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WoW Cataclysm after Patch 4.0.1: What DirectX 11 is really good for

Since the Patch 4.01, not only the Cataclysm-Beta but also the main game of World of Warcraft has offered to you unofficial DirectX 11 support. PC Games Hardware explains to you what the advantages of the new API are in Blizzard's MMORPG.
World of Warcraft Cataclysm Beta
World of Warcraft Cataclysm Beta [Source: view picture gallery]
In July, PC Games Hardware reported about DirectX 11 in the beta-version of WoW Ctaclysm. With the Patch v12694, new graphics and experimental DirectX 11 found their way into the MMORPG:

• Experimental support for DX11 (can be enabled by passing '-d3d11' on the command line or adding SET gxApi "d3d11″ to the Config.WTF file)
• OpenGL Hardware Cursor support (can be enabled on the Video Resolution Panel)
• Dynamic Sunshafts effect (enabled by the Sunshafts option on the Video Effects Panel).
• Improved water and lava rendering system (enabled by the Liquid Detail slider on the Video Effects Panel)
- 0 = Classic Water
- 1 = New Water (fake reflections)
- 2 = New Water (ocean has real reflection for terrain)
Back then, we witnessed an increase in performance but it changed the optical appeal to the detriment (there hasn't been any transition between water and land any more), but we had to assume it was a bug. Meanwhile, the graphics bug has, as we expected, been removed and what's more is that the patch to version 4.0.1 elevated the normal World of Warcraft to the new engine standard. 5,3 GiBytes of new data were necessary to carry all the new data.

World of Warcraft with DirectX 11: Status Quo
Not only the Beta but also any other World of Warcraft now unofficially supports DirectX 11 and improved graphics. The latter doesn't even depend on the API that is used! Blizzard added so called sun shafts that prettified the lighting a little. Furthermore water and lava have been beautified: The water now uses transparency effects, environment reflections, and swell when characters pass through it. Also the lava looks more real since pixel shaders now do the surface rendering. In the course of the new Patch 4.0.1, Blizzard also refurbished the graphics menu which is now more well-arranged than before.

In Order to activate the unofficial DirectX 11 Support, you have to add the parameter "-d3d11" to you WoW-shortcut on your desktop. Now, the game will add the line "SET gxApi "d3d11"" to a file called "" ("\World of Warcraft\WTF"). If you are confronted with stability issues, you can switch experimental DirectX 11 off by removing this exact line.

World of Warcraft with DirectX 11: Performance-Boost
The performance will significantly increase, as our benchmarks prove. For our tests, we used an AMD Radeon HD 5750 which was able to go up by 15 per cent as regards frames per second. The rendering of some scenes even speeded up by 20 to 60 per cent. The reason for this kind of boost might be the compute shader but we haven't yet been able to gain further information from Blizzard.
In DirectX 11, Word of Warcraft runs significantly faster than in DirectX 9
In DirectX 11, Word of Warcraft runs significantly faster than in DirectX 9 [Source: view picture gallery]

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Marc Sauter (Oct 31, 2010)

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