WoW’s Graphics Suck

GW2 on the left, WoW on the right
GW2 on the left, WoW on the right

The MMO-genre has evolved in a lot of ways and one of those is graphically.  Each game that rolls out seems to be more visually stunning than the last.  One of the biggest slights against World of Warcraft is that is one area it simply has not evolved with the times and the people that say that are absolutely right.

So what?

In my early playing days it was made clear the reason the graphics were the way they were was that it allowed pretty much any system to run the game with relative ease (obviously 40-man raids full of spells varies that idea).  That made sense to me, especially from a business model standpoint.  Why wouldn’t you want as many people playing your game as possible?  Case in point, a friend of mine can’t play Guild Wars 2 or Diablo III because of the card in his less than two year old laptop (discussion for another day).

But as WoW gets set to punch out it’s fifth expansion, the demands to run the game efficiently have increased to some degree.  Put your settings on ultra when you login just to see the difference.  My system had no problem with it until CRZ’s came into play (raiding I had to reduce to “High”) and I don’t own a top end machine.  They’ve made it an option, but still not a requirement.

Keeping the art and style of the game, I don’t know how much more I would want Blizzard to advance the graphics.  The art and style is the game for me in a lot of ways.  When I think the style of Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy…Azeroth is how it plays out in my head and how it did before I even started playing the game.  Dwarves look like they should, Orcs look like they should and by Illidan, Drakes are the model for dragons!

I learned a long time ago you don’t need visually amazing to be good.  If a game is good, it’ll stand regardless of visuals.  Don’t believe me?  Look at players in the wrestling genre of video games.  Fire Pro Wrestling is considered by many to be as good as it gets and No Mercy remains one of the most popular games of all-time.  Compare that visually to WWE ’14.  The same can be said for hockey where the standard bearer for that category is NHL 94.

The people that complain World of Warcraft drastically needs a facelift have a bit of merit to their argument.  The polygons of the original races in particular could afford to be adjusted/increased a bit to fall in line with the newer races.  Same with the old gear.  But only to a small degree.  Updating the game to look more “realistic” so to speak, such as the Rifts and the Guild Wars 2’s and what have you would ruin the character of the game.  You need look only at how beautiful Mists is (and stayed the course of Azeroth for the most part) to see that they can continue to get better while staying the same.


Save for some minor editing, I wrote this post around this time last year.  At the time, I was just posting too many other things at the time and it got lost in the shuffle.  A full year later, I still stand behind what I said.  WoW does not need to be a graphically superior game.  Some things have, indeed, improved and Warlords of Draenor is going to address the issue of the old races getting a much needed facelift -to the point all that were previewed look phenomenal.

That was the area that was lacking the most to me, and they addressed it in a way that many in the community were incredibly happy to see.  I’d put extra emphasis on those who enjoy playing a female dwarf, as that seemed to receive the most resounding approval.  So I give Blizzard credit for recognizing that as expansion five approaches, in what will be close to the game’s tenth year, an update was definitely necessary.

But I also want to give them credit for essentially leaving it at that.  Yes, the zones get better and better visually as the game goes on, but at no point do players need to worry about whether their computer can handle it.  Yes, if you’re a hardcore raider you are definitely going to want a video card and processor that can handle a lot of animations going off at a time.  Otherwise, the average player has nothing to worry about.  I still embrace the idea that new players to any game shouldn’t have to worry about that either.  But for us older players who’ve been around a while, many of us have come accustomed to how things look and a few of us are even attached to it.  While it would be daunting to overhaul the entirety of World of Warcraft visually, I’m rather glad there’s no need to.

2 thoughts on “WoW’s Graphics Suck

  1. tomeoftheancient December 18, 2013 / 7:14 am

    I know, I think the environment in WoW is just right. Both Rift and GW2 are truly beautiful but I always have those moments where I’m jarringly reminded that I’m playing a game. I never get that in WoW. Must be that Uncanny Valley effect that WoW doesn’t cross.

    • JD Kenada December 18, 2013 / 9:39 am

      I think the poly count and character models make it still feel like a game. WoW feels like…I don’t know, perhaps a cartoon is the best way to describe it? Or simply as animated? It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly.

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