Watch Dogs 2 PC Performance Breakdown And Most Important Graphics Options

Written by Jon Sutton on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 4:32 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

We've grumbled about having to wait another few weeks for Watch Dogs 2 but it's with us at last. First impressions are that the sequel is better in just about every conceivable way than the original. Ubisoft has pulled an Assassin's Creed 2, so to speak. Like any AAA game however, Watch Dogs 2 comes with some AAA system requirements. A lot of you are going to have to do some tweaking with the graphics options to achieve perfect performance.

In total there are 20 different graphics settings which can be tweaked in Watch Dogs 2, and each of these has several options within it. If you want to squeeze out extra performance then there’s plenty to mess around with. The obvious question however, is what do all of these settings do? Well, we’ve got you covered there. Using the chart below you can find out just how demanding each setting is. Along with this, we've given priority scores based on how important we believe it is to enable these graphics options.

For the benchmark results below we used an MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G, an Intel Core i7-5820K processor, and 16GB DDR4 memory.

Watch Dogs 2 Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is. The only exception is Temporal Filtering, which actually improves the frame rate.


Watch Dogs 2 Graphics Settings

Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion applies to the contact shadows where two objects meet. It's quite a subtle feature but it lends an additional layer of depth and realism to the environments. AO is most prominent on the exterior facades of Watch Dogs 2's buildings, where it gives wall edges and piping additional substance.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 4/5

Bloom

Another one which definitely comes down to taste, Bloom makes bright lights bleed out into the surrounding area. You may find it a little strong for your tastes, but it does help with dynamic images.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 1/5

Depth of Field

An effect similar to Motion Blur, Depth of Field distorts anything which is out of the player's focus. Pick up a can and look at it, for example, and everything in the background will distort. It's designed to replicate human vision.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

Extra Details

The main impact of level of detail is in terms of draw distance. The higher you set this, the greater the distance at which objects pop-in. This setting will put a great strain on your CPU as well as your graphics card.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 3/5

Geometry

Geometry affects the level of detail and draw distance on just about every structure in Watch Dogs 2. This setting does not alter vegetation but it does improve buildings, objects in the street and scenery items.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 4/5

Headlight Shadows

A setting pretty much unique to Watch Dogs 2, Headlight Shadows is, appropriately enough, whether cars cast realistic shadows from the their headlights. This is currently capped at four cars so not every vehicle on screen is going be rendered correctly. The illumination effects give Watch Dogs 2 a much more realistic feel during nighttime.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 3/5

Motion Blur

Not to everyone's tastes, Motion Blur simulates camera movement. If you are struggling with poor performance this can paper over stuttery frame rates.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 1/5

Multisample Antialiasing

Multisample Antialiasing, or MSAA, is an extremely resource intensive form of antialiasing. The only time this should come into play is when you have excess performance while playing at your monitor's native resolution. MSAA is essentially a luxury setting. If you have an Nvidia graphics card then TXAA is much less demanding. 

Performance Impact - 5/5

Priority - 2/5

Post-Process Antialiasing

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

Pixel Density

Pixel Density is an incredibly demanding setting because it is essentially performing its own version of resolution scaling. Set it to 1.25 for example and you are rendering a 1080p image at 2400 x 1350. I don't recommend you set Pixel Density above 1.00, while anything below is going to severely hamper image quality.

Performance Impact - 5/5

Priority - 5/5

Reflections

Reflections affects the reflections cast on buildings, vehicles, and water. It is separate from screen space reflections in that it affects water sources such as fountains and the sea, while it is also unaffected by weather condition.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 3/5

San Francisco Fog

Whatever stting you play on, San Francisco can occasionally be steeped in fog. Turning up the San Francisco Fog setting does however provide more realistic volumetric fog which swirls and has differing densities in different areas.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 2/5

Screen Space Reflections

Screen Space Reflections impacts the reflections of objects on water and other wet surfaces. Without this enabled it looks as if an object is just cut off when it meets the water's surface, but when enabled you see a realistic reflection. The number of screen space reflections varies wildly depending on the weather conditions and where you are. If it's night time and raining then this setting can become extremely demanding.

Performance Impact - 3/5

Priority - 3/5

Shadows

Pretty straightforward this one. Shadow Quality increases the resolution of shadows in Watch Dogs 2. Set to ultra and they will appear crisp and sharp. Set to low and they will appear blocky.

Performance Impact - 4/5

Priority - 4/5

Temporal Filtering

Temporal Filtering is a unique method similar to the checkerboard rendering applied by the PlayStation 4 Pro. A customised Ubisoft setting, this can simultaneously improve image quality and frame rate. Provided you prefer the look, this is a must have setting in Watch Dogs 2.

Performance Impact - 0/5

Priority - 5/5

Terrain

The Terrain option affects the level of detail on terrain at a distance. This is most noticeable while out and about in the countryside in Watch Dogs 2. I personally think when this set to low, hillsides can look extremely ugly from afar.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 4/5

Texture Filtering

A gaming staple by now, Texture Filtering affects the sharpness of textures towards the edge of screen. Textures you're looking at straight on will normally look fine, but when you look at them from an angle they can look blurred and messy. Texture Filtering, or Anisotropic Filtering, sharpens these textures up and leads to a cleaner image.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 4/5

Texture Resolution

Texture resolution affects the quality of Watch Dogs 2's textures. The higher the texture quality, the more VRAM used on your graphics card. Set this too high and the game is likely to crash or become extremely choppy.

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 5/5

Vegetation

Basically the same as the Extra Detail setting but applying exclusively to vegetation such as plant-life and trees. In truth there isn't an absolutely huge difference between Low and Ultra, aside from draw distance. 

