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Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

Only slightly reforged

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Warcraft III is a classic, but Warcraft III: Reforged is a disappointing remaster that barely likens to a fresh coat of paint.

For

  • Great strategy mechanics
  • Awesome RPG elements
  • Compelling story

Against

  • Poor visuals
  • Outdated controls
  • Few remastered cutscenes
  • A bit buggy

Warcraft III: Reforged opens with the dour visual of two war-torn races struggling for power. While the narrator begins his desperate exposition, a thin sheet of mist rises from the pouring rain as low hums, haunting chimes and unruly gusts of wind infiltrate the air. As these two races struggle, a sudden reverberation stops them in their tracks. Azeroth quakes, and the sky practically shatters when dozens of green-lit meteors crash into the fields around them. These gigantic, burning stones unfurl to reveal a familiar design: The Infernals. Shortly after, the game cuts to a bloody scene of two mangled corpses lying in the mud. A familiar tune resonates as the title screen lights up against a black backdrop: Warcraft III: Reforged!

Immediately, this opening cinematic establishes a captivating depiction of the game's hopeless world. The impressive remastered graphics make this scene more vivid and striking than they've ever been. The minimalist soundtrack and audio design are also great, as they compliment the horrifying visual of a glum, muddy day gradually escalating into a devastating cataclysmic event.

However, this opening is misleading. Warcraft III: Reforged may seem awesome, but it's merely a fresh coat of paint plastered onto the same game from 2002. And even then, it's barely fresh: Many cutscenes are not remastered, the in-game visuals are poor at times and certain quality-of-life additions are missing.

Classic campaigns

Warcraft III is a beloved real-time strategy (RTS) game featuring nine campaigns with a focus on different parts of Azeroth. At its core, each story has varied plots, but the general idea involves the origin of the scourge and the arrival of the Burning Legion.

Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

These campaigns are genuinely engaging, with some powerful twists, awesome characters and excellent world building. The Scourge of Lordaeron is a great example of this, as we see a well-meaning prince slowly lose himself, and when his allies stop supporting him, he goes into a downward spiral of vile deeds. That prince is Arthas, son of King Terenas, and is well known to Warcraft fans as the Lich King. These stories are direct prequels to what happens in World of Warcraft, so this is a great way to further immerse yourself in its lore.

Compelling strategy

Warcraft III is known for its awesome in-depth strategy and striking environments; it has the player build bases, amass armies and go to war with all sorts of creatures. There are four playable factions — humans, orcs, night elves and undead — who have their own respective campaigns. There's always a primary objective that the game expects you to pursue, but the world is often teeming with side quests that can add to your progression.

Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

With this progression, the game successfully implements many RPG elements, such as hero skill trees and an equipment system. I've always been the type of player to go crazy building my base, upgrading the hell out of everything, but I'd always be disappointed when the match ended, and I'd have to start all over. The beauty of Warcraft III is that all the progress you've made with your hero stays consistent within your campaign. This means exploring, doing side quests and farming actually feel worthwhile.

For example, early in the Scourge of Lordaeron campaign, you can take Arthas and go down an alternate path to find a woman who claims her son has been kidnapped by bandits. Once you free her son, you're rewarded with a piece of equipment that boosts your stats. This will stay in your inventory throughout the entire campaign, which allows for a great sense of pacing.

However, doing these side quests can be a bit distracting when enemies try to invade my base while I'm out on a quest. The strategy I frequently employ is to build dozens of guard towers around every entrance of my garrison. It's hard to describe how satisfying it is watching a dozen undead get shot down within seconds.

Barely fresh

While Warcraft III is an undeniably joyous experience, Reforged is visually disappointing, with the primary offender being its grass textures. It's too bright and it looks inorganic, reminiscent of cheap felt plastered haphazardly into the scenery. Often times, the Classic graphics look better than its remaster, which is frequently reflected in the lifeless terrain. Some of the best-looking moments of Warcraft III: Reforged are when a shot is completely devoid of grass, and even then, things don't look great.

On the left is Divinity: Original Sin (2014) and on the right is Warcraft III: Reforged (2020).

On the left is Divinity: Original Sin (2014) and on the right is Warcraft III: Reforged (2020). (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment / Larian Studios)

Divinity: Original Sin, a game partially funded through Kickstarter and released in 2014 by Larian Studios, looks so much better than Warcraft III: Reforged. Divinity: Original Sin’s Kickstarter campaign didn’t even break a million dollars, while Blizzard Entertainment, a company that makes a yearly revenue of $7.16 billion dollars, couldn’t manage making Warcraft III look half-decent.

