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Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

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Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

North American box art

Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Designer(s) Rob Pardo
Series Warcraft
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X
Release date(s)
  • NA July 3, 2002
  • EU July 5, 2002
Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution CD (1), digital distribution

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is a high fantasy real-time strategy video game released by Blizzard Entertainment on July 3, 2002 in the U.S. It is the second sequel to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and it is the third game set in the Warcraft fictional Universe. An expansion pack, The Frozen Throne, was released on July 1, 2003.

Warcraft III contains four playable races:[1] Humans and Orcs, which had previously appeared in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, and the Night Elves and Undead, which were introduced to the Warcraft mythos in this installment.[2] Warcraft III '​s single-player campaign is laid out similarly to that of StarCraft, also by Blizzard Entertainment, being told through all four of the game's races in a progressive manner. Multiplayer mode allows for play against other players, via the internet, instead of playing against computer-controlled characters as is done in the single-player custom game mode.

The game proved to be a best seller and one of the most anticipated and popular computer game releases, with 4.5 million units shipped to retail stores and over one million units sold within a month.[3] Warcraft III won many awards including "Game of the Year" from more than six different publications.[4]


  • Gameplay 1
    • Campaign 1.1
    • Multiplayer 1.2
  • Synopsis 2
    • Setting 2.1
    • Plot 2.2
  • Sound 3
  • Modding 4
  • Development 5
    • Other versions 5.1
  • Reception 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Warcraft III takes place on a map of varying size, such as large plains and fields, with terrain features like rivers, mountains, seas, or cliffs. In Campaign mode, the map is initially covered with the Black Mask, an impenetrable covering.[5] The Mask is removed from areas that have been explored, but those that are no longer within sight range of an allied unit or building are instead covered with the Fog of war; though terrain remains visible, changes such as enemy troop movements and building construction are unseen.[5] During a game, players must establish settlements to gain resources, defend against other players, and train units to explore the map and attack computer controlled foes. There are three main resources that are managed in Warcraft III: gold, lumber, and food.[6] The first two are required to construct units and buildings, while food restricts the maximum number of units the player may control at one time.[7]

The game also introduces creeps, computer controlled units that are hostile to all players.[8] Creeps guard key areas such as gold mines or neutral buildings and, when killed, provide experience points, gold, and special items to a player's hero.[8] Warcraft III also introduced a day/night cycle to the series.[9] Besides having advantages or disadvantages for certain races, at night most creeps fall asleep, making nighttime scouting safer; however, the line of sight for most units is also reduced. Other minor changes to the gameplay were due to the 3D terrain. For instance, units on a cliff have an attack bonus when attacking units at lower elevations.[2]

In previous Warcraft games, there were two playable races, Orcs and Humans. In Warcraft III, the Night Elves and the Undead are added as playable races.[1] As in StarCraft, each race has a unique set of units, structures, technologies, and base-building methodology.

In addition, Warcraft III adds powerful new units called heroes. For each enemy unit killed, a hero will gain experience points, which allow the hero to level-up to a maximum level of 10. Progressing up a level increases the heroes attributes and also allows the hero to gain new spell options (bringing role-playing video game elements to the series).[10] Certain hero abilities can apply beneficial auras to allied units. All heroes can equip items to increase skills, defense, and other abilities. At level six, the hero can obtain an "ultimate" skill that is more powerful than the three other spells that the hero possesses. Heroes can also utilize the various natural resources found throughout the map, such as controllable non-player characters, and markets in which the hero can purchase usable items.[11] Often, hero units become the deciding factor in determining a winner.


A screenshot of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos campaign.

Warcraft III '​s campaign mode is broken up into five campaigns (including an optional prologue), each featuring a different race which the player controls (2 Orc campaigns, 1 Human, 1 Undead, and 1 Night Elf). Each campaign is itself divided into chapters. Unlike previous Blizzard titles, such as Warcraft II or StarCraft, players are not directed to mission briefings in which plot exposition occurs and objectives are announced; rather, Warcraft III uses a system of "seamless quests."[12] Some plot development happens in an occasional cinematic, but most occurs in-game with cutscenes. Objectives, known as quests, are revealed to the player during the progress of the map. Main quests are those that the player must complete to proceed to the next chapter, but there are also optional quests which are not initially revealed, but can be discovered and completed alongside the main objectives.

