Warcraft: Time for a Graphics Update?

Due to the fun of hanging with Single Abstract Noun, I’ve gotten back into the game in a big way. I haven’t played so much Warcraft since I virtually quit the game when I stopped raiding. Even though the game is fairly old, everything considered, the graphic style has held up quite well. There are a few areas, though, where it’s really starting to bother me a bit.

1. It’s time to redesign the character models.

I love Kit above every other game character that I have spent endless hours with. But when I look at her awkward spade-shaped hands and triangular fingers, it really bothers me. Mouths are bad. Male characters are creepy and ugly – most of them seem to have harelips, and they all look kind of pissed off and constipated, as though they’re in need of a good poo. I could never play one. Blood elf males are better facially, but still suffer from the grotesquely overwide shoulders. Human models are boring, and human females are saddled with the worst dance in the game. It just won’t do!

Now, everything doesn’t have to be as beautiful as, say, Aion. I quite like the look of the towns and outdoor environments, and the very stylised Warcraft art direction works for me. But please, please, please – redo the avatars.

2. The older armor and weapons need an update.

I get the starting out in rags and gradually acquiring better gear thing, that’s fine. But again, the older textures are really showing their age. They’re so low-res that you just get a vague impression of broadly-sketched in texture. Give me more modern textures, where the cloth looks like cloth, and metal actually looks like metal. Newer high-level armor sets are fine, a lot of work has gone into those. But the really old textures are pathetic.

When interviewed, the developers and designers at Blizzard are pretty honest about not really knowing what, exactly, give Warcraft the magic that it has, that indefinable quality of “fun”. And I would never wish anything to detract from that. But surely, better character models would only increase pleasure in the game, without diverging too much from the look and feel of the environment.

That said, though, I am having an enormous amount of fun running around with my blocky, floppy-footed troll hunter with the vacant, somewhat retarded face. She’s smarter than she looks…and a lot more fun. :)

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