Watch Dogs Legion most important graphics options - every video setting benchmarked

Written by Chad Norton on Thu, Oct 29, 2020 3:28 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

Watch Dogs Legion, the game about rebellious hackers in a futuristic post-brexit London, is out today, giving us the freedom to recruit anyone we want for our underground hacker group. It certainly looks pretty good, but how well does it perform on your current hardware and what are the graphics option sticking points that hack the power from your own hardware?

Watch Dogs Legion seems to be a pretty demanding game, as evident by our PC performance report, but what video settings are the most demanding? Are there some WD Legion options we can turn all the way up without much of a performance hit? And is there any settings we should prioritize to immediately turn down if we're experinccing some performance issues? Let's find out...

First of all, In this article we will take a look at which Watch Dogs Legion graphics settings are the best to turn to Ultra and which ones can get us a frame rate boost for no real visual loss when we turn them off or down. We've compiled a list below of the most demanding graphics options in the game, so you can get a handle on what to expect when you adjust different graphics settings in Watch Dogs Legion to get the perfect balance of visual fidelity and FPS performance in game.

Below you will see every graphics option listed and benchmarked against a minimum graphics setting used as our baseline benchmark for Watch Dogs Legion. From there we see which graphics options have the highest performance impact on our hardware for the least visual improvement, and then we will see which options can be turned up to max and deliver the best visual improvement in Watch Dogs Legion.

If you want to look at some more graphics benchmarks with various gaming graphics cards running Watch Dogs Legion then you can check out our Watch Dogs Legion PC Performance Benchmarks article instead, or you can have a look at the various Watch Dogs Legion PC Graphics Settings that we'll be discussing here in this article.

Watch Dogs Legion PC system requirements

Watch Dogs Legion PC performance report and graphics card benchmarks

For the performance cost result baseline we used the recommended GPU for 1080p High settings  graphics card, an  processor, and 16GB of DDR4 memory. To standardize the benchmark tests they were all carried out using the in-game Watch Dogs Legion benchmarking tool, whih takes you ona  short tour of Camden market shortly before ombat breaks out between 2 factions. There's a good mix of everything here, and we found this run to be pretty representative of the experience in-game, when considering graphics options compared to other graphics options and their relative performance impact.

If you see any significant discrepancies/differences between the benchmark tool FPS and actual FPS returned then please do share your findings in the comments below.

There's a lot of graphics settings available in Watch Dogs Legion, so we went through all the 15 graphics options listed and tested each one in turn, recording the average frame rates for each and then comparing them to a baseline FPS that was recorded with all the graphics options either turned off or to their lowest settings.

Watch Dogs Legion baseline FPS

To give us a comparable FPS baseline for WD Legion Frame Rates achieved when all the graphics settings are on lowest or OFF.

Watch Dogs Legion Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8

Watch Dogs Legion Graphics Options Performance Breakdown

The further to the right the bar goes, the more demanding the graphics option is.

What are the most demanding graphics options in Watch Dogs Legion?

As you can see in the graph above, There aren't a whole lot of demanding graphics settings in Watch Dogs Legion. However, the ones that are the most demanding have a pretty significant drop in frame rate performance.

By far the biggest FPS drop comes from the Shadows graphics setting, which drops frame rate by almost 40% when turning up to Ultra. If you're experiencing any frame rate issues in Watch Dogs Legion, then your first port of call would be the Shadows setting.

Next up is Reflections, which has an FPS performance cost of 16%. This setting also enables Anti-Aliasing to be set to TAA when turning it up to High or above. Additionally, the Extra Details settings also drops FPS by about 13.5% when turned all the way up to 100%.

As for the rest of the options, Ambient Occlusion (which also automatically enables TAA Anti-Aliasing), Post-Process Anti-Aliasing, Environment,  Geometry and Motion Blur all come at around 4-7% FPS cost, whilst the rest of the settings have a negligible impact on frame rate.