Through each race's campaign, the player retains control of one or more heroes, which slowly grow in experience as the levels progress. This experience is carried over to subsequent missions, allowing the hero to grow throughout the course of the campaign.

While different in terms of storyline and precise gameplay, all of the different races' campaigns are structured similarly. Each begins with a level involving simple mechanics to introduce the player to the race and the basic elements of their hero and units. After one or two such levels the player's first "building mission" occurs, requiring them to build and maintain a base while competing with one or more enemy forces. The only campaign that breaks this pattern is the Night Elf campaign, whose first mission involves building a limited base. The last level of each race's campaign is an "epic battle" which means that the player has to strike down a large number of enemy foes and finally destroy their main base.


While campaign games can have many different objectives, the sole objective in multiplayer games is to destroy all the buildings of the opposition. In default melee matches, players can pick their own heroes, and losing one will not end the game. To make the game proceed more quickly, by default the map is covered in fog of war instead of the Black Mask.[2] Warcraft III, like Blizzard's previous title StarCraft, allows for single and multiplayer replays to be recorded and viewed, allowing a game to be played at slower and faster speeds and viewed from the perspective of all players.[13] Like all previous Blizzard titles since Diablo, Warcraft III uses the multiplayer network. Players can create free accounts in regional "gateways," which helps reduce lag; these are Azeroth (U.S. East), Lordaeron (U.S. West), Northrend (Europe), and Kalimdor (Asia).[14] Unlike previous games, Warcraft III introduced anonymous matchmaking, automatically pairing players for games based on their skill level and game type preferences, preventing players from cheating and inflating their records artificially.[15] If players want to play with a friend in ranked matches, Warcraft III offers "Arranged Team Games", where a team joins a lobby and will search for another team; as with anonymous matchmaking, the enemy team is not known beforehand.[15] Players can also host custom games, using maps either created in the Warcraft III World Editor, or the default multiplayer scenarios. The game also offers Friends Lists and Channels for chatting, where players can create custom channels or join Blizzard-approved ones.[16] Warcraft III also allows players to band together to form "clans", which can participate in tournaments or offer a recreational aspect to Warcraft III. Global scores and standings in matchmaking games are kept on a "ladder".[17] These rankings can be checked online without the need of the game.

Due to the version 1.24 patch, many third-party programs have been rendered unusable. Several third-party programs that reveal the entire map, commonly known as maphacks, have been released for the update. It also disabled collided maps, which would make modified custom maps appear to be the same as the original. Another effect of the patch, which is not included in the release notes, is that custom maps with large filenames will not appear in the game. The limit is believed to be 20 characters, but this has not yet been tested.[18] This patch also rendered many custom maps unplayable due to custom map scripts. Even some versions of the famous Defense of the Ancients were no longer functioning.



Warcraft III takes place in the fictional world of Azeroth. Several years before the events of the games, a demon army known as the Burning Legion intent on Azeroth's destruction corrupted a race called the Orcs, and sent them through a portal to attack Azeroth. After many years of fighting, the Orcs were defeated by a coalition of humans, dwarves and elves known as the Alliance; the surviving combatants were herded into internment camps, where they seemed to lose their lust for battle. With no common enemy, a period of peace followed, but the Alliance began to fracture. The events of Warcraft III occur after a timeskip from Warcraft II. This period was originally intended to have been documented in Warcraft Adventures, but that game was canceled in mid-development.[19]


The game's plot is told entirely through cinematics and cutscenes, with additional information found in the Warcraft III manual. The campaign itself is divided into five sections, with the first acting as a tutorial, and the others telling the story from the point of view of the humans of Lordaeron, the Undead Scourge, the Orcs, and the Night Elves, in that order.

The game opens with the

  • websiteWarcraft IIIThe official
  • community siteWarcraft IIIThe official
  • on , a Warcraft wiki

