With the introduction of patch 1.4 and the RvR packs WAR has seen a considerable boost to its population. This, combined with ORvR overhaul doing the exact opposite of dispersing the zerg and a much greater frequency of massive keep funnels (as predicted) will make gameplay of many players suffer. Lag, frame rate drop, hitching/stuttering, warping and other heavy load anomalies can and will drive you crazy. Don’t worry though, as here is a short guide on how you can increase your client’s performance in those heavy load situations.
Keep in mind that I am not an engineer or a programmer so my knowledge is limited. However, I am an experienced gamer and an advanced PC user. Things described in this post are problems I have observed and solutions I have learned during my time with games and WAR.
Also note that tips and advice in this section will mostly deal with increasing performance in the situations where your frame rate would normally drop below average or even below playable (typically big battles) and the game would start periodically freezing or locking up. This will be achieved by making the client uglier or even less functional, but will result in the game being playable in those situations. This guide won’t help with increasing performance on computers that are already struggling outside bigger battles.
While the settings have been tested with an FPS meter running and the (estimated) mean FPS being observed relative to the (estimated) encounter size, they haven’t been tested in an empirical fashion. But you can always do that yourself. I’m just pointing out the settings that greatly affect performance, it’s up to you to experiment with them if you want the performance/quality ratio that suits you and your computer. Needless to say;
RESULTS MAY VARY.
1. Your computer
First thing you want to make sure is that your computer meets the minimum system requirements. You can do so by visit this website. Keep in mind that if you only barely meet the minimum requirements you can’t expect the game to run decently in bigger battles. It also seems that WAR is a memory hog, so having over 2Gb of RAM is recommended.
Then you need to make sure your computer is in a good shape for playing games. Keeping your computer malware, adware, spyware and virus free is always a good thing. Keep your hard drive defragmented (unless you are using a SSD), as it does make a difference, and make sure you have at least a few gigabytes of free space. Also check reviews or tests of your antivirus program, as some of them slow down your computer considerably. If you use such an AV make sure to disable it before running the game or consider getting a different one.
Always make sure your system drivers are up to date. If you are experiencing problems after updating drivers try rolling them back or finding a more stable version.
Before you run the game close any other programs to free up hardware resources. I’d advise closing everything bar things you can’t do without (typically voice coms). You can even bring up the task manager (ctrl+shift+esc) and disable unneeded processes that run in the background to speed up the system.
2. Video settings
While simply switching between preset settings may yield some results, advanced settings is where you can really tweak the game.
The resolution at which you run the game obviously play a big role in performance if your graphic card is on the weak side. But unless your GPU barely meets minimum system requirements, playing at lower than your native monitor resolution isn’t advisable.
There is one trick here though, the fullscreen versus windowed setting. I know many players choose fullscreen for various reasons, immersion, habit, preference,… But with WAR there really isn’t much of a difference as long as you set the windowed resolution to your usual fullscreen resolution. The only downside to this setting is that your in-game brightness and gamma default to that of your desktop and can’t be adjusted in-game. The upsides are that alt-tabbing will be easier and quicker (the game will even load when alt-tabbed in windowed mode), you can preview what’s going on in the game if you’re using Win 7 (Live Thumbnails) and, surprisingly, you may see a performance increase. All-in-all, I’d say that playing in windowed mode makes the client less cumbersome and is definitely something to consider.
Since WAR rarely makes full use of the newer generation graphic cards, most of these settings won’t affect performance as much as you’d think. Even so, things like post processing, play ability effects and the texture memory cache are worth looking at.
- I don’t need to see the grass, it’s ugly anyway. The performance increase will very likely be negligible, though.
- Water settings don’t matter that much really, as you’ll rarely be fighting near water.
- I choose to maximise draw distance because, well I don’t like seeing nearby mountains appearing out of fog. I believe that draw distance affects terrain and buildings only, and therefore makes no difference in PvP. Drag the slider all the way to the left for best performance, although you probably won’t see an increase unless your system is struggling even outside of large-scale RvR.
- Lightmaps are textures that simulate lighting. They make things look prettier, but are useless otherwise. Turn it off for a small increase in performance.
- Specular lighting is the light that is reflected off shiny surfaces. Makes things look pretty (especially metal armor and weapons), but is otherwise useless. Turn off for performance.
- Post processing adds effects to the rendered objects, in WAR this is used to add bloom (the shiny eye-watering mist around things) and HDR (enables greater detail in very bright and very dark spots). Pretty, but useless. Turning post processing off saves a lot of system resources and if you’re considering turning off any lighting option, this is the first one to go.
- Effect system detail basically sets how shiny and pretty the spells and effects are. Pretty but useless, using fastest frame rate will give your GPU some breathing space.
- Play ability effects determines whose effects you see and on who. I choose to set it to all, because with any other setting you won’t see hostile ground targeted AoE effects unless they are your own (for avoiding Sticky Feet or MoM in particular, but also Pit of Shades or Rain of Fire and Dissolving Mist or Napalm). For best performance you’d want this set to self, but if your computer needs all the help it can get, setting it to none can do the trick, although there isn’t much of a difference between self and none (the difference of drawing spell effects for 1 person, obviously).
- Shadows are pretty self-explanatory. Changing this setting doesn’t affect performance much unless your GPU is struggling, but if you want to squeeze as much FPS from the client as you can, setting it to none works.
- I honestly have no idea if the animation quality setting works. I, with my untrained eye, wasn’t able to detect much of a difference (if any at all) between the fastest frame rate and high quality settings in animation quality. If I had to describe the difference, I’d say it’s a slight loss in smoothness of animation, but it could have well been just me imagining things. In other words, the difference is negligible. If you are looking for a performance increase without much of a hit to quality, this is the setting you are looking for. Turn it down without regret.
