Guild Wars 2 doesn’t run particularly well for many people. Despite it looking lovely and having relatively forgiving requirements at a specification level, it can be choppy at times even for the best of rigs, with framerates only getting horribly worse during dragon encounters or World versus World. In this guide we take a look at Guild Wars 2’s graphic settings, as well as the Nvidia Control Panel to maximise your games performance without compromising on appearance. Please bear in mind that these are settings which have worked exceptionally well for me and are as a result of hours of tinkering and experimentation. Even during large scale fights my frame rates still drop like a stone (to around 25/30) but during the vast majority of my play remain at 60. Dependent on your PC there is always the potential to simply hit “Best Appearance” and save yourself any trouble, but for those who don’t mind a setting reading as medium (even when your PC is powerful) this does work wonders.
- i5 2500k overclocked to 4.5ghz
- 8gb DDR 3 at 1333mhz
- Nvidia 560ti Twin Frozer
- 120gb SSD (with only Guild Wars 2 installed on it)
- Windows 7 64 Bit Edition
Nvidia Control Panel
I would recommend that you don’t select “let the 3D application decide” in the Nvidia Control Panel. Instead, it’s better if you take control and amend some of the settings. Below are two screenshots showing my settings. I'd advise that you replicate these and where your system surpasses mine, you can freely increase the anti-aliasing.
In Game Options
Where in game options are concerned, there really is no requirement to instantly level everything to "high" or "ultra". While we all like to think our systems are amazing, in many respects (and certainly in Guild Wars 2's case) there is no noticeable difference between medium/high, or high/ultra with the exception one will be more CPU or GPU heavy. I've provided a breakdown of each option below.
Animation - Medium
Animation determines water and model motion. I have noticed no discernable difference between medium or high, though models and their clothes are noticeably stilted on low.
Anti Aliasing - None
Anti Aliasing smooths out the edges of objects, removing shard edges. Without Anti-Aliasing (or FXAA as it is known in game) the game and characters look incredibly harsh. However, because I use SMAA from SweetFX which is less processor intensive, there's no requirement to have this turned on.
Environment - Medium
This is very much GPU dependent and determines the level of detail for terrain, props and decals. I have noticed no difference between Medium/High so have chosen to lower it to medium based on my WvW activity.
LOD Distance - Low
This option will be very subjective as it determines the distance which rendered objects transition through detail (a little like "pop up"). This may bother many people to have trees or objects materialize into their true form when you get near, but for myself and again coming back to WvW it removes any unnecessary strain on my computer.
Reflections - Terrain & Sky
Having this off will increase your frame rate though my PC runs comfortably with it on. When I'm entering WvW I turn it off complete due to the large body of water in the mists. Having Terrain & Sky on will only show sky and terrain in surface reflections (relatively self explanatory).
Textures - Medium
Textures controls the resolution at which textures in the game world are displayed. I've noticed very minor visual differences between medium and high, though it is significantly noticeable from low to medium.
Render Sampling - Native
This determines the resolution at which the game is rendered. Render Sampling is considered normal, with sub-sample causing a blurry mess (lower resolution) and super sample rendering at a higher resolution than the screen. It's relatively pointless choosing anything other than Native.
Shadows - High
The differences between high and medium shadows is very minor. You can stand in a single location and when changing the options, would struggle to see the difference. I chose high here, but regularly change it to medium dependent on the setting.
Shaders - Medium
Shaders determine the quality of shader effects such as wind and lighting. There is a noticeable difference between medium and high, but one that simply appears different - not noticeably uglier, hence why I choose medium.
Post Processing - Low
Post Processing is an odd setting in Guild Wars 2 and creates a darker screen image when on high and a slightly brighter one on low. The main differences between low and high are glows around street lamps and various other ambient sources which on low, is more than pleasant enough (and not over baring).
Best Texture Filtering - Off
I've heard various reports that best texture filtering uses more frames per second than it should and with no visual difference with it on, I keep it turned off.
Depth Blur - On
This is entirely personal and based simply on the fact I like the effect it gives (it blurs everything far away). In WvW I tend to turn it off and would happily term it off permanently for the few times I notice its effect.
High Resolution Character Textures - On
Similarly to Depth Blur, this is personal taste and one dependent on what part of the game I'm playing. This doesn't effect your own character but the NPC's and players in the game world. If you don't care how someone's armour looks (I do!) just turn it off.
Vertical Sync - On
For any PC this is demanding, but without it on will cause screen tearing. Having this turned off saves a significant amount of frame rates, but it is an acquired taste if you can cope without it. The fact you have turned on Tripple Buffering in the control panel takes the edge off any frame rate drop.
SweetFX is a third party program that provides a visual effect overlay on the game you're playing. There's a great guide to using it here. Though not officially supported by ArenaNet, it has never been prohibited based on it applying graphical tweaks only. The reddit thread I've just linked provides many quotes confirming this as well as details on how to install it. The only option change I make when using SweetFX over that of the Redditor is having "Vibrance" turned on and set to 0.4 which makes the colours of the game world really pop.
If you have any questions about this or any other graphical tweak suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org