With my Xbox 360 dead but blinking, I am forced to fall back on some of my older games to get my twitch fix, which (as is almost always the case) means I’m firing up Warcraft III.
Playing through the Night Elf campaign in Frozen Throne, I was once again impressed by how good this game is … and how well it holds up. It’s just as much fun as it was three years ago when I’d playing at 3 a.m. with baby StarGirl cradled in one arm. In large part this is because Warcraft III is a computerized version of the wargames I played as a kid. Even up until the dawning days of middle school I would fight huge, room-spawning battles between GI Joes, army men, Micronauts (yes, a few survived into the mid-80s), Lincoln Logs, LEGOS and, of course, dinosaurs.
Warcraft has it all, from the valiant (and soon to be dead) grunts sent into disrupt my enemy’s productions to heroes who call down artillery strikes and powerful spells to lay waste to the opposition.
It’s like I’m 10 again.
Unfortunately while Blizzard has done a great job of tweaking and patching Warcraft III over the last few years, it never released a second expansion. And while World of Warcraft is a hell of a lot of fun … it’s just not the same as the real-time strategy game. I want hordes of orcs obeying (or at least, haphazardly following) my every command. I want to repel wave after wave of undead and demonic invaders. I want the continent to burn with the fires of the blood elves.
I want Warcraft IV.
While the third iteration of the series is good, there is certainly room for improvement. Here’s a few elements from my wishlist:
- Smarter Enemies: Warcraft’s AI is pretty good, but it tends to rely on straight-forward (and predictable) blitz attacks. There’s little to no flanking maneuvers, and while the campaign mode does group complementary groups together for its assaults, the AIs default tactics are unwavering. This isn’t to say it’s not a challenge — it certainly is — but it can be monotonous.
- Auto Assignment to Troop Groups: When playing Warcraft, I typically build up my force, divide it into infantry, ranged attackers, and siege weapons, assign them to groups, and then go to war. It’d be a lot easier if I could specify a build list that automatically assigns footmen, knights and spell breakers to a custom “infantry” group while my dwarven sharpshooters, elven healers and elven sorcerers get assigned the “ranged” group.
- Wandering Creeps: Like any good adventurer turned commander, I love sacking monster camps to loot treasure, but the monsters themselves always appear in the same locations. Wandering creeps would add the element of surprise to the game, as you’d never know exactly when you’d encounter a patrol of trolls hunting for their next meal.
- More Story! World of Warcraft is an epic game with hundreds of ongoing stories and quests … but it’s hard to pull back and get a world view of what’s going on. I’d love to see Warcraft IV retell some of the WoW quests in a more narrative form. The story is one of the things that made Warcraft III and Frozen Throne exceptional … and I definitely want more of that.
Of course, the big question is … will we ever see Warcraft IV? Stories occasionally pop up on the net speculating that the game is Blizzard’s next big thing (along with Diablo II and Starcraft II) but I’ve seen nothing concrete. It seems like a no-brainer for Blizzard, what with WoW’s huge fan base and the loyal legions still playing Warcraft III, but who knows what their balance and time sheets look like. Perhaps they just don’t have the resources to launch and support Warcraft IV while WoW is growing the way it is.