Notebookcheck

Guild Wars 2 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser, 09/08/2012

A breath of fresh air. ArenaNet believes it can dethrone World of Warcraft with new - and sometimes unconventional - changes to the MMO genre. Can a company made of ex-Blizzard employees strike gold with a subscription-free MMO? We test the game with a range of notebooks and GPUs to determine what system a player will need to experience ArenaNet's unique title.

Guild Wars 2 (Artwork: ArenaNet / NCsoft)

No healers, no tanks, no DPS, no subscription fees. What sounds like a recipe for a massive failure is actually a recipe for massive success when in the hands of developers at ArenaNet. The original Guild Wars Prophecies in 2005 laid the foundation for a sequel with major features not found in any MMO currently in the market.

The biggest appeal of the franchise may be attributed to its low system requirements, casual learning curve and, of course, the lack of monthly payments. The developers unique take of charging only for optional expansions and in-game transactions mean that players can experience the entire world of Tyria without dropping a dime more than the retail price for the box.

Description

As usual for the MMO genre, players must first create and customize an avatar before plunging in on the fast-paced battles. Five races are available with four different starting locations and eight unique classes. Although some of the classes can sound somewhat generic (i.e., Warrior, Ranger, Thief, Elementalist), the Mesmer and Engineer standout with one-of-a-kind tactics and abilities that are uncommon in the MMO world.

The character editor contains a sufficient amount of options to create an individual avatar. In addition to body and head size, you can change the hair, nose and mouth. Even the color of the clothing can be modified and additional colors can be discovered and created in-game.

You can choose among five races.
You can choose among five races.
Six of the eight professions are fairly conventional.
Six of the eight professions are fairly conventional.
The editor bids numerous options.
The editor bids numerous options..

Guild Wars 2 doesn't waste time with lengthy introductions or CGI. Immediately after character creation, our Human Guardian was put directly in the middle of a contested village with the task to defend against encroaching invaders. After a few rounds, a massive boss fight ensues, but the creature was easily destroyed in spectacular fashion with the help of other nearby players with the same starting quest. The staging and environments are downright gorgeous in Guild Wars 2 due in large part to the art style and attention to detail. On the flip side, some of the conversations to advance the storyline can feel awkward at times. 

Unfortunately, Guild Wars 2 is not a genre revolution despite the brand new dynamic events system. Although you no longer have to address a few NPCs directly (optional quests simply pop up while exploring the world), the MMO still focuses on the generic "collect this, kill that" mentality that is prevalent in the genre. The wonderfully crafted world and environments, however, make the game incredibly fun to play regardless of the current quest at hand.

The game starts with a illustrated intro.
The game starts with a illustrated intro.
There are good-looking close-ups during important dialogs.
There are good-looking close-ups during important dialogs.
You don't have to wait long for the first boss battle.
You don't have to wait long for the first boss battle.

As previously mentioned, gameplay has been enhanced with the introduction of "World Events" - a fancy term for quests that occur spontaneously and periodically where any player in range can jump in and help out. Most of these events involve protecting a town from enemy waves, escorting an NPC across dangerous territory, destroying an enemy champion or a variation of the three. Every event is certainly lucrative because they offer large amounts of gold and experience upon completion, but they can devolve into a mindless frenzy if the player count is too large.

Generally, the game hits the mark with its flashy but dynamic combat system. The battles quickly become second nature as the controls are responsive and intuitive. The soundtrack, from composer Jeremy Soule of Elder Scrolls fame, also dynamically adapts to each area and situation. The environmental background noises and the high detail density (many pedestrians in the cities) also contribute to the atmosphere.

ArenaNet has managed to create an atmospheric world that will likely be entertaining for several weeks, months if not years due to its sheer vastness. We could only explore a small fraction of the landscapes in our short gaming period.

Some opponents are gigantic.
Some opponents are gigantic.
Battles are full of effects.
Battles are full of effects.
You often meet over 30 players in world events.
You partly meet over 30 players in world events.