Graphics settings CPU load, GPU load and VRAM usage at 1080p resolution at Ultra or option turned On:

Graphics setting CPU Load GPU Load VRAM usage (MB)
Geometry Medium Minor +0
Environment Medium Minor +26
Texture Resolution Major Minor +2956
Texture Filtering Medium Minor +0
Shadows Major Major +877
Headlight Shadows Minor Minor +5
Reflections Minor Major +269
Depth of Field Minor Minor +0
Motion Blur Minor Minor +3
Bloom Minor Medium +3
Ambient Occlusion Minor Minor +45
Post-Process Anti-Aliasing Minor Minor +45
Subsurface Scattering Minor Minor +0
Ray Traced Reflections Major Major +716
Extra Details Major Major +0

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Watch Dogs Legion All Graphics Settings Benchmark Guide

Best Video Settings in Watch Dogs Legion

There's quite a few graphics settings to go through in Watch Dogs Legion, but that does mean we at least have a lot of options to choose from so we can properly customize and tweak all the settings to get optimal performance.

Below we've provided both a score for the performance impact as well as a priority score designed to recommend which graphics settings you should prioritize turning up (the higher the number, the better).

Obviously, these scores are subjective and we really do encourage you to share your own thoughts in the discussion area below on what you think are the best Watch Dogs Legion graphics settings are. But for now, let's jump in...

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Geometry

Geometry Ultra setting performance impact

Geometry graphics option High compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Geometry 65.4 50 76.9 47.7 42.7

Geometry option range: High/Very High/Ultra

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Geometry setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the graphic complexity of the world geometry. Affects all objects in the game.

CPU Load: Medium

GPU Load: Minor

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Environment

Environment Ultra setting performance impact

Environment graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Environment 65 51.3 75.1 47.2 41.7

Environment option range: Low/Medium/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Environment setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the terrain and vegetation level of detail. This setting affects the radius of the physical simulation of foliage, detail level of fog, and the amount of simultaneously visible traces of bullets or other occlusions, like when stepping on the grass surface.

CPU Load: Medium

GPU Load: Minor

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Texture Resolution

Texture Resolution Ultra setting performance impact

Texture Resolution graphics option Lowest compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Texture Resolution 68.1 52.4 79.1 49.2 40.4

Texture Resolution option range: Lowest/Low/Medium/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Texture Resolution setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust texture resolution. Higher values require more video memory. This option requires a reload of the game world to take effect.

CPU Load: Major

GPU Load: Minor

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Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering Ultra setting performance impact

Texture Filtering graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Texture Filtering 67.8 54.2 78.8 50.6 42.5

Texture Filtering option range: Low/High/Ultra

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Texture Filtering setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the quality of anisotropic filtering of textures. Reduce blurring when textures are displayed at some angles.

CPU Load: Medium

GPU Load: Minor

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Shadows

Shadows Ultra setting performance impact

Shadows graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Shadows 42.7 36.9 48 35.5 33.6

Shadows option range: Low/Medium/High/Very High/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 2/5

What does the Shadows setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the quality of the shadows. Higher values allow for more detailed and realistic shapes. This can be demanding on the graphics card VRAM resource at higher settings.

CPU Load: Major

GPU Load: Major

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Headlight Shadows

Headlight Shadows 4 Cars setting performance impact

Headlight Shadows graphics option Off compared to 4 Cars

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Headlight Shadows 67.7 54.2 78.9 51.5 44.2

Headlight Shadows option range: Off/Your car/2 cars/3 cars/4 cars

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Headlight Shadows setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the quality of vehicle headlight shadows. This option affects yours and nearby cars. This hits the VRAM as you increase the number of vehicles the game will process at any one time.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Minor

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Reflections

Reflections Ultra setting performance impact

Reflections graphics option Low compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Reflections 57.2 46.1 65.2 42.5 39.3

Reflections option range: Low/Medium/High/Very High/Ultra

Performance impact: 4/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Reflections setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Adjust the quality of in game reflections. Higher values will increase the detail and the amount of reflected objects. Setting this option to High or above will also cause Post-Processing Anti-Aliasing to be set to TAA. This option is replaced by Ray Tracing if that is turned on.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Major

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Depth of Field

Depth of Field On setting performance impact

Depth of Field graphics option Off compared to On

 [slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Depth of Field 67.7 53.2 79.1 50.8 44.9

Depth of Field option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Depth of Field setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Toggle the Depth of Field. When on, objects outside the range of focus will be blurred.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Minor

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Motion Blur

Motion Blur On setting performance impact

Motion Blur graphics option Off compared to On

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Motion Blur 65.4 52.3 76.1 49.3 44.7

Motion Blur option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Motion Blur setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? This is the usual, where the game adds blurred affects to objects as the player moves at speed.