External links

  1. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual : The Single Player Game. p. 10. 
  2. ^ a b c Blizzard. "Warcraft III FAQ". Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  3. ^ Cieniawa, Lee (2002-09-08). "Armchair Empire - Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos". The Armchair Empire. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  4. ^ "Blizzard Entertainment - Awards". Archived from the original on June 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  5. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Fog of War. p. 22. 
  6. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Economy. p. 21. 
  7. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Upkeep. p. 22. 
  8. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Wandering Monsters and Wildlife. p. 28. 
  9. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Day/Night Cycle. p. 21. 
  10. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Heroes - Experience and Level. p. 26. 
  11. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Items. p. 29. 
  12. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III Instruction Manual: Starting a Campaign. p. 10. 
  13. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). The Single-Player Game: Viewing a Replay. p. 11. 
  14. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Gateway Selection. p. 12. 
  15. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Anonymous Matchmaking & Arranged Team Games. p. 13. 
  16. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Channel. p. 14. 
  17. ^ Blizzard. "Matchmaking and Ladder Explanation".  
  18. ^ [1] Version 1.23 patch notes
  19. ^ "Warcraft III Answers". Retrieved February 20, 2007. 
  20. ^ Thrall: What kind of nightmare was that? / The Prophet(Later revealed to be 'Medivh'): It was not a nightmare, young warchief, but a vision. Follow me, and I will reveal what your future holds. -  
  21. ^ The Prophet: Now, go, young Thrall. Sail west to the lands of Kalimdor. It is there that you will find your destiny. It is there that your people's salvation will be assured. -  
  22. ^ Arthas: Look, here's where we stand. Our scouts have confirmed that there is an orc encampment hidden somewhere over the next ridge. / Uther: As I suspected. / Arthas: It gets worse. They're preparing to attack the nearby village of Strahnbrad. As far as we know, the village is completely defenseless. / Uther the Lightbringer: I need to move against the Orcs' base immediately. Can you handle Strahnbrad's defense on your own? / Arthas: Of course, Uther. Don't worry about me.. -  
  23. ^ The Prophet:[...] It falls to you now, young sorceress. You must lead your people to the west to the ancient lands of Kalimdor. Only there can you combat the shadow and save this world from the flame. -  
  24. ^ Muradin Bronzebeard: Hold, lad. There's an inscription on the dais. It's a warning. It says, "Whomsoever takes up this blade shall wield power eternal. Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit." Oh, I should've known. The blade is cursed! Let's get the hell out of here! / Arthas: I would gladly bear any curse to save my homeland. -  
  25. ^ The Prophet/Medivh: The roots will heal in time, as will the entire world. The sacrifices have been made. Just as the Orcs, Humans and Night Elves discarded their old hatreds and stood united against a common foe. So did nature herself rise up, to banish the shadow forever. As for me, I came back to ensure that there would be a future, to teach the world it no longer needed guardians. The hope for future generations has always resided in mortal hands. And now that my task is done, I will take my place amongst the legends... of the past. -  
  26. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III manual: Credits. p. 13. 
  27. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, ed. (2002). Warcraft III World Editor. p. 16. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Unknown (2002-02-14). "Firing Squad-WarCraft III Beta First Impressions". Firing Squad. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  31. ^ Warcraft III battle chest Retrieved 22-10-2010
  32. ^ a b "Warcraft III Rankings". Retrieved November 6, 2008. 
  33. ^ a b "Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: Reviews". Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  34. ^ a b Modifter (2002-07-17). "Warcraft III (PC) Review". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  35. ^ a b c Kasavin, Greg (2002-07-03). "Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos". Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  36. ^ a b Adams, Dan (2002-07-17). "Warcraft III Review at IGN". Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  37. ^ "WarCraft III Review". PC Gamer (Future plc.): 62. August 2002. 
  38. ^ Bell, Erin (2003-06-04). "Warcraft III on Gamecritics". Retrieved February 21, 2007. 


Warcraft III was met with critical acclaim; the game averages a 93.02% at GameRankings,[32] and "Universal Acclaim" at MetaCritic, based on dozens of reviews.[33] While GamePro noted that "WarCraft III doesn’t revolutionize the RTS genre", they still praised Blizzard for delivering a title with "a well-executed story, drum-tight game-play and a long shelf life as a multi-player title."[34] GameSpot noted that as with StarCraft, the ability to experience the action from all sides "is of great appeal." The reviewer also noted that Warcraft III made the early stages of the game more interesting and less formulaic; in most RTS games, he noted, "the initial build-up period in such games is merely a race to get to the best units first."[35] Most reviewers noted that Blizzard had finally fleshed out the storyline of the first two Warcraft titles, finally giving each side its own motivations and differences beyond cosmetics.[38] IGN noted that "There's not a ton that's new to RTS buffs out there, but it's done well enough that you either won't notice or won't care."[36] However, reviewers noted that the character models were of mediocre quality, especially when viewed up close during in-game cinematics.[35]

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 93.02% (53 reviews)[32]
Metacritic 94 / 100 (40 reviews)[33]
Review scores
Publication Score
GamePro 5 / 5[34]
GameSpot 9.3 / 10[35]
IGN 9.3 / 10[36]
PC Gamer US 94%[37]


Warcraft: The Board Game, a tabletop board game released in 2003 by Fantasy Flight Games, draws heavily on Warcraft III for plot and other elements of the game.