Benchmark

Benchmark route
Benchmark route

We record an approximate 30 second sequence between the teleportation stones "Shaemoor Waypoint" and "Fields Waypoint" located near the retreat "Divinity's Reach" using FRAPS. Screenshots and video of our benchmark scene are provided below.

From experience, the sequence can be quite demanding, so average frame rates during explorations and small skirmishes should be a bit higher. As long as the player can maintain 30 FPS or higher, Guild Wars 2 is playable at its fullest.

Settings

MMOs generally cannot compete with dedicated single-player games in the graphics department, so titles like Witcher 2 can look more detailed with more technical effects. Still, for an MMO, the ArenaNet title looks above average and very stylish without requiring powerful hardware. Texture and objects are well-detailed, but expect some muddy and flat surfaces as are typical in an MMO world. The game will run rather easily on weaker systems and settings can be customized without needing to relaunch.

Low
Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
High
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
Ultra
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum

We use the preset "Best Performance" (1024x768) for benchmarking. It represents the minimum settings and looks rather unsightly (blurry surfaces, faint shadows, etc.) as can be seen in the pictures. Most settings are on high in the preset "Best Appearance" setting (1366x768). The fairly resource-efficient anti-aliasing alternative "FXAA" gives the game a cleaner look.

Low
Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
High
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
Ultra
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum

Our Ultra setting, which merges 1920x1080 pixels and maximum details (including supersampling), will be enough to test even the more expensive gaming notebooks. However, the engine provides a great overall presentation for the most part regardless of setting. In fact, playing on the lowest settings actually looks  a lot like the original Guild Wars.

Low
Low: 1024 x 768, Best Performance preset
High
High: 1366 x 768, Best Appearance preset
Ultra
Ultra: 1920 x 1080, all maximum

Results

We suggest playing at minimum details if integrated GPUs are the only choice. Intel's widely distributed HD Graphics 3000 managed an acceptable 38 FPS in our benchmark sequence. For normal settings or higher at appreciable frame rates, the notebook will require a mid-range GPU such as the GeForce GT 630M.

Going higher, a GeForce GT 650M performs adequately on high details and 1366x768 pixel resolution. For 1600x900, a high-end model on the level of a GeForce GTX 670M is preferred. Maximum details and 1920x1080 pixels are possible with current premium GPUs, such as the Radeon HD 7970M or GeForce GTX 680M. On these high settings, the title is a step above most MMOs in terms of visuals and detail.

Guild Wars 2 is one of the few games where the processor can have a fairly large impact on performance. As can be seen in our chart, stronger graphics cards can be found below their weaker counterparts depending on the CPU. For example, while a combination of an HD Graphics 4000 and Core i5-3360M (2.8 - 3.5 GHz) achieves 44 fps in minimum settings, a Radeon HD 7660G and A10-4600M (2.3 - 3.2 GHz) only manages 28 fps. The CPU sometimes is the limiting factor in high details. The CPU can be a limiting factor in higher settings, so be sure to pair the discrete GPU with a relatively strong dual- or quad-core CPU for best results.

Benchmark chart Guild Wars 2

Verdict

In a world inundated with WoW clones and cookie cutter gameplay, Guild Wars 2 has proven to be a fresh breath of air in the stale MMO genre. The standard "collect and kill" quests still exist and are at large, so the game is perhaps not the complete revolution that the developers have made it out to be. Nonetheless, the unique changes have been implemented well enough to attract both casuals and hardcore players, but only time will tell if the title can maintain an active player community for the next few years. For now, we can safely say that Guild Wars 2 is one of the easiest MMOs to jump on board and is absolutely worth a try. It is, after all, subscription-free.

The developer exhibits an eye for detail.
The developer exhibits an eye for detail.
Most showplaces are really atmospheric.
Most showplaces are really atmospheric.
You will discover many interesting places on your journey.
You will discover many interesting places on your journey.

