Everything We Know About Warcraft 3: Reforged

Everything We Know About Warcraft 3: Reforged

Warcraft 3 is finally coming back. Due out in the middle of next year, the classic campaign of Arthas gone bad has gotten a substantial overhaul. Here’s everything we know about the game so far.

All your old custom maps are compatible

The most important news: all your old maps will work with Reforged just fine. Reforged is a combo package with Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne, and anything that was playable with either game will work automatically with Reforged.

Additionally, The Frozen Throne is compatible in multiplayer with Reforged as well. You’ll still have to deal with the full-length unit bar blocking the bottom of the screen, but it’ll work. They might not look quite the part, depending on the custom assets used and how much they can be swapped with Reforged‘s updated textures. But there’s a fix for that too.

The map editor returns, it’s just as powerful

Reforged systems game designer Michael Scipione and production director Tim Morten explained in an interview that the remaster would ship with a map editor – just like Warcraft 3 did – and it will retain the same functionality that fans remember.

That’s perhaps the biggest selling point: Warcraft 3 was beloved for its custom maps. They helped popularise DotA and a wave of MOBAs, all manner of tower and hero defence games, Footman Frenzy, Mario Party-style minigames, and countless other creations.

Fans were hoping Starcraft 2 would take custom maps into a new stage. Similar hopes were had for Dota 2 as well, but not having the same ease of use and issues every time a new patch was released dented the growth of custom games in Valve’s MOBA.

Reforged is a solid chance to bring all of that back. How many people are willing to drop $44.95 to have that part of gaming back isn’t known. That said, the Crash Bandicoot remasters and the upcoming Spyro bundle go for $49.95, and Crash sold just fine.

Everything We Know About Warcraft 3: Reforged

The fullscreen unit bar is gone, and fullscreen cinematics are here

At a distance and from the standard isometric perspective, Reforged seems fairly simple. It’s the same game, cleaned up a bit, retooled for modern systems.

The difference, however, is best seen when the campaign cinematics kick in. Because the full-length unit bar has been scrapped (as modern machines have no trouble rendering more action on screen), cinematics play out in full view. There’s no giant portrait of Arthas next to subtitles anymore, which helps illustrate the work Blizzard has done on the textures.

It’s an enormous difference, and you can see that clearly in this side by side video from AllTimeGaming:

Expect changes to ranked matchmaking

While Blizzard has been actively sourcing feedback from the professional Warcraft 3 scene that’s still alive – mostly in China – they also used Blizzcon to get suggestions from fans on changes to the multiplayer. One direction the devs want to rework, as Morten explained, was the old XP system.

Warcraft 3 used to rank players on experience points, where points were gained or lost depending on the outcome of a game. You would level up after a certain point and the top 1000 players would be ranked based on their total XP gained.

It was rubbish, pure and simple. And if the team have their way, they’ll work it into something better. There’s no specifics on what it would look like exactly, and if the feedback is forceful enough they may end up keeping the XP system entirely. But they’d rather not.

Not everything is the same

Here’s a fun change from the originals. Blizzard chose the sixth mission from the Human campaign to show off Reforged, the one where Arthas breaks ranks with Uther, deposes him as the king, and sets forth into Stratholme to purge the city of infected before Mal’Ganis resurrects them.

But in Reforged, the map has changed. Players start from the bottom right, instead of the top right as they did in the original mission. The city itself is more streamlined – there’s no bridges over water, less cramped spaces, and in all players should be able to finish the mission a fraction quicker.

The changes to The Culling mission are also designed to fit with Startholme’s layout in World of Warcraft. It’s an eye towards the other benefit of Reforged: WoW fans who aren’t familiar with the original lore from Warcraft 3.

Expect balance changes

The most precise feedback given to the Reforged team from the pro scene was about balance, although they couldn’t outline what changes people could expect.

One balance change that will remain for now is the unit population cap. While modern computers are capable of rendering vastly more units, Warcraft 3 is unique in how the upkeep mechanic is tied to the population of a player’s army (unlike Starcraft and most RTS games of the era). Morten explained that fiddling with that balance was a very tricky proposition, but the team is open to looking at options if there is strong enough feedback.

It’s harder to determine the HP of units now

Everything We Know About Warcraft 3: Reforged

A small mechanical quirk with the removal of the full length unit bar is that it’s actually a little harder to determine the HP of individual units. Keeping units alive is a massive part of managing battles in Warcraft 3, especially in competitive play where you’re juggling several abilities, hero items, the hero abilities, and constantly manoeuvring armies around.

Traditionally, unit portraits were squished together whenever you were looking at a group of units. The advantage of that was you’d be able to tell if a unit had full HP – because it would saddle up alongside the HP of the next unit in the group.

Now, however, there’s more space between units and their HP bars. It sounds counter-intuitive, but that cleaner design actually makes it harder to judge at a glance the status of each unit’s health – at least until they take enough damage for their HP bar to turn yellow, then red.

