Warcraft III
Blizzard's third entry in their high fantasy, real-time strategy series

Review Written by

date published: 11.21.23
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My Dad purchased my family’s first computer for Christmas in 2001. I can remember him unveiling the gift to the family as if he was revealing the grand prize of a game show. My Dad (like many dads) enjoys a good deal - he bought a computer that was not really able to do a whole lot besides type up word documents and play solitaire. Because of this, I stuck mostly to console gaming as a kid. Four years later, I am in fifth grade and my friend at school tells me about a computer game from Korea that just got released in North America. He tells me the game is an ‘MMORPG’ and teaches me what a ‘Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game’ is. The game is called Maplestory and I would spend the next 5-7 days trying to download it on my toaster of a computer. Unbeknownst to me, this game would solidify itself in my mind and keep me thinking about it for the next 18 years (and counting).

In the following years, many friends at school would tell me about a bigger, better MMORPG that was way cooler and not made for babies, like Maplestory was. The game was called World of Warcraft. It had 3D graphics and was ‘way more fun’. But after laying my eyes on the beautiful, timeless, pixel-perfect art of Maplestory (my opinion), how could my very visually-oriented mind bear to look at the chunky, ugly, early 3D “art” of WoW (my opinion)? I think even at that age, I saw through WoW’s pre-teen-focused design style and just completely disregarded it. Not to mention the subscription fee you have to pay if you want to play the game - I didn’t have that kind of money!

20+ years of video game addiction, and I still had not played one minute of WoW or even any of the earlier Warcraft games. That is, until September of 2023, when I really focused in on the glaring Warcraft-shaped gap in my gaming history and suggested that Gameclub should play one of Blizzard Entertainment’s legendary Warcraft games. While World of Warcraft has loomed large over the gaming industry for the last 20~ years, we weren’t going to play an MMO for Gameclub, so we ended up choosing the next most important entry in the series:

Warcraft III takes place during a conflict between humans and corrupted orcs. The game starts the player off following Prince Arthas Menethil of Lordaeron as he fends off the plague that is being spread to his loyal subjects across the realm by the orcs. Over time, you see Arthas become more and more corrupted. He has a vendetta against the Dreadlord, Mal’Ganis for spreading the plague. To defeat him, Arthas ignores direct orders from the king, betrays his allies, and sells his soul. Now, if the game ended there, I would have been satisfied, but that is only the end of the first campaign - Three others come after it and even more if you own the Frozen Throne expansion!

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Just like the first two games, Warcraft III is a real-time strategy game with a high fantasy setting. Warcraft III is split up into four campaigns, which are further split into a number of missions. The player takes control of an omnipotent force in the sky controlling all allied units on the battlefield. You are in charge of commanding your peasants to gather gold and wood, spending that gold and wood on units or structures, and ordering your soldiers to move and fight. The player is the brain for (almost) all activities in Warcraft III. All of your units are dumb little idiots that can’t do (almost) anything unless you tell them otherwise. Some missions will have you moving your units from point A to point B in order to finish them, but the meat of the game are the missions where you need to really establish and grow your own little town that can provide you with the resources to crush the opposing forces (corrupted orcs).

For the first time, the series has 3D graphics in Warcraft III. I am sure when this came out, the graphics looked amazing and I’ll be honest - they have aged rather well. They are clearly old graphics made in an ancient time, but they don’t hurt to look at - the game is very colorful and bright. The devs did a lot of color coding, so it is very easy to tell if a unit is an enemy or allied. I also want to shoutout the main menu - the animation times might be a little long for me, but I really enjoyed the overall ‘vibe’ of the main menu. Warcraft III doesn’t just give you a logo with some options. You get to chill on a ravaged battlefield with some atmospheric lighting and rain pouring down. It is a simple thing, but it really helps set the tone the devs wanted and it gets you ready to play the game.

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I was pleasantly surprised by Warcraft III. After 28 years of not wanting anything to do with the Warcraft franchise, I finally tried one of the games out and loved it! I never liked the art direction of Warcraft, but after playing the third game in the series, I gotta say - it grew on me. A new fan is born. I also loved the story of this game. I know Warcraft has a ton of lore, and maybe I am not so interested in all of that, but just experiencing the story of this game was great! Maybe a little funny how fast Arthas spirals into selling his soul, but that’s okay - it is all part of the charm. The biggest critique I could give the game would be the camera zoom. Throughout the entire game, I was wishing the camera was more zoomed out. You kind of get used to it after a few missions, but it really would have been helpful.

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19 years… It has been 19 years since the release of World of Warcraft. Is it too late to finally start the game? Or maybe I should try out DOTA.. for me, playing Warcraft III kind of busted down the door to a whole new world. I am interested in playing more RTS games now, but also trying out a MOBA. I could see myself taking a peek at what World of Warcraft has going on, and there is even a critically acclaimed (joking) Warcraft movie that was released in 2016. I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

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"Way better than expected"

"MOBAs were a mistake"

"Arthas did everything wrong"