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Bloom

Bloom On setting performance impact

Bloom graphics option Off compared to On

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Bloom 66.5 52.7 77.1 49.9 42.9

Bloom option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 2/5

Priority: 3/5

What does the Bloom setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Turn the Bloom on or off. When on, adds high dynamic range glow around lights and other bright areas.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Medium

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Ambient Occlusion

Ambient Occlusion On setting performance impact

Ambient Occlusion graphics option Off compared to On

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Ambient Occlusion 63.1 50.6 73.2 47.9 42.7

Ambient Occlusion option range: Off/On

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Ambient Occlusion setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Turn Ambient Occlusion on or off. Ambient occlusion provides soft shadowing of nearby surfaces. Enabling Ambient Occlusion will also cause Post-Process Anti-Aliasing to be set to TAA.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Minor

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Post-Process Anti-Aliasing

Post-Process Anti-Aliasing TAA setting performance impact

Post-Process Anti-Aliasing graphics option Off compared to TAA

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Post-Process Anti-Aliasing 64.7 50.5 75.4 47.8 41.6

Post-Process Anti-Aliasing option range: Off/FXAA/SMAA/TAA

Performance impact: 3/5

Priority: 4/5

What does the Post-Process Anti-Aliasing setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Set the type of Post-Process Anti-Aliasing.

FXAA: runs well even on older hardware

TAA: more advanced, further reduce flickering and offer a better image

SMAA: good balance, better image than FXAA while slightly more demanding on hardware

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Minor

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Subsurface Scattering

Subsurface Scattering High setting performance impact

Subsurface Scattering graphics option Low compared to High

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Subsurface Scattering 67.9 53.6 78.8 50 42.1

Subsurface Scattering option range: Low/High

Performance impact: 1/5

Priority: 5/5

What does the Subsurface Scattering setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Choose the quality of Subsurface Scattering. When set to High, the visual quality of surfaces like human skin is improved.

CPU Load: Minor

GPU Load: Minor

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Ray Traced Reflections

Ray Traced Reflections setting performance impact

Ray Traced Reflections graphics option Off compared to Ultra

[slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge]

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 65.5 47.6 81.2 23.2 21.4
Ray Traced Reflections 24.7 20.8 27.6 13.5 16

*Ray Traced Reflections option was benchmarked using an RTX 2080 for more representative performance of ray tracing when using an RTX graphics card. Baseline was conducted at Ultra graphics preset, and Ray Traced Reflections was benchmarked on Ultra settings. For reference, the FPS performance cost of Ray Traced Reflections is 62%.

Ray Traced Reflections option range: Off/Ultra

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Ray Traced Reflections setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Enable DirectX Raytracing (DXR) for life-like reflections. Requires a GPU that supports ray tracing technology. This replaces the Reflections graphics option listed earlier.

CPU Load: Major

GPU Load: Major

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Extra Details

Extra Details setting performance impact

Extra Details graphics option 0% compared to 100%

  Avg FPS Min FPS Max FPS 1% Low 0.1% Low
Baseline 68.2 52.2 79.4 49.5 40.8
Extra Details 59 36.2 75.9 35.6 34.4

Extra Details option range: 0% > 100%

Performance impact: 5/5

Priority: 1/5

What does the Extra Details setting do in Watch Dogs Legion? Modify the level of detail for geometry of objects depending on distance, the higher the setting the more detailed distant objects will be. Only available if the Geometry setting is set to Ultra.

CPU Load: Major

GPU Load: Major

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Watch Dogs Legions graphics options performance impact final thoughts

Looking over all the results above, we can see that Watch Dogs Legion doesn't have a huge amount of demanding graphics settings other than a small few like Shadows, Reflections, and Extra Details. These settings should be your first priority when you want to squeeze out some extra frames.

