World Of Warcraft, Then And Now

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

It's happening! World of Warcraft is about to turn 10. If you logged in today, you've already seen an achievement pop up. Although the game came out on November 23, 2004 in the US, the in-game celebration begins today. To do our bit, we made a gallery showing how much the game changed in ten years.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

We've got some images from Blizzard and from a long thread on MMO-Champion mostly from the alpha version of the game — which means these could be much older than ten years — and a few comparisons with their current form.

So first let's compare the character models. You've already seen the trolls and their ridiculous alpha model in the top screenshot. But what about the orcs? Or the blood elves? Or the gnomes? No wonder the latter got so much hate during all these years.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now
World of Warcraft, Then And Now
World of Warcraft, Then And Now
World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Here's a very early texture map of the Eastern Kingdoms from an initial alpha build of the game. The southern part looks familiar but things get messy as we go north. No sign of the blood elves, the Hinterlands zone is shown here as "Aerie Peaks" and also what's that "Dragon Isles 65-70+ raid" up there? Whatever that is, it's still not in the game.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

The early draft of Kalimdor also looked a bit different with Winterspring being in a completely different part of the continent. And Ahn Qiraj as a 65-70+ raid? I'd queue up for that one.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

And here's how they look now, with almost everything revealed and built, except the closed zone above the Eastern Plaguelands. What could be there? Northeron? Another blood elf zone? Nagas? The mysterious Dragon Isles raid shown in that early map?

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Here's a really early screenshot of the Arathi Basin battleground. Check the chat log: "Beastmaster and godmode OFF" Wait what? So that's why the Horde always win here.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Not much has changed in Arathi and in the other classic battlegrounds over the years. It's still the breeding ground of sneaky subtlety rogues.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Gotta love this one too. A somehow level 100 dwarf and a hall without any textures at all. The only thing in this pic that's still in the game in its original form is the initial 16-slot backpack in the bottom right.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Molten Core and a 40-man group in it. Just getting there on a PvP server took time because of the world PvP in the surrounding zones. Nowdays you can solo it easily in minutes.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

This weird unfinished human village was south of Silithus. Its purpose is unknown.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

It's no longer there, but in the middle of zones full of sand and bugs, this southern spot of the continent still has a mysterious vibe.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Here's an early placeholder for Nordrassil, the giant World Tree of the night elves in Mount Hyjal. It just looks sad.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Looks a lot better now.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Ironforge, the capital of dwarves, with multiple floors.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

And the current form below. Multiple floors might have been cool, but the city and its layout is confusing enough without them for new players.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Dungeon entrances used the Dark Portal model as a placeholder during the alpha. Scholomance for example looked like this.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Here's Scholomance today. No Dark Portals, only The Scourge.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

There was even one of these placeholder Dark Portals underwater near Azshara, which would lead us to assume that there was an instance planned around that zone. Just imagine the nightmare getting there for the first time in vanilla WoW.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

This is Stratholme and a floating Naxxramas without textures during the alpha.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Since then Naxxramas moved to Northrend and the zone became a bit more shiny.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now

And finally an early, robust version of the level 70 raid Karazhan, compared to the current look.

World of Warcraft, Then And Now
World of Warcraft, Then And Now

Pics via Blizzard and MMO-Champion.


Comments

    You’ve already seen the trolls and their ridiculous alpha model in the top screenshot.

    What was ridiculous about it? Apart from the lack of detail in the textures, I think it looks much better than some dolled up Barbie version that's next to it. The model on the left screams out 'troll'... The one on the right screams 'quick we gotta sexualise anything that's female to keep the sad blokes interested!'.

    Interesting article though. I remember being part of the initial beta hacks and 'unofficial' hosted servers that allowed you to do nothing but wander aimlessly... But I still loved it! Only played for about a year when the official game came out though... Quit when I realised how much of my time it was consuming and that I had no time to experience other great games out there.

      Weren't the alpha model female trolls missing animations and used male parts or some thing? In video they were horrible. The vanilla female was OK the new one isn't trolly enough I agree

      Last edited 22/11/14 9:43 am

        As a female troll in WoD I respectfully disagree. I don't see any sexualisation at all, if you want to see sexualisation roll a draenei female... I have HD warts on my butt.

          Ok so it's not as bad as others, but you don't see a certain shift to the 'attractive' in the new model??

          Trolls should be grotesque! Bring on the ugly troll!

    And unfortunately some of the "then" is still in the "now". I still standby saying that it is like walking into a room with furniture and design features from over a range of 40 years. Just a mish mash and it stands out.

      I just started playing on the weekend for the first time. And, after coming from playing Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar, WoW's graphics are just so dated. It feels like I'm playing a 10 year old game. Not that it's a bad thing, it's still fun and all, it's just...playing newer MMOs has spoiled me on the graphics side of things. :(

        Yeah. Recently returned to WoW after many years away and see a lot of people going on about how 'amazing' it looks. Relative to how the previous expansion looked, sure, and certainly there's some major graphical improvements since I played last (Cataclysm launch) but it doesn't hold a candle to some more modern games in the same genre. Final Fantasy XIV is probably the best looking MMO out there right now and the level of detail in its models and environments blows WoW away, down to stuff like jewelry being fully modeled and visible on your character.

        That said though, that graphical fidelity comes at a cost. WoW runs fantastic because of how old it is (I get >100fps on my machine) and it's still easily the most polished MMO out there in terms of how fully-featured it is, how well the UI works and so on.

          Oh it definitely runs fantastically, and you can tell how polished it is. To me though, after playing Wildstar, there are aspects of WoW that I just wish were better. The combat feels clunky and old in comparison to the quick paced dodge-movement combat of Wildstar. When questing it was difficult at first to figure out where I had to go to complete each quest - though, that is in part because I got so used to the big arrow that appeared in the middle of your screen whenever you selected a quest in Wildstar that said (IT'S 500m THIS WAY).

          The main thing though that's bothering me is the dated graphics. I think that most people playing it have the nostalgia value and can look past it (I know I do for all my old Nintendo games), but coming at it as a "new" game for me it is slightly disappointing.

            I know what you mean. I played a fair bit of TERA a few years ago and it ruined me for MMOs for quite a while. Couldn't get into SWTOR after it and when I played FF XIV I had to pick one of the most complex melee classes to play (Monk) or it felt boring.

            Tried Wildstar but couldn't get into it because of how much like WoW it felt, oddly. Yet now I find myself back playing WoW again and I thought that'd never happen.

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