This week we focus on a real-time strategy series that has stood the test of time…
Before the behemoth MMO known as World of WarCraft, Blizzard was known for in-depth, real-time strategy games such as StarCraft and WarCraft. The later is what spawn the massively successful MMO set in the same universe. The WarCraft series, specifically WarCraft III, puts the player in command of either humans, night elves, undead, or orcs and is tasked with building an army in order to conquer any who would oppose. A match is usually won when a player is able to completely destroy their opponent(s)’ forces and main headquarters. The series is all about utilizing and harvesting the available resources in the area, gold and timber, in order to build the structures and forces necessary for victory. Players can play through each games various story battles or go head-to-head with several opponents online. The last entry in the series, WarCraft III, was released in 2002 followed by its expansion, The Frozen Throne, in 2003.
Not only is WarCraft the grandfather to the MMO, the series is pretty much responsible for the current MOBA craze. In 2003 a gameplay variant for WarCraft III and its expansion was released called “Defense of the Ancients” or DOTA. Originally created by a user named Eul, other modders stepped up to continue to refine and add to the DOTA experience. A few of the modders went on to develop the game widely known as League of Legends. Not only that, IceFrog, one of the lead designers for DOTA, went on to work for Valve and create the massively successful DOTA 2. Blizzard has since responded with their own successful MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.
Why the series deserves a sequel:
Besides being the basis and influence for several popular games and an entire genre, the WarCraft series is real-time strategy at its finest and it has stood the test of time because of it. The game offers a number of different play styles through the use of its four distinct races. Each side of the conflict possesses unique units, buildings, and defenses to help take the edge on the battlefield. Knowing the strengthens and weaknesses of each unit and how to structure your bases is integral to every encounter on the battlefield. Seeing bases and forces expand to include gryffin riders, berserker trolls, frost wyrms, chimeras, and more is exhilarating and results in some epic endgame collisions. The player can also outfit their bases with defensive measures such as spike walls, mortar towers, and guard posts, each done in the style of chosen race.
The game also utilizes race specific heroes, such as the night elves’ Demon Hunter and the Orcs’ Blademaster, to add another layer of depth to the battle and the player’s strategy. Each hero is equipped with a number of abilities that can be leveled up during play in order to make that hero legendary in combat. Each of these heroes are also the basis for characters and classes that we see in World of WarCraft, DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm.
There is both a multiplayer and single player component to WarCraft. The single player story tasks the player with controlling each of the four races and learning about the world of Azeroth, and its struggle with Burning Legion, from their perspective. Unlike previous Warcraft titles, WarCraft III utilizes seamless quests and cut-scenes as opposed to using mission briefings for exposition and storytelling purposes. The multiplayer, however, is the true meat of WarCraft III. With dozens of maps to choose from and the ability to play with up to 12 people, multiplayer matches are always bombastic and hectically fun affairs as each player tries to ramp up their armies as quickly as possible. Needless to say, with that many players matches can go on for hours, but thankfully their is never a dull moment in the experience. The game also allows for custom map creation, so players can develop maps to fit particular play styles and tactics.
And if that wasn’t enough content, WarCraft III allows players to create custom game variants, such as DOTA, that help to extend the games replayability. The game’s design and animations are fantastic as well, which adds some sweet icing to an already delicious cake. The game has been so well received and loved that players are still playing the game via Battle.Net to this day. Since creating World of WarCraft, Blizzard has yet to return to their applauded RTS series. They have developed and published a recent sequel to their acclaimed StarCraft with the release of StarCraft II in 2010 and have mentioned considering a return to WarCraft following the development of the StarCraft II expansion, Legacy of the Void (just released this past November). While there is definitely hope for a return to this beloved series, Blizzard continues to stack its plate with new expansions to WoW and newer IPs such as Heroes of the Storm, Heartstone, and Overwatch, so it will still be some years before they develop the sequel this series has been pleading for since 2002.