Modder Finds Files For Better Graphics In Watch Dogs' PC Version

Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version

Remember how stunning Watch Dogs looked when Ubisoft unveiled it two years ago? When the game came out last month, many players said that the visuals for the open-world game didn't live up to that original teaser. But now an intrepid modder has found hidden files that improve the way the game looks, right there in Watch Dogs' PC version.

The discovery was announced on Guru3D (and spread after posted on NeoGAF), the various files tweak shaders, NPC density, camera angles and other elements. Mod creator TheWorse also claims that the files he's unpacked improve the game's performance too:

I'm a very obsessed person, with many things mainly graphics . Also i'm a fan of using sweetfx on every game I can use it. I like to make my own presets always.

After release and this stupid stuttering problems I started searching for fixes etc.

Then I saw many threads talking about the engine when I realised it was based on dunia 2 so I tried to unpack the files which obviously not worked.. so after searching so much for the unpacker I found it, started playing with it and after a long time of testing I ended up getting the E3 Bloom from 2012 working.

After studying how bin hex worked and downloading many tools to convert files etc, I was able to integrate and enable many effects.

The results are remarkable and are sure to give new life to arguments that Ubisoft hobbled Watch Dogs to make it viable as a release for both last-gen and new-gen consoles, as well as PC.

Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version
Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version

After downloading and installing the mod, Kotaku has found that all the improvements listed in the mod are present. (The shots above this paragraph are from Kotaku's own capture.) We've reached out to Ubisoft for comment and will update this post if and when they respond.

Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version
Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version
Modder Finds Files for Better Graphics in Watch Dogs' PC Version


    Looks gorgeous, very interested to see what Ubisoft has to say about this... are there other developers that are doing this?

    Last edited 17/06/14 9:05 am

      Didn't something similar happen with Crysis 2? I never really played it myself but remember hearing something like this..

        No what happened with Crysis 2 was that they basically worked hard as hell optimizing the engine for console and the PC was essentially just the game with better settings. It still looked really great on release on PC. It was incredibly optimized though. It ran fantastically. The main issue is, people had unrealistic expectations. The first Crysis they made a game no one could run which looked great. The second game they made a really great looking game that many people could run. For perspective, it still looks better on default than many FPS games coming out today. It's also an engine which does way more than most.

        The only thing hobbled on PC was that they didn't include higher res textures than console. They also didn't use some features available to pc cards. So several months after release they released a higher resolution texture pack and some DX11 features like tessellation.

        There is also now community mods with higher resolution textures again.

        I was someone disapointed by this on release, but Crysis gets a bit of a bad rap on Crysis 2. That's what happens when they became the poster child for high end PC graphics pushing the limits. Crysis 3 though, they highly optimised for console, while Pushing PC to the limits. So all is restored.

          Ah ok, it was the High-res texture pack for PC I was thinking of, got it a bit mixed up :P
          Personally I always thought it looked good anyway, just never got into the game itself (or either of the other 2 for that matter).

      KOTAKU PLEASE INVESTIGATE, the reason for this is simple, its part of microsofts terms and conditions in their legal rubbish called " DISK PARITY" meaning that any games released on XBOX must be the same ie identical to all other platforms, ie ALL PC GAMES ARE CRIPPLED due to the fact we cannot have HD TEXTURES and all the bells and whistles that a PC GPU gives. I read about this a few years back and I am not sure why this is so ignored amongst the PC gaming community, this is the reason why PC have had rubbish games for years. most as you know also get special PATCHES after a period of time to improve the way a game looks on pc. this is no issue with time etc its purely because of the "DISK PARITY" law held up but micosoft. Please investigate this someone as its something that is greatly overlooked

      Titles for Xbox 360 must ship at least simultaneously with other video game platform, and must have at least feature and content parity on-disc with the other video game platform versions in all regions where the title is available," it reads.

      "If these conditions are not met, Microsoft reserves the right to not allow the content to be released on Xbox 360."

      One representative from a publisher who wished to remain anonymous told Eurogamer Microsoft's policy blocks developers from taking advantage of other platforms' strengths.

      "Microsoft is suggesting that anything but parity will result in them not carrying a title. They may think this is competitive, but it's not. They are killing any creative exposure of titles to make up for their own platform's shortcomings."

    in before "they want to keep the settings uniform for a wider range of pc users"

      Pick one :p

      That's what settings are for

        Very true, but there's usually someone in the comments that tries to defend ubisoft for being dickheads

    Nice. I did say it. Ubisoft couldn't get the game running great on Xbone (perhaps PS4 too) and so they hobbled the PC port so the difference wasn't night & day. Ubisoft can't be trusted.

