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World of Warcraft Shadowlands spiffs up the darkness with ray tracing in alpha

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard Entertainment is bringing a key upgrade to World of Warcraft's graphics just in time for an entire expansion about shadows: Ray tracing. A new Ray Traced Shadows option was added to the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands alpha this week, and though it's currently disabled, it'll be a boon to those with RTX-enabled graphics cards. 

It's clearly completely optional, and it's very unlikely that WoW will stop running on anything short of a ham sandwich any time soon, but I'm sure there's a sizable group of people excited about the graphical update. 

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment via Wowhead)

This isn't the only new look World of Warcraft will be sporting in the new expansion. The game's also getting a host of new faces for its character models modelling a greater degree of facial diversity, like different face and nose shapes. The ray tracing options include three levels of detail, from Fair to High, though I'm unsure who has an RTX card and lacks a processor to handle the highest setting at this point.

If you don't know why this is a big deal, or what it means, you can check out our guide to ray-tracing and RTX explaining what it means for different games. If you don't know about Shadowlands, here's everything we know about WoW's big new expansion.

Thanks, Wowhead.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.