WoW's New Water Effects Look Amazing

By Chad Awkerman

May 1, 2010

When we first heard some details about the latest WoW expansion, Cataclysm, there was mention that the way the water was designed was going to change. There is one that that WoW has a lot of, and that is water. There are quests in the water, under the water, having you swim or run across the water – you name it, you can do it in the water. Since the game’s release back in 2004, the water has looked a bit lackluster, but moreso as time moved on, when we see the way water looks in other MMOs such as Lord of the Ring Online.

All that will change in Cataclysm, when the water will look like it does above. Now, if you’ve played WoW for any length of time, you probably know what the Swamp of Sorrows looks like. While some of it may change come the expansion, it appears in essence to mostly have the same look. Except, of course, for the water. Check that out! It looks great! However, there are pros and cons to updating the graphical prowess of the game in such a manner.

The main thing going for it, of course, is that it looks amazing. I love life-like water effect, it immerses you more in the game and makes it feel more realistic. The glossy water, the reflections, it all works together to improve the way the game looks and feel. Naturally, we are obviously not going to expect a game like this to be “realistic” in the strictest sense of the word, but the more realistic certain effects are, the more it draws us into the game, right?

However, WoW has always promoted itself as a game that can run decently on the widest range of computers. That is one of the reasons it is so popular today, because anyone can play it on their computer without spending gobs of cash to upgrade. How will this new water engine affect the playability of the game on lower-end machines? I’m assuming that Blizzard is smart enough to keep lower settings in, so the water will appear much as it does now if someone’s machine can’t handle the new effects. My computer is only about six months old, and can presently run WoW pretty decent on high settings. It is a laptop. I’m not sure how it will react to a new water engine, but I’m hoping pretty well. Because, let me tell you, even if I have to turn down some other settings to keep a decent frame rate, I want the water to look like that!

If you check out both of the images above – the top one has the new water effects, and the bottom one is the way it is now – you’ll see more than just the water changes, as far as the atmosphere of the zone. The trees look sharper and the mist around the zone looks a bit more realistic, much like it does in Northrend zones. Think of the Howling Fjord when they use those mist effects through the trees.

Needless to say, if you’re a WoW player, this has to excite you to some extent, right? I mean, it has the possibility to change the immersion of a lot of zones that are high on water content, such as Swamp of Sorrows, even if the zone itself doesn’t change a whole lot. What do you think?

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Chad Awkerman

Chad joined the DualShockers staff in mid 2009 and since then has put much of his time into covering RPGs, with a focus on the Japanese side of the genre, from the obscure to the mainstream. He's a huge fan of iconic games like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI and Persona 4 yet enjoys the smaller niche titles, as well. In his spare time he enjoys experiencing new beer, new foods and keeping up with just about every sci-fi show on television. He's married to an intelligent, beautiful Southern Belle who keeps his life interesting with witty banter and spicy Cajun cooking.

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