Withstanding the circumspect of PC players, Watch Dogs 2 has seemingly launched without a hitch. Mostly, anyway. The usual PC congregations of Steam and Reddit have been mostly devoid of the day one despair that is PC gaming in 2016, partially indicative that Watch Dogs 2 actually runs on a variety of hardware. Not easily, mind you, but it runs. What is more, we recently published our own benchmarks of the game using an assortment of 11 GPUs, from the 1050 & 460 to the 1080. Having found the game playable, albeit demanding, across multiple video cards, we’ll look at a build aimed at outputting reasonably fluid performance at elevated settings, but without going too far over $1000.

This gaming PC build will focus on running Watch Dogs 2 with the “Very High” preset at a resolution of 1080p, with a sustained 60 FPS average.

As an aside, the build will also place a slight emphasis on overclocking with air cooling, while exhibiting very low system noise. We’re also built to be multi-GPU ready, despite the presence of a GTX 1060 (no SLI support for 1060s). This is to ensure that, should you decide to change the video card setup down the road, the rest of the system will permit the change.

Ubisoft's newest dystopian efforts start strong with allusions to modern-day challenges pertaining to privacy and "cyber warfare," working to build-up our character as a counter-culture hacker. And, as with Ubisoft's other AAA titles, the game builds this world with high-resolution textures, geometrically complex and dense objects, taxing shadow/lighting systems, and an emphasis on graphics quality.

Watch Dogs 2 is a demanding title to run on modern hardware. We spent the first 1-2 hours of our time in Watch Dogs 2 simply studying the impact of various settings on performance, further studying locales and their performance hits. Areas with grass and foliage, we found, most heavily hit framerate. Nightfall or dark rain play a role in FPS hits, too, particularly when running high reflection qualities and headlight shadows.

We look at performance of 11 GPUs in this Watch Dogs 2 video card benchmark, including the RX 480 vs. GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080, RX 470, R9 Fury X, and more.

Raptr has just posted its Most Played PC Games for July 2014, and from the looks of it, things only get better for the best of the best. Playtime for the top four games has increased 30 percent overall.

raptr-top20-july

League of Legends got a boost from its Doom Bots of Doom enhancement that increased the AI difficulty to an uncomfortably high level.

DOTA 2’s The International Tournament brought up attention and participation, particularly in mid-July.

All this GPU benchmarking, crash fixing, and performance optimizing later, I think it's about time we officially comment on Watch Dogs as more than a benchmarking tool. It is, after all, a vexingly-hyped game leaving a $68 million footprint in Ubisoft's budget. Putting things in perspective, Battlefield 4's budget hit nearly $100 million (and look how that turned out), Destiny's budget is $140 million, but even that is still pennies to GTA V's $265 million budget.

All the millions in the world, though, and I'm not sure Watch Dogs would ever be classifiable as "good" or "playable" for PC gamers.

watch-dogs-rev1A screenshot of one of Watch Dogs' bugs, credit to EuanMcCann.

This critical review will cover inexcusable hardware optimization concerns, PC control inadequacies, and major gameplay elements that prevent enjoyment of Watch Dogs.

We've put together a quick FPS performance optimization & screenshot settings guide for Watch Dogs, using configuration file tweaking to improve framerate. Our previous article/video guide for Watch Dogs covers removal of mouse acceleration and smoothing, and before that, we benchmarked Watch Dogs' performance on PCs, calling it 'horribly optimized.'

watch-dogs-performance

Here's the video tutorial for tweaking the Watch Dogs GamerProfile.xml file:

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

It wouldn't be a launch party without an accompanying round of 'crash fixes.' After the Titanfall crash fix guide, Skyrim launch, and Mass Effect 3 launch, it's become apparent that no AAA title ships without numerous, game-breaking defects. The same is true for Watch Dogs.

watch-dogs-screen2

We've already published a benchmark of the game's performance on numerous video cards -- highlighting its sub-par optimization issues -- and a mouse acceleration fix. Still, even with this behind us, tearing, stuttering, crashing / CTDs, freezing, and black screen / flickering issues run rampant in Watch Dogs.

Let's start with graphics issues that are easily resolved.

Update: We have an FPS optimization guide online now! Once you've got your crashes resolved, check out our FPS performance optimization guide + video.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

With the much anticipated release of Watch Dogs, nVidia is ensuring that users are getting the best-looking game they possibly can by releasing their newest 337.88 driver. The driver, by the way, is up for download here. It is no secret that nVidia has been working with developers, such as Ubisoft, to provide more realistic effects in games through their GameWorks program. Technology like TXAA, PhysX, and HBAO+ are some. But the partnership between Ubisoft and nVidia also leads to nVidia having ample time to optimize their drivers. In fact, nVidia claims that these drivers will boost framerates up to 75% in certain configurations and games, and although I am skeptical of this and will wait until our own benchmarks to draw conclusions, it is promising to see nVidia putting effort into their drivers like this.

Update: We’ve benchmarked Watch_Dogs on multiple GPUs and two CPUs. See the results here. nvidia-sli-watch-dogs

Game developers seem to have gotten it into their heads that gamers want mouse acceleration in all of their games. Skyrim is an example of this. In fact, my guide for removing Skyrim's mouse acceleration is one of our most popular articles on the site, showing just how much gamers want the feature. Apparently Ubisoft's decided to take a crack at forcing unpredictable, oft-sluggish / laggy-feeling mouse controls into Watch_Dogs.

watch-dogs-screen1

Luckily, a quick configuration file tweak can remove mouse acceleration, reveal ports for forwarding, field of view, and other graphics settings. Before getting started, check out our recent Watch Dogs video card & CPU benchmark.

Update: We've posted an additional crash fix guide! If you're experiencing crashing to desktop, blue screens, and inability to connect to Uplay servers, check out our newest guide.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

The Watch Dogs launch has been a worrisome one for PC hardware enthusiasts. We've heard tale of shockingly low framerates and poor optimization since Watch Dogs was leaked ahead of shipment, but without official driver support from AMD and limited support from nVidia, it was too early to call performance. Until this morning.

watch-dogs-bench-1

At launch, AMD pushed out its 14.6 beta drivers alongside nVidia's 337.88 beta drivers. Each promised performance gains in excess of 25% for specific GPU / Watch Dogs configurations. As we did with Titanfall, I've run Watch Dogs through our full suite of GPUs and two CPUs (for parity) to determine which video cards are best for different use cases of the game. It's never as clear-cut as "buy this card because it performs best," so we've broken-down how different cards perform on various settings.

In this Watch Dogs PC video card & CPU benchmark, we look at the FPS of the GTX 780 Ti, 770, 750 Ti, R9 290X, R9 270X, R7 250X, and HD 7850; to determine whether Watch Dogs is bottlenecked on a CPU level, I also tested an i5-3570K CPU vs. a more modern i7-4770K CPU. The benchmark charts below give a good idea of what video cards are required to produce playable framerates at Ultra/Max, High, and Medium settings.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

It wasn't long ago that AMD updated their Never Settle Forever bundle to include several new games. In the usual return fire, today we see nVidia offering the impending Watch_Dogs game with their GTX 760, 770, 780, and 780 Ti.

watch-dogs-specs

We've previously spoken about the Watch_Dogs PC system requirements and recommended specs over here, but to refresh everyone (including updated info):

Page 1 of 2

  VigLink badge