The 3D Vision kit from Nvidia is unlike any other peripheral available for PC gamers, and I’m not just talking about providing the ability to experience certain titles in 3D. Most hardware tends to have various levels of usefulness, but so long as it serves its core function you can usually deal with any minor funkiness in the mix.
Despite the five star ratings system for games that are considered compatible with 3D Vision, there really are only two levels of compatibility; either it works perfectly, or it doesn’t. All it takes is something seemingly minor and the entire experience is blown faster than a tire going over a bed of nails.
Long preambles aside, I personally love the tech, and only wish it would be given proper consideration by more PC developers. If you’re looking for a shining example of how to do 3D PC gaming right, then look no further than Guild Wars 2. Hands down it offers the absolute best integration of Nvidia’s 3D Vision bundle that I’ve experienced to date.
Before I go any further, let me be up front about one thing: I’m not going to try to sell you on the tech itself.
While the price point has come down significantly since the tech was first introduced, it can still initially cost a sizable chunk of cash depending on how much of the required hardware you already own. If you’re thinking of making the 3D plunge, I’d suggest keeping an eye on Newegg and Amazon, as bundle deals will pop up occasionally.
I won’t go too heavily into the required tech here as it’s been covered extensively in the past, but you can get the full details on the official Nvidia site. Just be weary of the marketing spin lest it give you a severe case of vertigo. The short version is that you’ll need: the 3D Vision kit (glasses + emitter), a 120Hz monitor, and a compatible Nvidia GPU.
Beyond that, I’ve also kept close watch on the fact that GW2 has had full 3D driver support for well over a year now. In-development games rarely – if ever – see that much support so far in advance of release. So I knew I’d eagerly fire up my funky green goggles and give it a whirl during the beta weekends.
GW2 in 3D - High Points
All told I’ve spent about 30 hours playing with 3D Vision enabled across the last few beta weekend events and stress tests. If you thought stepping into The Grove as a new sylvari for the first time in BWE3 was impressive, it was absolutely jaw-dropping in 3D. In particular, the area between the middle and bottommost levels with all of the floating particle effects is simply stunning.
Pretty much every part of the game factors in clever usage of 3D in some way or another. For example, even during character creation where you can see some layered concept art in places like race or profession selection, those layers are actually factored into the 3D experience. NPC conversations also benefit in the same way, and even the Hero window displays your character portrait in 3D.
Even before the addition of the range indicators for skills on the hotbar, the 3D also made it incredibly easy to judge distance to targets, something I considered to be another big green check in the plusses column. Particle effects on skills are also nothing less than impressive, but what I enjoyed perhaps even more are the floating particles that transition between things like achievement unlocks and your XP bar. Yes, even something as seemingly minor as that has been factored into the 3D presentation.
And that’s really the biggest thing to be aware of here: ArenaNet didn’t halfheartedly integrate 3D Vision like most developers do. If you think Guild Wars 2 is a great looking game on a normal display, you will probably be making a lot of divots in your carpet or floorboards from your jaw constantly dropping with 3D Vision enabled.
GW2 in 3D - Rough Spots
Much to my amazement, there is only one minor issue with running 3DVision in GW2 as of the recent stress tests, and it’s entirely possible that I’m simply overlooking a random local setting. Basically, once 3D vision is enabled, I would see two mouse pointers in-game. The in-game pointer would display just fine, but it would be overlaid by the default Windows pointer, with the latter lagging behind slightly and not displaying at the same depth.
If you tend to ignore your mouse and use in-game shortcuts for most activities, you probably wouldn’t ever even notice. But for interactions that require use of the mouse, such as crafting, it can cause some additional eye fatigue.
Tips for Playing GW2 in 3D
1. Eye fatigue is something to be very conscious of with 3D vision. It’s not something you’d want to use for extended gameplay sessions, but for shorter jaunts into Tyria it provides an amazing experience.
2. You’ll need to adjust your in-game gamma settings when enabling and disabling 3D Vision. The shutter lenses tend to make things appear much darker in-game, but bumping the gamma setting up to around 1.25 helped balance things back out. Just remember that you’ll need to bump things back down a bit when switching back to normal display modes.
3. The 3D Vision integration also factors in the ability to capture stereoscopic screenshots. There’s no default key mapping, but you can set a shortcut through the Control Options window [F11].
4. Speaking of defaults, I found that the default depth settings – around 15% - tended to work best. Bumping this up slightly can make things look a bit cooler, but can cause additional eye strain and may make distant objects appear a bit distorted if you push the depth too high. That’s pretty much par for the course with the system though.
5. I wouldn’t recommend diving directly into sPvP at the start of a game session with 3D Vision enabled. You’re better off scampering around in the Mists for a bit first to allow your eyes some time to adjust. In the process, you can also get a better feel for skill ranges by spending some quality Groundhog Day time with the practice dummies.
Have any of your own tips for playing GW2 in 3D? Let us know in the comments!