Could WoW's graphics be updated?

I’m not very knowledgeable about the whole cgi-comptuer graphics thing, but I wondered how difficult (or not possible) it would be to upgrade the graphic environment etc for current WoW.

They have ‘tinkered’ with it from time to time - changing the appearance of animals and updating the look of certain areas - but is it outside the realms of possibility to change it to look like something like this:

And if it was possible (if not exactly like this, then in a similar style) would players like/not like it?


Not for a small indie company like Blizzard.

Jokes aside probably yeah but it’d take a lot more time, money and effort than it already does which I don’t think they wanna do with a declining game like WoW.


Graphics are fairly frequently updated. We’re a long way from the original graphics quality when the game released.

The Unreal demo is pretty neat, but it’d kill pretty much any computer running it should Blizzard try and do that. We just don’t have the horsepower.

I know some people state that the game looks pretty cool in 4k. That’s beyond the capabilities of my particular computer at the moment, but it’s on the horizon for the next year or so.

Sometimes it’s not due to the desire of the art crew (who do a bang up job according to many people here on the forums), it’s a realization that the computers that run WoW are somewhere between 4 slot toaster and geez-you-probably-spent-too-much-money.

The toasters have to be able to play, too.


Is it possible? Yes, of course. The issues to upgrading seem to be:

  • The more intense the graphics, the more subscriptions they lose to people with older hardware.
  • Blizzard seems to want the simple, cartoony graphics as part of their brand.

I like the way game looks as it is. It’s one of the reasons I play the game. I enjoy the cartoonish look of the game.


I hadn’t considered that - I recall that when I first started playing Wildstar back when it first launched, I had to unsubscribe because my PC at the time was almost completely incapable of running it, even on the lowest settings. I obviously don’t know what it was about that particular game that made it so hungry, especially given that it also had the same sort of appearance that WoW has.

I can play ESO on my current machine and it rarely struggles, and ESO is quite similar looking to the Unreal engine appearance. Again, as I say, I don’t know much about graphics but obviously if it put the game out of the range of a lot of current players they wouldn’t do that and risk losing subs.


I half agree with this. I switch between WoW and other games with more realistic graphics like LOTRO and Eve Online. I find that after a few months of one style, I get fatigued and find it refreshing to go back to the other. Right now WoW graphics seem attractive and comforting. In a few months I’ll be back to wanting something more realistic.

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The current graphic style is a choice, not a limitation.

However, they could update the fidelity of graphics in older zones.


They are working feverishly to get it to mobile. I don’t think there will be any amazing graphic overhaul soon.

This is pretty much the reasoning.

WoW has had some pretty significant graphic updates though, with the most prominent (or at least i think so) being the change from Cata to MoP. The level of quality in armor is massively different from that expansion to the next.

*on top of other changes that were made

Minimal difference. A little less cartoony, a little more res on models. I’m always amazed at how the requirements go up and we get so little in return.


It’s been significant enough so that people have spent months on the forums decrying the change from character model to character model.

And if I remember correctly, the game handled water very, very differently. Shadows very, very differently. Terrain has come a long way. There’s been tons and tons of change.

Oh yeah and we went from 2D world to 3D.

It’s more than the models.


tbh, comparing Legion zones to BFA zones… the difference is night and day to me, BFA looks so much better graphics wise.


They just did, for bfa.

Last time, for old areas , was Cata?

Look at the actual game. Changes are minimal. No significant steps forward, just a lot of increased overhead. The engine is obviously dated and hard to improve on.

You can see a difference, but it’s not significant in my opinion. I don’t go from an old zone to a new one and think, “OMG it’s so much better!”


Rift had graphics similar to that and I was able to run them on my pc, i haven’t tried for a while however.

Same. There’s heaps of realistic looking games to play. Wow is something different


Cartoony graphics have longevity. Realistic don’t.

After 10 years, intentionally cartoony graphics can still be fun/look good.

After 10 years, realistic ones look bad. They don’t age nearly as well.


So what you’re saying is wow console version is on the way. Gotcha

Don’t forget the disk space required for all three worlds and instances would jump significantly.
As in 100s of GBs.
That’s way too much, even for high speed broad band.