Tales from the Smithy: Reforging the Undead
The demonic armies of the Burning Legion might lack subtlety, but none can deny their status as the most ruthless killing machine Azeroth has ever seen. When reanimating the Scourge, the Warcraft III: Reforged game team used bone, torn flesh, and burial wraps to maintain a consistent, hellish identity across a diverse army of necromancers, demons, beasts, and reassembled monstrosities.
Tread with Caution: Spoilers for the Warcraft III Story Campaign Below!
Arthas (Death Knight)
With vampiric runeblades and shadowy steeds, Death Knights serve as the Scourge's mightiest generals.
By the time Arthas Menethil first appeared in-game as a Death Knight, he had committed several atrocities, completing his transition from noble paladin to sneering villain. With this model, the Warcraft III: Reforged art team strove to capture Arthas’s newfound darkness, along with the wear and tear his cape and armor sustained whilst butchering innocents.
While all Death Knights in the original game shared the same model, Warcraft III: Reforged introduces an additional, female Death Knight model, supported by a suite of new voice lines.
Tichondrius, Mal’Ganis, Varimathras, and Detheroc (Dread Lord)
Dread Lords are incredibly powerful demons, tasked by Kil’jaeden to watch over the Lich King Ner’zhul.
Warcraft III’s original Dread Lords were differentiated mainly by color. Because Tichondrius, Mal’Ganis, Varimathras, and Detheroc have such varied personalities, the Warcraft III: Reforged art team added a unique model for each one. Tichondrius has an imposing beard and green-tipped horns befitting of his immense power. Scheming Mal’Ganis has a hairless face with a wrinkle for every treachery he’s committed.
“Detheroc seems the schemer of the three brothers,” says Lead Producer Pete Stilwell, “waiting in the wings for opportunity. That sloth over thousands of years resulted in him… putting on a few ‘eL Bees.’”
What about Varimathras?
“Varimathras was the vainglorious brother,” says Pete. “His pride keeps him in shape. Definitely not a demon to skip leg day. There was also a trading card version of him with an exquisite pair of mutton chops that we couldn’t keep off his face.”
In addition to their single-player campaign appearances, all reforged Dread Lord models will be available in multiplayer.
Immortal, undead liches serve the iron will of Ner'zhul with frost magic and necromantic spells.
The sardonic necromancer-turned-lich Kel'Thuzad, beloved by Warcraft fans everywhere, proves that you can be evil and still have a sense of humor. In addition to amping up Kel’Thuzad’s horns, tusks, and ornate armor, the art team iterated extensively on the chains that float around him, altering their flow and fine-tuning their size, ensuring that they augment his intimidating appearance without detracting from visual legibility.
Anub’arak (Crypt Lord)
These ancient behemoths ruled the subterranean kingdom Azjol-Nerub before their defeat and resurrection by the Scourge.
Anub’arak’s many eyes and teeth have been modeled in meticulous detail, along with the spines, wings, and armor that adorn his carapace. As with many hero units, multiple Crypt Lord models will be playable in multiplayer.
The Meat Wagon strikes fear and woe into the hearts of even the most resolute defenders.
It was hard to make out what the original Meat Wagon flung from its patented Meat-A-Pult™. For better or worse, the reforged Meat Wagon boasts much greater fidelity, allowing you to view its arm-flopping corpse-projectiles in all their gory glory.
These aberrant creatures summon swarms of vile insects and expel webs to incapacitate their enemies.
Technical limitations prevented Warcraft III’s modelers from replicating the eight-limbed design depicted in the original Crypt Fiend concept art. The reforged Crypt Fiend regains its missing legs, along with burial wrappings to represent its mummified origins, and a truly terrifying visage.
Skeletal dragons that radiate cold power and think of nothing other than serving their dark master.
Initially, the Warcraft III: Reforged art team modeled the Frost Wyrm with realistic (aka massive) wingspan. The model looked great by itself, but gameplay testing revealed that several Frost Wyrms now obscured view of everything beneath them. As with Warcraft III’s other flying units, the artists ultimately sought to strike a balance between winged majesty and visual clarity.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the Undead. Join us soon for the next installment of this series, where we'll be giving you a closer glimpse at the reforged Humans. Want to see more of the new models? Check out our preview of the Night Elves!
Warcraft III: Reforged launches January 28, 2020, and there’s still time to prepare to join the fight on launch day. Pre-purchase now and gain instant access to the multiplayer beta!