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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands promises characters finally won’t look like clones

World of Warcraft Shadowlands character customization

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands isn’t just set to introduce one of the franchise’s most unique zones. It’s also going to make the game feel more alive with expanded character customization options. Finally, our in-game avatars won’t be constantly greeting their own clones.

On stage during the first day of Blizzcon 2019, game director Ion Hazzikostas closed out the 45-minute “What’s Next” panel by announcing plans to vastly increase character customization options with the game’s upcoming expansion.

When it launches sometime next year, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will include customization options for the game’s original races. Note the word “original,” as in, races included in the game’s 2004 debut.

Presumably, based on Blizzard’s wording, this won’t be coming to newer allied races from the visual overhaul. Older additions like Draenei and Blood Elves might also not be included. That may feel like an odd decision, but Blizzard has pulled a similar move in earlier updates of character models. Races in the game’s original release, which had the oldest models and were the most out of date, had their models updated first.

While we should expect additional details during the Deep Dive panel on the second day of Blizzcon, What’s Next watchers were treated to a sneak peek of new customization options for Trolls, Humans, Dwarves, and the Forsaken.

Greater skin and eye color options were a big point of discussion, but hairstyles, body types, and even things like tattoos, tusk size, and the amount of literal bone on show will be fully customizable. The range of customization isn’t going to compete with a Black Desert, but it should at least put World of Warcraft on par with Final Fantasy XIV.

It’s all in an effort to help players forge a deeper connection to avatars and aid in self-expression. And because “it’s 2019,” as Hazzikostas said, skin and eye color can be changed independently from the other.

It’s apparently just the tip of the iceberg for Blizzard’s plans to make World of Warcraft: Shadowlands an RPG more deserving of its place in the genre. Ion wants characters to “look and feel a little bit more like you,” and in the age of free gender expression, I agree with what Shadowlands will offer.

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