Is WoW ugly?

All the other MMOs are shiny and pretty-looking; meanwhile, WoW has a rough and rugged look, with all the iron and bronze and wood. Is WoW an ugly game compared to the other MMOs on the market?


Nope. WoW has a cartoonish style and this cartoonish style is why it has managed to surpass the test of time despite graphics being outdated.

Meanwhile, “real-life” looking games and anime looking games age way way worse than cartoonish graphics like WoW’s.

That game looks shiny? look again in 2 years.



As well, the cartoonish approach allows for the darker undertones and themes to be that more impactful and unsettling, even if the writing is bad or not.

Say like in ESO, they have a questline were EP has to stop AD from slaughtering young and unhatched Argonians, as well try to save the near by villages from AD as well from a genocidal attack. Felt, not so shocking or out of the norm despite it being actually horrific, many if anyone rarely remembers it. Mainly cause of how it looks.

WoW burn down tree and cause genocidal levels of carnage. Pretty sure, it will be remembered 5 years and 10 years later. Theramore? Still talked about and debated. Whileit fit, and looked like it fits, it was unsettling and upsetting to many as well.

Cartoon styles allows the viewer to naturally drop their guard and more susceptible to darker events to get reactions that are desired.

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WoW is pretty ugly compared to ESO, IMO.


Yeah I actually am fond of WOWs cartoony style. I think it looks good even if it’s not super fancy.


Oh god honestly those games become outdated after a year or two and I wanna puke every time I look at them.


While true, ESO doesn’t go full blown out with their looks either. After 5 years it still looks much better then most newer games and mmos on the market that came out trying to push hyperfantasy / realism looks.

WoW’s style is simpler, in some ways, but it is well done and cohesive. I played a free trial of FF14 for a month and the art style there was kind of off putting for me. Sure, it had finer detail in some areas but it felt too square and boxy in other ways.

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Name some.

I’d say most, if not all, of the other MMOs have inferior graphics, insofar they are quite inappropriate for the genre.
MMOs need to have a timeless graphical fidelity because they should last many years. WoW manages that very well, as does SWTOR (but less well).

Just look at a game like Age of Conan now-- uuuh what an eye sore that is. Final Fantasy will not look pretty in a couple of years, not to so much the characters but the environment textures and geometry.

Simplicity is the key. Bold and bright so it looks like a cartoon. It’s why games like Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max never age.

Shiny turds are still turds.

Yup, WoW is timeless with incremental improvements. But it is a stylistic rendering of a fantasy world.

If you take a look at any of the other 15 year old games that tried to look “pretty” and looked them today, you’d be going “eyah! Boy, that didn’t age well.” Because they don’t age well.

WoW ages well like Comic Books age well.


Though I would walk my argument back a little in saying that they only managed that true cartoon timeless look at about the time of MoP.

I suspect Blizzard see that as well as all the new character model updates use the Pandaren as a yardstick for fidelity. Really the Pandaren do look like a cartoon as it is and honestly the only uptick is with resolution (texture detail and geometry is perfectly sufficient for that animation look).

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From the angle of technical capabilites, WoW is limited.
From the angle of art direction and style, WoW is among the best out there.

The latter is a lot more important than the former. A game’s art style is essentially its personality, and so a game with no style effectively has no personality. Similarly, games with inconsistent styling have muddled and disjointed personalities.

Also, a fancy whizz-bang game engine with raytracing and other related buzzwords isn’t worth crap if the game in question has no style to take advantage of all that, because it translates into a look that’s “realistic” for maybe a year after the game’s release and then starts looking dated because the bar for realism is ridiculously high anyway and game engines are constantly improving. Worse, fancy engines are far more demanding on hardware which means that a much much smaller percentage of players will be able to play them while they’re current.

By contrast a heavily stylized game like WoW is relatively easy on hardware and will continue to look great many years after its release.


Some older maps, especially in Kalimdor and Cataclysm show their age.

As a whole, WoW looks amazing.

WoW has their own style, just like OSRS, final fantasy, ESO, guild wars, order and chaos.

Some of the older zones from past expansions can definitely look a bit ugly. Cataclysm revamped vanilla areas looked pretty nice back in the day. Today they look somewhat old and out of date. You can also see this in the older TBC zones as well. There was a nice jump in quality tho from TBC to Wrath imo.


Cata zones are kinda in a weird uncanny valley I think. The unchanged vanilla/TBC zones have a certain retro appeal to them and WotLK zones look decent in their own right, but the Cata revamp zones are awkward – they feel like a half-baked retro game remaster, being neither retro nor modern.

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Amen brotha Mage

I dig how WoW looks. Altho it’s jarring as heck to see pretty CGI Anduin then see his in game cutscene model.