Anyone who played computer games in the 1990s probably spent a good deal of time doing battle in Warcraft and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. These classic real-time strategy games have never been available digitally, but that ends today. Both games are on sale at GOG.com. You can even play Warcraft II online — Blizzard’s servers are still running all these years later.
The first game (Warcraft: Orcs and Humans) launched in 1994, taking place in Azeroth and consisting of just human and orc characters. The sequel came out just a year later featuring more unit types. The GOG version of Warcraft II also includes the “Beyond the Dark Portal” expansion pack.
The Warcraft release comes just a few weeks after the original Diablo made a surprise appearance on GOG. Like Diablo, Blizzard has formatted these games to run on modern operating systems, but they’re not “remastered” with new graphics or game mechanics. Instead, you’ll get integer scaling for high-resolution monitors (still 4:3 with black bars) as well as optional antialiasing. The antialiasing does make the edges smoother, but it can cause the game to look soft and blurry.
There are various tradeoffs with the display scaling options — some can make your mouse act funny, and others reset your desktop resolution. The menus will look better with scaling, but there’s also a vanilla version of Warcraft II that doesn’t have any of that. Blizzard included this build specifically for Battle.net support. Because of the way The Warcraft II servers operate, only the unmodified game will work. You also need a CD key, which GOG includes with purchase.
Running the original Warcraft (above) is a bit odd. It’s packaged up with DOSBox, which launches the game inside an emulator session. That means the original Warcraft runs on either Windows or Mac. The modified executables for Warcraft II make it a Windows-only release. Mac users who want to relive the past will have to go with the first game. Windows users should probably stick to Warcraft II. It made several important improvements to the gameplay mechanics, even though it only launched a year after the original.
You can get both games on GOG (not on Battle.net). It’s $ 6 for Warcraft and $ 10 for Warcraft II. There’s also a combo pack with both for $ 15. Hopefully, this means Warcraft III: Reforged is coming soon. Warcraft III included more playable races, and the vibrant mod scene almost single-handedly gave rise to the MOBA gaming genre. Reforged is a fully remastered version of the original.