Guild Wars 2 is a stunningly beautiful game, there’s no doubt about that. But folks who may have gotten used to the graphics of next-gen games, or moddable games such as Skyrim, or just folks who want an extra boost to make their screenshots pop, might want to look into these graphical enhancement mods.
They’re not “mods” per se. Guild Wars 2 isn’t set up to accept a graphical mod like Skyrim or Fallout (commonly known as ENB). You can’t replace the textures or actually modify anything in the game itself. But you can add an overlay that enhances colours, smooths edges, and adds effects.
There are three primary ways of doing this. SweetFX, GemFX (which includes SweetFX), and ReShade (which includes SweetFX and GemFX).
Best Feature: Lots of presets to choose from.
Worst Issue: Limited range of options.
Best Feature: Easiest to setup/tweak.
Worst Issue: (Mildly) harder on performance.
Best Feature: Robust options range, still supported by developers. Tweaks can be done live ingame.
Worst Issue: Takes some fiddling to get it to work.
ReShade 3.0 is a totally different beast from the older versions. All tweaking now takes place in-game, much like an ENB. However, it’s not the easiest thing to set up out of the blue. Here’s a tutorial on installing ReShade, as well as some troubleshooting.
How To Install ReShade 3.0 (Or watch the video below)
- Download ReShade from their official site.
- Run the ReShade_Setup_[version number].exe file. (Current version at the time of this writing is 3.0.8)
- Navigate to your GW2 directory and select Gw2-62.exe.*
- On the bar beneath, choose “Direct3D 9.”
- Open your GW2 folder. You should see a few files: d3d9.dll, d3d9.ini, d3d9.log, and a folder called “reshade-shaders.” Move all these files to your bin64 folder.*
- Open d3d9.ini in Notepad. You should see the following lines:
- “TextureSearchPaths=C:\Games\Guild Wars 2,C:\Games\Guild Wars 2\bin64\reshade-shaders\Textures”
- “EffectSearchPaths=C:\Games\Guild Wars 2,C:\Games\Guild Wars 2\bin64\reshade-shaders\Shaders”
- See how I’ve bolded the “bin64\“? Your lines will be missing that piece of text. Insert it, and save d3d9.ini.
- Uncheck “run in compatibility mode” for your Gw2-64.exe, in case you have that checked.
- Open your game. You should see text at the top indicating that the install was successful. You can double-check by pressing Shift+F2, the hotkey for opening the editing menu. Because you already edited the file paths in d3d9.ini, everything should show up properly.
- Congrats! You’re all set! Unless it didn’t work, in which case, go to our Troubleshooting section!
*Note: If you have a 32-bit operating system, you’ll use “Gw2.exe” and “bin” instead of “Gw2-64.exe” and “bin64.”
Installing a Preset
This is one of the major bonuses of using the new ReShade – it’s as easy as dropping the file you want into your bin64 folder and, once the game is opened, selecting the new file as your current profile. Hit Shift+F2 and use the top bar to select your preset.
If you’re interested, I’ve created a preset which can be found at the end of this article.
For information on installing presets made for previous versions of ReShade/SweetFX, please visit this article.
Creating a Preset
This task is also much simpler than in previous versions. Now, all changes are immediately visible live ingame, and tweaked via an ingame menu. Simply hit Shift+F2 and hit the little + next to the main preset bar (if you have no presets installed, this will be red by default).
It’s best to just go through the options here and experiment with them. Then, once you’re finished, delete the ones you’re not using to save space and loading time.
Also, once you’re done editing, make sure you go to the Settings tab and change your “Usage Mode” to “Performance.” It will make your load times faster.
When editing your preset, you may want to move your camera around without exiting the edit screen. To do this, change the Input Processing setting.
You may want to change how ReShade takes screenshots. The default Screenshot key is Print Screen (the same as ingame! If you don’t want double screenshots taken, you may wish to change one or the other), the default save path is in your Guild Wars 2 folder, and the default filetype is .bmp. I highly recommend changing the filetype to .png to save disk space.
If you’re having trouble with the installation of this version of ReShade – don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, you’re also in good company. Here are some tips for fixing your installation:
When I move d3d9.dll to my bin folder, the game won’t start at all! I get an “unable to initialize” DirectX error!
- Make sure your video card drivers are up-to-date.
- If your video card has multiple options to enable (such as a GeForce GTX card), make sure you’re installing the “3D Vision Controller” and “3D Vision Driver” in addition to the others! These are required.
- Make sure your DirectX 9 isn’t having issues. You can just redownload the file and install it over your existing dx9 to have it attempt to repair any missing functions. This won’t affect your other DirectX installations, so don’t worry!
When I load my game, ReShade doesn’t show up at all!
- This is likely due to files being in the wrong place. Make sure you moved all the d3d9 files, as well as the folder, into your appropriate bin folder!
ReShade is loading, but there aren’t any shaders or anything to customize!
- This is what happens when you don’t change the filepaths in d3d9.ini.
- Here’s a video explaining how the whole process works (plus an alternate way of editing filepath names):
How to install it:
- Download the ReShade framework and MasterEffect and unzip them wherever you’d like.
- From the ReShade folder, rename ReShade32.dll (or ReShade64.dll, if you’re using 64-bit) to d3d9.dll, and copy it to “/Guild Wars 2/bin/” (Or /bin64).
- From the MasterEffect folder, copy all contents into “/Guild Wars 2/bin/” (or /bin64).
- Take your downloaded preset and rename it to MasterEffect.h, replacing the original file of that name in the /bin (or /bin64).
- Tweaks can be made to your preset at any time by editing the MasterEffect.h file (I recommend using a program like Notepad++), even when your game is over. Saving the file will automatically refresh the effect in-game.
Where to get it: SweetFX Configurator
How to install it:
- Download the configurator and unzip it wherever you’d like.
- Open SweetFX_config.exe
- Click on “Add New Game.” Locate your GW2.exe file and select it.
- Click on “Game Settings” and tick the box next to “Split SweetFX Install.”
- For “Split install folder,” select the “\Guild Wars 2\bin.” Save changes.
- Click on “Save/Load Configuration” and add your downloaded preset.
- You can tweak settings straight from the configurator at any time, including when your game is open. You just need to refresh SweetFX in-game when you save changes.
Where to get it: GemFX (get the “Standalone” version)
How to install it:
- Download GemFX standalone and use the .exe to extract the files to wherever you’d like.
- Put dxgi.dll in /Guild Wars 2/, and the rest of the files in /Guild Wars 2/bin/.
- Use the configurator to tweak settings any time, including when your game is open. You will need to refresh GemFX in-game when you make changes.
Obnoxiously Colourful – a ReShade 3.0 preset
Here is my personal preset, tweaked to bring out the colour and sharpness that I like so well. It can be toned down by unchecking “Colourfulness.”