Warhammer Online is a beast of a game, and by far the biggest complaint I hear about it is how poorly it performs on players PCs. I can’t argue, Mythic still needs to do a lot of work on tuning things up. Patch 1.2 (which goes live tomorrow) improves performance a bit but there are still some measures you can take to improve your frames per second right now. I’d like to point out that some of these tweaks may potentially reduce the visual quality of the game for you… that’s the way it always is with this stuff: you sacrifice quality for performance. I leave it to you to balance the options and decide what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Lightmaps & Specular — By far the biggest performance booster. Disable these options and restart the game client. You will notice a drop in visual quality, but get a huge boost to your FPS in return. This impacts the lighting quality of the game.
Shadows — I recommend setting this to Balanced. This will set all NPC and PC (including yourself) shadows to simpler, non-dynamic textures. They still look pretty decent, and this tweak can help a lot in crowded areas like Altdorf or Inevitable City, or during keep, fortress or city raids. I haven’t noticed a huge performance difference disabling them completely, and I think the effect they give is worth the few frames.
Disable EAX — If you have a Creative card that supports EAX, I don’t recommend using it. Especially if you’re an unfortunate soul running Vista.
Open up C:Program FilesElectronic ArtsWarhammer Online – Age of Reckoning, and look inside the User folder. Inside you’ll find UserSettings.XML. Open this file up in your favorite text editor (I recommend Notepad++.)
What we’re looking for is two lines that define the custom quality settings ingame, Custom 1 and Custom 2. These lines begin with “perfcustom”. Here’s what mine looked like, for example:
What you want to do is change the texture_Cache=”0.00″. This variable indicates how much room to reserve for texture cache memory. The value you decide to go with here is very relative to your graphics hardware. I have a graphics card with 640MB, and found that 1.00 works nicely. So, I changed my lines to look like this:
Remember, you’ll need to set your ingame quality preset to Custom 1 or Custom 2 for this effect to register with the game, and you may need to restart the game for it to work it’s magic. I’ve noticed a significant performance boost with this tweak.
Graphics Driver Tweaks (NVIDIA)
- Right click your desktop, and launch the NVIDIA Control Panel. If asked, launch with Advanced options. If you aren’t asked, you may need to switch to Advanced by going to the View menu and selecting that option.
- In the treeview on the left, select Manage 3D Settings, then pick the Program Settings tab. This is important- if you do not pick this tab, you’ll be changing your graphics settings for all your games, which is something you don’t want in this case.
- Press the “Add” button, and navigate to your C:Program FilesElectronic ArtsWarhammer Online – Age of Reckoning folder, and select WAR.exe.
- I applied the following overrides to my default settings:
Antialiasing- Transparency: Multisampling
Force mipmaps: Trilinear
Maximum pre-rendered frames: 1
Texture filtering- Antistropic: Off
Texture filtering- Negative LOD: Allow
Texture filtering- Quality: High Performance
Texture filtering- Trilinear optimization: Off
Threaded optimization: Auto
Triple buffering: On
Vertical sync: Force on
- Press the Apply button at the bottom of that window, then close the NVIDIA Control Panel. You’re ready to play.
The Usual Suspects
Defragment! — Do it often, especially after game patches. I recommend JkDefrag for advanced users, or AusLogic’s Disk Defrag for those who want less of a hassle. They’re both freeware, and much more effective than the built-in Windows defrag.
CCleaner — I run CCleaner (freeware) at least once a month. Use it to clear out the numerous temporary files your system is holding onto, but more importantly use it’s registry cleaner to get rid of old, garbage registry entries slowing down your system. You’ll be shocked at how much garbage this tool will find on your system.
Ditch the garbage antivirus suites — Seriously, McAfee? Norton? The big name antivirus and Internet security tools are absolute garbage. These are the biggest culprits in slowing your system down. I recommend switching to ESET Smart Security (a strong, lightweight commercial security suite) or a combination of Sygate Personal Firewall (freeware) and AntiVir Personal. Just make sure you completely uninstall any existing suites before you install these, as they will not be compatible. I also recommend installing and immunizing your system with SpyBot Search & Destroy rather then using memory-resident anti-malware clients like Windows Defender. Just my opinion here, take it or leave it.