Watch Dogs PC At Its Best And Worst

Even on the lowest settings, Watch Dogs is a pretty PC game — but it’s on ultra is where all the small environmental details really start to pop, bringing Chicago to life.

You can see the difference between low and ultra settings in this comparison video by Digital Storm. Or, if you’d like, you can check out how Watch Dogs performs on PC here.

It’s releases like this that remind me that I really need to build a new PC that can handle all the new hotness.

Watch Dogs Graphics Comparison Ultra to Low PC [Digital Storm]


  • Yeah this made me think of upgrading as well. Though will wait a few months for more releases and cheaper tech.

  • the game is beautiful when on ultra, but buggy as all hell atm.

    I have drastic changes in brightness, it will be middle of the day in game, but it is so dark i cant see, and then it changes to so bright EVERYTHING is white.
    Occasionally when it rains the rain will be GIANT black streaks
    Theres the frame rate issues and stutter, cruising along at 80-100 FPS, then BAM 1 FPS for about 5 minutes, then back to 80+.

    Ive grabbed a few vids to sent to the DEVs when i get the chance.

    Will be a very impressive game when its running optimized.

    • 80+ FPS? What’s your System?
      I’ve got a i5 4670K and GTX 780 and it runs at 70 tops at Ultra, but when driving can slow to like 30FPS.

      • I7 980X
        32GB ram
        2 x GTX 770’s (OC’d)

        Watchdogs is the first game i’ve found that stresses my machine.
        I sit on a constant 120 FPS in BF4

          • I found 3 things that helped the Stutter (not eliminated but helped)

            Go to the display options and set ‘Max Pre-rendered frames’ to 1.

            Play the game in windowed or Borderless mode (something to do with the way it disables triple buffering)

            And setting the Launch parameter to -disablepagefilecheck (EDIT – i see you found this one)

            give it a shot see if it helps you.

            Also if your playing with KB/mouse, get rid of mouse acceleration.
            You can remove it by going to C:Users\your username\Documents\My Games\Watch_Dogs folder and open ‘GamerProfile.xml’. Find and set the following parameters:

            ‘Sensitivity’ – set this from 0 to 1.
            ‘UseMouseSmooth – set this from 1 to 0.
            ‘Smoothness’ – set this from 1 to 0.

            Makes it feel way more responsive

      • I thikns it’s your i5 perhaps. I’m keeping a consistent 90+ fps. With the i7 4770k, 2x GTX 770 4GB cards in SLi, 16 GB RAM. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t stress my machine as much as BF4. For some reason, only on second assault maps, if I look at fire (from oil spills) I drop to around 20 fps….

  • Uh… I can barely tell the difference between the two in the side-by-side shots. Except sometimes in the Ultra one, his jacket is darker. If they weren’t labeled I wouldn’t have any idea which is supposed to be which.

    • Yeah, it’s very hard to see much difference. The LOW one is slightly blurrier at long distances. The shadows/lighting are slightly worse in LOW, but it’s hard to tell because they are so mediocre in ULTRA.

      The only time the difference is night/day is the first side-by-side.

    • The ultra one seems to have better lighting, but not much in the foreground seems to change between the two, just stuff at a distance. Also in the first scene there were puddles reflecting light on ultra.

    • Buddy no disrespect but you and @stickman might need glasses…. the difference is MASSIVE, lighting, textures, colour, the particle effects, shadows, reflections are ALL MASSIVE changes in the side by side.
      Its almost not the same game to look at.

      • Ah, I didn’t even get to the effects parts. Just saw the initial outdoor levels. I know what I’m looking for and I can see the big changes, but gotta admit there’s not too much like other PC games.


        Of the four shots they have here, I can only see any kind of significant difference in the first one. And that’s mainly because the road has extra crap on it in ultra. Then it has the extra lighting effects. The last one also has some extra lighting, but there’s less dramatic of a difference between the two. The one on the street, literally the only thing I can see is that once again the road has extra cracks and leaf litter on it, otherwise they’re identical. And in the second shot, I think the low one with its soft-edged shadows actually looks better.

