Throughout gaming history, RTS games have had a large impact on the industry with the popular yet niche titles such as the StarCraft, Command and Conquer and warcraft series. With hundreds of RTS games; it is easy to find all types of unique and special games. However; with so many titles – it becomes easy to forget the humble beginnings of the RTS genre. Games such as Warcraft 1 or Dune 2 which gave birth to the genre as we know it today.
A lot of these games were released before the 21st Century. As such, many younger players (such as myself) have never had the chance to watch the genre evolve before our eyes. That’s why I’ve decided to take it upon myself to rediscover the root of all RTS games, starting with the ever-popular Warcraft franchise.
Having just finished the Orc campaign myself; I have found a sense of nostalgia within me for a game that I have never played before and which in fact came out before my birth. As an almost entirely free to play based player – to be able to play Warcraft 1, I felt like a little kid getting a video game as a present. I was so incredibly excited to try everything out!
Warcraft 1 has a difficult campaign that I’m sure I would’ve struggled against wildly as a child, however – despite the difficulty, the game did not feel extremely stressful or as if it were pushing the player to play in a specific playstyle. There is a distinct sense of freedom in Warcraft 1 even though it’s an older game; a freedom to create your own strategies – fight at your own pace and learn and progress at a pace that befits you. There are no tutorials, or handheld instructions to teach you everything. Instead you are thrown straight into the game and learn things as you progress.
The beauty of Warcraft 1; is in both the simplicity and complexity of the game. This may seem oxymoronic but is in fact not a contradiction. The game has simple, easy to understand mechanics – but these mechanics can be exploited or put to full use to create armies which are stronger than the sum of its pieces.
An example of such mechanics is the abuse of choke points through the usage of ranged units. The campaign maps include bridges which are around 3 units long, which can be plugged by units in such a formation that they are essentially invincible. A two by six formation of archers/spearmen will decimate most of the early game ground units. They will also prevent invisible units from breaking through into your base.
However, at this point, the campaign begins to throw in catapults; which deal AOE damage and absolutely crush tight-knit formations. This forces the player to adapt and create new strategies like splitting apart units or going for mass catapults themselves.
Overall, the Warcraft 1 Orc campaign was incredibly enjoyable. Despite its limitations, such as only being able to select four units at a time, and the constant trolling by the campaign AI (rebuilding bases when it’s already lost, mission objectives designed to have the player fail at least once due to forgetfulness and random invisible knights appearing in your base), the game was still incredibly enjoyable. It was like a breath of fresh air to play such an old, simplistic game.
My favourite highlight of the WC1 Orc campaign was the part where I walled in about 10 of my warlocks after losing all my peons (with 80 gold left!) and I just kept spamming Daemons! Although it might seem like a noobish strategy, it definitely made me feel like a kid again – just spamming the strongest unit in a game without caring about the fastest way or ‘optimal’ route to victory.
This is a part of gaming that I’ve not experienced in a very long time: the exploration; the freedom and the excitement of trying things out and doing your own little stunts and strategies!
I’d rate this RTS a solid 8/10. What do you guys think? Tell us about your nostalgic stories and thoughts on Warcraft 1!