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Warcraft 4 – what we want to see

Better balance of hero utility

 
Heroes are what make Warcraft III great – they make it stand out from StarCraft, they give the game personality, and they focus player tension – you really, really don’t want your heroes to die. If heroes go away from Warcraft 4, we would be horrendously disappointed. They were a bold step in cementing the Warcraft series deeper into its RPG roots. Still, picking any old hero without thinking about it could spell doom for a player – which is fine, because then there is strategy to choosing your heroes. However, Warcraft III made the mistake of having some heroes be too obvious of a choice, to the point where they were the only choice. The game is still being played today, and at high levels, it involves a handful of overpowered heroes in almost every game: the Archmage (Humans), the Demonhunter (Night Elves), the Death Knight (Undead) and the Blademaster (Orcs).


Above: It was ironic that the main hero of the Human campaign, Arthus, was a Paladin, which turned out to possibly be the most worthless Human hero. He’s relegated to the sad position of third hero, meaning he supports the others and is almost never picked as the primary hero 

Notice that each race has its overpowered hero. This means that overall the game is balanced, since no one race is too powerful. But at the same time, the heroes are overpowered compared to the other options each race has. The problem, like Swiss army-knife units, is heroes with too much utility. As an Undead, you might want to pick the Lich as your starting hero, because his Frost Nova does massive AOE damage and slows enemy units. Except the Death Knight, with his Death Coil spell, can also do high damage, but the same spell can heal friendly units if you want. It’s all about versatility. As an Orc, would you pick the Farseer, with his ability to summon two (count ‘em) spirit wolves that can attack, scout, and tank damage; or would you choose the Blademaster, who with Wind Walk can turn invisible, run faster, pass completely through enemy units, AND do critical attack damage? Hint – turning invisible is huge in a game where killing an enemy hero can win the match.

For Warcraft IV, Blizzard needs to learn from the heroes that came to dominate Warcraft III. It’s not about how much raw damage a spell does; it’s about how useful it is in how many situations. The heroes in Warcraft IV need to have spells that are effective at the beginning of the game and effective late game. If there needs to be a system that changes the way heroes work based on when they are trained, so be it – it may make things a bit more confusing, but more options make for more strategies.


Put a stop to the tower problem


Towers are annoying in nearly every strategy game. No one likes to be killed by a stationary, dumbly firing unit that’s insanely tough to kill. Towers have their place in RTS games, so we’re not suggesting they just get rid of them altogether. But there needs to be a solution to the very real, pervasive black hole of funlessness they create. In particular, Warcraft has become a series about heroic legends clashing on war-torn battlefields. It’s not supposed to be about battle-scarred heroes plinking away at buildings.


Above: Hey, this is cool – we found some super early build with weird-looking Orc towers. They don’t look like that in the released version, which is well and good because we promise you some readers would get an ulcer just seeing the real Orc towers 

There are two problems with towers in Warcraft III: pushing towers down an opponent’s throat is too easy, and for certain races (cough, Humans, cough), building forty towers inside your home base is too cheap. Some RTS games solved the tower pushing problem by making the foundations of towers, while they’re still being built, crazily weak to attack. This creates a problem where it’s too hard to throw up a defense of your own base when the enemy can just instantly knock down what you’re trying to build. Warcraft III actually has a weird, unique tower problem: through patches, the devs actually made siege weapons obsolete for dealing with towers. See, in order to deal with the tower problem, the devs changed the armor type of towers so that normal units could more easily take them down. This had a side-effect of making siege units worse at killing them. The inherent problem, of course, is that non-siege units sort of have to get in range of towers to kill them. So with Warcraft IV, the solution should be simple – give towers their own unique armor type – one that takes a lot of damage from siege units and regular units, and also make it easy to produce siege units before or in parallel to the time when your opponent can build towers on your front lawn.


And finally…


Why are we so sure these changes would be the most important ones for Warcraft IV? They’re all intended to make the player have more options. Better balance means more choices, and just look at how the original StarCraft handled it: it stayed so popular precisely because its races were so well balanced. We’re not saying we want the races in Warcraft IV to be all the same – far from it. We just believe that if the races had every tool as a competitive option, the game could endure the way that StarCraft has, especially because with the advent of WoW, Warcraft is arguably a more recognizable franchise.

