Merry Christmas to my fellow bloggers and all that.
For various reasons I decided to make myself a Christmas present this year, namely a shiny new gaming PC. Looking at WoW now and at the way it looked to me before, it's hard to put the sheer magnitude of the difference into words.
See, my old PC wasn't a complete piece of crap or anything. It was already a few years old however, and had never been a top of the line machine, not even when I got it. It served me well over the years, I played WoW with all the graphic settings set to something reasonably high throughout BC, and it never caused me any problems except for occasional slowness in Shattrath during peak times.
When I first set foot into Howling Fjord I was amazed at how pretty it all was and continued to marvel at every new WOTLK zone as I discovered it. Dalaran was pretty slow for me from the start, but I didn't mind too much at the time. But the first time I set foot into a twenty-five-man raid... hoo boy. It was nothing more than a slide show, and for a while I was seriously concerned whether I'd be able to continue raiding at all. In the end I managed to do so, but only by turning all my graphic settings down as much as possible, disabling certain addons during raids and adjusting my playstyle to a point where I mostly limited myself to instant-cast healing spells and often had to base my movement on mere predictions of what was going to happen instead of seeing what was actually going on.
During my everyday play, the loss that hit me the hardest was that of greater viewing distance. I don't know if you've ever played on the "low viewing distance" setting before, but what it basically means is that you'll perpetually be surrounded by grey mist. Whenever you fly, there's nothing but fog around you, and you can only really base your movement on your position on the map, and not anything you actually see around you. People with better PCs were often baffled by my helpless flailing around in Icecrown because the airship wasn't correctly showing up on the map and I couldn't actually see it until I bumped right into it, which sometimes meant circling it repeatedly without even noticing.
So yesterday I installed WoW on my new computer, jacked all the graphic options up to their highest settings, logged onto my druid in Dalaran, marvelled at the fact that her tabard looked like more than a brown blob, ran to Krasus' Landing, switched to flight form... and stopped. My boyfriend laughed at my gaping and exclamations of wonder, but it was seriously amazing to see Crystalsong Forest stretch out ahead of me, Stormpeaks and Icecrown off the the side - I was used to being greeted by nothing but a grey wall!
When I ended up healing a heroic Halls of Reflection I also noticed the increased performance: While I didn't have any major problems in five-mans before, even the slightly increased responsiveness already helped a lot with things like getting off that nourish when the tank's health plummets too quickly or casting a quick regrowth. I can now cast spells that aren't instant and they still go off within a reasonable amount of time, zomg! I can't wait to see the difference it will make to my performance in raids.
So this Christmas, my heart goes out to all of you who still have to struggle with PCs that limit your view of the World of Warcraft to about a circle of a hundred yards around you and that make it hard for you to play at your best. May you be able to experience the game in all its glory soon!