They were 1080p, compressed to 240p for the 2002 release
All too often in game development (or film, for that matter, RIP old Dr. Who episodes), you hear about “lost” archival masters. It’s why I’m so into preservation: you hate to see it. Well thankfully Blizzard pretty much keeps everything, including the original cutscenes for Warcraft III, which are being brought back for the upcoming Reforged release.
Speaking to the crowd during today’s Reforged Deep Dive panel, the team muses that the original cutscenes for the 2002 launch were compressed down to 240p, but were actually 1080p quality. As such, Blizzard is bringing back the original renders (enhanced) for use in Reforged “way better than you’ve ever seen them before.”
But while a lot of the game will be true to the original, the team did decide to embellish a bit on the aesthetic side. The panel specifically called out some of the more dull environments like the original Silvermoon City, stating that in Reforged, they’ll have a bit more personality, drawn from inspiration like the later World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade iteration of the locale. Individual unit placeholders that were plastered on (like Human Footsoldiers for elves) will be corrected.
Similarly, the “use map settings” community is getting a ton of upgrades, as multiple camera angles and more “RPG options” (like individual unit settings, as opposed to forcing stat changes on entire groups of units in the original tool) are in. To that end, there’s a lot less shortcuts under the hood that will open up more unique scenarios: the team mused on how Murloc models were actually just re-tooled Undead Ghouls (nice factoid!), and how there’s more freedom of expression for character models in Reforged.
When it comes to the competitive side, there will be race-based MMR, as well as separate ratings for team games, so it won’t be as crazy as the old system. The team will use what they’ve learned from Starcraft II (which is still getting minor updates) and the more recent Starcraft remaster and apply those lessons to Reforged, so they aren’t exactly building a new foundation from the ground up. There’s also a “story mode” difficulty for newcomers if you just want to enjoy the narrative.
Warcraft III: Reforged is currently in beta form, and will be available for all BlizzCon pass holders on November 5. No release window was mentioned, but the original goal was “2019,” as per the BlizzCon 2018 announcement. There’s still time!