All together, I took close to 300 hi-res screenshots (the UI hides by default with Hi-Res…awesomesauce) totaling about 1.5gb of space on my HD. A lot of it was for me, but some of it was to show the beauty of this game. I’ve seen comments around Tumblr and the web about the quality of the graphics and as you can see here, it’s simply not true.
I’m not running a super computer. I run a Core 2 Duo processor @3.0GHz, a 9800 GT and 8gb of DDR2 RAM. I usually run SLI graphics cards but SLI wasn’t enabled in this beta. You could literally build my system for at or less than $500. I ran the game, with no visual hiccups, at high settings (if you messed with the graphic slider, it was midway between between Best Appearance and the default middle ground). I didn’t have FRAPs running in order to get FPS, but I can safely tell you I had zero issues unless in a crowd of 50 with particle effects everywhere. A lot of the choppiness people were receiving, I’m willing to bet, was due to server workload and NOT your PC. And even if it WERE your PC, the game hasn’t been optimized as of yet. Meaning the performance is only going to get better.
I really don’t know what’s up with the underwater screenshots, but if you get into the game, I HIGHLY recommend you explore the ocean around Lion’s Arch, specifically the old LA part. I knew the game was beautiful, but seeing this with my own eyes was jaw-dropping. It really put things on a whole other level for me while simultaneously showing just how much Anet cares about this game. You don’t put that much care into an area with zero quests if you don’t give a shit about your product. Take a peak in other games, at areas that have nothing around them, and you’ll see what I mean.
The other thing that really separates this game from other Fantasy realms is the inclusion of things we as humans consider normal. There are pigs. And chickens. And crops. And dogs. And cats. And children’s toys. And book carts. If you go to the beach in Lion’s Arch, NPC’s are in swimsuits. If you swim in the water, NPC’s are also swimming in the water. Near a logging camp? Guess what, there are logs floating in the nearby lake and there’s rafts with NPC’s tending to the ‘herd’ of logs.
It all adds up to this world feeling very very real. It feels and looks alive. It’s a world that we can quickly identify as fantasy, yet we can also see ourselves in. That’s what these small things do. Psychologically, the inclusion of things we know and are familiar with is profound.
I’ll post more of my thoughts within the next few days. Needless to say, there’s A LOT going through my head. But without a doubt, this will be a game that I’ll be playing on a daily basis. I only wish I could keep playing.