The uncanny valley is a longtime hypothesis about human reaction to robots and computer-generated images. The basic gist is that people like robots/CGI figures that aren't made to imitate humans --- thus the cartoonish style of WoW. We notice the humanlike characteristics of the non-humans and empathize with them. But as the robots get closer and closer to looking like humans, we become strongly repulsed and tend to notice the small things that set them apart from real people. Eventually, though, someday someone will make a figure that looks exactly like a human, and the uncanny valley will disappear.
And it looks like we're pretty close to that point, at least going by the CGSociety article going around the European WoW Forums. If it weren't for the step-by-step tutorial, I would have sworn that this picture of a night elf -- made by artist Max Kor for a Blizzard fan art competition -- was of an actual woman in night elf makeup. The eyes, which are usually the big thing that catches people in CG, look totally normal. Forumgoers are also pretty impressed; Megg of Scarshield Legion says, "In 15 years, that's what WoW4 will look like."
What do you think about this art?