World of Warcraft is a game that despite having many visual upgrades over the years, does show its age a little. Of course it does, it’s over a decade old, and it’s stylised with a cartoony feel that was never designed to be photo-realistic. But if it were to be redesigned with a modern engine and given the care and treatment its vast and detailed landscapes deserves, it could be truly beautiful.
That much is obvious now that we’ve seen Youtuber DanielL’s recreation of Azeroth’s Westfall area in Unreal Engine 4 (thanks PCG). It not only features detailed texturing, better modelling and lighting, but wind effects, grass that blows in the wind, and clouds that travel with time.
No NPCs or players are present in this quick flyby and there are still issues with pop-in effects when the camera moves at particularly high speed, but it is nevertheless a stunning visualisation of what WoW might have looked like had it been made just a few years later.
This isn’t the only area of the Warcraft world that DanielL has rebuilt though. Earlier this year he put together a recreation of the Elwynn Forest in the latest Unreal Engine. While the frame rate isn’t quite so smooth and the lighting effects aren’t so natural, it’s still offers a striking new perspective on the game, and it’s clear a lot of time has gone into faithfully recreating the woody area with new technology.
It’s certainly making more than a few fans of the game consider taking a step back into it, as it’s likely that their rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia painted something quite similar to this rendering in their memories of the different areas.
Moving forward, DanielL is considering releasing the areas as explorable environments for VR headset users. Here’s hoping.