I really do enjoy the higher polygon models, but I also see the point that is brought forth about clarity in recognisability, and after some consideration I have to agree that Warcraft’s style is iconic in its comic book flavour. Their argument that they changed it because so many other titles do it is fair, I guess, however they are that way precisely because Warcraft 3 made it so popular. I can only assume they were afraid of being accused of copying their successors on the market, which is a shame but is probably an undeniable truth.
On the other hand, they made that decision to go into a more cartoony style back in Warcraft 2 due to technical limitations, so they made their weakness a strength. Now, the technical limitations are non existant, and they can finally give this franchise the lick of paint they believe it deserves.
And “paint” is probably the keyword that a lot of people are looking for here. Whether it’s cartoony or stylised or what you want to call it, Warcraft has always had an illustrated look to it. They did make a great job re-building the iconic units into this new look, however they went away from illustration and paintings, towards a true plastic replication of these characters. I do not want them to completely abandon their high polygon models, because I always thought it was a bit of a shame how many sweet details were straight irrecognisable due to being mashed into the textures, however I believe applying textures that invoke the painted/illustrated feel more or to apply a filter over the existing textures as to make them appear more like a drawing will be a large step to appeasing the traditionalists while allowing the team to really make use of their new powerful tools.
On that note, I just watched wtii’s reaction video on the panel, and one point he brought up really struck a chord with me. He talked about how there’s not enough of the actual player colour on some of the models, which is especially notable from the zoomed-out isometric view. This is, most likely, due to the fact that they did try to be more faithful to the equipment and materials. In my oppinion, this would also be solved by more illustrated textures, working to use colours that imply materials rather than realistically visualising them.
I would also like to state the obvious and say this: The game has been worked on for a long time, but they did release the Culling mission as well as those panel screenshots and videos with the clear intent of putting together the earliest presentable version to the audience to spark interest. I expect a lot of polishing and work to come even if they stay the course with their current visual direction, which could very well optimise the current look with barely any actual changes.