Tiny factors like that matter more at the professional and higher levels of ranked play, although it can crop up as a problem in UMS maps if you’re trying to juggle large groups of units.

You might notice some tweaks to the story

Everything We Know About Warcraft 3: Reforged

There’s no plans to do away with the broad strokes of the Reign of Chaos or The Frozen Throne stories, but the team are actively looking at the amount of lore that’s been developed throughout World of Warcraft.

The Reforged developers explained throughout Blizzcon that there might be some tweaks to cutscenes and dialogue to incorporate part of the direction Warcraft 3 characters – like Sylvanas, for instance – would later take in World of Warcraft. It’s not meant to change the overall direction or tone of missions, but rather to keep it generally consistent with what players have – or will experience – in World of Warcraft.

The author travelled to Blizzcon as a guest of Blizzard.


  • …there might be some tweaks to cutscenes and dialogue to incorporate part of the direction Warcraft 3 characters – like Sylvanas, for instance…It will be revealed that Sylvanas was a pyromaniac from a young age and loved burning down trees.

  • Warcraft 3 is unique in how the upkeep mechanic is tied to the population of a player’s army (unlike Starcraft and most RTS games of the era).

    Starcraft had the same thing. You had to construct additional pylons, spawn more overlords or build supply depos.
    that cleaner design actually makes it harder to judge at a glance the status of each unit’s health – at least until they take enough damage for their HP bar to turn yellow, then green.

    So it turns from green, to yellow, to green? I think you meant ‘red’ there.

    • He is talking about upkeep, not supply. Upkeep was a system that reduced the amount of gold (and maybe lumber, don’t remember) you receive if your army reaches certain population levels. This is not present in Starcraft.

      • Yeah, precisely this. 100% income mined until you hit 50 food, then workers only gather 70% from 51-80, and 40% from 81-100 food. It’s only gold that gets affected though, not lumber/wood. SC1/BW/SC2 workers always mined a fixed amount irrespective of army size.

  • I’m hyped for this as I always liked the campaign but hated trying to play it on my 21:9 monitor and dated graphics. Week one purchase for me.

    • I WOULD, as I loved it back in the day, but I’m going to wait for a discount. It’s too much coin for a remaster.

      When it was a current game I was working as a bouncer. No i’m not tough. I was the worst bouncer in the world (I hate confrontation). But I did it. So I’d come home at 4am and I’d play warcraft 3 until the sun rose.

      I loved it. Amazing memories of those days. I was so young and had everything ahead of me. Great times.

  • Good lord. Now if only they would remaster Diablo 2, between this and Classic WoW I would legitimately be set for the next 5 years.

    • There was a discussion on this in one of the other articles, but apparently trying to remaster D2 would be a total clusterfuck and they would have to completely rebuild it from the ground up. So much of the mechanics of the game was built around the gaming rigs available at the time, to the point that playing it on a higher resolution would break the game.

      • Well, the problem with the HD mods is that players can see and attack mobs long before they are in agro range.

        Surely they could just update the AI so it registers from further away?

        PVP would be ruined too… Though I can’t imagine many people really missing it.

        I’d much prefer a new Diablo… but it’s hard to imagine Blizzard delivering anything as good as D2 in this day and age.

        • From what I can recall, if they increased the aggro range it full-on broke the game, you had mobs running at you from every direction and it was just a mess.

          It’s an interesting example of pushing the boundaries within the limitations of the hardware you have available at the time, but it makes it a nightmare to try to reproduce when said hardware becomes obsolete and suddenly you are relying on systems that don’t exist anymore.

          I have no doubt that they’ll recreate it eventually – I mean, I can’t imagine it would be that hard to do it within the D3 engine, but for the amount or work it would take to basically rebuild the game from scratch, they may as well just go ahead and make D4.

  • If they announce they will redo Warcraft and Warcraft 2 in the game then I will probably get it. Other than that there are enough games out there to play without having to buy a game I already have again.

    • With a decent map editor, I think it would take no time at all for people to recreate the first 2 games as custom maps. I’m totally sold on them choosing WC3 as the remaster rather than 1 or 2, because it’s much easier to recreate the simpler game mechanics within the more complex engine than vice versa.

      • When I was young and naive I wanted to try and remake WC2 in WC3. But I couldn’t figure out the map editor enough to make ships playable like the old days.

        • One of my favourite parts of WC2 was the voice lines from the human oil tankers.

          Stop rocking the boat!
          You’re making me seasick!

  • I’m curious whether this will become online only like every other damned game they’ve released lately? Considering it has a pretty sizeable single player campaign it *should* be possible to play without internet but I doubt they’d allow it.

  • Mostly really hyped but the unit health bars and “but the team are actively looking at the amount of lore that’s been developed throughout World of Warcraft. ” worry me. I don’t want wow to influence it, I’ve heard bad things about the wow retcons and lore so I want to avoid it.

    Still will probably either preorder or buy early and see how it goes

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