Warcraft 3: Reforged hasn’t gotten any more popular in the days since its release. The clamor has gotten bad enough that Blizzard has reportedly begun giving instant refunds to players who want them.
That’s the word from Reddit user krOnicLTD, who received a refund within a minute after applying for one and posted the information (and a handy link) to the Blizzard site. If you’ve been unhappy with the game, you can ask for your money back, no questions asked. Frustration with the title has been high for a number of reasons, ranging from Blizzard’s aggressive copyright position on fan mods to the fact that the version of Warcraft 3: Reforged that the company ultimately shipped bears little resemblance to the game it promised it was making. Because both Reforged and Warcraft 3 Classic now share a mandatory front-end client, you can’t play WC3:C with its original set of capabilities as a separate title at all.
Blizzard has posted an update to its forums, giving fans an idea where the game is headed. There’s a bug currently causing colors and shading to look different than intended, which will be fixed in the coming days. Portrait animations and UI fixes will also be implemented. The lack of leaderboards and clans will be fixed in a future update. Features like the Reign of Chaos ruleset and tournaments will not be returning after having been removed in mid-2019.
Regarding the content changes that it once telegraphed and then retreated from, Blizzard writes:
[T]he main takeaway is that the campaigns tell one of the classic stories in Warcraft history, and we want to preserve the true spirit of Warcraft III and allow players to relive these unforgettable moments as they were (albeit rebuilt with new animations and the higher fidelity art).
The problem I have with Warcraft 3: Reforged is that we’re stuck with a title halfway between a remaster (Starcraft) and an actual remake (say, Final Fantasy VII). What Blizzard ultimately did satisfies no one — and I can’t think of a better way to illustrate that then with the Illidan versus Arthas fight.
The original Illidan versus Arthas fight at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne was a giant case of Blizzard running out of time and dropping the ball. The company couldn’t build one of the cinematics it was known for in the time it had left, so it went with in-engine rendered cutscenes, instead. The result wasn’t all that great. It failed to communicate that Illidan had even survived his conflict with Arthas in the first place.
Here’s the original video:
Here’s the Warcraft 3: Reforged new video:
At first glance, the second video looks like the perfect antidote to the first. It’s detailed. It’s graphically modern. It shows an updated version of what Illidan and Arthas would have looked like. It’s also entirely unscored, nearly twice as long as the original (to little overall purpose), and changes a critical ending camera angle without fixing the miscommunication said camera angle created.
I’m referring, specifically, to the fact that Illidan didn’t appear to survive this encounter with Arthas, and it wasn’t clear he had until Blizzard confirmed his presence in World of Warcraft. You might think that if Blizzard was going to change how the encounter ends, they’d include some kind of shift to make it clear that Illidan wasn’t dead. A hand motion. A weak attempt to rise. Something.
They don’t. In the original, Illidan at least has a few jerky motions on the ground, as blood pools beneath him. In Reforged, he’s absolutely still and shot from the back. Between the two, I’d say he looks more implicitly dead in the reshoot than the old footage.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to extend this particular scene with a lot of power scaling — blue ice creeping up Frostmourne for Arthas, and a shot of Illidan drawing more heavily on his fel-empowered demonic half. These sorts of shots are a staple of live-action and animated films and TV shows, but you typically don’t show you two lengthy power-ups followed by one character instantly defeating the other.
The original scene is about a minute long, start to finish. The new scene runs 2:21. Of the ~1:21 of new footage, nearly 30 seconds of it is just Arthas and Illidan powering up. Then Arthas swings once, there’s a bright line of light, and Illidan collapses into a heap. The entire video clip feels off-balance. If you told me this was a student project, I’d stand up and applaud, but compared with Blizzard’s other cinematic work, it’s… not entirely what I would have expected. The best take on the fight that I’ve seen actually is a fan-made remaster that sticks closer to the original but seems to have done a better job maintaining a sense of action.
I feel like this set of videos collectively summarizes what seems so off about Reforged. The new Blizzard version is aesthetically, superficially, everything we’ve wanted as an ending for the game, but it doesn’t feel like it received the same amount of attention Blizzard has put into other projects. Instead of being sub-par graphically, it’s sub-par audibly. It feels as if Blizzard went into the cinematic knowing that they wanted to make it better, but without wanting to make meaningful changes. In attempting to have it both ways, it created a product that’s neither #NoChanges in relation to WC3, nor expands the lore and universe in a way that appeals to gamers who wanted to see the older title brought in line with more recent releases.
For better or worse, this is the Warcraft 3 we got, and it appears to be the only Warcraft 3 we’re getting.
Feature image by Blizzard Entertainment
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