We could have talked about the single-player campaign, but really what gripes could we have? The single-player missions were fantastic in Warcraft III, and after playing StarCraft II’s campaigns, we see that Blizzard has clearly learned to make single-player even more fun during the intervening years. One main thing we’d ask is to just rip every story-ish game element straight out of StarCraft II – the hanging out in the bar and armory, the research options, and the “choose a side” missions would all fit perfectly in the Warcraft universe.


Above: The Warcraft universe’s story is ridiculously detailed – just take a glimpse in the giant manual for a near novella of backstory

Also - and it’s pretty safe to assume Blizzard is already planning on this – incorporate the story that has been developed by World of Warcraft. Make Warcraft IV happen post Cataclysm so that the Warcraft universe can continue its epic arc.

What do you think? Are our rants about balance totally crazy? What would you want to see in the next Warcraft?

Aug 24, 2010

29 comments

  • ryan-johnson89 - November 5, 2014 2:49 p.m.

    I have won games without a Hero even
  • ryan-johnson89 - November 5, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    Adding to your comments about expanding undead, why not just build a Few Ziggs instead of a Town hall near your Expansion, It works well for me an I get 2 gold mines right off the bat most of the time, an quickly get to Flying units which I wait for my enemy to attack an they don't know I have a mass army of flyers waiting in the shadows near there base. as my Ziggs pick off there units im also killing there base
  • jameson14 - February 10, 2013 3:44 a.m.

    Lol nice! But check this out : http://warcraft4beta.com
  • gabriel-nebiyu-melaku - May 24, 2012 5:06 a.m.

    I will cry the day this game is released.. Warcraft 3 was a huge part of my teenage years. Warcraft IV please..
  • SandroTheMaster - September 8, 2010 5:23 a.m.

    How Warcraft 4, the sequel to one of the most imaginative RTS that actually dared to play with an RTS core mechanics, should be? Simple, make it exactly like Starcraft 2, the most derivative RTS made in recent years that is so lackluster of innovation that didn't manage to introduce a single change or improvement over its predecessor. How didn't I realize that the secret in making things better is just making them the same?
  • walrusthewill - September 3, 2010 10:21 p.m.

    the problem is that starcraft 2 isnt done - the team that worked on WCIII is the one that worked on SC2, so WC4 wont start until all of the expansions are out for SC2
  • Svenice7 - September 2, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    Warcraft 3 is the best RTS game bar none. Startcraft 2 (C&C5, lol) is a joke, its so inferior to WC3. WC3 has such amazing multiplayer complexity. Reading your article , you make some interesting points, but a lot of your comments suggest you are not a pro player. Point1. Firstly your comments regarding mountain giants & druid of claw. OK Bears (Druid of claw) are a lot cheaper than Mountain Giants and are a great melee massing unit and can heal and roar. But the Mountain giants hit points make it an amazing tank in battle and when things are getting tricky combine it with the taunt ability that draws in all other units. This taunt ability shields all your lower grade units. This is one of the most useful Night elf commands. Anyone just massing with mountain giants is clearly a noob. Anyone playing NE should look at the mountain giants as a support unit, rather than a massing unit. I like your points about some Heroes being overpowered, I agree that the Demonhunter (Night Elves), the Death Knight (Undead) and the Blademaster (Orcs) are the stronger heroes, not so sure your opinion of the archmage. The archmage is weak and can be easily taken down. It probably only useful if you are mass towering and hoarding gold, in a 1v1 game. Blademaster is great hero, but I find alot of noob players using it, concentrating on the hero, but not actually winning the game, remember he has no aura/heal ability. And any skillful player can soon eat him up with dust. I find the Death Knight probably the best hero in the game. Its so hard to take out a skillful player. Demonhunter is good, but not so good on maps without potions of invulnerablity, as he has no heal spell or invis spell. Your theory about undead, where its expensive to expand and haunt gold mines. I find it very easy to expand with undead and cost effective, by building a ud tower and increasing your food limit and don't forget its not that expensive when you can unsummon your buildings and get the gold back! WC3 forever. Not sure about WC4 (they will probably ruin it!) ..HawkeyeFortune..
  • weremoose - October 31, 2011 9:51 p.m.

