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World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide

Effects: Shadow Quality

There are five options for the Shadow Quality setting.

  1. Low: Low-resolution terrain shadows, blob shadows for units
  2. Fair: Low-resolution terrain shadows, low-resolution dynamic shadows near player
  3. Good: Low-resolution terrain shadows, high-resolution dynamic shadows near player
  4. High: High-resolution environment shadows, high-resolution dynamic shadows near player
  5. Ultra: High-resolution dynamic shadows for the entire scene

Shadow Quality: Low

The blurry shadow of the tower to my left is a good example of low-res terrain shadows. And the fact that you don't even see the shadow of my mount is a good indication that we're using the Low setting here.

Shadow Quality: Fair

The tower still creates that blurry shadow, but now there's at least a low-res dynamic shadow under the drake.

Shadow Quality: Good

It's difficult to see the difference between low-res and high-res dynamic shadows cast by my mount when I'm up in the air, but if you compare the blown-up versions of this shot to the previous one, you do see the shadow becoming crisper.

Shadow Quality: High

Of course, the difference between High quality and Good is most apparent from the tower's low-res (blurry) shadow giving way to a much sharper high-res version. We've certainly seen more realistic shadow implementations (at such a distance, shadows aren't usually so sharp). But this is an MMORPG, after all, and it's hard to knock the realism of a fantasy world.

Shadow Quality: Ultra
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.