The outrage over warcraft 3: reforged, explained

Outdated gameplay footage, a greedy EULA and missing features turned players against Blizzard"s remaster.

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Blizzard screwed up. What should"ve been a celebration of a beloved strategy game has somehow become the lowest user-rated game on Metacritic. If you haven"t been following Warcraft 3 Reforged closely, the backlash may be confusing. As Fraser wrote in his Review, "the core of Warcraft 3 is as gripping as it"s always been," và some of the graphical changes, lượt thích the new high resolution models for units và buildings, look quite nice. Isn"t this more or less what a remaster should be? 

Well, it"s not quite that simple. Due khổng lồ poor communication by Blizzard and plans that changed over the course of development—some, ironically, due to lớn bạn feedback—Reforged is not the remaster many people expected. Blizzard even upset the diehard players who still compete in the 2002 original, by updating that version khổng lồ Reforged"s new client, which is strangely missing some key features. 

Here"s how it all went so wrong.

The pitch: Warcraft 3: Reforged"s announcement at BlizzCon 2018 called for major changes

Blizzard announced Warcraft 3: Reforged at BlizzCon in November 2018, showing off a cinematic trailer before talking about the plans for the remaster on stage. A gameplay trailer also listed several of the features coming in the new remaster: 

"Fully remodeled characters and animations""Remastered maps and campaigns"An "upgraded UI & world editor""Reforged in 4K resolution"After this unveiling, Blizzard talked about Reforged in more detail during a panel. At that time, one of the big plans for Reforged was to lớn make it better align with WoW. Here are some quotes from the development team: 

Lead designer Matt Morris: "One of the things we want khổng lồ vày with our campaign is cấp độ it up lớn what people know from World of Warcraft. ... Looking baông chồng at the campaign now, we want the locations that you rethành viên or know from World of Warcraft lớn match what you see in Reforged, & we want to go through some of the stories & tie the two franchises together in a tighter way."

Producer Pete Stilwell: "It"s incredibly important to lớn us to lớn first get it right for the existing community, và then we want to vị things khổng lồ appeal to more people. ... But in so doing, we need lớn make sure that you guys who are in this room, that core audience that"s never left this game và love it khổng lồ death, và don"t want khổng lồ see us change it so drastically that you don"t recognize it anymore. That"s our first mission, to make sure that you guys give sầu us a thumbs up when it ships." 

Blizzard also showed off the new nhân vật models, talked about making changes khổng lồ maps, & how Reforged would coexist with the original within the same client. 

Producer Rob Bridenbecker: "The version of Warcraft 3 players have have sầu for the past 16 years, that needs to lớn continue lớn be able lớn be played with this new version. We don"t want to lớn break the community. We don"t want to lớn break the game. We want to lớn allow for players to lớn continue to lớn coalesce together. That has some hang-ups. Like the fact that you cannot go hog wild with animations means that you have to lớn actually make it look as high fidelity as possible while at the same time adhering to lớn some of those original time constraints."

This was the grvà unveiling of Warcraft 3: Reforged, and it"s understandably what a lot of fans expected from the game when they booted it up last week. But that"s not what they got.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The reality: Warcraft 3: Reforged shipped with much more conservative changes that were labeled a "downgrade"

Reforged only delivers on some of the promises made in its initial trailer. It does have sầu remodeled characters, some remastered maps và campaigns (though "remastered" is vague enough here khổng lồ mean anything), and a new custom game editor. It supports 4K. But there are asterisks here.

Bridenbecker did mention in the 2018 panel that there were limitations lớn animation changes they could make while keeping the new version of Warcraft 3 compatible with the old one. And sure enough, those were obvious in Reforged. As Fraser wrote in his review: "What really makes the units look a bit odd is their low frame rate. Yes, you can enjoy Warcraft 3 at 200fps, but if you"re looking at your army, it looks more lượt thích stop-motion."

The "remastered" maps and campaigns, meanwhile, turned out khổng lồ be much closer khổng lồ the how they looked in 2002 than in the 2018 test. This đoạn Clip blew up after comparing the planned cinematic cutscenes from 2018 with the new release version. The simplification is obvious.

And it wasn"t just that scene: Major changes were notably missing from the rest of the game, too. Two more points from our review: "There are a few exceptions, but most cutscenes laông chồng the emotion or cinematic flair of what we saw just over a year ago. … Blizzard"s also played it a bit safe with the maps. Some locations, like Dalaran và Strathholme have sầu seen a more dramatic update, but for the most part they stiông chồng very cthảm bại lớn the originals. Their thiết kế largely remains excellent, whether they have been built with story và pace in mind, or just a big free-for-all online fight. Veteran players will notice some tweaks, like camps, mines và other things being moved around, but meaningful changes are few và far between. Aesthetically, though, they are pretty unappealing. Despite the higher chất lượng textures, it feels lượt thích playing WoW Classic with modern character models. The juxtaposition just makes the maps look more dated."

After BlizzCon 2018, the Reforged developers actually decided to change how dramatically these cutscenes would be altered from the original game"s. But unless you were following closely, you likely had no idea. Blizzard talked about this very decision at BlizzCon 2019, but not loudly enough.

Blizznhỏ 2018 didn"t properly mix expectations for exactly what Reforged"s chiến dịch remaster would entail

At a deep dive panel in November 2019, Blizzard did say that Reforged"s new, reworked UI would come later—an odd delay, considering it was one of the original pitched features for the remaster.

