Guild Wars 2 Is Accessible, But Still Very Scalable
Guild Wars 2 looks good, even at its lowest detail settings. And it runs smoothly at 1920x1080 on a $40 Radeon HD 6450 using that entry-level preset. Only Nvidia's GeForce 210 can't handle such a combination. Stepping up to the Balanced detail preset, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti and Radeon HD 7750 are both well-suited to smooth performance 1920x1080.
Switching on the Best Appearance option is smooth enough if you're using a Radeon HD 7770 or GeForce GTX 560 at 1920x1080. If you game at 2560x1600, however, you need at least a Radeon HD 7870 or GeForce GTX 580 to achieve a minimum of 30 FPS.
We think all of that is great news for gaming enthusiasts ready to enjoy countless hours in Guild Wars 2 without being forced into an expensive hardware upgrade. We can't help but love games that scale well on a wide range of graphics hardware, giving everyone the chance to play, and then rewarding the folks with high-end machines to push the details even higher.
A Sandy Bridge-based Core i5 is all you need for the best possible experience. However, a Core i3 or Pentium processor will also perform well. Clock rate is particularly important if you're using an FX-based chip from AMD. Take full advantage of those unlocked multipliers to push 3.5 GHz or higher with the FX-8000 and -6000 CPUs, and over 4 GHz with the FX-4000 series if possible. The Llano-based APUs struggle more with this game, presumably because they lack L3 cache. If you have an A8-3870K, the only unlocked model, try to get up above 3.5 GHz with it.
Our time spent playing Guild Wars 2 before the beta closed was far too brief, unfortunately. But the game left us with a favorable impression, and a great sense of anticipation. The dynamic event aspect is engaging, and will likely be very popular with casual gamers.
One concern we do have is whether the title's free-form structure proves detrimental when it comes time to connect with other players. An MMO's strength lies in its ability to bring people together in lasting relationships. However, a dynamic events system like the one in Guild Wars 2 may marginalize its relationship-building capability.
ArenaNet may have a great solution to this potential drawback that we may not know about yet. The good news is that, like its predecessor seven years ago, Guild Wars 2 requires no monthly fee, and our experience with it thus far suggests it'll be worth its purchase price.