World of Warcraft's next expansion won't make you buy a new computer...probably

Blizzard says "you shouldn't be worried about any big drop in performance" as a result of the new character models and features coming to the MMO game.


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One of the most interesting features for the next World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, is that it will include dramatic character model updates for the original eight races (and the Draenei and Blood Elves), as well as various texture improvements. But ever since this was announced last year, players have wondered if the visual upgrades will make the game--known to be playable on even low-end rigs--too taxing to look good on their existing computers.

Some have asked if they'll need to buy a new computer to play Warlords of Draenor, and now Blizzard has finally responded. "That's a hard question to answer," Blizzard community manager Taepsilum said on the game's forums recently. "I'd say that you shouldn't be worried about any big drop in performance; things will most likely remain very close to what you are experiencing right now. So if you're satisfied with what you have right now, then there shouldn't be any need to change anything."

For raids specifically, Taepsilum said though more detailed character models and expanded surrounding geometry will require more processing power, the developer is also overhauling the way in which onscreen information is presented as a means to boost performance.

"We are also applying a squish to anything related to stats; this means that in certain situations, there might be some performance improvements, especially when it comes to add-ons that process combat data," Taepsilum said. "More importantly, we are reducing the amount of visual clutter that currently fills every fight where a lot of players are involved. Less sparkly stuff flying around means better video performance for everyone."

"Client performance is something we care about a lot. It doesn't matter how well designed an encounter is: you aren't going to have fun raiding at 8fps," Taepsilum added. "We want everyone to be able to enjoy playing with the new models, and our dev team is working hard making sure that WoW is as resource efficient as possible in order for that to happen."

Warlords of Draenor is World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, following The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), and Mists of Pandaria (2012). It launches later this fall, and every copy includes one immediate character level boost to 90. World of Warcraft, which is now in its 10th year of continued operation as a paid game, ended 2013 with 7.8 million subscribers.

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