced that clans and ladders were coming in a future patch, but automated tournaments were gone for good.
Blizzard also eventually offered automated refunds to anyone, regardless of playtime.
So, what has changed after 10 months?
Frankly, not much.
There have been 8 patches, mainly fixing numerous bugs, visual and sound issues, as well as some slight performance improvements. The later patches have focused more on balance changes. The only major change related to one of the points above is that you can now play custom maps in single player.
None of the other features that were in the original game but not Reforged have made a comeback, not even clans and ranked ladders which were already announced.
I don't want to bash the actual developers. They may have made some questionable decisions (looking at you, Electron main menu), but they're not to blame for missing features and lack of communication. That's on management.
The same is true for the art style issues. Yes, the art was outsourced. But the folks at Blizzard gave the direction and their okay on each and every asset.
Blizzard used to stand for high quality and polish. In the past decade, that reputation has taken a few hits, but in most cases the company has continued work on their games and improved them significantly. This has usually taken some time. But at least the games felt complete on release.
As such, Warcraft III: Reforged is a definitive low point for Blizzard.
If you've had a déjà vu reading this post, it's because I've made that exact same one back in May, 3.5 months after release.
Here's what I've had to change from then to now:
- Changed the number of months that passed
- Changed the number of patches and added purpose for later ones
- Removed a line about lack of communication (see below)
That's it, those are my full patch notes to bring the post up-to-date with the current state of the game.
Regarding communication, these are all the offical news we got since my original post:
- A feature road map, posted May 19th (less than a week after my post here), but lacking any timeline
- An update on ranked play, posted July 22nd, outlining how ranked will function and showing some UI previews, but lacking any timeline
- An update on player profiled, posted August 19th, outlining how profiles will function and showing some UI previews, but lacking any timeline
- An introduction to the World Editor, posted August 27th, giving a very broad overview of the tool, but nothing that an 18-year-old fan-made tutorial wouldn't do just as well
And nothing since.
Note that none of the features discussed in the first three news posts have made it into the game yet.
Finally, I want to shout-out W3Champions for being a community made tool with integration into the in-game UI. It provides matchmaking, ranked ladder, player profiles, and a chat system similar to that of the original game. It released less than 2 months after Reforged's launch and is being used by the majority of top western players.
See here for how their latest version looks in the game client.
- One year in – The state of Warcraft 3 : Reforged and the way Blizzard treats one of its longest-standing communities
- Team 1, Classic Teams, and what happened to them
- I made a post about Shadowlands being too grindy when it launched, and I got shot down. Now look at the community 3 weeks in.
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