Test systems

Many thanks to Schenker Notebooks who kindly provided us with the following laptops: (mysn.de):

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M, GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM)

The three laptops were powered by the driver versions: 304.79 beta (Nvidia), 8.951.6.0 (AMD) and 8.15.10.2761 (Intel).

We are planning to review Borderlands 2, F1 2012 and Fifa 13 in September.

From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
From left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Guild Wars 2
 Guild Wars 2 (2012)
low
1024x768
Best Performance Preset
high
1366x768
Best Appearance Preset
FXAA
ultra
1920x1080
All Maximum / On
FXAA
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
131.6
72.9
66.4
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
115.4
61
56
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
57.6
54.3
 5AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
52.2
36.3
32.9
 6AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
39.42
38.32
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
94.7
52.5
51.9
 12NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
161.2
91.8
52
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
124
67.5
45.2
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
76
48
41.2
 15AMD Radeon HD 7970
69
44.3
41.2
 18NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
131.2
72.8
50.4
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
113.9
60.152
46.452
 20NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
72.8
44
35.8
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
99.2
57.92
41.254
 23NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
58
39
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
106.4
54.952
35.32
 28AMD Radeon HD 8970M
89.7
36.32
30.052
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
79.6
45.752
31.454
 33NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
118.3
64.052
42.052
Pos      Model                                     Guild Wars 2
lowhighultra
 35AMD Radeon HD 7970M
68.5
30.32
30.63
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
124.4
66.8
31.9
 37NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
85.4
45.8
35.2
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
101.1
543
313
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
109.93
58.65
315
 45NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
41.9
36.3
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
43.3
24.7
 51NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
49.8
36.3
 52NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
100.63
555
24.55
 55AMD Radeon HD 6870
77
49
42
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
99.3
58.54
22.94
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
76.3
48.1
24.2
 66AMD Radeon HD 7770
66.8
41.7
20.5
 67NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
92
47.1
23.2
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
86.1
442
18.352
 77NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
81.1
55.7
 79NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
71.4
43.3
20.9
 83AMD Radeon HD 8870M
65.4
28.5
16.4
 95NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
43.7
18.9
 97NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
70.5
33.22
16.1
Pos      Model                                     Guild Wars 2
lowhighultra
 108NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
98.2
44.4
13.9
 109NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
44.4
29.8
12.5
 110NVIDIA GeForce 840M
81.3
33.7
11.9
 116Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
83
31.3
16.3
 119NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
1022
32.92
11.052
 121NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
80.4
47
15.7
 139*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
62.7
28.7
11.4
 141AMD Radeon HD 8750M
59.7
26.4
10.4
 148NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
39
22.1
9.7
 169AMD Radeon HD 8670D
60
31.9
18
 172NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE
51
26
 176AMD Radeon HD 8730M
51.1
22.3
9.6
 220AMD Radeon HD 7520G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
20.6
11.1
6.6
 221AMD Radeon HD 7670M
52.652
21.952
8.352
 222NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
552
20.32
7.52
 238AMD Radeon HD 8550M
16.8
7.8
 248AMD Radeon HD 7660G
28.4
14.8
7.4
 266ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
33.9
17.5
6
 281Intel HD Graphics 4400
242
62
1
 282NVIDIA NVS 5200M
56.52
25
20
Pos      Model                                     Guild Wars 2
lowhighultra
 284AMD Radeon HD 7550M
55.9
17
 319Intel HD Graphics 4000
3512
13.510
5.35
 322AMD Radeon R5 (Beema)
21.5
4.2
1.3
 324Intel HD Graphics 4200
41
10
4
 338AMD Radeon HD 7520G
18.5
10.2
 413Intel HD Graphics 3000
22.34
8.054
3.1
 434Intel HD Graphics 2500
37
8
 435Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
30
8
5
 469*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
23
6
2
 476AMD Radeon HD 7340
9
4
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Guild Wars 2 Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2012-09- 8 (Update: 2013-06- 6)