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Watch_Dogs 2 Review

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Graphics:

I am very comfortable saying Watch_Dogs 2 is a good looking game, at least on the settings I was playing at, which were very near max. On some close ups of characters, when small faults are most visible, there were some things that did not look very good, but that represents the worst case scenario, so it is not exactly fair to judge by that.

The graphics do fall into that area that is hard to describe, because of how much they look good and right. Little wrong stands out to mention and there is also little to amaze you into sharing. Considering this is a virtual representation and recreation of a real place, this is a good thing as it means it looks natural. By the way, I have never been to San Francisco, so I am not able to comment on how accurate the virtual world is.

Characters did not always look so good, primarily with their animations while speaking, but nothing that is unusual for video games. The full body animations were fine, it was more the fine detail of the faces that did not always look organic, but as I said, that is normal for this medium.

 

 

I really do want to get to the performance and the weird issues I had, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1080 8 GB
  • PhysX: NVIDIA GTX 1070 8 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

I played the game at nearly the highest settings, with a few things turned down because my system could not handle it. Chances are it was my CPU holding things back, but I was still quite happy with the performance. As is my usual, options like Depth of Field and Motion Blur were off, but I also had shadows only on PCSS, Percentage Closer Soft Shadows, instead of the higher HFTS, Hybrid Frustum Traced Shadows, and used Temporal Filtering with SMAA, and Temporal Filtering locks out MSAA. I also did not turn up the Pixel Density or Extra Details options, finding those also hit the performance more than I was willing to accept. The Pixel Density option allows the game to be internally rendered at a higher resolution and then downsampled while Extra Details will extend the range objects will be rendered at.

With the near max settings I used, the framerate stayed around 40 FPS, but definitely fluctuated up and down. Unfortunately I did not have an FPS-counter overlay to turn to, so you have to trust my eyes for some of this, but I was also testing out a tool for recording this kind of information while I was playing Watch_Dogs 2, so that 40 FPS is not just a guess. I am hoping to put this tool to use in the future, but am not ready to talk about it just yet, as I am still experimenting with it.

 

 

At a fluctuating 40 FPS, there was a micro-stutter throughout the game, but it was not too bad and is something I expect patches will reduce in the future. Turning down the settings or having a more powerful CPU will definitely help as well, but my CPU was still able to handle the game quite well.

I encountered two odd issues with the game, and I can't explain why either occurred. One of them was that for some gameplay sessions, menus such as the Esc menu and the in-game phone menu would take a long time to come up after pressing the button, if they came up at all. Initially I attributed this to having the Tobii Eyetracker enabled, so for much of the game I left that off, but the issue still happened at times. The only solution I found was to just restart the game.

 

 

The other issue I experienced I have no solution or workaround for. Like in any open world game, there can be an issue of texture and object pop-in when you are moving quickly. The thing is Watch_Dogs 2 would actually pause and wait for everything to load in before continuing. This behavior I have not observed in any other game and is very irritating, especially when it happens repeatedly. It was, however, amusing when NPC-driven vehicles would have issues because part of the world was not loaded yet. I observed them starting to fall off of the world and even clipping through each other at times this happened. I also saw long backups on the highways because the AI would mysteriously decide to squeeze four lanes of traffic down to one, even though the other lanes existed. I do not know if this is related to the loading issue, but I could see such a connection existing.

Overall, the graphics and performance were good, though there were some odd issues. I do think it is fair to expect them to be solved in future patches, but that is not the state of the game as I played it, which is version 1.06. There is in fact a patch coming soon that could solve these issues, but as that is not what I played on (and it is not out at the time I am writing this) I cannot comment on it.

 




  1. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Introduction
  2. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Graphics
  3. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Story
  4. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Gameplay
  5. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Additional Screenshots
  6. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Conclusion
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