Warcraft III is also available in the Best Sellers Series alongside StarCraft and its expansion StarCraft: Brood War, Diablo, Diablo II, and World of Warcraft. Also, a selection of games from other companies other than Blizzard have been included in the Best Sellers Series.

Another version, the Exclusive Gift Set, came bundled with the cinematic DVD, official BradyGames strategy guide, and Warcraft II: Edition.

Blizzard Entertainment also released the Warcraft Battle Chest, which contains Reign of Chaos bundled with The Frozen Throne in one box, along with guides from BradyGames.

In addition to the regular game, there also exists a limited Collector's Edition Warcraft III bundle.[31] The collector's edition box contained a Warcraft III cinematic DVD, including behind-the-scenes features and the cinematics of all prior Warcraft games; a Collector's Edition Soundtrack; a Collector's Edition instruction manual; The Art of Warcraft book; and lithographic prints.

The Battle Chest box and contents

Other versions

In the middle of January 2002, Blizzard shipped out 5000 beta versions of Warcraft III to randomly selected testers in order to help improve it before being released in stores. The beta release had all the game’s units and races; however, it was only playable over Single player games and LAN play were not playable on the beta version of the game.[30]

After ECTS 2001 Blizzard experimented with different resources and had versions of the game with gold, lumber, mana stones and upkeep or a race depending resource that represented the population like the required food in newer versions.

The next change came at ECTS 2001, when the interface became almost what it is today. The biggest changes of this version was, that lumber became a resource and heroes got an inventory, though in a video from April 2001, you could already see an item on the ground.

Around April 19, 2000 Blizzard released new screenshots of Warcraft III, these were completely without interface. These screenshots showed heroes and a number of abilities. More screenshots came around May 2000. These screenshots showed the new interface of the game, which looked like the human interface in the eventual final release, however had small cannons above the minimap and the command button space. The gold display was still eye-shaped, but the last screenshot before E3 2000 shows a rectangle-shaped gold display. Most models, icons, textures and abilities that you can find on these screenshots never appeared in the retail version. Then from E3 2000 around May 12, 2000 to ECTS 2000 the game didn't change very much. The next major changes came between ECTS 2000 and E3 2001, when a different interface and the Night Elf race was revealed.

Around January 24, 2000 a video from Korea appeared on the Internet; the video showed some aspects of gameplay along with commentary by Rob Pardo. This version already had an interface concept, however most of the interface were placeholders. It had a map, icons for abilities and unit commands and an eye-shaped display for gold.

Warcraft III was announced as a role-playing-strategy game (RPS) with flexible camera movement. The first version shown at ECTS 1999 had no interface however did have portraits for the heroes. Various articles showed that abilities and items were used via right-click on a unit and an appearing icon collar.

The game was announced by a press conference inside the Henley-Suite at the European Computer Trade Show 1999. Development started in early 1998 and development stages were presented at ECTS 1999, 2000 and 2001, E3 2000, 2001 and 2002 and on a tour where Bill Roper visited video game magazines.


Some custom maps have enjoyed great success, particularly maps based on AoS (Aeon of Strife) such as Defense of the Ancients, which became a tournament item at BlizzCon 2005 and other tournaments around the world.[28][29] These inspired the fruition of the multiplayer online battle arena genre.

As did Warcraft II and StarCraft before it, Warcraft III ships with a "World Editor" program that allows players to create their own custom scenarios and maps. The World Editor has features such as unit editing and event triggers. Through, players can download and play peers' custom maps. To facilitate modding, third-party developers released tools for spell editing through SLK spreadsheets, customizing skins with .BLP converters, JASS editing, and a file importer that opened up .MPQs. The World Editor was expanded and improved for The Frozen Throne expansion. Though the editor has received updates through game patches, it is not officially supported as a product.[27]


One of the signatures of Blizzard games are the unit quotes. If a single unit is clicked four or more times in a row, the unit's voice samples become increasingly comical. The unit may start getting angry at the player, or make allusions and references to other games, film or jokes. Works quoted include Monty Python, Blade Runner, Star Wars films Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Army of Darkness, and Toy Story. Games like Mortal Kombat, Warhammer 40,000, Blizzard's own StarCraft, and Banjo-Kazooie are paid homage, in addition to shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Twilight Zone, and Beavis and Butthead.

