Good thing: Watch_Dogs on PC can look nearly as good as the (in)famous 2012 E3 demo that started at all, and it’s not even that hard to do thanks to some hidden graphics files that modders dug up. Bad thing: they were hidden. That certainly doesn’t look good. Ubisoft has an explanation, though.
Ubisoft wrote about why it buried graphics files instead of letting them fly free and dance in the godray forests. They did not, however, go into why they didn’t expect that anybody would crack open their game about hacking.
“The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we’ve set out to achieve. We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they’re released, striving for the best possible quality. The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality.”
“Modders are usually creative and passionate players, and while we appreciate their enthusiasm, the mod in question (which uses those old settings) subjectively enhances the game’s visual fidelity in certain situations but also can have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable.”
So that’s that, I guess. Graham tried out the buried graphics setting to varying degrees of success, so it’s definitely not perfect. Perhaps Ubisoft could spruce it up and release it officially as a new in-game graphics setting? Somehow I doubt that will happen, but if you give modders something to tinker with, they’ll make tinker-ade. Or every addition to a game you could possibly imagine, as it were. So maybe something more… consistent will come out of all this, somehow. Here’s hoping. And watching. And dogging. And underscoring.