On the highest graphics settings, it feels like the opposite. Texture quality is mixed, and scenes feel insufficiently detailed. Many models have an obnoxious pixelation surrounding them, making the game look like it's running on an even lower resolution. If you zoom in on certain portions of the map, you'll notice the blurriness of the patterns projected onto assets. This isn't always the case, as certain textures do have a higher-quality look than others. Buildings look quite good, cities are convincingly reimagined in appealing ways and character models are consistently high quality.

However, a high number of the cinematics have not been remastered, and Blizzard has even removed a previously revealed cutscene that we know was remastered. This is all particularly jarring, considering Warcraft III: Reforged is a 2020 release by Blizzard Entertainment, one of the most profitable studios in the world. In reality, the company has created what looks like a mobile game.

User-generated content

Warcraft III also sports multiplayer content, whether that be matchmaking competitively, custom games with friends or playing through user mods. In multiplayer, you race to destroy other players’ buildings and hero units. Generally, these can be played with up to 12 people, but there are mods that can bring this number higher.

Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Something that should be pointed out is that Blizzard Entertainment has legal ownership of each and every user-created mod that exists in Warcraft III: Reforged. Since DotA (Defense of the Ancients) was originally a Warcraft III mod, Blizzard made no money. In contrast, Valve is currently earning millions of dollars a month with the property. By instituting this policy, It seems that Blizzard is trying to avoid having this happen again.

Warcraft III: Reforged PC performance

Warcraft III: Reforged ran well 60% of the time. While the game lets you go all the way up to 300 frames per second, there have been moments when it became increasingly choppy. The only way to fix this is to restart your game, but I've only seen this happen twice, so it's probably a bit rare.

Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

In general, there are a few random bugs to look out for. I've been in the main menu when an in-game artifact froze in the middle of my screen. In the campaign, certain areas didn't load properly, making the skybox visible. Load times are also a huge problem; you have to wait over a minute to open the game, and loading into a match takes a similar amount of time. There's also no way to show your FPS counter when you're in the game. And occasionally, the in-game soundtrack missed its cue and wouldn’t play for an entire match, condemning me to a maddening silence.

One strange quirk is that to customize your key bindings, you need to go into your computer files and edit them on a txt. document. Even when you do this, certain bindings are essentially impossible to change. This is frustrating, since modern control standards have shifted, which makes this remaster feel awkward. For example, F10 opens the main menu instead of the Esc key, and the arrow keys are used to move the camera around.

Additionally, you can't switch between Classic and Reforged graphics while in the game. To make things even stranger, both graphics settings have their own campaign progression. I wanted to compare the graphics with how the original game looked, but it forced me to start from the beginning of its story.

Warcraft III: Reforged has the option to turn on VSync and anti-aliasing, along with a window mode, a full-screen mode and a borderless window mode. Additionally, pretty much everything from textures, particles and foliage to shadows and lighting can be set from low to high.

Warcraft III: Reforged PC requirements

I ran Warcraft III: Reforged on my desktop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 GPU, and at best, I was able to get 90 fps with the graphics settings at the max. When there was a lot going on in the game, it would dip to around 80 fps, but it was never particularly distracting.

Warcraft III Reforged review: This is how it runs on PC

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

I also tried running Warcraft III: Reforged on my laptop with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU in my Dell XPS 15. At the highest settings, I would get 70 fps consistently. When the screen was cluttered, it would drop to around 60 fps.

Since Warcraft III: Reforged is a Blizzard game, you'll have to download the Battle.Net desktop app, so keep that in mind.

The minimum requirements to run Warcraft III: Reforged include Windows 7, an Intel Core i3-530 or AMD Phenom II X4 910 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 or AMD Radeon HD 5750 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 30GB of available space.

The recommended requirements are Windows 10, an Intel Core i5-6400 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700X CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R9 280X GPU, 8GB of RAM and 30GB of available space.

Bottom line

Warcraft III: Reforged is missing key elements that should set it apart from the original. It's inconvenient to rebind controls, in-game performance fluctuates, and there are quite a few graphical and audio bugs throughout the game. 

While it's still the best way to experience its many campaigns, that's only because the original is nearly 20 years old. Otherwise, Warcraft III: Reforged is outdated and ugly — Blizzard failed to modernize the game in the most vital ways, leaving it only slightly reforged.