A Throwback to Warcraft III: Father of The Modern RTS Era

Low-key, Warcraft III was probably one of my favorite games as an adolescent.

Both Reign of Chaos and expansion, The Frozen Throne, provided me hours, and hours of replay value, even without knowledge of the in-game level editor and online functionality.  It was simply a fun game, with an honestly great plot, unique characters, and an engaging fantasy world.  I had a ton of fun with it, and I thought, for this Thursday, I’d simply talk about the 2002 game, and what it brought to the table.

Warning: This is super opinionated, extremely biased: I’m basically just talking about a game I like.  So if you’d rather not read, it’s chill- but if you’d like to hear my thoughts on the game, read on!

A Story of Betrayal, Corruption, and Apocalypse

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The story of Warcraft III is told from a variety of perspectives, that eventually intertwine and combine to form one consistent narrative.  Centering, on the conflict between five races: the Humans, Orcs, Night Elves, Undead, and the fifth party, the Burning Legion, each character fights for a variety of reasons- ultimately culminating in a struggle to save the world of Azeroth from destruction.  Along the way, we’d see the stories of idealistic Paladin, Arthas Menethil, honorable Orc chief, Thrall, vengeful Night Elf, Illidan, and many more.

Warcraft III integrated plot into its missions in a very fun, unique way, that, honestly, felt very interactive.  There’s a huge, huge difference between the multiplayer, standard RTS, base-centric gameplay, and the campaign, which felt far more organic and unique.  You’re saving villagers from evil forces, you’re slaughtering innocent civilians, making your way through dark caves, being thrown into story-based situations that do a LOT for developing the plot, and characters of the game.

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The story of Arthas, Thrall, Illidan, Maiev, and many more unique characters made the game immensely entertaining to play through casually: made only more fun by the gameplay through which you experienced it.  With surprisingly good voice acting, huge stakes, and strong character design, each character grew to have their own personalities, creating legitimate drama, and a solid story that was just a ton of fun to experience.  Whether it’s leading your people to safety, solving a brotherly conflict, or taking down a demon king, Warcraft III delivers in its execution of its story.

Simply Fun Mechanics

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I’ll quickly break down how RTS games work, for those unaware.  The game plays from a top down perspective, from which you control one of many units.  These units have different abilities and purposes- one kind may build additional building, expand your base, and gain resources to create more of said buildings.  Others may focus on physically attacking the enemy, some focus on long-range attacks, and still others are meant to provide support and healing to the main fighters.

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An Archmage, with a group of footmen and peasants.

And of course, you had Hero characters- the cornerstone of your army, the powerful, diverse, and strong units that provided stability and centrality for your whole gameplay.  The general goal for these types of RTS games is to take these different units, and find a way to attack and destroy your opponent’s base.  Leveling up your heroes, creating a bigger army, you fought opponents to out-wit them, raiding their bases, destroying their forces, and doing whatever you can to succeed.

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It can get pretty crazy at times

Now, using these mechanics, Warcraft III was just so much fun.  With a huge variety of units to choose from, four different hero characters for each main race of the game, and an even wider variety of unique items, buildings, and abilities, you could play the game in almost any way you wanted. Warcraft in particular featured a much larger focus on your hero characters, who, honestly, just felt great to play as.  You could be a Blademaster, cutting opposing units to bits, or an Archmage, summoning magical creatures and acting as support for your army, or a Demon Hunter, taking punishment, but dishing it out too.  Every hero was different, but all felt fun to play as, allowing for different game types that centered around said heroes!

You could even create your own kinds of games!  Tower defense, dungeon crawler, the RTS formula of Warcraft III had limitless potential- potential that ultimately led to the creation of Defense of The Ancients, which in itself, inspired the largest E-Sports of all time.

A Gigantic Legacy

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The International 6: the premier DoTA 2 tournament.

Between Starcraft and Warcraft III, you had the foundations of modern E-Sports- check out my post here for more details on that- but anyways, a large part of that was due to Warcraft III’s immense flexibility and simple quality as a game.  Defense of The Ancients took Warcraft III’s hero-based formula, and made it something new and unique.  Eventually becoming its own game, DoTA 2, it inspired games such as League of Legends, and honestly, even games like Smite, which focus on controlling hero characters with a wide variety of abilities.

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All these games take influence from the addictive, fun gameplay of Warcraft III, and I think its importance in the modern world of E-Sports, even after 15 years, cannot be understated.  It was an immensely fun game while it was out, was my first experience of genuinely good storytelling in a video game, and had a huge impact on the gaming world today.

Man.  Warcraft III was great.  Shout out to Arthas, who low-key ended up being one of my favorite video game villains of all time.  Anyone else have any memories with the game?  Feel free to share in the comments section if you do!

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