After World of Warcraft: Legion's announcement, it seems that anyone's hopes and dreams for a Warcraft IV real-time strategy game are just about dead. Despite age-old rumours of a new RTS, Blizzard has pretty much confirmed time and time again that they can't fathom the possibility of cranking out a new Warcraft RTS. With almost 12 years since the last installment, I think that we can safely say at this point that it just isn't going to happen...
So I decided: I should get angry and tell Blizzard why they should make one anyway!
As such, I've compiled here a list of 5 reasons why Warcraft IV needs to happen - and 3 reasons why it probably won't - so let's get our peons and peasants ready and dig in!
Why It Should: Warcraft III Had a Unique RTS Style
For those who have never played Warcraft III it would appear to be like any other RTS. However, the game is much deeper than your average Macro/Micro gameplay that we see in Starcraft and other RTS games.
In Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, players were given the choice of 4 heroes, and were allowed to summon 1-3 of them depending on the level of their Town Hall (or other home-base, depending on race). Each hero had a specific role and had select abilities that were unique to them. By participating in battles, heroes would gain levels, making them stronger than the average unit. They could also gain valuable inventory items that could turn the tide of battles at any moment.
This was a feature unique to the Warcraft series of RTS games, and it is one that players sorely miss. While we can easily get our quick-fix for hero-based RTS gameplay by returning to Warcraft III from time-to-time, ultimately we would like to have a newer and more polished game than the old 2003 release.
Why It Should: Diversity of Gameplay Strategies
One of the great things about Warcraft III: Frozen Throne was that it had four different races to choose from: the Human Alliance, the Orcish Horde, the Night Elf Sentinels, and the Undead Scourge. Each race had various pros and cons.
For example, the Humans were your basic RTS race. They had simple divisions between your worker units, your soldiers, your air support, and your siege weapons. They also had various towers for defense, allowing them to "turtle" their way through to the late-game.
The Orcs were similar in gameplay, except they focused more on aggressive units. Their "pillage" ability also allowed their warriors to gather resources by damaging enemy buildings.
The Undead were a strange race who were infamous for taking advantage of dead enemy units, as well as combining their wood-gathering unit with their basic attack unit. This gave them an advantage over other races in the sense that they could attack earlier and defend easier.
Meanwhile, the Night Elves were able to gather wood without disturbing the trees. They also had a focus on specialist units that had many spells, as well as a focus on ranged soldiers that could keep away from advancing melee warriors.
Having four races - each with unique units - created a diversity in strategies that the RTS genre simply hasn't seen in a long time. As much as Starcraft has its own 3 races to choose from, let's face it: there's always going to be Marine-Marauder rushes, and Protoss death-balls until the day Starcraft II dies.
Why It Won't: Balancing Races
While other RTS games tend to have 10 different races with different perks, Warcraft III had 4 different races with entirely different units. This means that every single unit has to be rebalanced, every hero needs to be put in check, and every structure has to have the right amount of health. It's a big job, and it's one that Blizzard probably doesn't want to handle again.
Starcraft II is still getting rebalance patches for Wings of Liberty now and then. What makes us think that we're ever going to get another Starcraft II with heroes and another race thrown in? It's depressing and sobering reality, but it's the truth.
Why It Should: Learning About our Heroes
While World of Warcraft has built up a sizable amount of lore, ultimately it will never be able to tell stories the same way that Warcraft III did. I'm talking about the heroes themselves: Jaina, Arthas, Illidan, and Sylvanas all of whom originated from the 2003 RTS game. World of Warcraft has since gone on to kill Arthas (over and over) and Illidan (over and over) but at the end of the day the character development of the heroes we follow just doesn't match that of the RTS games.
If Blizzard wants to develop our heroes, stop sending us on raids and fetch quests. Give us a new RTS that makes us love them all over again, one that will drive new World of Warcraft players to pick a race because they like the characters, not because they want the best stat gains or buffs.
Why It Should: Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm proved one thing about Warcraft's audience: they want more hero-based RTS. While I don't have the numbers on Hero sales, the number of Warcraft heroes you can find roaming about the unranked Quick Match lobbies should be evidence enough that players want to play as their favorite heroes again. People want to smash the living daylights out of hordes of creeps, just like they did in Warcraft III. It's a simple fact of life.
Why It Won't: World of Warcraft's Lore
As much as Warcraft III was great for its lore, World of Warcraft does lore that much better. In fact, World of Warcraft's lore has become so expansive that deciding upon a storyboard for a Warcraft IV is pretty much impossible. With new heroes and villains added with each new expansion, and many more released even between patches, it's almost impossible to think of something that could fit into Azeroth that hasn't been done already.
Also, until World of Warcraft sees its last players close its doors, Warcraft IV would have to make sure that all events in the game were canonical with the massive world of the MMO. While it is difficult to maintain a consistent world as big as Azeroth and its surrounding realms, keeping two games consistent with that same lore would be a feat that no developer would want to face - even if they are a level 110 Death Knight.
Why It Should: World Editor
Blizzard is really missing out by not providing fans with a new world editor. While Starcraft II's map editor is great, it isn't Warcraft. Modern MMOs found their roots in Warcraft III's world editor, not because Starcraft: Brood War lacked a map editor, but because the lore and diversity of units allowed for the creation of a variety of games in a fantasy setting.
The quirkiness of certain units or characters made it accessible, and allowed for mini-games that you simply could never create in Starcraft. Sure, we have Zerg Soccer or Auir Chef in Starcraft, but Warcraft III had the Dodger of Sheep and Warchasers. I'm pretty sure we all know which mini-games were better...
Why It Won't: It Might Be Too Late
Many fans have already gone out of the way to create their own Warcraft IV mods in Starcraft II and standalone clients. While they are by no means perfect, and most of them simply reuse the same game balancing from Warcraft III, the fact that they exist could seriously hurt sales. The reason that this could happen is simply because many players might find Warcraft IV to feel too different - visually or mechanically - from Warcraft III. It wouldn't be the first time either since Starcraft II still gathers a lot of criticisms from Brood War fans to this day.
If that wasn't bad enough, Blizzard is losing a lot of their map editing crowd to DotA 2. With Valve's new Hammer modding tool and Steam Workshop, Blizzard's stalling for a new Warcraft game is only going to hurt them in the long run since many Warcraft III games have been remade for Valve's DotA 2 client already.
And there you have it! While Warcraft IV seems to be further away than ever, it is still a dream to some. It may very well remain a dream forever until Blizzard announces something in the future. Hopefully, one day Blizzard will hear our prayers and at least give us a remake of the old games. Until then, dream on fellow Warcraft RTS enthusiasts! I'll see you on battle.net!
What about you readers? Do you think Blizzard will ever give us a new Warcraft RTS? Do you think Warcraft IV will be released too late to gather interest? Would Starcraft: Ghost have a greater chance of being released than Warcraft IV? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!