So there was no Warcraft IV at the BlizzCon 2018. By cons, Blizzard has created the surprise by releasing an updated version of its famous RTS, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. His name ? Warcraft III: Reforged. We played it.
What would give Warcraft III: Reigns of Chaos, if it came out in 2018 and not in 2002? Maybe it would look a bit like Warcraft III: Reforged, the groomed and up-to-date version of its now iconic real-time strategy game, which Blizzard presented at the BlizzCon 2018. But perhaps also that this War 3 2018 would be much more spectacular than this "remaster", which by its very nature is not able to offer a modern RTS experience, as it is based on ancient foundations.
It prevents. Even though the BlizzCon 2018 showered the hopes of more and more insistent of those who hoped for a hypothetical Warcraft IV, they do not leave quite empty-handed: the surprise announcement of the American studio showed that Warcraft as a good old strategy game is not a dead end. This is certainly not the perfect announcement, but the game presented by the company on November 2 is up to the challenge. And above all, he knows how to strike on the keyboard of nostalgia.
We played at the BlizzCon.
The Purification of Stratholme
We do not yet know what the final experience of Warcraft III: Reforged, as the game is still under development and its release will only happen next year. But for the scenario that we could test, namely Stratholme's Stripping, which is a dramatic turning point in the history of Warcraft III, to the point of having weighed on later developments in scriptwriting, particularly in World of Warcraft, the game had no trouble satisfying us.
For those who do not remember what is happening in the Stratohlme Stripping, here is a brief summary: while a scourge is raging in the North of the continent, Prince Arthas and his troops are conducting an expedition to find the cause and solve it. In Stratholme, a city with many souls, the contamination is now too widespread for it to be saved. At least that's how Arthas thinks. So he decides to launch a purification of the city.
Here, no race or class to select: you end up with your hero, Arthas, whom you can control, and his men. First, you must consolidate your strengths by producing enough troops to prepare to invest the city and start your gruesome work. It will be a race against time, because in parallel with your mission, another task will await you: fight MalGanis, a demon who also intervenes in the city: you have to kill 100 inhabitants contaminated before him.
Sixteen years later
Visually, the path accomplished is remarkable. Of course, this is not the best thing about RTS today, but the graphic refinement is undeniable: the whole environment benefits from more detailed textures, just like the units, the buildings and visual effects. One almost likes to contemplate the result, instead of concentrating on one's mission, and summoning one's memories to try a quick comparison of the head.
But if the improvement is noticeable, frustration sometimes comes up, especially in the cinematics based on the graphics of the game. Certainly, Blizzard will not mobilize so many means for a video game "remastered", even if it is of such a classic, that for a colossal project that would represent the start of construction of a Warcraft IV. But some visual weaknesses were noticed, like hair and vegetation a little too static.
Because Blizzard did not just add textures and polygons. He also redid the cutscenes. These may be somewhat destabilizing, because the faces we see on the screen, like those of Jaina or Arthas, are not quite similar to what we are used to seeing in World of Warcraft ; the MMORPG indeed uses heavily these two characters in its history. They do not seem familiar. This gap is less clear with Uther, who is more faithful to his appearances in other licenses.
The game itself ends relatively quickly and the proposed mission is not an insurmountable difficulty, as long as you know how to play a game of strategy in real time. We certainly could have exacerbated the experience by choosing the difficult mode (it was proposed with the normal mode, we chose for this grip). But the later missions in the game should offer a challenge a little more full-bodied than what was proposed to us.
Memories that come to the surface
There are no new mechanics that are introduced in relation to Warcraft III. You have to collect resources (wood and gold, exploit the mine nearby and cut some logs with your peasants), produce troops and look for improvements. You must also play on several levels: the general management of your expeditionary corps, the development of your economy, the defense of your base and the micro-management of your troops.
This last element has also revived some old memories. Did you remember that your hero can level up and at every level of experience he can improve one of his talents? That you can use your healing spell to rescue an ally from bleeding or killing a citizen turning into a kind of contaminated undead? And you have consumables to use, if your mana bar is too low?
It was during the game that we rediscovered entire aspects of the game that we had somewhat forgotten. And a few times we were surprised to remember here how to play, there is such a replica in play.
Other facets of the game, however, have remained ingrained in our memory: we think for example of some famous replicas, as "still work" that drop from time to time peasants when assigned a task to accomplish. Let's say it: it's not unpleasant to re-hear these sentences. However, we do not know what it will give in VF, the demonstration being proposed only in English. Because you have to know that the voices are re-recorded for the game. This probably implies a new VF dubbing.
On arrival, while aware that this is only a demo of a game that is being finalized, the feeling that grips us is somewhat contrasted: we say that Blizzard knows how to redo to her community by giving her back what she loved many years ago. But we also think that Blizzard is resting a little too much on his achievements and that the studio could get out of his comfort zone with a real (and new) RTS, or just a new game, anyway.
In the end, it is difficult to separate things out, especially when the video game experience lasts a few (dozens) minutes. Only in the game will be available entirely that we can make a final opinion, with a game ready to go out. And we can say if Blizzard played the card of ease with this Warcraft 3: Reforged or if it was worth it anyway, beyond the obvious fan service.
See you in 2019.