World of... Draenorness?

/blows dust off the blog...

I haven't played WoW in one and a half years and don't really miss it (still happily chugging along in The Old Republic), however while keeping up with MMO news in general, it's hard not to hear about what's going on in ye olde World of Warcraft as well, with the latest revelation being that the next expansion is going to be called Warlords of Draenor.

Draenor? As in... Outland? The place where my favourite expansion took place? I think I actually feel the tug of nostalgia... even though I know full well that this is probably exactly the kind of effect that Blizzard was hoping for. No matter how many times I tell myself that the game has changed and that there is no going back, the promise of getting to see places like Nagrand again - and actually as current content - is alluring.

I don't particularly care about any of the other stuff they announced, such as another reinvention of raid difficulty tiers, garrisons, or the whole Garrosh travelling back in time story. But oh, Outland...

I was quite impressed with what they showed off of the updated character models so far. I don't think that I'm massively picky when it comes to graphics, but I have to admit that during the three months when I played both WoW and SWTOR simultaneously, I found myself getting increasingly disappointed with the look of my WoW characters. Having the direct comparison to player models that looked so much better day after day did get me down after a while.

Yet at the same time, I couldn't really imagine them ever updating the models successfully without completely changing them and causing a disconnect to what came before. I only have to think back to my Neopets days and the sheer outrage that ensued whenever they redid some of the pet art there - and those were simple 2D cartoon images!

However, what they did show off of the redone character models at Blizzcon so far actually had me really impressed. I had to do a double-take whenever I took just a glancing look at the smaller slide images because I couldn't immediately tell which ones showed the old models and which ones the new ones; that's how similar they are. But when you do look more closely, everything about the new models looks so much smoother and crisper while still retaining the look of the old model... that's pretty amazing work. The only caveat from my point of view is that apart from the female dwarf, they haven't actually shown any images of redone races that I actually used to play. I might feel differently about those, having had more of a connection to them.

Either way, where am I going with this? Do I see myself making a proper return to WoW? No. But I can actually imagine myself buying this newest expansion to have a look at my graphically updated stable of alts and to go for a stroll in an alternate universe Draenor. And that's already a lot more than I ever would've imagined happening even a year ago.