    Last edited 17/06/14 9:14 am

      Id argue that they couldnt get it working on the ps3 and 360 so they downgraded the next gen and pc versions

        But everyone expects PS3/360 to pale in comparison to PS4/xbone, so that's not an issue. My tinfoil theory says:
        - Xbone simply can't handle it. Look at specs compared to PS4. It's technical fact.
        - PS4 version was downgraded to xbone-quality. PC quality was downgraded even more. This is why it was delayed for 6 months.
        - MS was too late to answer Ubisoft's prayers, but they did announce kinect-less xbone to help future problems like this. Without kinect, devs can squeeze a little more power out of the console.
        - Kinect is dead. No question about it, if the above becomes true.

        Even if people disagree with most that I said above, something's gotta be true. You don't just delay a game for 6 months, have it run like shit on every system, and take back 2 years of promises.

          100% with you on everything man - My PC Version still looks horrible and performance is shit on my SLI 680 OC cards.

            Is SLI working now? :P Lol.

              Probably not.

                I have an intel 970 single gtx480 and 6 gigs of corsair dominator ddr3 and running the game with high texture and ultra settings smoothly after applying this mod also consider using the nvidia 337.50 forceware drivers(about to test them with this new graphic mod)

              I remember it working for a brief period somewhere around 2007-08, and then never again.

          Sony spent a lot of money advertising Watch_Dogs. A lot.
          Sony have also made clear that their "stance" on games is: Exclusive, Looks Better, First on PlayStation (in that order of importance).
          The real tinfoil hat theory should be that Sony paid Ubisoft to "squash" the graphical fidelity of the PC release so that it did not appear to be significantly better than the PS4 version.

          The issue is not so much that the console versions didn't look as good as the previous trailers had appeared, it's that the PC version was intentionally hampered to appear the same as the console release.

            Yes, this is one of my theories too. For some reason I didn't expressly mention it in this thread.

          A little off topic, but I really don't think they're getting that sort of increase in performance by dropping Kinect support. I actually don't think they're getting any since the option to not use the Kinect in the game you're making has been there since day one and they're not actually removing anything. Anything reserved for the Kinect will remain reserved for the Kinect.
          Where does the idea that the removal of the Kinect will increase performance come from? I think I've heard a Kotaku author (I want to say Luke) ask the question of whether resources previously reserved for the Kinect can now be used on games, but I can't think of anyone with the appropriate technical knowledge backing the idea up.
          I think Kinect's removal can be summed up pretty simply by the fact that people felt like they were being forced to pay $100 more for a Kinect, so like most of the consoles late changes Microsoft did a quick turn around purely for PR reasons.

          Also keep in mind Microsoft know from experience that a weaker console doesn't automatically equal a failure. Specs were arguably the least important factor in XBOX 360 sales once the ball got rolling. I don't think they have the influence to strong arm Ubisoft into sinking the game for the sake of their new struggling console. Remember, Ubisoft strive to use the best looking version possible in their promotional material regardless of whether it accurately reflects the game in the box. If the PS4 version looks better that's great because it sells more copies of the game on all platforms. The PC version is a little different right now since Ubisoft do have an interest in not letting next-gen look weak.

            Kinect has reserved power. I saw article on Kotaku and elsewhere, where MS said it was looking at options to free up this reserved power. The only way that'd work, is if the console detects that Kinect is not connected and then free's up the resources. Therefore, Kinect-connected players will have worse performance than Kinect-less players, which is a whole new weird thing for consoles. So most will disconnect Kinect to get best performance.

            Granted, it's only up to 10% of GPU power and 1-2 CPU cores. But it may help the 720/900p problems.

              It's part of the June SDK update, the developer has to disable the Kinect in the games code which frees up the 10% of resources. Disconnecting the Kinect will not automatically give the Xbox more power. The Dev must enable the resources.

                Yeah I saw that. But the Kinect will still be available for voice commands like "on/off" etc, right? WHo knows how much reserved power is just for this. :\

                  There's a small processor in the Kinect itself isn't there? Probably won't run as well but it won't be using the camera, only the mic in that instance :)

                  @chivo Yah it does, reading now. For reference, see teardown:

              Ah, now you mention that I do remember it. Still, it doesn't sound like it's going to bridge the gap and they did say they were still exploring the idea. Is 10% a conservative estimate or a best case scenario if they comment out every trace of the Kinect code? I mean the Kinect is going to have to stay on stand-by to a degree since you can Guide out to it. If they're doing it correctly the Kinect will remain functional for snapping, recording, etc so are they going to get back every last process the Kinect currently uses? Probably no.

