tl; dr: Warcraft 3: Reforged brings the original into the modern. But the criticism is big at the start. ComputerBase takes a look at the technology and the content. Graphics comparisons between the original and the revision show what has happened, and benchmarks show how much performance that costs.
Visually nicer versions of old, but still popular games are all the rage. They can be roughly divided into three classes.
- Games in which primarily only the resolution was increased. The optical gain is rather low.
- Games that are barely recognizable compared to the original. The graphic quality of Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and especially Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition does not have to hide from that of new titles.
- And then there is the middle ground. Blizzard did it with Warcraft 3: Reforged.
Warcraft 3: Reforged still relies on the original engine from 2002 to keep the original version 100% compatible, so that both versions can be played together in multiplayer mode. The graphics are therefore not completely turned inside out, but they are revised extensively. And even if the first impression may be misleading: at the latest when comparing the two versions directly, you will notice that the graphics of Warcraft 3: Reforged are far from perfect, but the game still looks much better than the original.
The graphic shows many improvements
So Blizzard completely replaced the models of the units for Warcraft 3: Reforged. The new ones show significantly more details, but sometimes look completely different. In addition, the floor is now made up of more than just porridge and fire looks like fire and not like a few red colored pixels. The shadow representation has been revised and is now applied to many more objects and all elements, from houses to bridges to trees, now appear much more three-dimensional, whereas previously they were usually two-dimensional constructs.
There are numerous other changes in Warcraft 3: Reforged, so that the graphics, unlike Microsoft’s AoE: Definitive Edition, do not look like they do in a modern game, but they are quite handsome enough not to constantly want a better look when playing. Warcraft 3: Reforged is consistently good for the eye.
However, the overall look does not keep up. The animations of the new units are definitely not successful. It looks like they are running at a fixed (too) low frame rate (possibly 30 FPS) because they are jerky. This is not a broken leg, but does not match the otherwise decent impression.
If you want, you can continue to use the old graphics
If you prefer to play with the old optics or for comparison purposes, you can activate them in the graphics menu. If you only own Warcraft 3, Warcraft 3: Reforged has started since the latest patch, but here the old graphics are active and the new one cannot be installed. It should be noted that despite the compatibility, both versions use different saves. So if you first play the campaign with the new graphic, but then want to switch back, you have to start over.
Speaking of old graphics: As usual from Blizzard, the developers have also tweaked the engine of the original Warcraft 3 since the release, but not on the optics themselves. So the technology of Warcraft 3 originally used DirectX 8.1, but eventually became DirectX 9 and later converted to DirectX 11. Warcraft 3: Reforged also uses DirectX 11. There is also an OpenGL renderer. However, only DirectX 11 can currently be used on a Windows PC. Unlike Word of Warcraft, DirectX 12 is not supported.
The UI stands still
The graphics have taken many steps forward, but unfortunately the user interface has not. For the most part, it still looks like the original and is therefore simply huge and takes up a large part of the screen area. The UI can also not be turned down. At the very beginning of the campaign there are also some help texts that suffer from the same problem. Sometimes you hardly see anything of the actual game.
The technology of the PC version did not cause any further problems during the test. In the first hours after activation, there were still errors when loading new levels, which Blizzard fixed a short time later.
Technical problems are elsewhere: Everything that Blizzard first promised didn’t make it into the game. So there are no revised cutscenes, the sounds have remained the same and the levels and story have not been edited. Officially, Blizzard wants Warcraft 3: Reforged to be close to the original. The developer initially promised something different.
Warcraft 3: Reforged offers more graphics options than the original Warcraft 3, but there are still no presets for easy configuration. The number of graphics options is clear, however, as are the comfort functions available: the title does not offer more than a freely configurable FPS limiter between 10 and 300 FPS. After all, this can be set separately for whether the game runs in screen focus or in the background.
Warcraft 3: Reforged offers post-processing anti-aliasing that can be switched on or off. However, this does not smooth the image completely, especially in low resolutions like Full HD. Due to the rigid camera perspective, this is not so negative. In addition, the anti-aliasing produces practically no blurring, so that the picture remains nice and sharp even in 1,920 × 1,080.
With screenshots and videos: Warcraft 3: Reforged vs. original
It is interesting to write about the graphical improvements of Warcraft 3: Reforged, but thanks to the integrated change to the original version, you can also show the direct difference in the form of screenshots and videos. The screenshots show real game scenes, the videos focus primarily on the numerous in-game cutscenes.
All pictures and videos were recorded regardless of the version in 3,840 × 2,160 with maximum graphic details. Warcraft 3: Reforged can consistently maintain the optical level shown in the scenes, so that the impressions can be transferred to the entire game.
Neat textures – but please don’t zoom
Warcraft 3: Reforged offers decent textures that also don’t require a lot of graphics card memory. 4 GB are also enough in Ultra HD, even 2 GB are sufficient for Full HD. There are therefore no high-resolution textures, but this does not bother at least until the player zooms in. Then the low details quickly become apparent on the surfaces. On the other hand, if you play from a distance and everything else is very impractical in Warcraft 3, the textures are not noticeable.
On the next page: GPU benchmarks in Full HD, WQHD and Ultra HD as well as frame times