A long time before there was World of Warcraft, there was Warcraft. Warcraft 1, 2 and 3 are all preceding stories that have been used in creating the MMO World of Warcraft.
My Blizzard or Warcraft experience started by playing Warcraft 1 and 2 back in 1997, three years after its launch.
Title: Warcraft – Orcs and Humans
I got it from a friend who had the game and had played enough of it. I started playing the game on the pc of my parents at the time (1996). I loved strategic games in general (board games mostly and a bit of Dune) and this one just seemed to have been made properly.
I am not going to discuss whether the concept of this game might have been stolen from another or not, but I will just review how I experienced that game at the time that I got to start playing some PC games.
Blizzard at the time (1994) figured out there were way too little RTS games (only Dune at the time) and produced this little game without much story or music for the RTS genre.
The Warlocks and Orcs from Draenor figured out how to open a portal between Draenor and the world of Azeroth in search for better food and goods. By going in small trips they recovered good food and figured out that the Humans were rather defenseless. At a later point they almost got defeated as the humans had developed strategics and strong units to fight the Orcs.
They reorganised their way of war with strategics and so decided to go back to Azeroth to raid and defeat the humans.
The main and obvious objective in this game is survival and battling with the Orcs that keep annoying you.
To be able to survive you will have to build forces and to be able to build forces you will have to gather resources. These resources can be found on the map around you, but since the maps are random generated in its specific style (forest, swamp, dungeon), the mine for gold and the forests for wood will be every time on a different place. It could be right outside your camp or a kilometer away from you. This ofcourse opens up for the risk of losing your peons while you are trying to gather resources on occassional passing orcs.
To build more units that can help you build or defeat Orcs, you need to build more houses to provide in a resting place and their food. Building houses and humans/orcs cost you resources. To be able to build houses, you need to have a path that your units can walk over. This path needs to be build aswell.
The workers/peons can do everything, so no teaching them in this luckily, but they are not able to attack. For attacking you have to have units from the Barracks that you will have to build still. The barracks can train warriors and knights.
As for upgrades you could upgrade total health, armour and offensive effectiveness through a special upgrades building.
Compared to modern RTS games, this game seems to have been one of the more difficult and challenging RTS games as the Orcs seemed to be coming for you nearly non-stop.
The missions usually had some sort of objectives such as gathering a certain amount of resources, building a certain amount of units.. but mostly it was about beating the Orcs off the map.
Next to barracks you can also build other buildings for creating casters, archers, mounted warriors aswell as catapults. Towers can also be built to defend your settlement and you could even build walls around your city, which is a unique feature for Warcraft 1, not seen in its followers.
Although very simple, the interface was well done. It had buttons for every little thing, you saw small icons for tools, building, commanding and avatars for the different characters in the game. Also health of each unit was displayed in a simple way. The menus are clear, but simple.
Animations for the characters in 2D are tile based, but surprisingly do look so well in this game. This game uses more than just the basic 16 colour schemes from that time (was it 16 bit colours?). Much detail was put in all the objects in the game, whether that is houses with gardens, buildings for producing your peons or warriors or the visuals of the world around you.
All characters and objects in the game have some sort of static shadows, which looks very well for an old game.
The map you play is always covered in a mist-of-war, which reveals the map as soon as you explore it. Every map is randomly generated, so every time its a unique experience.
Sound & Music
I think that the music was one of the things I did enjoy much aswell. A real war action styled music using the synthesizer of the PC’s soundcard. That what amazed me more at the time was that every character was voiced with simple shout-outs. “Yes” “Yes, my lord” “My Lord?” “Work Work” and the even more funny one when you clicked too often “Stop poking me!”, which by the way have been used in all following Warcraft (including World of Warcraft) games.
Every press of a button in the interface, scrolling through the menu’s or the animations of the characters mining, battling with orcs and chopping wood had a different sound.
The good and the bad
– fantastic graphics, half isometric
– however simple, good music tunes
– much humour in the sounds and emotes of the little warriors and peons
– a relatively weak story, if you compare it to its later versions
I can’t say that the story was very good, but at the time I wasn’t that good at reading and understanding English, so I simply didn’t care. I cared for the RTS gameplay which I loved so much. Warcraft 1 was the first PC based RTS for me I think and started me up for the genre to play more RTS games. Warcraft 2 and 3 followed and also Starcraft 1 and 2 with all expansions included ofcourse.
For its time, the graphics were great, the animations even better and I loved the different sounds every peon/human made when you clicked them (too much).
I really loved this game and I still do. Warcraft 1 set the beginning of a rather long journey for me as I also played Warcraft 2 and 3 with its’ expansions and ofcourse I have played World of Warcraft (upto and including Cataclysm).
Below a video of Warcraft 1 gameplay, which I didn’t make myself, but at least shows you the gameplay elements very well:
Otherwise I would suggest you to check HuskyStarcraft’s video: