Warcraft 3: Reforged changes how the original game works, and fans are upset

Warcraft 3: Reforged came out yesterday, and fans are not happy. This is a bit more complicated than your run-of-the-mill “people are angry on the internet” situation, however. That’s because this new game and the old one — the product that was first released in 2002 — are intermingled. The end result is that the inadequacies of Warcraft 3: Reforged are being foisted upon people still playing the original Warcraft 3.

To tell the story of how we got here, we need to dial back the clock to 2018. That’s when Blizzard rolled out a big update for Warcraft 3, which included balance changes for its heroes, widescreen monitor support, and an update to its pool of maps. Out came a new launcher, one that was similar to the modern launcher for Blizzard’s Battle.net.

The other shoe dropped later that year with the announcement of Warcraft 3: Reforged at the BlizzCon fan convention. More than just a remaster of the original game, Blizzard described it as a “complete reimagining” of the real-time strategy classic.

“Let’s push it,” said Blizzard’s Pete Stillwell to Polygon in an interview at the time. “Let’s get it to be as perfectly balanced as StarCraft. Let’s add more to the editor, because it’s already powerful. And like a good Blizzard game, it’s easy to learn, difficult to master, [but let’s] also make it even deeper.”

Blizzard wasn’t just going to tweak the game balance and make things a bit prettier, it was going to add voiceover and remake in-engine cutscenes to modernize them and bring them in line with the lore of the MMO. At one point, Blizzard even planned on some light story retconning, which it later walked back.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ICMpPrg77g0%3Frel%3D0

Blizzard did update some Reforged cutscenes, to an extent. Some in the community appear unhappy with the results. The camera work isn’t quite as cinematic as Blizzard promised, the new animations aren’t all that elaborate, and some of the voiceover still feels awkward or dated. Reforged looks better than the original, but it falls short of the sizzle reel shown in 2018.

Unfortunately, it also doesn’t perform very well.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Bo0_ha4Ls4w%3Frel%3D0

Customers are complaining about connectivity issues. They can’t reliably connect to custom matches. They can’t access custom campaigns that worked just fine previously. There’s no support for a competitive ladder. Making matters worse is the fact that there’s simply no going back; even if you install the original Warcraft 3, you’re still going to end up with the same issues once you connect to Blizzard’s online services because the infrastructure is now the same for both the old and the new versions of the game.

What it’s added up to so far is bedlam on Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 message boards and on the game’s subreddit. “I don’t want your new sh*t I want my old client and custom campaigns,” wrote one customer.

There’s yet another wrinkle to the story, as well. As USgamer points out, Blizzard has also updated some of its terms and conditions as it relates to custom game modes. It appears to be a defensive move to protect the company from losing out on the revenue generated by adaptations based on its work. You’ll recall that Dota began life as a fan-made custom map for Warcraft 3, and then transitioned into a multi-billion dollar genre all its own. The new language effectively means, as PC Gamer puts it, that all of your Warcraft 3: Reforged custom game modes belong to Blizzard, and that rubs the community the wrong way.

Polygon has reached out to Blizzard for comment on where it goes from here.

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