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Warcraft – Army of Four

23 February, 2009 (10:22) | Emulation and Vintage Gameplay | By: admin

Of the many games that Blizzard created for the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo franchises, the only one that seems to have been all but forgotten by the company is the original Warcraft.  On Blizzard’s official website, the company features detailed web pages for their games dating back to Diablo and Warcraft II, but there is hardly any mention of the first Warcraft game.  Also, new copies of Blizzard’s games can still be purchased at, except for Warcraft I.  No worries; it can still be found on the aptly titled website Abandonia.

Immediately upon viewing the main menu, one may realize why this game has essentially been abandoned by Blizzard.  The multiplayer options (Modem, Network, Direct Link) are reminders of a time when playing a multiplayer game was a much greater hassle.  In this modern era of multiplayer gaming, of XBOX Live and Steam, efficiency and ease of use is expected.  Jumping into a multiplayer game should be as easy as turning on your computer or console.  This may be the reason why Blizzard continues to sell Warcraft II in its user-friendly edition but does not bother with Warcraft I.  Today, a game is often measured by its multiplayer capabilities, and here Warcraft I is found wanting by comparison.

It would be a shame if this development resulted in younger gamers missing out on what is undoubtedly an engaging single player experience.  Subtitled Orcs & Humans, Warcraft allows the player to play through a Human campaign and an Orc campaign, which may persuade the gamer to feel that he or she has been given two games for the price of one.  Though the gameplay mechanics are the same for both campaigns, the two races features varied soldier types (for example, Human Clerics can heal damaged soldiers while Orc Warlocks can re-animate dead soldiers as Skeleton fighters) that demand different strategies from the player.  Also, the mission objectives, after a short beginner’s mission that is the same for both Orcs and Humans, are unique.  It is always interesting, after fighting against certain characters, to change allegiances and assume control of what was once your opposition, to get two sides of the same story.

As one of the first Real-Time Strategy games, Warcraft essentially sets the foundation that would be built upon in the years to come by the Command & Conquer and Starcraft games.  Thus, gamers familiar with the more complex strategies of these later games may have difficulty adjusting to the simpler gameplay of Warcraft.  In the RTS games that followed Warcraft, players were allowed, and encouraged, to create dozens of soldiers and battle vehicles and design heavily populated attacking formations filled with as many units as the player desired.  In Warcraft, a player must work with groups of four.  Just four.  If a player wishes to attack an enemy base with 16 units, the player will need to click-drag the cursor over four units and send them into the fight, then do the same with three more groups of four.  This alone may discourage more accomplished RTS players from finishing Warcraft.  However, as someone who is often overwhelmed by the staggering possibilities of more recent RTS games, I find Warcraft’s simplicity relaxing and enjoyable.  Though the scale is significantly decreased, the game is still asking the player to make stategic and effective use of soldiers and resources to defeat the enemy.

In conclusion, if one is looking for a multiplayer game, I would encourage that gamer to look elsewhere.  However, gamers who would like to experience an earlier, simpler RTS single player game ought to try Warcraft.  Certainly, by comparing Warcraft to the more recent entries into the genre, one can see how these games, and the gamers who play them, have changed.  I can imagine the unified response to Warcraft having been, “More!”  In the years to come, gamers would be given more units to build, more formations to fill, more technologies to research, and more industrious enemies to defeat, expanding to the point where some gamers (myself included) were left behind.

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