World of Warcraft producer J. Allen Brack has said that Blizzard is taking an "iterative, organic" approach to overhauling the hit MMO's graphics, rather than building towards one big revamp.
"It's important to note that in general we're taking an iterative, organic approach to graphics upgrades, going feature by feature as opposed to thinking in terms of an overall 'new graphics engine'," Brack said. "For example, we've discussed plans for new visuals for water, but this would be for a future content update or expansion."
Brack also underlined the enhancements coming in imminent expansion Wrath of the Lich King.
"We do have some graphics updates coming with Wrath of the Lich King, namely in three areas: shadow system, shader technology, and view distance. The shadow system will greatly improve the look of existing shadows, and players will be able to display both character and structure shadows," he said.
"The new shader technology we've implemented enables the team to create even better looking terrain, as well as some cool ice effects. And, the view distance has been increased, so players will be able to see farther than ever before in Northrend."
We can report from our own experiences on the beta that the game is indeed substantially prettier thanks to these effects, with only a minor hit on framerate.