If you were to make a list of some of the most addicting games of all time, it’s pretty certain that a couple of Warcraft titles would make the list. With the continued success of World of Warcraft still pulling in new players to this day, now is a perfect time to take a trip into the past to see where it all started.
The rich lore and history of the Warcraft universe stems all the way back to the early 90s when Blizzard Entertainment launched Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Originally launched as an RTS title on MS-DOS in 1994, this is a title that may even be older than some of our readers. Warcraft continued to gain popularity over the years, influencing countless games and even made it onto the big screen in 2016.
Today, we’re going to take a brief look at each of the games in the Warcraft franchise to see what they had to offer and how their stories captivated audiences worldwide.
Release Date: 23 November 1994
Platforms: MS-DOS, Classic Mac OS
We have to go back 26 years to take a look at the first Warcraft game to be released. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans is a real-time strategy game that had a huge impact on the RTS genre when it was released – especially when it came to popularising multiplayer.
There are two factions present in this game, the Orcs and the Humans. In typical RTS fashion, players will have to gather resources, build an army, and defeat their opponent. This title isn’t as grand as some of the RTS games available today, but it helped build a foundation for future titles to expand on.
The beginnings of the storyline are fairly simple, the once-peaceful Orcs of Draenor have become corrupted and are invading the human kingdom of Azeroth. That’s about how far the story goes in this title, but it works as a perfect introduction to the franchise.
As you might expect with a title that was released on MS-DOS, the user interface and gameplay can take a bit of getting used to. For its time though, the graphics were pretty impressive and gameplay was easy to pick up.
Release Date: December 9, 1995
Platforms: MS-DOS, Classic Mac OS, Saturn, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
Released just a year later, Warcraft II didn’t really attempt to shake up the franchise but added a couple of additions and refinements for fans to enjoy. The graphics were a small step up from the first game and the combat was re-balanced.
There are also a couple of new units to play around with for both the Orcs and the Humans. Each unit has a fairly similar counterpart on the opposing team however, which is something that makes wins feel more down to skill rather than who picked the best faction.
The story in the second game follows on from the fall of Azeroth, with the remaining survivors seeking refuge in the kingdom of Lordaeron. Most of the scenarios follow the events of the Second War as the Orcs launch an attack on Lordaeron.
An expansion pack named Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal was released a year later that added two new single-player campaigns and several multiplayer maps. The story takes place after the events of Tides of Darkness as the Orcs stage a new invasion of Azeroth under the leadership of Ner’zhul.
Release Date: July 3, 2002
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Classic Mac OS, Mac OS X
Fans of Warcraft had a long wait until they got their hands on the successor to Tides of Darkness. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos released six years later, bringing fully 3D graphics to the franchise for the first time. These graphics were pretty impressive for the time and still hold up decently today.
Unlike the second game, Reign of Chaos added a lot more to the mix. Two new factions were introduced, the Night Elves and the Undead, as well as four story campaigns to play through. Set several years after the events of the previous game, Warcraft III follows the Burning Legion’s attempt at conquering Azeroth with the aid of the Undead.
With a total of four factions to choose from, players had a lot more tactical options to use during gameplay. This made each battle exciting and a lot more dynamic than what was seen in previous releases.
An expansion titled Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was released a year later that continued the story from the end of the base game. Several new units and maps were added to the multiplayer mode and a total of three new campaigns were added to the base game.
Release Date: November 23, 2004
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS
This is probably the most popular and well-known on the list and barely needs an introduction. World of Warcraft is one of the most popular MMORPGs ever developed and it definitely helped to bring the genre into the spotlight in the early 2000s.
For those unfamiliar, World of Warcraft allows players to create a character, choosing from eight races which each has unique abilities. Each player can then level-up their character and take part in a variety of PvE or PvP battles and adventures. You’ll be able to take part in duels and raids, fight on battlegrounds and explore dungeons.
With a range of expansion packs over the years, the fan-base has had plenty of material to keep them invested in this game. The latest expansion is the highly-rated Battle of Azeroth but another one is due for release this year, called Shadowlands. Each expansion brings something new to the world in terms of storylines and adventures.
World of Warcraft has evolved so much over the years that in 2019, World of Warcraft Classic was released. This is a recreation of the state of the game before the launch of the Burning Crusade expansion. With so much having changed over the years, fans of the series were glad to return for a nostalgia hit from where it all started.
Those are all the Warcraft games up until now, although there are plenty of expansions to check out too. If you haven’t tried out any of these games, they’re definitely worth trying out for those who are fans of fantasy games, RPGs and RTS games. While they may feel a bit dated now due to their age, these games are classics and Azeroth is always worth exploring.
Which one of these Warcraft games is your favorite? Are you a long-standing fan from the 90s or did you join the series with World of Warcraft like many fans did? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you think of the Warcraft games. To keep up to date with the latest news and other lists like these, be sure to check back at WePC or follow us on Twitter.