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Guild Wars 2: Your Graphics Card And CPU Performance Guide

Guild Wars 2: Your Graphics Card And CPU Performance Guide
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The anticipated sequel to Guild Wars is here, and we're putting this MMO through its paces to let you know what hardware you'll need in order to play it at its highest details. We also explore which processor architectures work best with Guild Wars 2.

(Update: Because we tested the game's beta client in order to get this story ready in time for launch, the Guild Wars 2 lead engine programmer, Chad Taylor, dropped us a line to let us know that the game was updated with performance optimizations in the final build. One key change was putting the renderer in its own thread so that blocking driver calls wouldn't create stoppages in the main game loop. He mentioned that this change should make a notable difference on machines with four or more CPU execution cores, and that a few of the graphics preset options were also tweaked.

As a result of these changes, we'd like to revisit Guild Wars 2 in the near future to re-benchmark CPU performance and update the driver settings images with examples from the full release. Stay tuned for the update, due in mid-September.)

(Update Sept 27: We've re-tested the game with the release client and we're not seeing a notable performance difference. The Core i5 gained a few FPS (as did the AMD FX-4100 to a lesser extent), but all of the other results remain similar to our published numbers. NCSoft let us know that they're working with AMD to improve FX-series CPU performance, and if this happens in the near future we may revisit Guild Wars 2 with new benchmarks.)

The original Guild Wars (back in 2005) was the premiere release from ArenaNet, a company started by ex-Blizzard employees. Guild Wars was the first MMO that I could convince a group of friends to join me in playing, mostly because it didn't involve an ongoing subscription fee.

ArenaNet’s business model involved charging a one-time fee for the game, and then charging again for each subsequent expansion pack. It worked brilliantly, and is one of the forerunners of today's free-to-play model. This is becoming a standard for MMOs. Even noted holdout Bioware plans to go free-to-play with its Star Wars: The Old Republic title.

In a crowded MMO market, can Guild Wars 2 achieve the same distinction as its predecessor?

The max-level PvP (player versus player) focus of Guild Wars was never a compelling aspect of the game to me, though I can certainly understand its appeal. If you're too busy to set aside free time that matches a guild schedule, you'll have a hard time deriving the richest possible experience from an MMO, much of which is designed for big groups. Some games have found ways to accommodate more casual players. However, you're usually forced into pick-up group queues with people you don't know or meta games.

The real solution is a way for players to log on and cooperate with others without being forced to wait for a new player group to form. As I was reviewing the Guild Wars 2 final beta prior to its August 28th launch, I was surprised to discover a potential answer: dynamic events.

The game does not attempt to explain dynamic events in any way. Instead, they simply happen naturally and fluidly. For example, I was playing my low-level Sylvari (a race of plant people with a heavy dose of Elf influence) when the town was attacked by a group of angry mobs. My natural inclination was to help fight off the invasion. In this situation, however, other players in the town lent a hand to stomp out the threat.

Thwarting the attack created a shared a sense of satisfaction among the group, and I realized we had just participated in a sort of player versus environment (PvE) group experience—a way to engage in an event without queuing, similar to what Trion Worlds achieved in Rift.

I later learned that all players involved were awarded the same amount of “group-PvE” experience. Eliminating kill-stealing, this creates a powerful incentive for players to cooperate, especially since Guild Wars 2 automatically increases event difficulty proportionally with the number of players involved.

ArenaNet claims that these dynamic events cause lasting consequences in the game world, affecting subsequent quests, too. My limited time with the beta prevented me from exploring the implications of this. But I find the concept quite interesting in the way it conceptually facilitates different experiences for different characters.

In addition to dynamic events, Guild Wars 2 also introduces several other interesting game play elements. Combat is based on skills and stats, but it also involves some twitch play; dodging and timing are important. Tactical positioning is crucial on battlefields where environmental objects can be employed. Basic melee skills are derived not from not the class of your character, but rather from the type of weapons you're wielding. There is considerable accommodation of unique play styles, and archetypes are not as strict as they are in other titles.

Guild Wars 2 features an array of characters and customization capabilities, including five races with their own unique starting area and story. They include the Asura (short mystical scientists; think WoW’s Gnomes), the Sylvari (plant people with more than a passing resemblance to Elves), Humans (the game’s underdogs, given their fall from power in the two and a half centuries since the original Guild Wars), the Norn (tall and stocky Barbarians from the north), and, surprisingly, the Charr (the first game’s antagonistic race of warriors that bring to mind the unholy union of a wolf, bear, and boar).

