On the presented screenshots you can see W1, then W2 and W3. Each of those screenshots shows player's base and I didn't differentiate expansion packs, since they didn't provide any significant change. I think it's safe to say that w1 looks crude - very little detail, terrain all the same. W2 is much improved - terrain looks a little less all the same and there are more types of it to choose from, units and buildings are full of details, as much as resolution allows it. With w3 a lot changes, since now we're in 3D environment, gameplay change is more significant than from w1 to w2 (heroes, recalculated economy).
Now, w3 is almost a different game type than w1 - the general idea remains the same, but it doesn't feel the same. Some important differences:
- Fonts. W1 has everything written in capital letters, whilst it's successors offer normal writing. It adds crudeness.
- Notice the increase in alignment marks (colored elements) throughout the series. In w1 you basically see buildings that are someone's base, in w3 you see someone's base that is composed of buildings.
- This is only partially visible on these screens, but you know it's right: the icons get shinier, the objects on them exaggerated, buildings start as buildings, but in time they become more statue-like, more distinctive-looking, but less real (if this adjective could ever be used in reference to any warcaft product)
- In w1 there are just 2 races fighting each other, but from w2 they are great alliances consisting of 5 races, and from w3 there's a total racial pandemonium.
- Sounds. In w1 and w2 they're recorded without special effects, they're plain, but creative. In w3 they're there's more effect than sound and it's boring.
- Most important: roads! In w1 you built road to expand your village and connect it, and you built walls around your village. No towers, just clever wall-building and tactics. In w2 and w3 you can (with some exceptions) build anywhere on the map, so in w2 your base is a set of loosely standing buildings ranging as far as the terrain under your control. In w3 it can go either way, but there is no roadbuilding option.
Now I'd like to mention that I do not consider w3 worse game than w1, even though I miss the w1 kind of games, which had mostly died, I think. The roadbuilding and beautiful villages were absorbed by town-development games like settlers, knights & merchants or anno 1602 and their sequels (but don't get me started on settlers above 2). W3 achieved its goal of being very enjoyable and fair multiplayer game and I loved owning people in it (I almost liked being owned too). WoW shall not be spoken of on my blog, not now, not ever. Unless I'll have some interesting thoughts about it, of course.
Time for some lame pun: the best way to get completely stoned is to drink liquid concrete.