New Character Models

A friend pointed out to me that Blizzard was offering seven free days of playtime for lapsed players right now, and even though I hadn't received any kind of notification about it, the promotion was sitting in my Battle.net account as well. I wasn't willing to re-sub purely to check out the new character models, but for free? Sure, let me see how my "old friends" are faring in this brave new world of higher polygon counts.

First off, let me say that the new WoD loading screen instantly made me feel a pang of nostalgia, considering how similar it looks to the BC loading screen I grew up with (just with a different colour swirly in the middle.)

First I checked on my old main and her brethren, the female trolls. It seems to me that they look a little edgier and grumpier than before, but this feels fitting considering that they are, well... trolls. Overall they seem to have fared well in regards to the revamp.

Sadly my second favourite Horde race, the female tauren, have not been so lucky. Their new models are a pretty big departure from what they used to look like. In fact I would say that the dog-like noses they were given cause them to not even look like cows anymore. In a race based on minotaurs I consider that a pretty big failure. I physically started when I took my hunter's (on the left) helmet off and saw her new face. It's sad because this problem was very evident from the very first preview Blizzard gave of these models and people gave plenty of good feedback on how the worst issues could be fixed. Sadly Blizzard chose to ignore it.

I've seen some complaints about the updated models for the Forsaken, but personally I was pleasantly surprised by them. My own undead ladies at least looked pretty close to their original versions - just a little more badass than before maybe, but that's hardly a bad thing.

In all my years of playing WoW I never made an orc because I don't like their pug faces, but I did make a male troll once. His model, too, looks like a substantial upgrade that's very true to the original. I like how the tusks feel a lot more substantial now.

On Alliance side, I logged into the very first character I ever created, a human paladin, and miscellaneous other human ladies. They looked pretty good, though like the female trolls I feel that they look a little... edgier, older now. I suspect that this is a side effect of the more detailed textures, which took away that soft smoothness that many of the faces used to have. Their facial expressions also seem a bit odd, like someone spent a lot of time tugging at the mouths and eyebrows in an attempt to recreate the facial expressions of the original models, but the results look a bit unnatural. Still, overall I feel that this is a good update that I could get used to.

My old Alliance main and her brethren, the night elves, seem to have come out of this update pretty well too. My priest (on the left) felt like an extremely faithful update. My druid (on the right) looked a little off - and not just because I caught her mid-blink - but it seemed to me that her hair had lost its bounce and her mouth had shrunk. I reckon that's something that could be ameliorated with a visit to the barber shop though.

My Draenei ladies, probably my favourite Alliance race these days, were updated in such a subtle fashion that I hardly even noticed much of a change on most of them. That's not a complaint though.

The race that really seems to have got the short end of the stick on Alliance side are the female dwarves. This was somewhat surprising to me, as I thought that the previews for these looked pretty decent. They are not nearly as horribly off as the female tauren, but all the faces have extremely wide noses and heavily lidded eyes now, which definitely wasn't the case before, and it makes them look kind of old and tired. I went to the barber shop to check if there were any options that didn't have this problem, but they all had the same issue.

Speaking of the barber shop, I never noticed that they have all these wigs on male goblin heads - that made me smile.

I was going to say that I never played a gnome either, but then I remembered that I rolled one for a blogger project back in the day. I don't have much of a connection to her, but I don't recall her looking quite so deranged and murderous before. Those eyes...

I also have two token male characters on Alliance side. Wilson the human warlock seems to have survived the changes pretty well, though the eyebrows of this face make him look angrier than before.

Iyan the night elf warrior actually looks sleeker than before, less... malformed than male night elves used to look, which is a good thing. His new running animation looks really weird though.

I generally didn't check out the animations in great detail, though I noticed that all the running animations seemed to have gained a bit of a "cartoony bounce" that wasn't there before, or at least not to the same extent. I didn't seem too bad on most races though, with the male night elf being the noticeable exception.

I also noticed that characters change their facial expressions now when they run around and use abilities, which is neat but also a bit... weird. Like, when my night elf casts a healing spell here, she looks angry enough to want to bite someone's head off (watch those canines), which struck me as slightly over the top.

Overall I think Blizzard did a good job with these though, with more good results than bad. Still, it's a shame about the female tauren and dwarves. Knowing Blizzard, I think it's unlikely that they will go back at this point and make any more changes though, even if people post mega-threads on the forums begging them to do so.


  1. Well, I think you covered all of the models for me. I don't think the Blood Elves are due for an update until after Warlords drops.

  2. I think Blizzard took a shortcut on some of the animations. The male night elf running animation is the same one the male pandaran use. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of other animations were lifted wholesale from the pandaran so save time on what had to have become an overwhelming project.

  3. Comparing the male human eyes/eyebrows to the female, to me they messed up big time on the female. Also, the basic female face - nose, eyes, face shape, is exactly the same across all models.

    I really don't see how going from 9 individual 'looks' to 1 is somehow an improvement, even if the 1 is 3D and the other 9 are 2D.