When you think of your favourite games of all time it's a pretty tough choice of what makes the cut and what doesn't. And harder still is deciding what is number one, right? Well for me this is completely wrong, when I think of my favourite games ever Warcraft III is the first one to pop into my head and is an easy number one. The game didn't really innovate on the RTS genre, just perfected it, and that is all I would ask for. In this blog I will try to summarise why I love this game so much, which is not an easy task. Without further adieu we shall begin.
Let's start with the core single-player components. First of all the Warcraft lore has to be some of the best out there, it's a fairly basic fantasy world but all of the characters have interesting histories and stories. The campaign (Reign of Chaos & The Frozen Throne) spans nine chapters with a little over 90 individual and unique levels. You play as every race and are able to experience the world from each perspective. Each faction has a unique play style and the chapters have a different feel, from the questionable and down-right treacherous actions of Arthas to Thrall's mission to bring his people to salvation. Each level is unique and objectives range from escorting and defending to RPG-like explorations and then to outright conquest and capture. This makes each level of the campaign feel like something new and doesn't get boring like many other RTS campaigns. In addition the single-player experience has very good AI for skirmishes up to 12 factions and a wide range of custom maps (more about this later).
Now onto the multi-player components. The game has two types of multi-player: LAN and Battle.net (online). I must say this game is one of the most fun to LAN, you able to do team or solo skirmishes or to work co-operatively or competitively through a wide range of custom maps. The online component of this game is absolutely brilliant. It has ladders, ranks, tournaments, unlockables, guilds & friendlists, competitive solo & team play and the crowning jewel - custom games (more on this next). The competitive scene allows you to play solo against one or more opponent and team based play with friends or random players, and it is still very active today with tournaments still running over 10 years after the game's inital release.
Illidan - The Betrayer
Now onto one of the greatest 'modding' communities in gaming history. The custom maps made by players range from tower defence's to complex and time consuming RPG's to fun mini-game's to survival map's to arena's to shooter's. This game literally has it all. The most famous and arguably the biggest and most influential mod of all time is obviously Defence of the Ancients (DotA). The 'simple' map made from the Warcraft III map editor that spawned a multi-billion dollar genre. Three people that changed esport history and are responsible for spawning the biggest gaming tournaments ever and one of the most popular genres in modern gaming. DotA earned quite the reputation from both Warcraft III players and the general gaming public for being a challenging and punishing game and has sold millions of copies of Warcraft III just to play that one custom map. That's not all Warcraft III custom maps have to offer, there are popular zombie apocalypse servers that save your progress, there is some of the best competitive and cooperative tower defence games and in-depth MMORPG-like maps with persistent characters. There is something here for everyone, actually everyone.
Now none of this would be possible without the brilliant map editor that Blizzard put with the game. To call it a map editor is kind of insulting to this piece of software, it is the most robust and in-depth map editor I have ever experienced. You don't just create levels with this you make heroes, items, abilities, cutscenes and worlds, hell I even made an entire custom playable faction. Even as a younger and dumber self I was able to have a lot of fun using this tool. I created a pretty good RPG called Prison Break, in which you start in a cell have have to dig out. Once you escape you find the prison pretty much abandoned and overrun with monsters. It was fairly good, it had an economy, secrets, cutscenes, bosses, class-system and custom spells and items. I think the fact that I was able to make something half decent is testament to the tool, it has an extreme amount of depth yet is easy to use.
The graphics still aren't half bad, and they recently updated it to support 1080p monitors which is pretty neat. The games cartoony art style ages pretty well and the building and character designs are just brilliant. The cutscenes, in true Blizzard style, are nothing short of perfection. Everyone who played Warcraft III remembers the Arthas' Betrayal custscene (see below) and rightfully so, because it is chilling. Also the music in Warcraft III is fantastic and they did a really phenomenal job with it. All of this makes the game an incredibly good visual and audio experience that hasn't aged that badly.
Everything previously mentioned makes Warcraft III my favourite game by a good stretch. The gameplay is basic enough for non-RTS players and complex and detailed enough for the most hardcore RTS fans. The story is great with brilliantly done cutscenes and music, paired with interesting and timeless graphics. The modding scene gives this infinite replayability and is great to play with your friends and by yourself. If you haven't played this I feel you owe it to yourself to try it as it is a brilliant experience.
Thank you for reading, I will probably make more of these as I get around to it.