There’s a slider in this section called texture memory cache. This setting determines how much of your graphic card’s memory is being used by the game. Unless you’re planning on running several video rendering applications on your computer at the same time, the slider should be set to largest. If the slider is greyed out then your graphics card is too old or not properly installed.
Changing this setting will usually shorten the time it takes for textures to load, most notably the huge destro zerg that’s invisible until you’re dead. Though if you experience any anomalies or a performance decrease, do as the warning says and adjust the slider back to default.
3. Other settings
This might not affect everyone’s system and is very likely connected with the amount of RAM, but having the chat scroll limit set too high can slow down the game. Since the game saves text from chat, combat or any other chat tab you might have, the text held in temporary memory adds up. I recommend having this set to the default 500.
There’s a gem hiding here that will increase WAR client performance regardless of system spec, the position of planet Mars in relation to Venus, or whether you are a WoW fanboy or not. It’s the overhead names section. It seems that WAR is extraordinarily bad with stylised text in the game world, because as soon as you switch the name font from stylized to simple, the performance gain in large crowds will be noticeable. In addition, turning off some of the text works very well.
First thing to go without much of a functionality hit are the enemy player titles, friendly player titles after that and then I suspect the next thing to go would be enemy player names. For further FPS gain friendly player names can go aswell. I leave guild titles on for all players, as it helps me differentiate between warband members and other friendlies. You can still check any player’s name and title by targeting him. Experiment with the text options until they suit you.
Again, changing these settings will result in a noticeable change in performance in large crowds, where a lot of names are displayed, and not in PvE or solo play. For further FPS gains you can try experimenting with the overhead health bars, although I’m not sure it would yield any results.
Addons can, believe it or not, slow down the client considerably. Especially if you are using a lot of them or they are outdated or obsolete. Always try to keep your addons up to date and check for new versions after every major game update, even if the addon is working fine. Finding alternatives for old addons is most of the time a good idea. Keeping career/playstyle/profession specific addons deactivated on the characters who don’t need them will increase performance in the best case scenario and cut down on loading time in the worst.
Below are some of the more widespread addons that impact performance.
This very useful addon usually doesn’t cause problems, but with the wrong settings it can slow down the client in bigger battles, as it has to parse and sort a lot of buffs/debuffs on a target. Here are the conservative settings that won’t impact client performance, from the addon developer himself:
- General update delay 1.00s
- Disable priority updates
- Disable effect fading
- Maximum updates per cycle 1
The only noticeable difference between the default and conservative settings is that the icons won’t fade before disappearing and you may sometimes see a bit of a delay on when the buffs show up (up to one second).
This addon has been blamed by the developers for bad client performance once before, which is quite ridiculous. You cannot blame bad client optimisation on an addon that a lot of players don’t even use. Though I do have to say that I found another unitframes addon that in comparison with Squared seems to use fewer resources and run smoother. It’s called Enemy and has a plethora of other features which can be turned off, but despite it appearing as a bulky addon, using its unitbars seems to improve my frame rate in large-scale battles and appears to be less taxing on the client. Not to mention that if you’re already using Enemy for groupicons, killscores, marks, assist or guard functionality it makes more sense to use it’s unitframes aswell, instead of having a separate addon for it.
It’s a preference thing, but if you are willing to switch addons for the sake of performance I do suggest you give it a go. If you don’t notice any improvement you can always switch back.
I believe that WSCT can be blamed for problems most players are encountering in bigger battles when there is a lot of damage, healing and abilities affecting their character. Possibly because the addon parses the combat log and displays a lot of numbers in styled and animated text, which takes up a lot of resources, especially if the damage intake is 10-15 different abilities/buffs/debuffs affecting the character per second (not uncommon in large fights). As you know from the other settings section, WAR doesn’t do stylised text very well.
In addition, the addon hasn’t been properly updated in more than a year and has only the API remaining unchanged to thank for the fact it still works.
I urge players to try disabling WSCT and playing without it for a bit, if only to see the difference. I know the default scrolling combat text is very poor and hasn’t been updated since release either, but at least it isn’t a resource hog. I also know that a lot of players (including me) have come to depend on the addon and that it’s hard to adjust, especially when there’s no alternative to it. But in my opinion it’s worth it.
If you can’t live without the addon, you can at least make your life easier by turning off incoming damage, spells and effects to make the darn thing faster, which in my experience works to a degree. I suspect that setting the font to the default one and using non flashy animations on everything incoming might help aswell, thought I haven’t tested it.
As written in the addon’s comments, this addon no longer works. It causes big performance issues in groups and warbands and shouldn’t be used. It’s an old, abandoned addon but players are still trying to use it. Don’t. Enemy provides the same group-wide functionality.
Basically any kind of addon that will actively parse your combat log will slow down the client in bigger battles, as the amount of damage, healing and effects flying around is enormous. I recommend turning Tortall’s DPS meter, QQ DPS meter or any other kind of parsing addon off unless you’re testing something, which usually isn’t done in keep sieges anyway. By the way, QQ DPS meter is really old and now abandoned, it scarcely works. Not that Tortall’s is any better, but there aren’t any alternatives.
If you know of any other addons that might slow down the client, please let me know. If you are having issues and you think it’s addon related, it’s quite easy to determine which of them, if any at all, is causing problems. Deactivate all addons, and activate them one by one and test performance after each.
The same goes for any other part of this guide. Any and all feedback is appreciated.