Why updated graphics matter

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|11.04.14

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Why updated graphics matter
What you see above is the result of time marching on - in my draenei's right hand is Sulfuras, the Extinguished Hand, a drop from Firelands. In the left hand, Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros, the legendary drop from the original Molten Core. (Yes, I know technically it doesn't drop, the Eye drops, you craft a Sulfuron Hammer and then use the Eye on it, I've had the thing since MC I know how I got it.) What I'm showing you is essentially the orderly progression of time via graphic upgrades - you can essentially see the history of the game unfolding via the difference between these two weapons.

Everything from the spikes to the grip to the shape of the head, it's all more detailed and crisp on the newer model. The older model is a collection of polygonal shapes that bear only a vague resemblance to a hammer compared to the newer model, which is itself still not as good as models we have in the game now, never mind some of the Warlords drops we're about to see. The gap between these two hammers is the gap between 2004 and 2011, and here we are, three years later than that - and they show us how much a ten year old game can in fact change.
I promise I won't just keep talking about Sulfuras, but I did want to showcase the improved quality of even the smaller touches like the flaming glow and ornate runes on both hammers, how much better the updated model looks. Of course it does. You'd expect it to. But with the 10th Anniversary this month and us making a return to Molten Core, it seems like a very good time to point it out - the MC models have gotten kind of old. It's not surprising - they were some of the first epics even designed, it's no wonder they look long in the tooth. But what's interesting is, other raids like AQ and BWL didn't age nearly so badly - I'll still break out my Ashkandi or Drake Talon Cleaver for specific mogs. To a degree this might be seen as a non-issue - seveal MC drops were upgraded when they were placed on Onyxia's loot table when she was updated for the 5 year anniversary event.

But if we're going back to MC for an anniversary, I want it to be a big deal - we should see those classic drops again, and we should see them with some visual flair added. The Brutality Blade, the Core Hound Tooth, the OEB, our old tier sets - I have no idea how feasible the idea of having these items drop in MC LFR is, with updated graphics and stats. I don't even know if we're getting any loot drops in the updated MC beyond the crowns for killing Ragnaros at the end.

And truth be told, it's not just MC that could use the update. We've seen a lot of effort put into character models getting their update, and frankly it was a good call on Blizzard's part. Updating those models was important. And yes, I'd always choose new content with new items over updating old stuff. But updating does more than let you just mog to it without shame - it helps preserve the visual set of the world, keeping all items looking like they are part of the same setting, the same milieu. The Sulfuras from Firelands doesn't look out of place wielded with armor from more recent raids, but the old one, legendary or not, just looks antiquated, a relic, not a weapon of legend.

Here's hoping we seem graphical updating remain a priority past the character models. Yes, new is good, but sometimes we need to put some effort into keeping things visually current.

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