Watch Dogs Graphical Analysis: Stock vs Mod

Maximum PC Staff

We mod Watch Dogs and compare its visuals against the vanilla stock version!

UPDATE: Due to some criticism for our mod choices in this article, we have done a take two on the story. You can read that feature here .

While our Graphics Analysis feature normally compares a game's various graphical settings, with the recent controversy surrounding the hidden "E3 2012" files that supposedly make the PC version of Watch Dogs look better without much of a performance hit, we thought we would dedicate this particular graphics analysis around comparing the "modded" version of Watch Dogs vs. it's vanilla stock incarnation.

To do this, we’ve enabled The Worse Mod 0.7 and SweetFX to showcase what the game looks like with mods enabled. Below you'll find a smattering of comparison pictures and video. Which version do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

W atchdogs running in 1080p comparing the stock game against the modded version with SweetFX and The Worse Mod 0.7.

Testing Methodology:

We used The Worse Mod 0.7 and SweetFX to mod Watchdogs. We then captured our video in 1080p using Nvidia’s Shadow Play software suite.

Click here to find out how to enable SweetFX and The Worse Mod 0.7 . We used a SweetFX mod made by Piterrrxd, but there are many other fan-made SweetFX mods, which are also good.

We captured our screenshots and video with a modest gaming rig, sporting an Intel Core i7-4770K CPU, 8GB of 1600MHz G.Skill RAM, and a GTX 780 video card.

The settings we used for each test are shown in the screenshots below:

Note: We set Anti-Aliasing to FXAA, as many modders on forums say that this type of AA works best with a modded Watch Dogs game.

Video Scene Analysis:

Note: You can click on the images below to see an animated GIF comparing the scene running stock vs modded.

Click on the image above to get an animated GIF comparison.

Indoor apartment scene

Our first scene features Aiden Pearce, the main character in Watchdogs, inside his rundown inner-city apartment. Here on the left side of the screen we have the stock version of the game. As you can see, it looks quite yellow and bright compared to the modded version on the right. The modded version, on the other hand, looks much more brown. In this scene, we also noticed the stock game has tons of light flooding the room, while the modded game features less lighting and more shadows to give the game a more realistic, brooding aesthetic.

Click on the image above to get an animated GIF comparison.

Parking lot scene

In this parking lot outside Aiden’s apartment, we see the mod features more pronounced textures and shadows on the asphalt. The colors again look much more realistic when you compare the stock game to the modded version. The planter box in the modded version features bricks which are more noticeable and pronounced than its stock counterpart.

Click on the image above to get an animated GIF comparison.

Downtown street scene

The stock game’s road in this scene looks a lot less gritty and realistic. We prefer the modded version of the game when roaming around the city, as the concrete and asphalt look more realistic compared to the comparitively bright and washed-out stock version of the game.

Click on the image above to get an animated GIF comparison.

Baseball stadium scene

This was the only scene where we thought the modded version performed poorly. The stock version is brighter and that's a good thing in this case. The modded version dims the lamp lighting a little too much. In the modded version we only see Aiden’s silhouette, and it hides the textures on his nice, brown leather coat.

Click on the image above to get an animated GIF comparison.

Night time scene

In this scene we see Aiden Pearce outside of the baseball stadium. The light reflections of the billboard advertisement are more intense in the modded version of the game. The colors and textures look darker making it look later in the evening. We see again that the color accuracy is improved in the version of the game over its stock counterpart.

Conclusion:

After doing our graphical analysis, we have to say we prefer the modded version of Watch Dogs over stock. It's not perfect by any means, and tends to make dark areas too dark, but it makes the textures pop out more and gives the game a more realistic, gritty feel. Still, it is a matter of preference and we're not sure we'd declare one is definitively better than the other.

Now perhaps the bigger question is, does the game run any worse with the tweaks? In our experience, performance with the mod ran on par with the stock version on our gaming rig. We'll tell you this much, the game runs like crap on Ultra settings, regardless of whether you've got the mod running or not.

Regardless, which graphical setting do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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