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You decide if Watch Dogs got visually downgraded


Last week we finally got a release date for Watch Dogs. That good news was overshadowed by the fact that the accompanying trailer showed footage of a game that looks a little different to the game Ubisoft showed off during E3 2012 and 2013. This obviously caused a ruckus – the origin of which could probably be traced back to the ever lovable denizens of that shining beacon of Internet vitriol, NeoGAF.

A few days later and YouTuber Jason Knothe gives us a very useful, side-by-side comparison video so you can decide for yourself whether there’s merit in getting all worked up about this. There are a number of things to bear in mind: first of all, the original 2012 and 2013 E3 trailers were running off PC, and the release date trailer from last week was all PlayStation 4 footage; secondly, a lot of the content that’s up for comparison is not identical content, and there are night time scenes being compared to day time scenes.

All that being said, there are a couple of comparisons that are glaringly obvious, such as reflections on wet streets, dynamic lighting, explosions and cloth physics in Aiden’s coat. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Is this a big deal? Are people upset because the game might not look like what they were expecting, or are people upset because Ubisoft has allegedly “lied” to consumers? Is this any different to doctored screenshots, which everyone knows are bullshots but accepts them anyway?

Source: YouTube


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  • Wesley Fick

    In the areas where it matters, e.g. gameplay and the hacking portion of the gameplay, that’s still the same. Doing dark environments is very taxing for hardware and that’s why I think they’re moving to having much of the game take part in the day. On NeoGAF there’s a nice thread with GIF comparisons and for the most part, the game still looks good. Just not as good as the E3 reveal, which is typical for Ubisoft.

    I think the biggest change from last-gen to this one isn’t the bullshotting or the gameplay demos done on PC before moving to actual hardware, it’s that publishers and devs sold us so much on the x86 connection that people forgot that there’s a big hardware dip between a game running on a GTX Titan and a Radeon R9 270 equivalent. Whereas before we were reasonably certain that the drop from x86 to PowerPC and 7 year-old hardware would require a big dip in visuals, Xbox One and PS4 being more modern raised those expectations higher.

    • Alex Rowley

      I saw that same thread and I gotta say those gifs look pretty damn good. The way some of those people are reacting to them though it’s as if they are looking at a PS2 game.

    • Squirly

      Which is hilarious if you consider that they are basically outclassed (compared to PC) spec-wise even before release. No idea where these expectations come from, other than the fact that most new generations have wowed us before. As we start hitting that upper limit were things get more and more technical and the difference tends to be incremental and minor we’ll be seeing more of these complaints. “But this had 4xAA whereas that one has FXAA!” (or something, I don’t know anti-aliasing as well as I should.)

  • Alex Rowley

    Although I can definitely see that the graphics are different, I think a
    lot of people are overacting to what is still a very good looking game.
    I mean I can understand the disappointment but this isn’t like Colonial
    Marines where they tried their best to hide what the game looks like.

  • Pulseofthe Maggot

    So much deception, so much hate…


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