              I still don't like the way it's been vilified. The problems on the XBOX One run much deeper than the Kinect. It's getting the Jar Jar Binks treatment where 100% of the blame is put on it because it's the most prominent bad part in a train wreck of a production (I don't like the character, but if the movie wasn't crap he wouldn't be anymore of a problem than C3PO). The Kinect is becoming a lightning rod for critism and it's taking attention away from more important mistakes that need to be addressed.

              Last edited 17/06/14 11:27 am

                10% GPU and 1-2 CPU cores is best-case. It's been officially said re: 10% I think. Agreed with 2nd para.

          But but but xbox has cloud..... It will increase the game's performance by 100%...

            Man, I would laugh so hard if after all the crap we give them when they promote the cloud six months from now the XBOX One was utterly annihilating PC specs because somehow the cloud actually was the vaguely magically infinite expansion pack they seem to want to believe it is. They flick a switch in a data center and around the world all the XBOX One's hatch into beautiful swans.

          While I agree, something to consider is: What if they took out the things we saw at E3 because those areas of the game would look stupidly better than the other areas of the game and not so much because 'which-ever machine' couldn't run those features?

          It would have been a time thing IMO. Too many platforms. Reduction of effects I can understand, but the reduction of polygons, even when compared to PC ultra, says that SOME of the downgrades were done because some areas (Like the ones shown at E3) were just more polished/ better looking than the rest. It would have been quicker to tone down those areas than polish up the rest of the city. And that also explains why the features are even missing on PC.

          In the end I blame Ubisoft for making this game a cross gen game.

            This is the first time in gaming history that developers have created games for both a current and old system, isn't it?
            It still feels so bizarre. Like they have zero belief that the game will sell on current, or that they simply cannot wait for everyone to get a new system and then buy the game.
            "If we don't sell X in the first week, we have failed."

          I am sorry but why the hell would Ubi montreal be deliberately lowering the graphic quality of watch dogs just for the X1 and how on earth would that impact the ps4 port, especially when they have a marketing arrangement with Sony. In fact it would have been in ubisofts interest to lower the X1 graphics and increase the PS4 to make it look significantly better on it since they had a marketing arrangement with Sony if we are spouting crazy random potshots as to why they did what they did.

        I have to agree with you @redsarge

        Last edited 17/06/14 9:37 am

          But it does run properly on 360/PS3. Those consoles are done and the game runs OK, so we move on .... to PS4/Xbone and PC. There's more power available on PC, why isn't it included? There is literally no excuse any more, the only logical answer is that something fishy is going on.

            It's I said this game should have been next-gen only but Ubisoft (as they have the right to) wanted to maximise sales on a new IP and releases as a cross-gen game.

            This is what happens when you have to code a game and try to run smoothly across 4 consoles through 2 generations. I don't know how it runs on a 360/PS3 as I don't own a copy (maybe some can comment)...My PC cries when I run this game (espeically at full res)

            the only thing that is fishy is Ubisoft's greed....that's what I think

              But that doesn't mean that they have to nerf it!
              That's why people are crying foul, it is to be expected that consoles will never be a good as a PC but the PC should still look as great as it is possible to be.

                People were crying foul that it looked nothing like the E3 2012 gameplay video.

                To be honest I was looking more forward to the storyline then graphics. I will always say that the PC version of a game should look as great as possible because of the hardware and tech that is available but the problem is that when they code for 4 different platforms and PC...something gotta give..

      That was my thought too.
      its not some random high res textures but shaders and lighting which to casual consumers look night and day in graphics quality even if it isn't really as dramatic as it seems.

      I'd argue that your a total idiot who has no idea what he's posting. The issue was always with supporting the ps3 and xbox 360 versions.

        Yeah totally, I have no idea what I'm talking about. Yet you're the one implying that last and current-gen have to have the exact same quality assets and engine settings.

        Ever heard of Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider Definitive? Games are developed in max quality and then downgraded to suit the system of choice. The fact that there's HD remakes of every game ever coming out on next-gen is testament to this.

        Last edited 17/06/14 9:35 am

    Some before and after pictures would be good.

    I still beleive that Watch Dogs should have never been a cross-gen should have been for next-gen consoles and PC only...

    Last edited 17/06/14 9:31 am

      There is ~150mil last gen consoles (PS3 +PS4)

      There is ~10 mil next gen consoles (PS4 + Xbone)

      No way they'd limit their exposure of a new IP to PS4\Xbone without mountains of cash from MS\Sony

        That's the problem....this was meant to be a pure next-gen title and even a launch title for the PS4 and Xbone...

