Warcraft 4 – what we want to see

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.

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.

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

Matthew Keast
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.