Watch Dogs PC 'mod' enables E3 2012 visuals

A modder has found a way to tinker the values of Watch Dogs' own internal files, changing the values so it more closely reflects the visual fidelity of the E3 2012 demo.

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Watch Dogs appeared to suffer a visual downgrade from its initial showing to the final release, but some clever PC tinkerers seem to have found a way around that. By exploring the game files and changing the values of certain values, a modder says he was able to bring back some of the effects missing from the final product.

Modder "TheWorse" on Guru3D (via PC Gamer) has created an "E3 Bloom" effect, bringing back many of the visual flourishes from its first demo. Specifically, it mentions bloom effects, headlight shadows, NPC density, and better rain effects. It's worth noting that this modifies game values, but doesn't actually add anything that isn't existing in the game code.

The community is split on whether this can properly even be called a "mod." Whatever it might be, though, the effect is impressive, and implies that Ubisoft hobbled certain effects in the PC version. Fans have been speculating on why Ubi might have done that, and explanations range from stability to parity with its console brethren. One piece of the code even purportedly indicates that the settings were turned on for the E3 2012 demo. Shacknews has contacted Ubisoft, and will update as more information becomes available.

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  • reply
    June 16, 2014 2:55 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Watch Dogs PC 'mod' enables E3 2012 visuals.

    A modder has found a way to tinker the values of Watch Dogs' own internal files, changing the values so it more closely reflects the visual fidelity of the E3 2012 demo.

    • reply
      June 16, 2014 5:06 PM

      Have you tried it Steve? What rig you running? And before this, were you playing on Ultra?

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      June 16, 2014 7:45 PM

      Damn, looks good... too bad I finished the game a couple of days ago!

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      June 16, 2014 9:12 PM

      The game is never going to look like the E3 2012 reveal unless Ubisoft put a ton of artists to work changing the geometry and adding in the effects that the final game just does not have.
      If you watch a side by side of the original reveal and the PC version on Ultra the E3 demo had fuller trees that dramatically bent in the wind, much more geometry on the street and in the nightclub scene, dust that blew down the street and smoke that filled the lobby of the nightclub, cobbled streets that either had more geometry or were heavily tessellated to give them a look of real depth, pedestrians who behaved differently than they do in the final game, and even some gameplay mechanics that were changed in the final game.
      Ubisoft showed a tech demo without making it clear that is what they were showing did not exist in any real way as a game. I don't want to beat up on them Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed Unity are real games that will look very close to they way they showed at E3 2014 and this years surprise game Rainbow Six Siege was playable and the playable build looks like the stage demo.
      But they should have made clear that what they were showing with Watch Dogs was a vision of what next gen could do and not a what a final product would necessarily look like.
      As for what this mod does (which in my opinion does not look even close to how good E3 2014 looked) I really do not believe that Ubisoft would make a game look worse on PC than it could have just to have platform parity when they had already done the work. I can easily believe that they did not do the work to make the PC version better than the console versions but if they had done the work they would have left it in like the did with Far Cry 3 which looked and played much better on PC.

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        June 17, 2014 3:11 AM

        As unfortunate as the downgrade is, I believe you are wrong on Ubisoft's willfull decision to go for platform parity. The reason being that the workload of managing the content production pipeline is easier to handle if you can guarantee parity between platforms. There are ongoing changes all the time, so even if they at one point already produced the higher resolution content, there's still a need to track changes across the whole package over time.

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          June 17, 2014 4:46 AM

          This is complete and utter bs. Why not just give PC users the choice to turn it on?

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            June 17, 2014 4:54 AM

            Because reducing the number of asset packages simplifies the work process, thus saves money. That's a reasonable project management decision, whether or not you agree that decision is fair to the strengths of the target platforms is another argument.

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              June 17, 2014 7:03 AM

              I guess I wasn't very clear but that's what I meant, those assets only existed for that section they showed and when they started actual production they did not use any of that stuff. Ubisoft went for more or less platform parity (the vanilla PC build did have some better effects and textures) but they did not spend many millions of dollars making the PC version look amazing and then not include that work in the final build because they wanted platform parity they simply never did the work in the first place. It makes sense to go for platform parity to save money but it does not make sense to spend a ton of money and then throw all of that work away for no reason. I'm not defending Ubisoft they showed a tech demo that they couldn't live up to and made a mess of Watch Dogs in many ways including online modes that did not work for many people and a messy PC version. But the idea that Ubisoft made a version of the full game that looks just like the E3 2012 demo including all of the missing assets and effects but threw all of that work away just to get platform parity at the last minute is just silly.

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                June 17, 2014 7:13 AM

                Well there's also a theory on Eurogamer that they produced a more or less complete high-fidelity version of Watch Dogs and had to chop that down after the fact in order to meet the actual hardware specs. Apparently there's some incidental evidence of that happening.

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      June 17, 2014 2:47 AM

      wow. ubi gimped Watch Dogs. Appled the fix and got way more realism and stuttering is gone. My video card and proceesor also are running less hot. Geforce 780, core i5.

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      June 17, 2014 4:59 AM

      Seems strange to still in include the E3 visuals in the game installation but not allow them to be played. This kind of reeks a bit of the similar situation from the original Assassin's Creed game supporting DX10.1 features but they end up removing it in a patch. They probably removed it to either placate a certain group that couldn't run it at that quality or it didn't ruin all that well and was buggy.

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      June 17, 2014 6:39 AM

      I remember when games were advertised like this:
      http://www.retrogamingaus.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Popeye-2.jpg

      lolololol Atari 2600 version.

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      June 17, 2014 1:34 PM

      Hmm.. what about all the thousands (probably more) of people who cannot load their save games... have to start from scratch lol.. I am one of those players :(

      http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/882580-OFFICIAL-Game-stuck-on-loading-screen/page284