        Ubisoft (rightly or wrongly) chose to develop it for all consoles so they can maximise sales/profits

    I'll play devil's advocate, anyone consider they buried these options for stability reason? Yes the technical minded and gfx pushers don't care and usually know what they are doing, but as much as we would like to believe it, not everyone playing on PC conforms the the Master Race stigma.

      If their concern was stability or performance, they could easily have had these features disabled by default, with a menu option to enable them.

        And if turning them on fried lesser machines and people who shouldn't have turned them on did? Oops public outrage that ubi is destroying computers

          Bwa ahahahahaha - Ubisoft frying PC's

          Like Ubisoft even has a comprehension on how to make a game that would even be a minor struggle on PC. The only reason Ubisoft could fry a PC is through deliberately optimization failures - Look at Star Citizen a game in Alpha and already putting Devs like Ubisoft to shame.

          That's... that's not even remotely how it works.

          You do realise that the vast majority of games on PC have all these settings in the options, right? If Sleeping Dogs allowed me to play with my shader settings (and allowed you to test them with a benchmark instance), there's absolutely no reason why this dog of a game shouldn't have done the same. Especially since the code is right there on the goddamn disk.

          I have played Watch Underscore Dogs and I can say with 100% certainty that stability did not seem to be a concern to them.

      According to the NeoGAF thread, it actually improves the stuttering and FPS issues. I'll test it out when I get home this afternoon.

        Just because it improves performance doesn't mean it demands less of hardware, in fact that is the exact opposite of how it would work

          Good point, taken. But I don't exactly see the features "frying lesser machines" (I realise that may have been hyperbole to make a point). Take Crysis 3 for example. It takes a hell of a PC to run that on Ultra, smoothly. However, you can still turn on all of the bells and whistles if you want to, it'll just run at slideshow FPS (at worst you might CTD).

          Given the game seems to run okay (if not better) with these features enabled, Ubisoft should have at least given gamers the option to do so. Even if that meant putting them under a "super duper Extreme" setting, with a warning saying that considerable processing power would be required.

          I'll be interested to see Ubisoft's official response, if they decide to give one.

          The theory is that by enabling all the features/settings you are allowing the game to run as it was supposed to thus letting it operate in a more optimized way.

          Think of it like a car with a rag stuck in the exhaust, or towing a heavy boat. Remove the load/blockage and you'll get performance and economy improvements.

      You are not one of us. You shall be brainwashed again to join the Master Race.

      *commence brainwashing*

      Last edited 17/06/14 11:19 am

      From what I've heard enabling these options improves performance. At least from some anecdotal evidence from reddit and 3Dguru

      The theory is that by the engine still does the work just doesn't display it, or that the having all sorts of things disabled causes bugs in other parts of the code. When it's enable it runs like its supposed to... just speculation at this stage i guess. I'll be trying it out tomorrow.
      There was a small command line trick that drastically reduced stuttering, some filecheck thing.

    Too bad the game already runs like crap on powerful PCs as it is. I'd hate to see the FPS drop with all of this enabled. Still, cool that someone managed to find and unlock this (even if it is typical of Ubisoft to disable the features in the first place).

      Mod creator TheWorse also claims that the files he’s unpacked improve the game’s performance too:

        Yeah, I continued reading the thread after I posted that. Pretty ridiculous if true.

      Been running the mod all day (v7) and compared to my previous performance at ultra settings 1080p res and temporal SSAA... I'd say performance is about equal if not better. I've definitely noticed less stuttering when driving at high speed. But my system specs are an i5 3570k @ 4.8ghz with a GTX780 6GB slight oc and 16gb RAM.... So results may very

    No amount of tweaks will fix the terrible art direction on the vegetation.

      If there's not a mod for it, there will be. Flora is generally pretty easy to mess with.

    Looks like I have plans this weekend.

      It's literally as easy as dropping 2 files into your installation folder.

    I'd like to see some comparison shots.

    Either way, this is why I always choose PC first.

    Anyone given this a try yet? I'm considering getting Watch_Dogs again on PC, after that Xbone glitch that wiped my file made me return it, angrily.

    I was sitting here trying to work out why the top two shots looked like crap. Then I realised that AO doesn't appear to be turned on.

    Can't really say for the other three shots, the last one looks like it does.

    I wish there was a fix for PS4. I was very underwhelmed with how this game looks on PS4. I did have high expectations though, I thought it's at least look as good as pretty last gen games like TLoU and Beyond. Although, when I remote play on my Vita it looks very nice on the little screen (and also handles really well).

    Fucking disgusting, time and time again consoles are holding back the true potential of the PC. Why would ubisoft do something like this? were they paid by microsoft and sony so they can sell more consoles? idgi

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