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Guild Wars 2 on Linux – It Works!

I got the question in Guild Chat on Saturday when I said that I was playing Guild Wars 2 on a Linux computer, “Why?”. I explained that I would like to play my new favorite game on my favorite operating system and I anyway do not have a Window computer available. Not one with gaming hardware at least. I don’t think they saw the point.

In any case, this article is for those of you, who like me, like their games on Linux. Or those of you who are curious about gaming on Linux, but never took the leap.

So does Guild Wars 2 work on Linux? Short version is YES! Long version is after the jump, where I go into the nitty gritty details.

Getting Started

First of all, here is what I had to work with.

Hardware

  • CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU X 980 @ 3.33GHz
  • Memory: 12 GB SDRAM 1333MHz (six 2GB units)
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 570 (Driver version 295.40)
  • Hard Drive: SSD drives
  • Internet connection: 100MB.

Software

  • Wine 1.5.3 (this is the latest version. 1.4 stable should also work),
    • Emulating Windows 7
    • Allowing the windows manager to capture the window
    • No other special settings
  • System running Pulseaudio, with ALSA drivers for Wine
  • Linux 3.3.3-1-ARCH

I started my journey like the rest of you, by downloading the client. The downloader launches and looks good. The only thing is that the transparent edges do not integrate with my desktop, so I get a black frame, but that is of no consequence.

Obstacle one. For some reason, the client download for Linux crashes on regular intervals. I tried to troubleshoot this, and the closest I got was that there is a memory buffer that is filled. Anyway, I just re-launched the client over and over until the full 12.8GB Gw2.dat file was sitting snugly on my computer.

Moment of Truth

Minor graphical bug in Linux - hairline in front

I launch the now fully downloaded client…. success! The Guild Wars 2 login screen greets me in all its glory. I got sound, I got the options tab (max graphics all the way baby), I got my contacts, and I got the login window. I now know that this will work. I might get some artifacts, but the game runs. I enter my (Guild Wars 1) login details.. and is greeted by the character creation screen. Oh joy! I choose to make a human lady engieer. Everything looks great, except that the edge of her hair shows also at the front of her neck. Only a minor glitch, and nothing that makes me worried.

I make my choices, her personal story plays beautifully, and I am in the game. I take a tentative look around. Everything looks normal. I can move and I can open windows. FPS is fine, considering (I later did a test and got about 30-50 FPS in medium busy places. 10-20 in LA at it’s most busy). I can shoot off skills, and I can whisper Lady Rhonwyn to get an invite to the freshly formed GWOnline Alliance Guild. I can join the guild. Only thing I cannot do is chat in the guild or access the gem store, but that is not a problem caused by Linux. 😉 (The chat fixed itself after a re-rog-in, I never could access the store though.)

Taking it All In

Then I took a closer look at things I know are a little iffy when playing Guild Wars 1 through Wine. After all Guild Wars 2 is based on the same engine, so it might suffer from the same issues right? Much to my delight even those were nonexistent. Shadows are fine. Reloading textures by changing into town clothes or dyeing armor works without a hitch. No going bald while submerged in water, which would have been a total bummer considering all the underwater content in Guild Wars 2. And no random mouse pointer dissapperance! (A long-standing problem when playing Guild Wars 1 through Wine, patched up a few versions back now).

This weekend also gave me a crash course in how to record video with sound without having fraps at my disposal. Ended up using avconv thanks to some very helpful people over at the Wine HQ forums. I am therefore very happy that I finally did manage to get some pretty footage. Like this video here showcasing as many graphical special cases as I could find. Reflections, shadows, fire, smoke, snow, water, metal, cloth, and many more. All rolled up in a tour of the three available racial cities and Old Lion’s Arch. Enjoy :).

In this video I am way out of my depth in Kessex Hills, but had a blast nontheless. Don’t laugh at me for clicking! I actually tried to use hotkeys, but found that with casting while moving and the active gameplay with precious little standing still it was really hard for me to do that with my short fingers and all. So clicking was my best option.

I would like to note that the game looked even prettier live. I have to tinker a bit more with the recorder to get higher res for the next BWE.

TL;DR

In conclusion, the game runs as good as on Windows in every imaginable way, and the only major bugs I found were known issues also afflicting the part of the community playing on Windows.

Disclaimers

  1. Just because it worked for me does not mean it will work for you the same way. Running programs through Wine is a very hardware-dependent exercise. Some suppliers have great Linux native drivers, whereas others do not. And among those who do not, they can work better or worse with the generic ones. For instance, the NVIDIA graphic card drivers are very good for Linux, whereas the AMD/Ati drivers are typically not so great for Wine.
  2. The game is still un-optimized and is using CPU a lot to render. So while the game runs great right now on systems with good CPUs, there is actually a small chance that it will run worse once ArenaNet optimizes the game to utilize the graphics card fully. Which would be more than a little ironic. Lets all hope it wont come to that.
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