Ubisoft Clarifies Watch Dogs Resolution And Frame Rate

by Mike Futter on May 13, 2014 at 08:49 AM

On Saturday, we ran a story based on a Sony claim that Watch Dogs runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second on PlayStation 4. Yesterday, Sony quietly amended the product listing featuring the claim to remove the visual specifications. Now, Ubisoft is commenting on the matter.

Watch Dogs will run at 900p, 30 frames per second on PlayStation 4 and 792p, 30 frames per second on Xbox One. “Resolution is a number, just like framerate is a number," says creative director Jonathan Morin. "All those numbers are valid aspects of making games."

Morin goes on to point out that designing an open-world game is not like creating a corridor shooter. More importantly, frame rate and resolution are part of the experience, but not the overriding principle.

"In our case, dynamism is everything. Exploration and expression are everything," Morin says. "You want to have a steady framerate, but you want to have dynamism at the core of the experience. The same goes with resolution. People tend to look at corridor shooters, for example, where there’s a corridor and all the effects are on and it’s unbelievable, and they forget that if you apply those same global effects to an open city with people around and potential car crashes and guys in multiplayer showing up without warning, the same effect is applied to a lot of dynamic elements that are happening in every frame. So it becomes magnified in cost.”

Morin also addresses questions head-on about the delay in relation to resolution, saying that the goal of the extra time was never to increase visual fidelity, but rather the immersion. “The effort was split on continuing dynamism and making sure players can express themselves through hacking without ever being disappointed in how the game responds to them, whether it’s visually or through gameplay,” he says.

As for the last-gen versions, they will be content complete, with a few minor exceptions. Chicago will be slightly less population dense on older systems, but not significantly so. The online, seamless multiplayer is intact. The Decryption multiplayer mode is excised from those versions, as is the "bonus" multiplayer free roam found in the other versions. 

Watch Dogs is out on May 27 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC. For more, you can read a recent hands-on preview.

[Source: Ubisoft]


Our Take
Ubisoft has chosen to highlight gameplay over visual fidelity, and if the title turns out to be more engaging and fun for that extra time spent on immersion, it was the right choice. It's unfortunate that there is a difference between Xbox One and PS4, but with Phil Spencer telling us that removing the Kinect might free that memory up for games, things could be changing on that front. 

Ubisoft has chosen an approach that puts different teams working on different engines for different titles. This might yield the best engine for a particular game experience, but it might come at the cost of information sharing and process refinement on fewer frameworks.