Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs was far from optimized for the PS4. The cross-generational title faced its share of downgrades but more than anything, it felt like it was trapped between the current and previous generation. The release of the sequel, Watch Dogs 2, is even more interesting in this retrospect because while it’s been developed with the PS4 in mind, it’s still capable of drawing upon the PS4 Pro in a huge way. When you consider the open world nature of the sequel, how it utilizes a wider colour palette unlike the original and more like Grand Theft Auto 5 or how its scale has been significantly expanded upon, the possibilities beyond just upscaled 4K become even more intriguing.
We analysed both the PS4 and PS4 Pro versions of Watch Dogs 2. Keep in mind that some weather inconsistencies may be seen in footage for the PS4 version. The base version runs at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second, offering up some pretty good performance overall. On the PS4 Pro, the resolution is 1800p up to 4K courtesy of checkerboard rendering. While a large amount of pop-in reduction was noticed compared to the base game, it is important to note that the Pro version would at times show signs of frame drops.
There’s really no difference in factors like loading times though. Enhanced weather effects from the original game were also missing but the draw distance in both the PS4 and PS4 Pro versions were quite impressive. On the PS4 Pro, there’s a pretty huge boost to anti-aliasing which is especially noticeable on a 1080p TV screen thanks to super-sampling. This results in edges looking a lot cleaner and crisper. Ambient occlusion is also enhanced and shadow quality is slightly better on the PS4 Pro. While image quality looks pretty great on both versions, it’s a little odd that there’s no support for high dynamic range lighting or HDR. Given how the base PS4 models support HDR along with PS4 Pro, it’s weird to see it absent with its potential to improve realism across the board.
As it stands, this is one of the better titles updated for PS4 Pro. Ubisoft doesn’t go over the top with the enhancements but adds them in the places that matter like anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion and shadow quality while reinforcing image quality and frame rate across both versions. The checkerboard rendering is still very well handled and even as it commits to a single resolution, the final image rendered in 4K looks really good. As developers spend more time with the technology, it may not be long before more consistent 4K upscaling is observed.
While the PS4 Pro version does suffer from frame drops compared to the PS4, we wouldn’t put it past Ubisoft – and other developers – to further optimize performance down the line with subsequent patches. Regardless of which platform you choose, Watch Dogs 2 is a fairly good looking game and one that’s substantially enhanced on the PS4 Pro.