I was an avid StarCraft player when Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos first came out in 2002, opting to stick with the sci-fi and skip on the fantasy when it came to my real-time strategy game of choice. But I certainly understand Warcraft’s importance and thought the latest Blizzard remaster, Warcraft 3: Reforged, would be a great opportunity to play a classic for the first time. And while, yes, many of the gameplay aspects still hold up well in 2020, it falls well short of being the proper remaster that it was hyped to be.
From a technical standpoint, Reforged boasts significant graphical improvements, most noticeable in the detailed character models and redone textures. Below, you can see a side-by-side comparison of an in-game cutscene between the original and Reforged (and I’m very thankful for the portrait overhauls). You’re allowed to swap between the two in the graphics menu, and it’s only when you go back to classic mode that you really appreciate the upgrade.
Here’s where Reforged gets lost: What we saw back at BlizzCon 2018 isn’t what we got at launch. Part of the disappointment stems from the initial Reforged reveal and playable demo, which featured in-game cutscenes that were redone to capture a much more cinematic quality–that didn’t happen. Blizzard also stated that it was going to rework story elements to align with World of Warcraft’s lore, but decided against it, attributing the decision to fan feedback. Even smaller things, like the overhauled UI that would’ve streamlined its look, were scrapped in Reforged; the UI was also part of the preview build shown at BlizzCon.
Accounting for all the things we thought Warcraft 3 Reforged would be, it’s easy to feel underwhelmed by the launch product.
A larger problem with Reforged is that the classic game has been lumped in with the remaster, existing as one client as part of the new 1.31.1 patch–any issues present in Warcraft 3 apply to both classic and Reforged modes. There have been some improvements made to matchmaking, but competitive ladders are currently not in place with no word on when they’ll be implemented. It’s also been tough going trying to connect to custom games, though I’ve had some success getting in on a few neat tower defense matches. And while it doesn’t affect me directly, that improved world editor and the wild possibilities in custom maps, such as increased player counts and unlimited unit caps–well, Blizzard assumes control over user-generated content through its new user agreement.
I’m also here to enjoy the campaign, and I’m so far captivated by its structure and style, but I continue to encounter insurmountable bugs where cutscenes simply won’t play–they’ll load, then skip to a mission results screen. Essentially, I’m missing out on key moments in the story, which is one of the highlights of Warcraft 3 and the series as a whole.
As a longtime StarCraft player, I can’t help but think about how much its remaster helped reinvigorate a classic game. Reforged is of course a different beast because of its use of true 3D graphics and implementation of some actual core gameplay tweaks, and by comparison, the initial vision for Reforged had grander ambitions than the end result. But at its core, the expectation was for Reforged to usher a game several generations old into a new era with modernizations and refinements.
At the same time, I have nostalgia for the thrill of the ’00s-style RTS, base building, micromanaging, adapting build orders and all. And having missed out on Warcraft 3 all these years, playing Reforged is scratching that itch on its own. It’s like a trip back in time, the old feel of a classic RTS with mechanics that are easily noticeable for having influenced what came after it. You can trace the prevalence of the “hero” role in today’s competitive games back to Warcraft 3’s Hero units, which was a huge factor in distinguishing it from other RTS, and obviously paving the way for MOBAs. In that regard, Warcraft 3 still holds up well both as a worthwhile RTS and a game that retains a sense of mechanical modernity.
I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss the work that was put into Reforged, but it’s clear the work isn’t quite finished. It’s also hard to tell exactly why Warcraft 3 Reforged became a lesser form than what was first promised.
Google is testing multi-colored Quick Settings icons in Android 11 – XDA Developers
Google’s first Android 11 Developer Preview was just released yesterday, but a lot of its best features are hidden away from public view. We’ve detailed some of the upcoming major UI changes already, and I’m personally a fan of all the ones we’ve seen so far. While continuing to dig into the Android 11 system dump from the Pixel 4, I discovered a new class called “QSColorController” in SystemUI. This class is responsible for overriding the color of tiles in the Quick Settings panel, and through some debug commands referenced in the code, it’s possible to individually change the colors of each Quick Setting tile.
As you can see above, the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Auto-rotate, and Battery Saver icons have colors that are different from the current theme on my Pixel 2 XL. My Pixel 2 XL is running the stock theme with dark mode enabled in Android 11, which means that the color of each Quick Setting tile should be blue like the Flashlight icon. However, using the debug commands, I changed the colors of some of the icons to yellow, red, and green. The colors that you can pick currently include blue along with the aforementioned yellow, red, and green, though Google may add more colors in the future. The functionality of each Quick Setting tile doesn’t change—just the icon color.
