Gamers will have found it hard to miss the massive backlash caused by Blizzard’s latest release, Warcraft 3: Reforged which has led to fans voting down it’s Metacritic rating to 0.5, the lowest of any game. So what went wrong? Well let’s take a look at the promises and what was delivered and find out:
Let’s start with the cutscenes promised at Blizzcon 2018 and those in the launch game in IGNs comparison video below:
Lots of people have asked if the changes were down to budget cuts, but if you look at the two cutscenes side by side then you can see that the actions happening in the 2018 cutscene is the same as in the 2020 cutscene. The only difference in the 2020 one seems to be the distanced static camera. It seems unlikely that a simple cutting back of the camera angles would save the development team any money, unless it was to cover the fact that later cutscenes have reduced movements. So what does Blizzard have to say about the change in cutscenes in their official response?
“ we did not want the in-game cutscenes to steer too far from the original game.”
“we want to preserve the true spirit of Warcraft III and allow players to relive these unforgettable moments as they were”.
Blizzard claims that these changes were mentioned at last year’s BlizzCon, 2019. This decision seems at best misguided and at worst dishonest when being made after the promises of BlizzCon 2018, without first consulting the game’s player community. It leaves little wonder that this comparison forms the backbone of many disillusioned players complaints. However, let’s not forget that Blizzard are “sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted”.
But the issues don’t stop there. The original promise was that Reforged would co-exist with the original 2002 version, still loved by many. Instead, it replaces the original with players unable to access some features of the original game, even without upgrading, due to the move to the same client as Reforged. Some of these removed features are LAN play, Clans, ranked ladder play, automated tournaments and the option to play offline. It’s easy to see the salt added to the wounds, here, when those unhappy with Reforged are unable to even revert to the game they loved and paid for back in 2002 and are forced to settle for the broken mess they just paid another £30. But don’t despair, Blizzard are “sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted”.
Furthering the rage is Bizzard’s change to the EULA which proclaims all custom maps made through Reforged as “Sole and exclusive property of Blizzard.” For anyone aware DOTA which led to DOTA 2, the reasons are obvious. Blizzard are clearly making a grab for any more potential multi-million pound fan mods and fans are understandably not happy. But don’t forget that Blizzard are “sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted”.
So what is it? A cash grab or a mismanaged project? In my opinion, Warcraft 3: Reforged seems more the result of a development team out of touch with its player base. The changes to the camera would, in all likelihood, have not saved on development time or money. However, the dropped features that Blizzard claims in its defence “saw very low usage” and the “Eliminating the maintenance for underused elements” will definitely have saved Blizzard some money. Many also point out that the change in the EULA is unlikely to lead to Blizzard making money off its fan content. DOTA was most likely a one off and lightning is unlikely to strike in the same place twice. I, personally, believe this is just another in a long line of missteps by Blizzard which has hit the player trust of its franchises hard, over the last couple of years. Will this prove the final nail in the coffin? Unlikely, but it certainly won’t help Blizzards downward spiral.
So, a final word of wisdom. If you still have the original Warcraft 3, don’t upgrade your client. If you want to play Reforged then the advice is to install it on another computer, so you are still free refund and revert if you don’t like it. And don’t forget that Blizzard are “sorry to those of you who didn’t have the experience you wanted”.