Add to this list eight professions: mesmer, guardian, necromancer, ranger, elementalist, warrior, thief, and engineer. With every character’s basic melee skills derived from their choice of weapon, there are many permutations for customization and playing a unique avatar. I should also mention that every character begins the game with its own pet, which also includes several options.

It is important to stress how fleshed-out and complete this game seems compared to its predecessor. The character creation process is joined to a letter-writing paradigm where personal and seemingly whimsical choices form your avatar. The Guild Wars 2 story is also much more compelling than the original right from the start. Each race has a unique area and art style, and conversations are often voiced along with 2D animations and slideshows that advance the story.

There is a lot more to Guild Wars 2's game play that I could discuss. For example, one of the main aspects of the game is PvP. But, given relatively little time with the beta and our focus on performance testing, there was simply no time to explore.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    tomfreak , August 27, 2012 6:05 AM
    Guild wars 2 min system requirements is Core 2 Duo 2.0 Geforce 7800, I would like u to test base on that too.
  • 12 Hide
    EzioAs , August 27, 2012 5:43 AM
    Interesting. The less-than-$100-without-external-power-connector Radeon 7750 is a balance card providing appealing visual while still runs good framerates at 1080p. I imagined if you tinker with the Best Appearance preset a little bit you can get better image quality without framerates dropping below 30. I mean let's face it, who plays on their PC without tinkering the settings here and there, that's just stupid.

    Great review as always! Really appreciate it
  • 11 Hide
    alidan , August 27, 2012 7:12 AM
    i have a question...

    intel has moved on from their core2 line, and came out with higher preforming parts, amd has moved from athlon and phenom line to... a new architecture, i dont know if they match the old one yet or not.

    but when you are doing a cpu test on a game like this where its very scaleable, it would be nice to see the core 2 dual and quad, also a phenom dual tri and quad core (from what i understand athlon and phenom for most gaming scenarios are the same) because many of us have the old dual core, and quad core cpus, and dont feel the need to upgrade because its just not nessassary for normal computer use yet.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    cmcghee358 , August 27, 2012 5:23 AM
    Hmm.. shame I can never touch an MMORPG ever again...
  • -8 Hide
    haplo602 , August 27, 2012 5:35 AM
    get your graphs and test setup to match:

    Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3
    Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 7970 3 GB GDDR5

    where's the 6850 in the graphs ? There's a 6870 instead ...
  • 11 Hide
    rdc85 , August 27, 2012 5:37 AM
    I'm wonder how my pII x4 955BE will perform, there none in the chart...

    Anyone know? at stock speed and at 3.8 O.C....
  • 12 Hide
    EzioAs , August 27, 2012 5:43 AM
    Interesting. The less-than-$100-without-external-power-connector Radeon 7750 is a balance card providing appealing visual while still runs good framerates at 1080p. I imagined if you tinker with the Best Appearance preset a little bit you can get better image quality without framerates dropping below 30. I mean let's face it, who plays on their PC without tinkering the settings here and there, that's just stupid.

    Great review as always! Really appreciate it
  • 2 Hide
    stingstang , August 27, 2012 5:46 AM
    I'm disappointed that this neglects the post processing bar when determining if the best appearance setting is enabled when taking in to account processing ability. I have an fx4100 and an hd 7950. How will that do at high grahhics settings?
    Duh, we want to know this stuff.
  • 3 Hide
    EzioAs , August 27, 2012 5:49 AM
    Quote:
    get your graphs and test setup to match:

    Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3
    Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR5
    Radeon HD 7970 3 GB GDDR5

    where's the 6850 in the graphs ? There's a 6870 instead ...


    Although it's probably a typo, there's probably no need to use the 6850 as well since the 7770 should perform similar
  • 0 Hide
    dudewitbow , August 27, 2012 5:54 AM
    Now I wonder where some people got the idea that GW2 was nvidia favored O_o
  • 3 Hide
    dormantreign , August 27, 2012 6:00 AM
    You gots me wanting to buy this game......
  • 5 Hide
    serhat359 , August 27, 2012 6:01 AM
    stingstangI'm disappointed that this neglects the post processing bar when determining if the best appearance setting is enabled when taking in to account processing ability. I have an fx4100 and an hd 7950. How will that do at high grahhics settings?Duh, we want to know this stuff.

