The Aesthetics of the Shadowlands Pre-patch

With prepatch now live in the US and EU, the long, weary Battle for Azeroth is officially, and finally, done.

Corruption is now a thing of the past, N’Zoth and his Black Empire is canonically a pile of sparkle dust, and players will have to wait another dozen or so years before hitting the heady heights of level 120 once again.

With that, prepatch brings a lot of things to be thankful for.

For me personally, outside of all of the class changes, the biggest things for me will be the aesthetic changes that are coming to player characters in 9.0.

Things like the relaxation of certain transmog restrictions is a big one…

Class-wide Artifact Appearances

For me, pure DPS classes like Hunters, Rogues, Mage & Warlocks should never have had restrictions placed on their artifact weapon transmogs in BfA. In Legion, certainly, as they were a spec-specific visual distinction when Artifact Weapons were live, but once they became “legacy” items, and were cast into the melting pot of the transmog system, restricting them to their original specs made no sense.

There was no logical reason why a BM Hunter for example, could never use my beloved purple Balance of Power bow, as seen above. Ditto any pure DPS class spec appearance.

Ok, so the only sticking point there is the difference between a melee Hunter in Survival, and its two ranged Specs.

But no-one seriously considers Survival anything more than a niche, curiosity spec at best anyway. The fact that Blizzard themselves have decided it’s ok to do literally NOTHING with it coming into pre-patch is testament to that fact. No talent changes, no ability additions or removals, nada. It’s a meme spec that should be reverted to a ranged spec, or made so that it’s possible to be played entirely from range at least.

Anyhoo…

This will mean that hybrid classes will be able to now dip into the pool of transmog appearances from their other specs.

Fury & Arms Warriors dual wielding the Protection Artifact Flails? Sure! Ret Paladins smashing faces with the Holy Artifact, the Silver Hand? Damn right! The only restrictions still in place will be sensible ones, like dps Warrior specs not being able to transmog their off-hand weapon into a shield for example, and that is a fair enough restriction.

Barber shop changes

The transition of the Appearance Change service from a real money paid for service to an in-game barber shop option is a massive change. This is the final relaxation of appearance changing left to be brought inside the game itself, following the expansion of the available barber shop options brought the likes of skin-tone changing for gold costs.

The fact that its also a very nominal fee, about 47g for a level 50 character, is a fantastic move by Blizzard. I had thought that given that this used to be an RMT (real money transaction) service that Blizzard would’ve set the gold fee in-game to hundreds, potentially thousands of gold to purchase. After all, changing skin tones costs several hundred gold. However, in their drive to finally be more representative of their playerbase, the fee has been set at a sensible and welcome level.

This is an excellent, inclusive move for a wide variety of players, from non-binary and gender-fluid players, who can finally feel properly represented in the game, to players who love playing both in-game genders for their favourite races.

As for me, as a male player, I largely play female characters, and that will remain the case. But, especially for the plate classes, there are days where I just feel like a male character would be more representative of the “hulk smash” mood I’m in at the time. Especially for the races where the male characters are noticably larger, like Orcs, Draenei, Tauren and Worgen.

For me, it’s an aesthetic choice, but for other players, it’s so much more important than that. And that makes me so happy.

Character Customisation Changes

With the plethora of changes being made available to players to now customise their individual characters, no longer will player constantly run into carbon-copies of themselves running around the world.

The biggest, and most exciting change for me came with Void Elves. When I was a Horde player, my main for most of that time was my Paladin. And for the vast majority of those 8 or so years, my Paladin was a Blood Elf. And man, I loved her so much. When Void Elves became an Allied Race in Legion I was extremely excited – finally my favourite race was making the once unbelievable transition to becoming an Alliance Race! However, that excitement was somewhat tempered by the fact that you could have any skin tone, as long as it was a shade of blue.

So now, with Shadowlands, Void Elves finally get to have all of the skin tones (and more!) of their parent race, meaning I won’t have any qualms about playing a Void Elf now.

Well, beyond the still-lacking hair colours and the fact that Void Elves can’t be Paladins…*ahem*.

Among the other exciting changes for me are the sheer multitude of customisation options available now for Human characters, including the option to have BAME characters finally!

That BAME players will finally have representation in the game is a long overlooked situation.

For Asian players in particular, who have never had any sort of representation within WoW, this will be a massively welcome addition, and can see them represent themselves in their character at long last.

Yes, you could have had a black human character in the game before now, but let’s be honest, it was just a recoloured white character and always looked off, and frankly a bit too close to blackface and IMO insulting to be honest.

The new options are a huge improvement in my opinion.

Another, massive improvement for me personally is with the Forsaken. I’ve always loved the Forsaken aesthetic, but the fact that their bony joints somehow always destroyed their armour at the joints was annoying as hell. We will finally be able to walk around as a fresh corpse, and NOT ruin our transmogs!

The final large improvement for character customisation for me, at least Alliance side, is that Worgen got some long overdue improvements. Finally the two forms are now able to be individually altered and are not tied to the other in any way. This means you can now have double the options in one character! Tie that into the availability of changing gender in the barbershop, and Worgen players will have a smorgasboard of new options opened up to them. This also means, of course, that I’ll definitely be rolling a Worgen character of some variety, probably another warrior to go alongside my human warrior!

Of course it’s not all good news. The Allied races, Void Elves aside, get very little in terms of new options made available. For races that had very little customisation options available to begin with, such as Nightborne, this is disappointing. Also, sadly, Gnomes get very few new additions in 9.0 as well, amounting to a few new hairstyles and that’s it. That said they do get the seperation of eye colours from faces, similar to all races, so there’s that at least.

However I fully expect these shortages to be rectified later in Shadowlands, likely in one of the minor patches such as 9.1.

Anyway, I’ll wrap this up for now, so hopefully you’re all enjoying the multitude of new changes, and here’s hoping the pre-patch is a good one!

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