Did you know Guild Wars 2, one of the best MMORPG Mac games, can be played for free?

Developer ArenaNet surprised fans when it made the core game free-to-play for everyone two years ago, leaving only the game’s Expansions as paid options. Equally important, they’ve been hard at work keeping microtransactions in check so that they work for players, not against them.

Well, I’m happy to confirm they have been successful so far and Guild Wars 2 for Mac has never been this good.

The Mac version of the game has been around since day one but feedback from gamers has always been extremely conflicting: for some, it worked great, for others, it barely worked at all.

Now that the game is free and available to everyone, we decided to give it a real test and benchmark it on all of our machines. Is Guild Wars 2 for Mac a good port?

What’s new with Guild Wars 2 on Mac?

The game’s second Expansion is here and the Mac version is no longer in Beta. But as complaints about poor MacOS performance continue, we decided to test it ourselves. You can read more about it below.

Guild Wars 2 Mac art

90 Metascore
Guild Wars 2 may have failed to take World of Warcraft's crown, but it's still the best free-to-play MMO in the market.
Free-to-play


First things first, is the game any good?

Since its release in 2012, Guild Wars 2 has always been a fan-favorite. Many saw it as the only believable World of Warcraft challenger and it didn’t even require an expensive monthly subscription. You only had to buy it once to enjoy it forever!

That was already a great deal, but ArenaNet made it even better when Guild Wars 2 went free-to-play. That gives it a clear advantage over premium MMOs such as Final Fantasy 14 or even SW: TOR (which we are still waiting for…).

Free accounts obviously have some limitations compared to premium accounts reserved for those who have one the game’s Expansions.

Those limitations are nothing major (think limited character slots and the like), but you may want to grab the game’s latest expansion if you want the full Guild Wars 2 experience.

Path of Fire, the game’s latest expansion, was released on September 22, 2017, and introduced:

  • New region & story: the Crystal Desert
  • New Elite Specializations for every profession
  • Mounts to help you get around all of Tyria
  • New Armor and Weapons themed to the Elonian region
  • The introduction of Bounties
  • New Fractal Dungeons
  • …and more

The expansion is definitely worth it if you’re a true fan but you can always get started with the core free version. It’s surprisingly generous for a free-to-play game and the reviews have always been nothing but excellent:

Guild Wars 2 Mac Metacritic


Guild of Wars 2 Mac requirements

Convinced you should probably give it a go? Make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements. These are the official Guild Wars 2 Mac requirements:

  • OS: OS 10.9
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 320M, ATI Radeon HD 6630M, Intel HD 3000 or better
  • Hard Drive: 40 GB

Note that a 64-bit operating system is mandatory!

On paper, the game is anything but demanding. Supporting older integrated graphics cards such as Intel’s HD 3000 (used on Macs from 2012 and beyond) is proof of that.

According to the game’s Mac FAQ page, it runs well on the following machines (or better):

  • iMac 21.5″, 27″ (Late 2013)
  • MacBook Pro 13″, 15″ (Late 2013)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • Mac Mini (Late 2014)

But we’ve received several emails complaining about poor performance on macOS, even on machines far exceeding the game’s requirements. Also, MMOs have always been demanding, just try to run Final Fantasy 14 on a MacBook and you’ll see what I mean…

Into MMOs? These are our favorites:

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GenreSubscription-basedPay onceFree-to-play
Release date200420142012
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The Test: Can you play Guild Wars 2 on Mac?

Clearly, requirements won’t be enough this time and real-world tests will be needed. We went ahead and performed our standard tests on these three machines:

  • iMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014): 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016): 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013): 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)

Each machine was tested using our in-house FPS tool, Count It, while playing the game for about 10 minutes using the settings below:

Guild Wars 2 settings V2


The Results: A good MacOS port

In spite of the rumors and complains, Guild Wars 2 runs just fine on Mac. Granted, the game is somewhat demanding, as can be seen from our 2013 MacBook Pro results, but that can be expected from an MMO.

These are our results running the game natively on macOS Mojave:

Guild Wars 2 benchmark export
As a reminder, this is how we describe the different levels of performance:

  • Below 20 FPS: Unplayable: Laggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
  • 20-30 FPS: Borderline: Can be OK in slow-paced games. Still, not optimal.
  • 30-45 FPS: Playable: Acceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
  • 45-60 FPS: Smooth: Fluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
  • 60+ FPS: Very Smooth: For hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.

We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience for most.

Can my Mac run Guild Wars 2?

This is the more frequent question we receive for every game we test so we might as well get it out of the way. It’s impossible for us to test a game on every Mac model under the sun, but testing games on very different types of machines is the best next thing.

If you have a high-end Mac (27-inch iMac or 15-inch MacBook), you can expect great performance and can go ahead and bump the settings to 1080p and use the High preset.

Guild Wars 2 Mac download

If you have a modern entry-level Mac (MacBook Pros and iMacs from 2015 onwards), you can expect good performance similar to the 52.8 FPS from our 2016 MBP.

Now if you have an older Mac (from 2012 or below), you expect worse performance than the 42.9 FPS from our 2013 MBP. That’s a risky territory and you will probably have to tune your settings to improve performance. Which leads us to the next question.

Can you play Guild Wars 2 on a MacBook Pro?

It’s no surprise the game runs flawlessly on a high-end 27-inch iMac. But what about a MacBook Pro? After all, most of us have 13-inch MacBook Pros, which by the way, have a reputation for running games poorly.

Taking into account that both of our machines have integrated graphics, Guild Wars 2 runs surprisingly well. Our 2016 MacBook Pro runs the game at a silky smooth 52.8 Frames per Second (FPS).

Guild Wars 2 MacBook Pro

But what if you have an older MacBook?

Our 2013 MBP squeezed 42.9 FPS, which is well above our minimum requirements of 30 FPS.

In a nutshell, Guild Wars 2 and MacBook Pros should play nice with each other. Guild Wars 2 on MacBook Airs or older MacBooks is another story.

How to run Guild Wars 2 on Mac?

If you’re seeing very poor performance on your specific Mac model, I suggest you dive into the game’s graphics options before giving up.

From our experience with the game, using 1280×800 resolution and the “Best Performance” preset should generate the best performance and be enough for you to squeeze 30 FPS.

PS: These are our favorite accessories for playing/testing games on Mac!

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Download Guild Wars 2 for Mac

Want to give it a try? After all, this is an excellent free-to-play game that doesn’t hide its best content behind paid walls or microtransactions. That alone is reason enough to give it a try and see how much you like the world of Tyria.

You can download Guild Wars 2 Mac free version from ArenaNet‘s official website.

Guild Wars 2 Mac art

90 Metascore
Guild Wars 2 may have failed to take World of Warcraft's crown, but it's still the best free-to-play MMO in the market.
Free-to-play

Guild Wars 2 Mac Review
Guild Wars 2 Mac Review: Can you run this awesome free MMO? 1

Guild Wars 2 may have failed to take World of Warcraft's crown, but it's still the best free-to-play MMO in the market. It's insane the amounts of value if offers without ever asking for your money. And in spite of repeated complains about poor performance, our experience has always been great.

Editor's Rating:
4.5

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