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Our last attempt at comparing the stock graphics of Watch Dogs received some fair criticism. Coupling SweetFX and TheWorse Mod led to noticeably darker graphics that threw off our results. You all spoke, and we listened. Here's our second take on the Worse Mod which is now in its final incarnation: version 1.0.
First, a bit of background. Gamers were understandbly upset when Watch Dogs launched in May with Uplay issues, lackluster performance, and graphics that simply didn't match up to the versions demoed and displayed at E3.
TheWorse, MaLDo, and VAAS stepped in to create TheWorse Mod. Working off of some initial modding work by kadzait24, the team set out to add the stunning ‘E3 effects’ back into the game while also including extra visual flair and improvements. We’ve done the testing, but we’ll let you, the readers, be the judge.
We’ve redone our testing of Watch Dogs with comparable scenes rendered in the bone-stock version of the game as well as a modded version with TheWorse Mod (with Maldo textures) installed. We’ve passed up SweetFX this time around to ensure that gamma isn’t an issue.
Our capture rig is a bit less powerful this time around with an AMD FX-6300 processor alongside an AMD R9 280X and 8GB of RAM. It’s still capable of running the game at close to 30 FPS on maxed out settings with and without the mod, however.
In-game graphics settings are exactly the same as last time. Check out the specific settings below:
Aiden stands in an alleyway outside of a house (click the image for a comparison GIF).
This scene showcases the immense difference in ambiance between stock Watch Dogs and the modded version. The splitscreen effect works great here because the difference in coloring is immediately obvious. Everything is shaded in a more stylized hue that covers up the game’s unseemly bits while accentuating the beautiful shadows, lighting, and character models.
This safehouse shot features very little movement aside from a shifting skyline (click the image for an animated GIF).
What’s great about this area is that it demonstrates that TheWorseMod isn’t simply a basic color filter added onto the game. In some areas, the world has a khaki hue that makes the world feel dirty and dusty. In this scene, all of the colors are more muted and mellow with the blue sky unblemished. There’s not really a noticeable improvement in this screen, but that’s because TheWorseMod really works best with movement. The effects of the mod are best demonstrated in-game or through video.
Cars pass by on a random street in Chicago.
Watch Dogs looks good, but it falls short of greatness in its stock incarnation. Everything looks a bit too plain and normal. This isn't even close to the stunning scenes we were treated to by the game’s E3 trailers.
Aiden stands on a sidewalk as people hurry past.
This particular segment looks best in-game or in the video because of the swaying trees and the numerous pedestrians. There’s a clear colorcast that makes the world come alive along with some great-looking grass and a well-worn sidewalk. The way the light filters through the scene and casts shadows makes this look a hell of a lot more like what we expected it to.
We’re in love with TheWorse Mod. It does a great job of making Watch Dogs feel more cinematic. The game’s stock graphics look stark, plain, and fairly artificial whereas the modded graphics make the game look more mystical, interesting, and in a way, more believable. A lot of the beauty of TheWorse Mod comes from artistic manipulation of depth of field and fog. In fact, we found that in some areas, these effects in particular were applied a bit too liberally and detracted from visibility. Minor quibbles aside, the mod is a much needed facelift for an otherwise good game.
As for performance, frame rates with or without the mod were nearly indistinguishable. Some users report better performance on some machines without the added texture pack, but your mileage may vary.
That’s our take, what do you think? Does TheWorse Mod make the game look more like it does in the game’s E3 trailers?