Performance Impact - 2/5

Priority - 2/5

Water

Yet another option relating to reflections. Water exclusively affects how other objects such as boats and bridges reflect onto the surface of the water. Usually this is very demanding, but in Watch Dogs 2 the performance impact is minimal. Considering this, you may as well slide it up to High on all but the most struggling of systems.

Performance Impact - 1/5

Priority - 2/5

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08:17 Dec-10-2016

The game runs quite smooth, but still sometimes it crashes on my all of a sudden... too bad no fps counter in game or benchmark option.

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21:41 Dec-05-2016

Could I run at high?

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21:54 Dec-05-2016

Tweaked high with some low and of, just like me. Just trying to get stalbe 40fps...

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20:29 Dec-04-2016

Can i play this Game on decent settings with perm 60fps 1080p?

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04:21 Dec-05-2016

The recommend GPU is the GTX 970 and GD says it gets 68 fps on high

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01:10 Dec-09-2016

The recommended GPU is a GTX 780 not a 970.

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03:03 Dec-04-2016

temporal filtering makes the quality worse
I think some performance could be extracted from it
i barely get 30 with everything maxed (bar headlight shadows and MSAA etc.)
The fancy shadows seems to drop more fps than GTA V but at ULTRA it doesn't make much difference.
Theres also some texture flicking issues...

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09:24 Dec-02-2016

Will this game be on sale this coming Christmas?
I just read the reviews and I'm impressed, I'm thinking of buying it.

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23:18 Dec-02-2016

You won't be disappointed.

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00:59 Dec-02-2016

Can I even play this game? I do play on a single monitor if somebody is worried about the resolution.

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23:20 Dec-02-2016

Ofc you can. MEd-high on 2560x1440.

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03:11 Dec-03-2016

Med-High is good, if I could maintain 60fps. The real thing that worries me is it doesn't match a RX480 and the RX480 is supposed to be a 1080p card.

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17:26 Dec-05-2016

Can't help you about that. I hope that few patches will give some fps more cos driver support for older cards can be harsh when it comes to the newer games. Its normal for drivers to be better optimized for new gpu line. But hope still live

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11:12 Dec-01-2016

The Optimization is much better "day one" than most titles released this year... (cough dishonoredmafia cough)
But it still doesn't get me a stable 60fps at whatever settings it may be, so needs a few patches.

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15:26 Dec-04-2016

Could be your CPU? It is an open-world game, after all.

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07:55 Dec-01-2016

Who in the world having a normal consciousness makes benchmarks with equipment that only 1% of population do own. Are you freaking kidding me. Jesus! Just make a nobodycares bench and post it online. You are NOT Donald trump tweeting. FU

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08:29 Dec-01-2016

The only thing that I can see/consider high end here is an the I7 5820K, the GTX 1060 and 16GB of RAM is pretty much mid tier, and besides, the main purpose of this benchmark is to see how each settings affect performance the most, which can help guide you when adjusting your settings.

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15:28 Dec-04-2016

The 5820K is there to try and remove any GPU bottlenecks on a test bed. AT least it's how it usually works with benchmarkers (get the best CPU you can, then swap the GPUs). So even in that regard I wouldn't really be butthurt like the guy above.

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22:25 Dec-05-2016

I know, just said that for comparison because he was complaining, main point still stands the main purpose for this article is not for benchmarks but to discover each settings effects on performance.

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09:07 Dec-01-2016

These aren't designed to be benchmarks for the 1060 and the 5820K, these are designed to show the relative performance hits of each graphics option. They are in fact for the opposite of high-end gamers, those who do have to spend a little time tweaking settings to get optimal performance out their hardware.


Hopefully my consciousness is just fine ;)

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09:36 Dec-01-2016

does this look in anyway a hardware related article ?!
and ofcourse he is not Donald trump, cause you are :p

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07:06 Dec-01-2016

I always wonder how a PS4 can run games for an entire 7 year cycle at 30 fps, while for a pc the minimum requirements year by year increase especially after a new gpu release, maybe developers should care about making ultra low settings.

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10:34 Dec-01-2016

I've often thought about ultra low settings. It would be cool if they did that.

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20:31 Nov-30-2016

Runing this on high/very high, some settings off or low and still not having stable 40fps... God damn this game!

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00:19 Dec-01-2016

Try these , I get stable 60 with these settings.
http://imgur.com/r5Srtna
http://imgur.com/r5Srtna

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06:32 Dec-01-2016

but these new reflections and the fog are such a beauty. I went for lower geometry etc and let these new ones running. Getting 60 in most places, only in cars at top speed it might drop from time to time down to 50ish.

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10:36 Dec-01-2016

Thx bud ;-) But your CPU is better and you have lower resolution. My CPU load is about 100% while playing.

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20:12 Dec-06-2016

turning AO off gives a boost as well

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09:23 Dec-01-2016

i would say its your i5 cause this game is very CPU intensive , try lowering background tasks or OC the CPU a bit
but better wait for a performance patch in my opinion

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15:50 Dec-01-2016

Can't wait, want to play :D I have no background tasks running while playing a game, I'm using task manager to track any processes but there is nothing eating my CPU, just WD2.

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17:50 Nov-30-2016

So these here works basically on every game as well? i mean the performance target and priority in ragards to fps.

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20:49 Nov-30-2016

To a degree.

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23:31 Nov-30-2016

Right you are miss Yennefer of vengerberg

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17:43 Nov-30-2016

There are some quite unoptimized settings here.

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18:38 Nov-30-2016

Which ones? Do you say that cuz different ones cause different performance hits?

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Can They Run... |

Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Gigabyte Windforce 8GB 16GB
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3070 EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming 8GB 32GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 720p
APU A8-7410 Quad-Core Radeon R5 7410 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Low,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]