The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

    
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In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).

Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.

For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Bývörðæįr mòr Vas´Ðrakken

So every time I hear that wow is still the same look as it was in 2004, I start laughing. Those people either don’t remember what it used to look like because blizzard spends a good deal of time trying to maintain the style, look and appeal, or they simply started playing after cata when the first major update to the graphics was released. The first image is what the game looked like 2004, we had heads that were rendered as sprites with camera facing tech so that while the head might pivot in place when it glitched you could see the back of the head it was really funny, the one time I remember that happening. I was in a dungeon and the sever load was really high and the camera normal for the heads ended up 180 degress out. It was really funny people looked like they had mask for heads. I think I might have that screen shot some where. But now the heads are part of the body’s model. You can see the neck below that were not part of the models before.

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rafael12104

While I admire the technical work and gradient changes in WoW, (remember the doomsayers?) I have to go with Runescape. It may not be total craftsmanship, but the difference is night and day in Runescape.

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Bannex

I mean of the games I’ve played/play it’s gotta be WoW.

The vanilla zones would actually drive me away from the game if I started playing now

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Conner Plays

I have to go with Wizard101.
I very recently got to the world of Khrysalis and it’s insane seeing how good this place looks, especially with how often I need to go back to Wizard City.
It’s really cool having played this game for it’s whole life and seeing the areas go from “Streets and sidewalks with the occasional open area” from the first arc to the more open air worlds of the second arc
And apparently Mirage looks even better so I’m really excited to get there!

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Dug From The Earth

Graphical improvement is an area that is seriously lacking in many mmorpgs today.

It also is worth noting that its sorta pointless to do a revamp on a game thats only been out less than 2-3 years. This makes the list of mmorpgs that would be up for 1 (or more) revamps much smaller.

WoW (love it or hate it) is one of the few mmorpgs that has actually taken the effort to go through multiple revamps and improvements. Completely redone water system, Lighting system, Improved shadows, the addition of Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, the addition of many modern options for Anti-Aliasing, drastically improved view distance, going from low-polygon models to much higher polygon models for character models, and… lastly… he sheer amount of detail, texture quality, and poly counts found in many of the newer zones in the game. Im sure there is more that I have forgotten about.

People still love to make fun of WoW’s cartoonish look, but comparing game areas from the latest expansion, with vanilla WoW will show a massive difference.

I wish more companies would do this. Im looking at you STO, Champions, and even games like SwToR.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Runescape probably stands out the most. Contrary to other games like EVE and WoW where devs facelifted game in different areas but overal graphics didnt change much, Runescape looks like completely different game compared to beta state.

Tbh candidates for the “improved graphics” list arent many and all of them were mentioned in comments.

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thalendor

Out of games I’ve played, at least, probably EverQuest. I don’t think it’s been a game ever known for great graphics, but the difference between all the original zones and models and more recent zones and models is quite striking none-the-less. Everything else I’ve played seems pretty incremental in it’s graphical improvements in comparison.

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Paragon Lost

Without a doubt World of Warcraft. They just keep up tweaking it every expansion. The avatar updates haven’t been as impressive though. Of course they’re still better than LotRO.

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Dystopiq

WoW

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Melissa McDonald

The biggest update I’ve ever seen was in original EverQuest. The Luclin update took your avatar from about six polygons (lol) to a proper looking avatar – amazing actually for that time period.
Otherwise I’d say the improvements are generally incremental. LOTRO has added DX10 and then DX11 support, ongoing updates over the years. Most don’t do that.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Still not sure what the difference between DX9 and DX11 LoTRO. Looks the same to me

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Tobasco da Gama

The main differences are in the lighting and shadows. It’s not the kind of thing that jumps right out at you, but it’s a nice addition to the atmosphere.