        And all up it’s the most minor of differences that I wouldn’t even notice once actually playing the game.

        • yeah see the 3rd one i spose the differences are more subtle, but the other 3 shots are like the difference between black and white.

          1st one its clear by far how much difference there is in EVERY aspect

          2nd one the difference is mostly visible in the character model and the Vent above him, or the box in the left corner, lighting, shadows and general detail is very different in the 2 shots.

          3rd As i said harder to see so fair point

          4th this is all about the vegetation, have a look at the tree’s the grass and the wall on the left hand side, you can see the difference in the lighting and the textures, and how the wall looks smoother, less jagged.

          When playing i stop pretty often to just look at how good it looks.

          • The vent? Really? I’ve been staring at it and cannot make out any kind of difference at all. Although I did pick up one rather “major” difference that I missed before – ultra gives you zig-zag tiles on the floor, while low just has them aligned in a regular grid. That’s some next-gen shit right there 😛

            To me the wall looks just as jagged in both pictures, it’s just disguised a little more under the lighting pattern in the left one. The vegetation all looks the same though, apart from the grass having a greater contrast in colours throughout it.

            I dunno. I mean I consider myself to generally be pretty pedantic and meticulous in most things and will make a big deal over the most minor issues… but this feels like splitting hairs more than any kind of gigantic major difference. I’m just not cut out for PC gaming 😛

          • Dunno man, they all just scream massive difference to me, but too each his own.
            While trying to work out the “stutter” issues i dropped the quality over all to medium and notices a massive change for the worse in looks, i don’t know what your PC specs are, but maybe I’ve been spoiled by my beast of a machine and i’m now used to a higher level of clarity?

          • Could be. I’ve been a lifelong Nintendo guy, only got myself a modern PC last year (i5-3570, GTX660, dunno what else is relevant) and so far the most intensive things I’ve run on it were Mirror’s Edge and Blood Dragon, which both went pretty well. I did end up with a 360 and have played a bunch of games on that, but I find I still shrug at most things graphically. I mean yeah, some stuff looks really pretty. But never really had to run around tweaking settings to try and squeeze out that little bit more performance or anything, it’s just always been plug and play and what you get is what you get.

  • Not to mention that only the effects are being changed.
    Textures are the same in each comparison – looks like High or Ultra textures

    • It’s a known issue to do with the Ultra textures, if you’ve got an Nvidia card, update to latest drivers and then set the .exe arguments to -disablepagefilecheck.

      I think the -disablepagefilecheck is a good idea anyway though – if running Ultra textures.
      The watch dogs reddit page touches on this topic

  • It’s definitely pretty on Ultra, but it’s so poorly optimised. I’m running an overclocked i5 4670K at 4.2GHz, an overclocked GTX780 and 16GB of RAM. Yet, I’ll get ~70FPS on foot, but dropping to 30ish in car. I can play far more graphically demanding games (including similar open world ones) and get way more performance. I’m also using the latest drivers, so it’s not that. Then add crazy stuttering, dropped frames, no SLI support at launch, difficulty logging in and a multitude of other bugs.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid enjoyable game. But it’s yet another piss poor Ubisoft PC port.

    • Your specs are the exact same as mine, I’m getting the same experience.
      I’d turn the Textures to High, I heard the Ultra textures can ruin your VRAM if you’ve only got 3GB (head from LinusTechTips) – weird I know

      • Ah, thanks for the heads up! I’ll have to give that a try today. Can’t notice all that much of a difference between High and Ultra textures anyway.

        As you say, I did see a lot of other sites pulling well over 3GB of used VRAM. I just can’t fathom how. It’s not exactly Crysis 3 or Arma 3.

  • This is so clearly a console game it’s not funny. I bought it for PC because I wanted something to test out my new rig, but the game control is AWFUL and the ‘hacking’ and other elements are all just button mashing/timing mechanics.

    Tonight I’ll try it with an Xbox controller, I suspect it will feel more at home.

    Either way, it’s sure not worth paying full price for unless you just want eye candy.

  • Your friend was right but devs are finally starting to code game to use more than 1 or 2 cores and this is the future.

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