Here's why Warcraft 3: Reforged is controversial - and why Blizzard are offering instant refunds

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:18 pm

What was supposed to be a celebration of a once-beloved strategy game hasn't quite turned out that way for developers Blizzard.

Warcraft 3: Reforged is a remastered edition of real-time strategy game Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, which received near universal acclaim from critics when it was released in 2002.

The new version was released on 28 January, and was anticipated to add revamped graphics, modern online features and balance changes to the gameplay.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In fact, the backlash to the game is so strong (Warcraft III: Reforged currently boasts the lowest ever user rating for a game on Metacritic), Blizzard are now liberally handing out refunds to embittered players.

Here's everything you need to know about it:

Why is it so controversial?

(Image: Blizzard)

It seems as if the story of Warcraft III: Reforged is one of broken promises and un-kept pledges, and fans have complained of long-awaited features promised by Blizzard being absent from the game at launch.

The game is also beset by technical issues, unwelcome changes to gameplay and other systems and graphical changes which make the game look worse than the nearly 20-year old original.

The game was announced in late 2018, with Blizzard showing off a cinematic trailer before talking about the plans for the remaster; a gameplay trailer even listed several features coming in the new remaster, including "fully remodelled characters and animations" and "remastered maps and campaigns".

But many of those features simply don't live up to the expectations of fans. This isn't a case of fans being entitled either; even with low expectations, you'd be hard pressed not to be disappointed with Reforged.

A major point of consternation is the cutscenes that were shown off at BlizzCon - Blizzard's own gaming convention that sees big announcements from the company each year - in 2018 were not included in the final game.

According to PC Gamer's review, the cutscenes shown at the event were full of emotional and cinematic flair, "but little of that is present now... the cinematic cutscenes that bookend the campaigns are the exact same ones from the original game."

On top of that, players are forced to update any existing copies of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos they might own to the newer version, making many of the changes brought in by Reforged mandatory.

There is still a dedicated set of fans who play the original game as it was released in 2002, some to a competitive level, and so to rewrite the rules with the new changes at little to no notice has caused uproar.

Then, there's the fact that Blizzard announced that they would claim ownership over all user-created content in Reforged, just another sticking point for fans. Not a good look.

Fans thought they were getting revamped, Hollywood-style cinematics - they did not (Image: Blizzard)

There's even a fan-made website - Warcraft 3: Refunded - that lists everything wrong with the new product.

"Warcraft III: Reforged boasts an impressive number of fun and exciting features that were promised before being cut during development," it says.

"But not before taking your preorder based on what they originally showed."

What are Blizzard doing about it?

Blizzard have said that some technical issues and missing features will be addressed with future patches.

"We’ll share release plans as work progresses in the coming weeks," they said in a blog post. "Please be assured that the team is hard at work on standing these features up."

Blizzard has defended its decision to omit the new scenes from the remastered game, saying they "did not want the in-game cutscenes to steer too far from the original game."

"We want to preserve the true spirit of Warcraft 3 and allow players to relive these unforgettable moments as they were."

How do I get a refund?

If you're one of the many players who opted to purchase a copy of the new game, and you want a refund, getting one is a fairly simple process.

According to Polygon, Blizzard is offering instant refunds for Warcraft 3: Reforged via tickets on its website.

Fans on the game's subreddit say that Blizzard support will grant players a refund regardless of how much time they’ve spent on the game, so it doesn't matter if you spent five hours with it or five minutes.