Home Editorial What Blizzard should have learned from Warcraft 3 – Part 2

This article is a continuation of a previous post.

Deforestation adds strategy and fun to any encounter. Just like in real life!

Last time, we established that the majority of improvements between Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 2 were actually improvements from Starcraft 1 to Warcraft 3. From the basic 3D camera to the UI and control improvements, a lot of the credit Starcraft 2 has received for its advancement since the original is probably a tad overstated.

More puzzling, however, was the large number of RTS innovations included in Warcraft 3 that are absent in Starcraft 2. The previous article focused primarily on anti-cheesing measures built into each race’s infrastructure that decreased the rock-paper-scissors aspect of early game rushes. With them, Warcraft 3 managed to remove the majority of all-in cheese from the game without placing awkward terrain or time restrictions on players.

What else did Blizzard’s oldest RTS include in its newest offering? For one thing: dynamic environments.

Dynamic Environments

Now, let’s be fair. Warcraft 3’s environments are nothing like those in Red Faction or Battlefield Bad Company. But, to its credit, the game’s maps were contstructed in a way such that they evolved over the course of each battle. What was once a wall of trees became a backdoor entrance to a base. Previously impassable, NPC-filled routes were slowly cleared out for proxy buildings and access to special units and items. Entire strategies were built around the day/night cycle. In essence, the environment was constantly in flux.

Flash forward to Starcraft 2. What did Blizzard implement to revolutionize RTS tactics?

In Starcraft game lore, it is clearly stated that the Xel Naga had a "giant, pointless boulders" fetish.

Piles of random rocks.

Yes, the extent of the entire game’s map-shifting is that in a few key locations boulders impede expansion or back routes. Wow, Blizzard, nice one.

Yes, there are vision-blocking plants and smoke in some locations, as well as Xel Naga watchtowers, but these are all static effects. You would imagine that if an SCV could (eventually) destroy 300 tons of rocks, it could also chop down some shrubbery, but no such luck. Maps are, in essence, completely static.

Was Starcraft 1 this way? Sure. But so was Warcraft 2, for the most part. Why didn’t Blizzard incorporate a day/night cycle (which is used in the campaign) or more destructable elements?

What’s the point of putting advanced physics into the game engine if they aren’t used for anything outside of explosions?

Blizzard could have easily added destructable bridges. Shifting environments. Native wildlife at certain locations. Neutral, unstable transportation wormholes. Something.

I understand that Starcraft was/is a beloved international e-sport, but why release a sequel after a dozen years if it isn’t going to bring current-gen standards to  the table?

And nothing says current gen like blowing mile-wide craters into every inch of terrain in sight.

7 replies to this post
  1. Those are all excellent points, and I agree that many of the improvements seen in WC3 are clearly lacking in SC2, but I believe this was done not only knowingly, but deliberately; they’re coming eventually.

    I suspect the clear lack of features (other than the new units and gorgeous engine [and horrible pathfinding]), is because Blizzard plans to include significant new features as selling points of Heart of the Swarm and the (as far as I’m aware) yet unnamed Protoss expansions.

    Or at least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

    That and the re-introduction of Firebats.

    • Outside of the campaign you mean as far as the firebats, and yeah I agree there. I wish they’d do it for the Wraiths as well. Banshees are great and all for ground targets but I hate having such a limited unit for the cost. It just reminds me why I almost never built valks in BW unless I knew I was gonna be facing a ton of air units, too costly and too limited.

  2. Awesome article, I can’t help but feel

    Well one thing a friend discussed with me (although I still haven’t played much sc2 but have been following it from friends of mine that play it) is that they did so much for the campaign and yet the multiplayer felt a bit “lacking” in a sense…

    Like the campaign has like tons of units that are not used besides single player, wich could be used on multiplayer. Sure some are WAYYYY overpowered but the idea I discussed with my friend was a pre-choice tech war (with balances of course) before matches… like you could choose if you wanted medic (again BALANCED, not that multi heal bullshit and etc.) or the medivac… or hellions/Firebats… vikings or goliaths… etc.

    Players could choose weekly (or a time based rotation or something) a “tech-tree” of sorts and had to stick with it for a while, making matches more dynamic in team battles wich players could cover each others weaknesses on tech (ground maniac with vehicle master for example) and make multiplayer a bit fresh.

    Again I’m talking this out loud, nothing stops Blizzard from actually implementing something similar, since special zerg and protoss units are still a bit lacking… but it would be something to consider. I guess they just want to stick with the “Basic sc1” formula for now.

    Here is hoping for new things in the expansions. *lifts bottle demoman-like*

    • I wouldn’t be surprised to see that several of the SP units from WOL are added as MP units in Heart of the Swarm. But we’ll see. Aside from units though, I do feel there is a lot they left out of MP to either appease Korean e-sport enthusiasts or to please Activision and Bobby Kotick.

      • Too true. I an’t help to agree with the points you made about warcraft 3…. I mean, Rocks? Seriously blizzard…

        That was one of the main reasons behind not buying it right away… (besides monetary problems *coff* xD). But I will get it, it’s a good game overall… I’m just hoping they make it more dynamic with expansions and/or patches.

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