I’m not entirely sure what Google intends to do with this feature; it’s possible that Google will expand the Pixel Themes app in Android 11 with this added functionality, but it’s also possible that Google will let developers set the color of their own Quick Settings tiles. XDA’s Zachary Wander got this feature working on the Android 11 emulator in Android Studio, so it doesn’t seem like this feature will be Pixel-exclusive. I’m personally not a fan of this multi-colored Quick Settings panel, but I wouldn’t mind having the option there for people who want it. I don’t know if this feature, like the other UI tests we spotted, will be enabled in the stable release, but we’ll continue tracking this feature as Google releases more Android 11 previews.
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Google tests moving Android's music controls to the quick settings menu – Android Central
Unlike iOS, Google has always had music controls in the notifications center alongside your messages, social alerts, etc. While this made finding music controls quite easy, it also meant that sometimes notifications could push media controls all the way down and out of sight.
With Android 11, there’s a very, very slight possibility that that may change. The team over at XDA has spotted a new feature Google’s built into the upcoming operating system.
In essence, the music controls have migrated out of the notification center to the quick settings menu, sitting alongside other controls like rotation lock and Wi-FI.
In order to accommodate the music player, the Quick Settings panel will expand from one to two rows and will display the Quick Settings toggles on one side, while the music player will take up the other side.
Opening the Quick Settings panel completely by swiping down once again will move the music player to the bottom of the panel, with all the toggles right above it. In a bid to accommodate the music player, the Quick Settings panel will take up more space than it does currently
From XDA’s screenshot, the change does look more than a little unfinished and out of place that it seems likely, this is just a test. Google has previewed features like screen recording and themes in Beta builds of Android before rolling them out in the next big update.
So while this could still come with Android 11, it’s much more likely to do so in Android 12.
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One year later, the future of foldables remains uncertain – TechCrunch
Yesterday, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Flip Z sold out online. What, precisely, that means, is hard to say, of course, without specific numbers from the company. But it’s probably enough to make the company bullish about its latest wade into the foldable waters, in the wake of last year’s Fold — let’s just say “troubles.”
Response to the device has been positive. I wrote mostly nice things about the Flip, with the caveat that the company only loaned out the product for 24 hours (I won’t complain here about heading into the city on a Saturday in 20-degree weather to return the device. I’m mostly not that petty).
Heck, the product even scored a (slightly) better score on iFixit’s repairability meter than the Razr. Keep in mind, it got a 2/10 to Motorola’s 1/10 (the lowest score), but in 2020, we’re all taking victories where we can get them.
There’s been some negative coverage mixed in, as well, of course; iFixit noted that the Flip could have some potential long-term dusty problems due to its hinge, writing, “it seems like dust might be this phone’s Kryptonite.” Also, the $1,400 phone’s new, improved folding glass has proven to be vulnerable to fingernails, of all things — a definite downside if you have, you know, fingers.
Reports of cracked screens have also begun to surface, owing, perhaps, to cold weather. It’s still hard to say how widespread these concerns are. Samsung’s saving grace, however, could well be the Razr. First the device made it through a fraction of the folds of Samsung’s first-gen product. Then reviewers and users alike complained of a noisy fold mechanism and build quality that might be…lacking.
A review at Input had some major issues with a screen that appeared to fall apart at the seams (again, perhaps due to cold weather). Motorola went on the defensive, issuing the following statement:
We have full confidence in razr’s display, and do not expect consumers to experience display peeling as a result of normal use. As part of its development process, razr underwent extreme temperature testing. As with any mobile phone, Motorola recommends not storing (e.g., in a car) your phone in temperatures below -4 degrees Fahrenheit and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If consumers experience device failure related to weather during normal use, and not as a result of abuse or misuse, it will be covered under our standard warranty.
Consensus among reviews is to wait. The Flip is certainly a strong indication that the category is heading in the right direction. And Samsung is licensing its folding glass technology, which should help competitors get a bit of a jump start and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of the first-gen Fold and Razr.
A new survey from PCMag shows that 82% of consumers don’t plan to purchase such a device, with things like snapping hinges, fragile screens and creases populating the list of concerns. Which, honestly, fair enough on all accounts.
The rush to get to market has surely done the category a disservice. Those who consider themselves early adopters are exactly the people who regularly read tech reviews, and widespread issues are likely enough to make many reconsider pulling the trigger on a $1,500-$2,000 device. Even early adopters are thrilled about the idea of beta testing for that much money.
Two steps forward, one step back, perhaps? Let’s check back in a generation or two from now and talk.
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