After that there are only a few settings that have some impact on overall FPS, but their performance cost is almost negligible when compared against the 3 mammoth settings listed above.

It goes without saying that Ray Traced Reflections are incredibly demanding, though this should almost always be used in conjunction with DLSS on an RTX graphics card.

One of the biggest hits in the game is to the VRAM and the RTX 2080 we have was regularly pushed past its 8GB VRAM limit in all Ultra settings, which would start to cause issues. And this would certainly be a problem when Ray Tracing Reflections was turned on.

Overall, Watch Dogs Legion has a pretty good amount of graphics settings to tweak and customize to our liking, and allow us to get the perfect balance between image quality and FPS performance. There are a few settings which will massively help to increase frame rate by turning down if you need the performance boost.

So that's it for the Watch Dogs Legion most important graphics options benchmarks. SO now it's over to you guys! We want to hear from you your thoughts on the graphics settings in Watch Dogs Legion and share your experiences. Are there any setting that you immediately turn down for better performance? And which ones do you turn all the way up even if it costs some delicious frames? Let us know!

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09:54 Oct-30-2020

Off topic, all of the advancements in the gaming industry yet still not a single dev can create a proper whip to work in a game the way a whip actually works.

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05:34 Oct-30-2020

Ubisoft is what my wife told me during our wedding night

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23:09 Oct-29-2020

Funny enough, picture here makes better case for using raytracing than whole Ubisofts video... :-D Yeah, I kno it was picked to emphasize it. But still, this makes it look better than trailer did and I find that bit silly. :-D

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22:07 Oct-29-2020

There is a weird bug in the game, for some reason (maybe reflection) looking at water drop the fps by 10 or more, this problem exist only in DX12 , DX11 runs fine but weak CPUs will struggle more compare to DX12,so pick your poison i guess.

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21:16 Oct-29-2020

Great amount of detail. I always love these. Keep it up :)

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16:47 Oct-29-2020

are the pics showing shadows swaped or something?
like it looks way better in low then on ultra

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16:52 Oct-29-2020

low is inaccurate, since you'd need an extremely clear day for leaf shadows to be that prominent, which...doesn't happen often in London :)

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17:31 Oct-29-2020

Exactly.

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20:11 Oct-29-2020

i see, so you get more peformance and better visuals not bad

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21:39 Oct-29-2020

No, that's not how it works. Having such "accurate" shadows requires work by your GPU. Having those intense shadows (low settings) puts less stress on your GPU. That's how it's always been in all games. In real life, shadows are not all one shade.


It's like comparing a stickman drawing of a 5-year old to a portrait made by a professional. The professional's drawing requires more effort to create and there has to be numerous variations in shading to create an accurate portrait. While a 5-year old's stickman drawing is one color and without any detail.


But if you prefer intense shadows though I suppose there's nothing wrong with that lol

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22:28 Oct-29-2020

@david - that's not what I wrote... Yiannis got it right.

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02:28 Oct-30-2020

no no what i meant there is that shadows on low looks better(in mine and my 2 friends opinion) and since thats low its less demanding, so you get both better look and better peformance.
shadows on ultra looks perhaps realistic but very bad and ugly at the same time washed out like something from a early 2000 game

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06:58 Oct-30-2020

Do you even have shadows in London? With the rain and clouds during the whole year?

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16:09 Oct-29-2020

The RT reflections look nowhere near as good in the actual game. That picture in the settings menu is misleading. Also, once you go out, and a very good part of the game you'll be outside, the frames are much lower than in the benchmarking tool, especially when driving. They should have made a benchmarking tool which shows driving at speed as well.

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22:42 Oct-29-2020

i barely see any improvement in visuals with RT on ,at least not in the bright sunny day

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06:24 Oct-30-2020

Yeah, in some situations it looks almost as good without and in some it makes no difference. I'm more interested in today's update which allegedly fixes driving fps drop. The driver update yesterday also added 2-3-4 frames, but it might just be placebo at that amount.

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Core i5-9400F 6-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU II 2GB OC Edition 16GB
0% No [2 votes]
Pentium Dual Core B960 2.2GHz Radeon HD 6950M 4GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
| High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
100% Yes [1 votes]