    It will be cpu limited, you'll get around 35-40fps
  • 13 Hide
    tomfreak , August 27, 2012 6:05 AM
    Guild wars 2 min system requirements is Core 2 Duo 2.0 Geforce 7800, I would like u to test base on that too.
  • 1 Hide
    dudewitbow , August 27, 2012 6:11 AM
    TomfreakGuild wars 2 min system requirements is Core 2 Duo 2.0 Geforce 7800, I would like u to test base on that too.

    gpu wise, the gt version of the 7800 will perform about the same level as the 6450 in question. a low end core 2 duo will be on the lower end of the cpu chart.
  • 0 Hide
    burmese_dude , August 27, 2012 6:14 AM
    Playing mine on EVGA GTX 570 SC... everything runs smoothly. The game is absolutely great. I was a 50/50 member of GW1 and I was hoping GW2 wouldn't disappoint. GW2 truly delivers fun experience and entertainment without having to shell out 10 or 15 monthly. My gaming laptop with GT 650M with output to 1080p display to a TV also performed smoothly in medium setting. I haven't tried max setting though on that.

  • 2 Hide
    falchard , August 27, 2012 6:14 AM
    Ugh really hate developers who do that. Its not just low performance with the Bulldozer cores. Its almost purpostantial performance loss, or a big error in coding. Heard that sometimes with Bulldozer everything gets piled onto 1 core like the engine has no idea what to do with the architecture.
    Also DX9, are they serious? THIS IS 2012. DX10 is 6 years old. Get with it already and learn to code a game engine. Its not like this is a multi-platform game.
  • 6 Hide
    dudewitbow , August 27, 2012 6:25 AM
    burmese_dudePlaying mine on EVGA GTX 570 SC... everything runs smoothly. The game is absolutely great. I was a 50/50 member of GW1 and I was hoping GW2 wouldn't disappoint. GW2 truly delivers fun experience and entertainment without having to shell out 10 or 15 monthly. My gaming laptop with GT 650M with output to 1080p display to a TV also performed smoothly in medium setting. I haven't tried max setting though on that.


    the 650m will perform similarish to the 7750 in question

    falchardUgh really hate developers who do that. Its not just low performance with the Bulldozer cores. Its almost purpostantial performance loss, or a big error in coding. Heard that sometimes with Bulldozer everything gets piled onto 1 core like the engine has no idea what to do with the architecture.Also DX9, are they serious? THIS IS 2012. DX10 is 6 years old. Get with it already and learn to code a game engine. Its not like this is a multi-platform game.


    being dx9, it allows users who still use windows XP to play without someone creating a mod or use the directx hack to force xp to run it. I mean skyrim also runs on DX9
  • 8 Hide
    dudewitbow , August 27, 2012 6:32 AM
    amuffinA dual core SB pentium outperforming an 8 core FX.........ROFL!

    Thats why I really hope that piledriver/steamroller pulls through.
  • 3 Hide
    amuffin , August 27, 2012 6:33 AM
    A dual core SB pentium outperforming an 8 core FX.........ROFL!
  • 7 Hide
    Cryio , August 27, 2012 7:00 AM
    You tested the game only in DirectX 9. Where is DirectX10 and 11? Or aren't they implemented yet (post-release patch)?
  • 8 Hide
    Cryio , August 27, 2012 7:09 AM
    Quote:
    A dual core SB pentium outperforming an 8 core FX.........ROFL!


    That really makes you wander, if games/programs really know to put Bulldozer to work. I think it just sits there, idling at least 50% of processor raw power.
  • 11 Hide
    alidan , August 27, 2012 7:12 AM
    i have a question...

    intel has moved on from their core2 line, and came out with higher preforming parts, amd has moved from athlon and phenom line to... a new architecture, i dont know if they match the old one yet or not.

    but when you are doing a cpu test on a game like this where its very scaleable, it would be nice to see the core 2 dual and quad, also a phenom dual tri and quad core (from what i understand athlon and phenom for most gaming scenarios are the same) because many of us have the old dual core, and quad core cpus, and dont feel the need to upgrade because its just not nessassary for normal computer use yet.
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