As with every expansion, Warlords of Draenor will introduce a number of game-engine upgrades and graphical improvements, including new character models and better textures to help us create lush, detailed environments. Any increase in graphical quality will naturally result in some amount of increase in the game’s required system specs, but we’re working hard to minimize that and ensure that WoW runs well on as wide a range of systems as possible.
One of our game-engine updates is designed to limit the impact that animating the new models has on players’ frame rates. Our new character models have significantly more “moving parts” and more complex animation than the current models (see our Artcraft: Running of the Bulls
to get an idea). As a result, the new animations require a bit more memory than the old ones. To counter that, we’ve developed some technology that should keep the impact on your framerate similar to what it is now. Some of this is actually already in place in Patch 5.4.7, and we’re continuing to work to optimize as much as we can—and of course, we’ll be providing an option to keep using the current models if you wish.
We’re also making several improvements to improve performance in Raids, Dungeons, and Battlegrounds, such as limiting extraneous spell effects in group content, which—along with other benefits such as eliminating some visual clutter—should help with performance. We’re also planning to provide separate options for graphical effects in Raids or Battlegrounds, so you can disable processor-intensive features such as shadows and reflections solely in those environments. We’ll be testing all of these updates out in the upcoming beta, though keep in mind that beta performance doesn’t reflect the final version of the game. We’ll still be in the process of optimization, and the beta will include additional development tools that impact system performance.
One of our longstanding goals is to make sure WoW runs well on as broad a range of systems as possible, and that continues to be a top priority. We’ll have more details on the expansion’s system requirements closer to launch, and we can’t wait to show you more of Warlords of Draenor.