    I agree 100%. The author also left out play style as a balancing effect. For example, I role FS/SH as orcs and prefer to force my opponents to fight in confined spaces where my tauren can soak damage and my heroes are safely unreachable. When I use a TC as one of my heroes, I prefer open spaces where I can get a surround. Undead is my weakest race but they strike me as being all about keeping your opponent guessing. Raise an army of skeletons to attack his expo and when he ports there to defend, attack his main with your army. Humans seem best at hero assassination between Storm Bolt, slow and OP riflemen. Human heavy units are also fast and mobile so you can micro better than with most races. NE have always struck me as the most versatile. I have two orc strats, three human strats, two UD strats and about five NE that I can think of offhand. All that to say, I think Warcraft III was always intended to be a tactical game rather than a strategic one. What is your mode and angle of attack? When and how do you retreat? Where on the field do you keep your army, where do you force a confrontation, where do you avoid one? How do you keep your enemy off balance so you can expand?
  • Anduin1 - August 31, 2010 11 p.m.

    I feel like WoW has burned the Warcraft universe permanently. I honestly thought WC3 was an ok RTS and that the hero units were a joke. I'd rather they try their hand at a new IP rather than rehashing their tired series over and over again.
  • miasma - August 31, 2010 8:48 p.m.

    The thing I really hated about WCIII was the need to switch between 3 or 4 different buildings to build certain units. Granted, I am not a huge RTS player anymore because I find them too complicated and I just get rolled by 12 year old Korean kids, but I think if they reduced the unit building structures and maybe created add-on structures to existing barracks it would clear things up. Maybe I am a minority with this issue, but I yearn for the days of less-complicated RTS games. Who knows, it could be as simple as not smoking pot before playing so I can remember where I placed buildings too LoL :)
  • weremoose - October 31, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    lol I'd imagine you are a minority bro. If anything, War3's tech tree was too simple.
  • GamesRadarJuniorWildlifeEditor - August 26, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    Very good article. more. Please.
  • Slaanash - August 26, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    Y'know, I agree with some of the points, but others (Like the tower thing) make me thing that the writer of this article isn't that good at Warcraft.
  • Shadowhatchi - August 26, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    @Bitchslapthehomeless I agree, I also like Warcraft 3 better than Starcraft 2. Don't get me wrong Starcraft 2 is a great game I just like the overall setting and characters of the Warcraft series more.
  • CRUNKMUFFIN - August 26, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    Theres an odd Arthus typo, but not going to dwell on that I would love to see a new Warcraft even though im not an RTS player at all. Mainly for the story and to revive an old franchise.
  • Bluesharp - August 25, 2010 4 p.m.

    more worried about how SC2 expansions turn out than WC4 speculation.
  • mEgAzD - August 25, 2010 11:25 a.m.

    You have my sentiments Mr. Keast. This is coming from a Fighting game player lol.
  • Stuv - August 25, 2010 10:37 a.m.

    As long as this doesn't become StarCraft: Medieval Edition, I will be happy. I'd also like to see another race, one independent of WoW.
  • AuthorityFigure - August 25, 2010 9:13 a.m.

    RTS games are susceptible to imbalances, exploitations, glitching etc. This is because they're are too complex for their own good.
  • pinoklin - August 25, 2010 7:13 a.m.

    i am a hardcore undead pleayer and that has lead me to prefer the dreadlord over the dk any day i mean the dk might heal but puttiong an enemy hero to sleep for like 45 seconds is pretty similar to killing him lmao, combo that with health regen aura every time your units deal damage and you got yourself a pretty nasty unit....and i am glad i havent dload the patches lol and sieges can still own towers :) and imo SC sucks bawllz compared to warcraft.

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