Yesterday’s stunning announcement of Warcraft III: Reforged, a fully remade version of Warcraft III that goes beyond mere remastering, was followed with the revelation that Blizzard will be doing more than just touching up the classic RTS in audio and visuals.
Blizzard senior producer Pete Stillwell and artist Brian Souza elaborated in an after-show interview with Polygon that not only will Reforged be compatible with the original release of Warcraft III. Community developed maps and mods of the past two decades will work with the new remaster.
"When we went to Korea [for StarCraft: Remastered] and talked with pros and people still playing in game rooms, the overwhelming feedback was 'Please don't change the game,” Stillwell told Polygon. “But with [Warcraft III: Reforged], we've talked with the communities in Europe and in China [who say], 'Hey, we don't think this game is done.'”
As such, Blizzard will be rebalancing the game extensively and expanding on options available in the game’s campaign / scenario editor. But the most controversial decision is likely Blizzard’s choice to tweak aspects of Warcraft III’s original story and script to fall in line with the current version of Warcraft lore.
That means Warcraft III: Reforged will present a slightly altered version of the campaign that builds on aspects of Warcraft’s canon that only came into focus in World of Warcraft. Writer Christie Golden will be involved in these adjustments, as Golden is probably the most accomplished novelist to have worked with Blizzard, having penned eleven Warcraft books to date for Blizzard.
Stillwell said these changes will bring, "renewed focus to a few central characters that we thought deserved a little bit more time in the limelight.” Stillwell cites characters like Jaina and Sylvanas, whose roles in the original campaign were pretty thin. He also brought up the Murloc, which were basically a reskinned enemy before becoming a fully developed race and culture in World of Warcraft.
Whether or not fans will welcome these changes remains to be seen. I don’t know how I feel about tweaking lore to retroactively match a current vision – especially when visions are constantly changing, and down that path lies the madness of George Lucas – but seeing as I haven’t played a Warcraft experience since Warcraft III, I’m probably not part of the audience that Blizzard currently serves.
Still, the original version of Warcraft III won’t be going anywhere. Players will still be able to access it in all its 2002 glory after Reforged’s release, and even received an update for HD widescreen support earlier this year. In any case, I remain somewhat excited to re-experience the original Reign of Chaos campaign with beautiful modern day graphics and sound.