Warlords of Draenor: Updated Character Models

I cannot wait for Draenor to come out. Look at that Tauren! Look at it!
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When the updated character models were announced to appear in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, fans everywhere screamed “finally” and then proceeded to weep with joy. With the Worgen, Goblin, and especially Pandaren models in the game, vanilla and BC races look like plain ol’ kodo dookie.

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Design Philosophy

Blizzard’s philosophy for updating the character models for the Draenor expansion is to update the models, but have them look like the same characters. Make the package look prettier, but have it so that players will still log in and go “Yeah, this is my same character.”

This seems like it would be sort of hard to do. The player models are so ugly by today’s standards that it seems like it would be hard to keep up that same feeling that the models have had for the last near decade while still updating them to look as good as, if not better than, the Pandaren models.

Blizzard somehow did it.

Updated Models

There was a huge increase in the number of polygons and bones for each model. Specifically for the gnomes, they had an original polygon count of 956. They now have 5,408 polygons. They had only 130 bones before, but now they have 196. Not only that, but their textures have received a significant upgrade in resolution.

The Dwarves have an even more impressive polygon count. They originally only had 1,160. Now they have 7,821 polygons. Most of it is in their beards.

The artists really wanted to improve upon the exposed skeleton part of the Forsaken character model. They said that the spine that was there before looked like a worm. As can be seen in the pictures above, there is a definite improvement. The Forsaken look much less silly now and much more scary, rotting corpse.

The new Orc model in Warlords of Draenor looks like it takes from the Siege of Orgrimmar Garrosh model quite heavily. They added much needed weight to the way the Orcs look. This model is much more intimidating than the old one, even in its underwear.

The Tauren models are generally agreed upon to be among the worst in the game. There’s just something about the way they handled the face in the old version that did not age well.

Their new look lets you see much more detail in their face. Their mouths look natural, or as natural as you would expect on a Tauren, and they don’t have it weirdly open all the time. The hair also looks much more realistic.

You can see the animations for these models up above. Everything looks much more fluid, much more realistic, and just nicer overall.

Many of the models are done, but not all of them. Currently, they are working on the Dwarf female. It was not said whether or not they will be updating the Draenei or the Blood Elves, but it is assumed they will, as they said that they have no plans on updating the Goblins and Worgen until after they get through all the other models in Warlords of Draenor.


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Joseph Rowe
World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.