Watch Dogs 2 PC Review

We already reviewed Ubisoft’s rather hip Watch Dogs 2 game on Xbox One and found a neat slice of comedic hacking – you can read up on it here. However, with the PC version coming in a bit later and being host to some extra visual effects it’s time to comment on those especially as many people experience performance issues with new releases until they are patched. Unfortunately, we’re coming from the higher end of users with our GTX 1080 performing very well, so in fairness this review is going to have to not focus too heavily on specifics of how well the game performs even if there’s a whole suite of options available to tailor the game to suit therefore people with older cards should be able to run the game as long as expectations of running the game using Ultra settings and a GTX 970 are thrown out of the window.

Ubisoft’s official page suggests a minimum requirement of:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400S @ 2.5 GHz / AMD FX 6120 @ 3.5 GHz
GPU: GeForce GTX 660
VRAM: 2GB
RAM: 6GB
OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only)
HDD: 50GB free space

The recommended specs features the common GTX 970 but as mentioned if you’re wanting to max out the settings then the recommended specs aren’t going to cut it. To put things into perspective. Our GTX 1080 stock can’t even maintain a solid 60 frames per second at 1080p with all the settings cranked up such is the nature of open world games (see video below).

Recommended System Requirements

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 @ 3.2 GHz / AMD FX 8120 @ 3.9 GHz
GPU: GeForce GTX 780, GeForce GTX 970, or GeForce GTX 1060
VRAM: 3GB
RAM: 8GB
OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only)
HDD: 50GB free space

Once you’ve tweaked the game to suit though then you’re bound to find San Francisco a colorful and rich playground to mess around in alongside its cast of larger than life characters – again special mention to Wrench who is the best character by far. However, the real beauty of the game lies in bumping up the visual qualities and playing the game in 1440p(2K) or 2160p (4k). In addition to the core console game, Ubisoft added a higher resolution texture pack for PC gamers which can only be fully appreciated when sitting closer to the screen and in 4K. You’ll notice some fine details absent from the console version that are perhaps easy to miss if you’re not specifically looking for them. What you will notice is how smooth the game feels with the bonus of 60 frames per second compared to the console’s locked 30. However, 2K and 4K is where it’s at and as expected on Ultra presets even it’s hard to maintain 60 frames per second at 2K and impossible to obtain in 4K. So the trade-off is the age old better visuals and less smooth gameplay. That said, if you do dial things back a little you’ll notice Watch Dogs 2 is bathed in finer foliage details, much more realistic lighting and shadows making for a fine looking game all round. The PC version no matter what resolution you’re playing at always trumps what’s on offer on the consoles although in some instances the untrained eye might not be quick to notice. There’s also the distance from the monitor or TV to take into consideration. Whilst at longer distances you’re still able to spot the visual acuity 2 or 4K affords over 1080p the details are less noticeable until you’re literally a few feet away from the screen – then the little touches pop out at you.

So, to conclude. On higher spec computers Watch Dogs 2 can run at 1080p with ultra settings and offer a comfortable playing experience that surpasses the console equivalents. However, playing in 2K at least is where the game really shines and if you’re able to play with the ultra preset in 2K then it’s a visual treat to behold. 4K is out there in no man’s land using Ultra settings where only those with the highest rated cards can benefit although at an unsteady 30 frames per second is what you’re likely to experience unless running on the new Titan X. Still, if it’s eye candy you’re after then this is very much the pinnacle of the experience. You can push the settings beyond ultra but here you’re at the lower end of 24 frames per second which becomes less playable. Once dual GPU support works then maybe the very few gamers who have these will see some magic.

Watch Dogs 2 is a cool game and worth checking out. It’s a departure from the original, offering a more tongue-in-cheek look at modern society and the hacker movement. The stealth and action is good fun even if pure stealth is somewhat difficult.

Score 8.5/10

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.