World of Warcraft Shadowlands: How one of the oldest games in production uses the newest lighting tech


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World of Warcraft is a sixteen-year-old game, but that doesn’t mean it’s stuck with decades-old graphics. WoW’s engineers have updated the game’s tech with every expansion, and the new Shadowlands pack this fall brought in a subtle, but important, new addition to the scenery: ray tracing.

We say subtle because Warcraft’s lighting is already an enormous part of the game; a single map can have thousands of light sources, and that doesn’t include weather effects (which include ambient and natural lighting) and other sources of illumination. So if you’re hoping ray tracing will give you a BAM, now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t impact, you may be disappointed. But like a gentle soundtrack score, ray tracing can increase your immersion in the senior MMORPG, and if you know where to look, you’ll see the difference.

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