A side-by-side comparison of World of Warcraft’s graphics in Classic and Battle for Azeroth

    
43

Computers get faster and better with time. Graphics that require a decent GPU in 2011 can be displayed at much higher resolution in 2019 if you’ve upgraded your hardware at some point in the intervening eight years. World of Warcraft is kind of hitting up against this issue at the moment as players are seeing the first screenshots of World of Warcraft: Classic, now with the benefit of computer hardware not assembled circa 2005. Heaven knows it looks better to my eyes than it did back when I was playing vanilla.

Of course, that brings with it a new set of issues; it’s easy to look at the game looking better and think “ah, they’re using the redrawn models from later expansions, that’s why it looks better.” And while it’s true that certain things (the client’s graphical options) are ported over from the live game, the actual models and graphics are all vintage, right down to the maps.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Let me show you.

First, let’s take a look at a Night Elf model, named Cynara, made at level 1 on both versions of the game. Because the lighting in old Teldrassil is as bad as it is, I included one color-adjusted shot of her without any gear equipped, just to make the differences in texture and model as clear as possible. I would also stress that the graphical settings for both versions of the game are identical, and while I might not have gotten the colors exactly right, the goal was remaking her as the same character in both versions.

Well, that’s pretty indicative. Look at her forearms, look at her skin textures, look at the light sourcing for her eyes. Her pose is similar, if not identical, but across the two versions you can really see the difference in both the texture map and the overall model design. It’s clear as day.

Next, let’s take a look at an Undead, going by the name of Trichael. Amusingly, the light in the crypt is actually better than it is in Teldrassil… and equally amusing, at least to me, is that you actually start outside the crypt in the post-Cataclysm world.

Boy, the posture feels like it changed a lot, doesn’t it? But you can still see the differences between the two at a glance. The bones are better arranged and jointed in the newer model, have a different color to them, and the forearms and chest are both telling of the work that went into the redesigns. Heck, you can even see the stretching around some of the skin, gross though that may be.

Last but not least, let’s go on a quick tour through Stormwind. I chose this because, well, there are some features that are notably different, and this is just a quick peek through the stretch that goes from the inn over to the weapon store.

Yes, that blank house is where the auction house is in the current game! And the poor weapon master is altogether gone in the modern game, since weapon skills are no longer an issue. You can really tell the differences here, even with only a couple character models on display along the way.

Of course, none of this will matter if you already believed the repeated statements that the game is using the old data in terms of both maps and character models. But if you thought otherwise, hopefully seeing it side-by-side proves it to you.

43
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Utakata

For me though, the current is way, way better looking. Despite flubbing on a few of the newer model upgrades…but I can live with that. It’s the only few examples of Blizz moving forwards instead of ass backwards with something. Just saying.

Reader
Dankey Kang

Looks crap in both imo but I think I prefer the original if not just for the nostalgia.

Reader
Carebear

Great, I love old models and old animations. Old model Night Elf >>>>>> all others

Reader
Akagi

i like the vanilla graphics from 2004 a lot better

the ugly Disney graphics since Cataclsym are disgusting.. aside from the dumbed down and ruined gameplay, the Disney graphics contribute to make the game not feel like World of Warcraft anymore

the old graphics look a lot better

when they made them new, they lost that unique style they had and made them look like Disney trash

the old human model looked like happy-go-lucky, it also could look serious depending on the situation, the new human models look like they are all sad and depressed, also the new models have very long arms making them look like monkeys

the old gnomes looked funky and like comic relief while also looking adorable, the new ones try to look cute, but look appalling instead

dwarves dont look much different, but still worse

night elves could look funny if they wanted in the old models, the new ones not at all

same goes for the horde races where the forsaken and orc look very horrible compared to their original style

also all the objects that were retextured or whatever look just worse.. there is nothing nice about the new graphics, they just ruin the game even more

Reader
Danny Smith

The undead levelling experience must feel so nice and quaint without the “watch now as these refugees we hounded to exhaustion and then killed get raised as undead that instantly and unquestioning worship and obey me” awkward moment when a player has to question if they missed a sign at character creation they were joining the evil faction :p

K38FishTacos
Reader
K38FishTacos

“Evil”

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

They are better but they are still WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY short of modern standards. You put a pretty ribbon on a tur* and you have a pretty tur*, but a tur* nevertheless ;)

K38FishTacos
Reader
K38FishTacos

We can can’t write “turd”?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

We can, however I was censoring myself to avoid being crass, afterall I didn’t need to put the entire word in order for you to know which word I meant, but the point seems to have been missed… oh well I tried hehe

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

I’d change the word, cause we sorta can fill it in…

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

That was the intent i.e for you to be able to fill in the blank without me needing to actually spell it out so in that regard it was working as intended…but then someone went ahead and used it anyway lol

But I agree a less crass word would probably have been a better idea to begin with as subtlety is often lost in transalation.

Reader
thirtymil

I think the main difference for me is that I was enjoying those graphics at 1024 x 768 and a whole 23 fps back in 2005… well, Ratchet was 23 fps, the rest of the Barrens was a bit better*.

* Better in terms of framerate. The chat… you know… the same.

Reader
Sorenthaz

I think another thing folks will probably notice about Vanilla’s world is that it feels stretched out in comparison to post-Cata, almost deliberately so. Doesn’t help that running speed will be slower and mounts will be harder and take longer to obtain. But that’ll just be a part of the experience.

Reader
Minimalistway

Woo Ping! one of many NPCs i’ll be happy to see again, i remember him from a private server (only to check the game years ago), i needed to go from Darnassus to Stormwind to learn weapons skills.

As for graphics, honestly i don’t mind modern graphics or even models, Blizzard added “Classic settings” to the graphics panel, it just reduce the settings, but as Classic teams said; they did their best to emulate the old graphics and texture, i think they did a good job.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

Id love to see someone run current WoW’s textures through AI upscaling.

While the models have certainly “improved” over the years, the one thing that has still remained pretty much the same, is the low res textures.