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World of Warcraft graphics update coming in 6.1 patch

World of warcraft graphics update patch 6.1 Blizzard

Blizzard’s been working on making the positively ancient World of Warcraft look better for its next patch, 6.1. The update will bring back anti-aliasing of the MSAA and SSAA variety and textures will all look considerably more detailed thanks to Nvidia’s HBAO+.

If none of that made sense then, suffice to say, a wizard did it.

Nvidia’s HBAO+ is a kind of screen space ambient occlusion. What it does is analyse the geometry of the models being drawn on screen and adds shadows to them by detecting a model’s normal map. Essentially, it’s allowed Blizzard to apply much richer shadows to World of Warcraft. You’ll need to be running a DirectX 11 card to use HBAO+, as well as meeting the recommended system requirements. Can you run it? Compare your setup against the World of Warcraft system requirements.

Click here to see a comparison between vanilla Warcraft and HBAO+ Warcraft.

6.1 will also see the return of multisample anti-aliasing and the introduction of supersample anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing turns harsh lines on geometry into soft edges, giving game worlds a much more realistic, and less clinical look. MSAA and SSAA will both be available to DirectX 11 card owners. Blizzard say they’ll be “providing the widest variety of anti-aliasing options we’ve ever had available, ranging from performance-optimal to performance-crushing.”

Finally, Blizzard are improving lighting systems across the board. They’re introducing per-pixel deferred point lights. These create “realistic lighting from sources like campfires and torches, and illuminates the world in a more realistic way.” Again, it’s down to the quality of your card but the better your card the more luscious the effect in-game.

You can see more comparison shots in Blizzard’s blog post.

The 6.1 patch is already live on the test realm but no official release date’s been announced.