Most of the music of Warcraft III was composed by Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke, Jason Hayes, and Glenn Stafford.[26] The Limited Edition of Reign of Chaos came with much of the orchestral music on a separate soundtrack. Each of the four playable races has different music: monastic music for the humans; ambient and Native American-sounding music for the Night Elves; warlike African-sounding music for the Orcs; and fast, haunting music for the Undead. New musical themes were added in the expansion.


Tyrande Whisperwind, leader of the Night Elves, is outraged to find the Humans and Orcs violating the forests and blames them for Cenarius' death, so she initially vows to destroy both. However, she soon finds out that the Burning Legion has arrived on Kalimdor. In order to oppose the Burning Legion, Tyrande reawakens the sleeping Elf Druids, starting with her lover, Malfurion Stormrage, and frees his brother Illidan Stormrage from prison, against Malfurion's will. Illidan meets Arthas, who tells him about the powerful "Skull of Gul'dan". Consuming the Skull and becoming a demon-elf hybrid, Illidan uses its power to kill Tichondrius. He is however banished from the forest by his brother as he is now part demon. Meanwhile, the Prophet summons Thrall, Jaina, Tyrande and Malfurion, and reveals that he used to be Medivh, the Last Guardian and the betrayer from Warcraft: Orcs & Humans... The Humans, Orcs, and Night Elves form a reluctant alliance to spring a trap on the Burning Legion, and delay it long enough for many ancestral spirits to destroy Archimonde at Mount Hyjal. Peace once again comes to Kalimdor as the Burning Legion's forces wither away in defeat.[25]

Thrall the warchief arrives on Kalimdor, meeting Cairne Bloodhoof and the tauren, and clashes with a human expedition on the way to find an Oracle. Meanwhile, the Warsong Clan are left behind in Ashenvale to build a permanent settlement, but anger the Night Elves and their demigod Cenarius by cutting down the forests for resources. To defeat them, the Warsong leader Grom Hellscream drinks from a corrupted fountain of health contaminated with the blood of the Legion's pit lord commander Mannoroth, successfully killing Cenarius, but binding his clan to the Legion's control. Thrall manages to reach the Oracle, in fact the Prophet, who tells him of Grom's doings. Following the Prophet's directions, Thrall and Jaina join forces to purge both Grom and the world of demonic influence. They succeed in capturing Grom and healing him of Mannoroth's corruption. Thrall and Grom begin to hunt Mannoroth and Grom kills him, dying in the process, but in doing so freeing the orcs from the demonic control of Mannoroth at last. Thrall tells the lifeless Grom that he freed them all and lets out a piercing roar alerting Jaina and Cairne to Grom's death.

Now an Undead Death Knight, Arthas meets with the leader of the dreadlords, Tichondrius, who assigns him a series of "tests". Arthas first exhumes the remains of Kel'Thuzad and contains them in the magic urn that holds the ashes of his father, which was protected by Uther the Lightbringer, head paladin of The Order of the Silver Hand as well as Arthas' former mentor and close friend. Arthas kills him too, then sets off to Quel'thalas, kingdom of the high elves. He then later attacks the gates and destroys their capital of Silvermoon. He kills Sylvanas Windrunner, the Ranger General of Silvermoon (only to resurrect her as a banshee), corrupts their sacred Sunwell and revives Kel'Thuzad as a Lich. The Lich informs him of the Burning Legion; a vast demonic army who are coming to consume the world. Kel'Thuzad's true master is the Lich King, who was created to aid the Legion with his Undead Scourge, but in truth he wishes for the Legion to be destroyed. Arthas and Kel'Thuzad open a dimensional portal and summon the demon Archimonde and the Burning Legion, who begins his purging of Lordaeron with the destruction of Dalaran. Arthas and Kel'Thuzad are cast aside by Archimonde, and Kel'Thuzad reveals to Arthas that the Lich King has already foreseen it and is planning to overthrow the Burning Legion.

Meanwhile, the Lich King. Some time later, Arthas returns to Lordaeron and kills his father, King Terenas.


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