Watch Dogs Visual Analysis: PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. PC, PS3 vs. Xbox 360

Another let down from the vaults of Ubisoft.

Posted By | On 31st, May. 2014 Under Article, Editorials


This year’s one of the most anticipated games had been launched finally on the 27th of May. The day also marked a new record for Ubisoft as the game became the most sold game in the history of the company. But has it earned the title in the good sense of it?

Both. the Xbox One and the PS4 have toned down resolutions but that discussion is for later, because Ubisoft botched the PC release of the game. It’s literally been in shambles with frantic efforts from Ubisoft, Nvidia and especially AMD to fix the horrendous fiasco. Three days have done a lot but it’s still not enough for the PC users. With that being said, there are some significant differences in the performance of the game across the different platforms.

Watch Dogs

" The PS4 somehow manages to look better at times than the PC counterpart although that's not always the case - not too far from it either- , it’s still surprising that the console manages to catch up to the aesthetic performance of an high end PC."

On general basis, Watch Dogs employs bloom effects and good texture resolutions on all the platforms, making the game look excellent on the older generation of consoles. the newer generation of consoles, doesn’t have anything to leave you spellbound, but it comes nowhere near disappointing; that is, if you choose to forget the E3 demo footage from last year. Maybe Ubisoft heard someone say encore after From Software’s stint with Dark Souls 2.

Coming to the actual number crunching, the Xbox One manages an odd resolution of 792p, with its Sony counterpart standing not too tall at 900p. Nonetheless, the game more than makes up for the lack of low resolutions with good textures. The PS4 somehow manages to look better at times than the PC counterpart although that’s not always the case – not too far from it either- , it’s still surprising that the console manages to catch up to the aesthetic performance of an high endPC.

And what better for console owners than to have their game run more consistently than the PC users? Well, as of now. A number of patches have been issued for the PC version of the game, with AMD vying to give its customers an experience anywhere near smooth, owing to Ubisoft’s abstinence from not working with AMD on the game at all.

In light of that fact, AMD has managed things really well. Even people with Nvidia cards have had tonnes of issues; one of many Steam users complaining of the game had said that the game was running at sub-30fps on an GTX760, that too not on ultra settings. Therefore, the argument that the PC manages to outperform the consoles a fair bit with its better textures, frame buffers et al, is rendered useless as the PC fails to perform consistently, which its console counterparts do almost flawlessly; even the older generation of consoles.

Watch Dogs

"Texture pop-ins are more in the Xbox one version in contrast to the Sony counterpart. Anti-aliasing is a let down when compared but otherwise, considering the resolution that the game runs on, anti-aliasing is actually good as the low resolution does not result in a lot of jaggies. "

The Xbox One version of Watch Dogs has a number of issues that mar its glory in comparison to the PS4. The differences aren’t something that ruin the gameplay entirely, but these factors DO affect the gameplay. Texture pop-ins are more in the Xbox one version in contrast to the Sony counterpart. Anti-aliasing is a let down when compared but otherwise, considering the resolution that the game runs on, anti-aliasing is actually good as the low resolution does not result in a lot of jaggies.

Frame time is not very consistent either, which results in frame rate drops and tearing which can be horribly annoying at times, happening even in cut scenes. but the most notable downside of Watch Dogs on the Xbox One is the poor implementation of ambient occlusion. Ambient occlusion is there in the game all right, but it could have been polished further making the game look even more beautiful.

The apparent poor implementation of ambient occlusion is most visible when the player roams in daylight, tiled floors with gaps in between them and even stair show the problem quite extensively. Even though it may not be noticeable at first, the experience on the Xbox One seems a little odd vis-a-vis the PS4, amplified the by the slightly toned down shadow quality too. The PS4 also seems to have a neater look in a way. That ‘neat look’ is owed to the slightly better textures in the PS4 version of Watch Dogs.

The difference is not staggering, but neither is it a frivolous one. There still is stuttering in the game but it isn’t as bad as the PC or even the Xbox One. Even so, the Xbox One and the PS4 run Watch Dogs at a consistent 30fps with the former facing some issues with keeping up to the count due to increased frame render times at certain instances.

ps4 watch dogs

"The PS3 and the Xbox 360 manage to run the game consistently at 30fps with an occasional few hitches and frame rate drops but they aren’t much and do not affect the gameplay much. In comparison to their successors, both the consoles have much lower a level of detailing but it still manages to look excellent going by the consoles’ hardware configurations. "

The older generation doesn’t fare bad at all with this game. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 manage to run the game consistently at 30fps with an occasional few hitches and frame rate drops but they aren’t much and do not affect the gameplay much. In comparison to their successors, both the consoles have much lower a level of detailing but it still manages to look excellent going by the consoles’ hardware configurations.

Ambient occlusion and high grade anti-aliasing take a back seat, but the shadows are still pretty good and so are the textures. The character details are excellent by last gen standards as the developers haven’t omitted entire set items, but only reduced the overall detailing. The city in itself, looks a lot less dense because naturally, more polygons in a frame would mean more processing power.

The city still manages to look quite appealing to say the least. There isn’t much of a performance difference between the 360 and the PS3 except that the anti-aliasing and shadows are minisculely better than the 360.

But the difference is negligent and you’ll find yourself hard pressed to notice. With Watch Dogs, the PS3 and the Xbox 360 hold a firm and equal footing, with nice textures, excellent use of bloom and decent shadows. The depth of field is toned down here but that was expected this being such an expansive game with a sprawling world. The older generation of consoles make Watch Dogs nowhere near unimpressive. It’s a slightly different story for the newer consoles and the PC.

PC users should consider waiting a while before buying the game as it seems that the developers were quite satisfied with the seemingly pre-pre-pre(historic?)-alpha version of the game. Improvements have been rolled out, yes, but they are nowhere near enough.

watch dogs

"There’s nothing worth sucking your breath over in Watch Dogs. The PC version is better but, not by much."

As a whole, the game’s visuals aren’t what were promised to us, with the console graphics being somewhat equivalent to the PC version. There’s nothing worth sucking your breath over in Watch Dogs. The PC version is better but, not by much. Even so, the game employs a good use of shadows and bloom effects in addition to commendable reflections. But the cars in the game are pathetic and everything related to them too.

This is one gripe I can’t forgive Ubisoft for. The game is still very new, but the PC launch was indeed poorly done by Ubisoft, especially since they showcased the PC version at E3 2012. A PC patch is promised and we are hopeful that it will fix all the performance issues and make it more comparable to 2012 target.

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