Blizzard also talked about making less dramatic cutscene changes in the chiến dịch. Said producer Pete Stillwell:

"Last year as you saw with The Culling we were really aggressive sầu on some changes, I think, and telling the story from a different perspective. We got fairly divisive sầu feedbaông xã from the camp of "don"t change my game" vs. "oh, this is cool, it will welcome a new audience." Then we went back lớn the cửa hàng and as we were iterating, we weren"t happy with where we were going with that "Culling treatment" as it became talked about in the office. We decided to lớn dial it baông xã a bit."

Stillwell did add, though, that "all the cameras have sầu been reworked. All of the models are new. There"s tons of new animations và gestures, things that make them seem more real." So Reforged has been significantly reworked, but in much subtler ways than most fans expected after the 2018 reveal.

In interviews done in late January, the developers continued to lớn attribute Reforged"s light touch (on both gameplay & chiến dịch changes) lớn player feedbachồng. "Trying to lớn keep it pure," designer Matt Morris told US Gamer. Production director Kaeo Milker said "part of the genesis of this project was focusing in on what should Reforged be… I think where we landed was really agreeing that while we did touch every single chiến dịch mission, every single cutscene in every chiến dịch mission, & we did everything we could to lớn really show off all this great art to its fullest capabilities, we also used the original storyline, we used the original dialogue."

Interviews published just before release và a panel at BlizzCon weren"t enough khổng lồ inform players that the 2018 vision was no longer the plan. Worse, the official website still has this video from 2018 embedded in it. The "work in progress" disclaimer isn"t enough to lớn make this đoạn phim feel lượt thích anything other than false advertising if it"s still being used to represent the game post-release. 

This is the most comtháng complaint about Warcraft 3: Reforged: That Blizzard sold players on the expectation of a game that doesn"t exist. And it"s not just Reforged players who are mad. Those who have stuck with the original version of Warcraft 3 are being affected, too.

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Warcraft 3: Reforged has retroactively removed features from the original version

As players noted on the Warcraft 3 subreddit, the original game—which shares a client with Reforged lớn allow players to compete against one another across both versions—suddenly lost features that have sầu existed for nearly 20 years. Those include clans, automated tournaments, LAN và offline play, ranked ladder play, & more. Many players also say that custom campaigns no longer work, either, & Blizzard has said it"s working on it. Other players have sầu pointed out there is a workaround—you can launch custom campaigns through the editor—but khổng lồ the average player, it"s a crucial feature that"s simply vanished from a game they already own.

In trying to make Reforged và classic Warcraft 3 compatible with one another, Blizzard has made the old game notably worse. If players upgrade their clients, they thua features they"ve sầu had for years, regardless of whether they bought Reforged. This might be a short-term problem—Blizzard plans lớn re-launch competitive ladder, & will likely fix major issues lượt thích custom campaigns in the next few months—but it seems unlikely that players will get everything baông xã, as Warcraft 3 is updated to this new infrastructure. A blog post from Blizzard confirms that a couple features, lượt thích tournaments, were rarely used và won"t be restored. The rollout seems to completely fail producer Rob Bridenbecker"s goal of not "breaking" the community or the original game.

Especially when you factor in the new EULA.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Warcraft 3: Reforged"s new custom games EULA gives Blizzard ownership over everything you make

This is the can of fuel that turned the smoldering anger into a full conflagration. Players dug through Reforged"s new art tools EULA & found that any Warcraft 3 maps you make are the "sole and exclusive property of Blizzard." We did some digging, & determined that many other big publishers lượt thích Bethesdomain authority và CD Projekt don"t claim ownership over mods, though they vị clayên ổn the right to lớn license or use them.

It"s convoluted legalese, but it"s hard not to lớn immediately draw a line between this policy and DOTA, the popular Warcraft 3 mod that eventually led to League of Legends, Dota 2, và a lawsuit between Blizzard và Valve sầu. That gian lận spawned a multibillion-dollar genre, và apparently Blizzard wants lớn make sure it doesn"t miss out on owning the next gian lận that catches fire.

Even if the EULA doesn"t affect how the vast majority of people play custom games, it"s a blatant reminder that Blizzard is a company first & foremost, with legalese that puts profits before players.

After the Activision merger & Blitzthông thường controversy, Blizzard"s mistakes are harder lớn forgive

Warcraft 3 players have sầu plenty of reasons lớn be disappointed. Reforged"s 0.5 user score on Metacritic is, of course, ridiculous—even with missing features, it"s a strong strategy game that remains fun khổng lồ play and looks much better on modern PCs. But rating a game a zero is an age-old move in the internet outrage handbook, one of the most direct ways game fans feel like they can voice their anger. Those Reviews & comments on the subreddit often Hotline Reforged a cash grab or point the finger at Activision.

"Daddy Activision killed this company some time ago."

"False advertising of a broken game that killed a classic. Warcraft 3 Refunded is the lathử nghiệm embarrassment from ACTIVISION blizzard."

"Another disappointment from Blizzard, Activision has definitely ruined them."

This sentiment didn"t start with Warcraft 3: Reforged. It"s been building over the past several years, as major figures at Blizzard like Chris Metzen & Mike Morhaime have departed the company. Activision Blizzard looked especially bad when it laid off employees after record revenues. But nothing hurt the company"s image more than last year"s banning of Hearthstone pro Blitzphổ biến, after he made a statement in support of Hong Kong"s democracy movement on-stream.

These issues haven"t stopped the Blizzard faithful from playing their games or showing up at BlizzCon in droves. They most likely won"t stop Diablo 4 from selling tens of millions of copies. But they have tarnished Blizzard"s image as the golden child of PC gaming, the do-no-wrong developer that makes fans into lớn family. It"s a lot easier to be cynical about Blizzard these days, & even if Warcraft 3: Reforged"s issues are patched up in the next few months, its launch will be another piece of evidence used lớn show that Blizzard has changed for the worse.