The lights are on
Last week, evidence emerged that the PC version of Watch Dogs contains files related to the title’s original E3 2012 reveal. Through some modification of the configuration files, users were able to tap into them and improve the visual experience, but not without impact on gameplay.
YouTube personality John “Totalbiscuit” Bain published a video demonstrating the differences between the title running as-is and with the mod. You can check that out below. As you can tell from Bain's video, the notion that that Ubisoft purposely reduced the visuals without reason is swirling.
The mod, called TheWorsemod and named after the Guru3D forum user who pulled it together, supposedly re-enables the original files used in the E3 2012 demo for enhanced bloom, along with a number of other visual tweaks.
You can also see the visual improvements in this video below, and the results are certainly impressive. They aren't, however, without consequence.
Ubisoft has offered a comment to explain why the game files still include remnants of the E3 2012 experience and why those aren’t enabled as an option in the final release.
The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we’ve set out to achieve. We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality. The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality.
Modders are usually creative and passionate players, and while we appreciate their enthusiasm, the mod in question (which uses those old settings) subjectively enhances the game’s visual fidelity in certain situations but also can also have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable.
Thanks for playing Watch Dogs and believing in our vision. Stay safe on the mean streets of Chicago.
While this makes it clear that Ubisoft won't be taking steps to re-enable these old settings, modders are digging in already. Just like with the Grand Theft Auto IV iCEnhancer mod, it's possible that those with extremely powerful computers could be playing Watch Dogs with visuals like this (and reduced or eliminated performance issues) in the future.
[Source: Guru3D Forum, Ubisoft]
Our TakeIt's understandable why PC gamers (especially those with ultra-powerful rigs) would want to get Watch Dogs running as well as it possibly can. What seems unreasonable is the assertion that Ubisoft purposely deflated the visuals for a nefarious reason. Every developer and publisher wants their game to look and perform at its very best. Often, that is a balancing act between the two.