Every Guild Wars player pretty much made their peace with the fact that the game may never receive a major update when they witnessed nothing short of a miracle - a major graphics update. Here are the details and comparison screenshots.
ArenaNet's developers who deserve a major shout-out for this update are Stephen "SCW" Clarke-Wilson and William "Bill" Freist. The update wasn't actually planned, as it is actually a direct result of ArenaNet's data center in Frankfurt almost blowing up. SCW then moved the game's servers to USA and kept track of Guild Wars subreddit in order to see if players noticed.
Players indeed noticed so he moved the servers to Amazon Web Services which resulted in European players getting their servers, and ping, back to normal. While SCW was moving the servers back and forth, he noticed some impractical code in the game, or as he put it in short - cruft.
SCW shared what he was working on with Bill, which in turn inspired Bill to help out and so their journey of unpaid coding and game fixing began. Bill shed some light on their schedules, and he estimates that SCW spent about half a day preparing the update, while bill spent around 14 hours of programming time, and roughly the same amount of time for testing the changes. An unnamed member of Guild Wars community helped Bill with this effort, which is about eight hours of their time as well. Bottom line, they invested their free time and effort in order to push this update out.
So what does the update do? Well it added windowed fullscreen support, better anti-aliasing in the form of 8X MXAA, "Use best texture filtering" option will now take advantage of 16X anisotropic filtering and the juicy "Advanced" button in graphics settings. The button isn't very descriptive but it does wonders.
Model LOD (Level of Detail) will always be the highest available if players check the Advanced box, regardless of distance and it will disable the low quality billboard models. The max drawing distance also gets doubled while ground cover vegetation draw distance will get pushed out even further. Here is a screenshot comparison before and after switching the Advanced mode on, with better comparisons in the gallery below.
This change resulted in a vast array of new possibilities when it comes to capturing screenshots of already beautiful Guild Wars landscapes, which resulted in the community hosting a screenshot contest with a prize pot of 25 Armbraces of Truth. The prize pot was later increased to 40 Armbraces, so if you fancy partaking, you can find the details here.