World of Warcraft's Characters Are Getting Updated

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It's a rare game -- even in the MMO space -- that can remain relevant for nearly ten years. And not only relevant, but immensely popular.

While the gaming community's mindshare has been collectively drifting more towards popular MOBAs like Dota 2 and League of Legends for a while, World of Warcraft has proven year after year that there is still a market for a traditionally marketed, subscription-based massively multiplayer online RPG. Or at least there is if it's called "World of Warcraft"; the long-term success of more recent additions to the genre such as Final Fantasy XIV and the upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online remains to be seen, while "pay once, play forever" games such as Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World are growing in popularity amid the flooded -- some might say oversaturated -- free-to-play market.

Warcraft has endured for so long at least partly because it has remained accessible and playable to a pretty broad spectrum of players. Blizzard's deliberate choice to use highly stylized, relatively simple, cartoonish artwork with exaggerated, instantly recognizable silhouettes not only gave the game a distinctive look that was firmly in keeping with the previous installments of the Warcraft franchise, but also meant that it wasn't massively demanding on lower-spec systems. Those with more powerful machines and graphics hardware could buff up the resolution and increase the draw distance to seriously impressive levels, while those on more modest computers could still run the game comfortably.

Warcraft being relatively lightweight in terms of technical demands doesn't mean it hasn't moved with the times, though. The engine has undergone several updates over the years as the average specification of player hardware has gradually improved; each update bringing subtle but welcome improvements to graphical fidelity without sacrificing the distinctive look and feel of the game's visuals. And it appears that the release of the upcoming expansion pack Warlords of Draenor will bring with it another improvement to Warcraft's visuals -- particularly with regard to the character models...

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