‘Watch Dogs 2’ PC Impressions: How Does The PC Version Fare Compared To The Console? [Opinion]

Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2 has been critically hailed on console as one of the best titles of the holiday season. And for good reason: Watch Dogs 2 blends the hacking elements we craved but were left wanting in the original Watch Dogs. The game also gives players a vibrant game world to explore using multiple tools and skills to do so. It finally breaks the “Ubisoft formula” and offers a unique experience in its vast library of games. Watch Dogs 2 is at its best when you are simply sneaking around, hacking your way to more followers, and bringing down Blume, the Big Brother-like specter hovering over the city of San Francisco.

[Image by Ubisoft]

Ubisoft has obviously learned from the fallout with the original Watch Dogs, in terms of both the quality of the game they put out as well as how that game was marketed. Little to no hype was drummed up by both the publisher and the mainstream gaming press, which the latter might be a direct result of the damage that hype played in the downfall of the first title. From showing a game that then underwent a massive graphical downgrade, especially on PC, to the disdain of fans everywhere. The first true look at a “next-gen” title looked decidedly worse than what was sold. Couple that with the fact Watch Dogs turned out to be yet another generic cover-based-shooter and the main hacking element — which made it stand apart from the Grand Theft Autos of the world — was somewhat lacking, Watch Dogs 2 certainly didn’t have much to live up to.

And it seems the team developing the game seemed to know that as Watch Dogs 2 improves upon everything aspect of the game in a meaningful way. And this is first and foremost with PC performance. The game runs like an absolute dream, and the only real issues with it coming from a suspect driver and not the game itself, personally. Firing it up on my i7-6700K, GTX 980 equipped PC, Watch Dogs 2 never really struggled. There have been pockets where the framerate wasn’t good, but those can be traced down to asset streaming on my hard drive and not an issue with the way Watch Dogs 2 is optimized. The keyboard and mouse controls are well thought out, although I did find myself remapping the hacking controls from the mouse wheel to the side buttons on my mouse for comfort. And in the end, after spending 20 hours or so playing on the PlayStation 4, comfort had me plugging in the Dual Shock 4 for most of my time with Watch Dogs 2 PC.

[Image by Ubisoft]

Compared to the console versions, Watch Dogs 2 definitely comes out on top in terms of both gameplay experience and visual quality. Watch Dogs 2 doesn’t look bad on console. But within minutes of starting the game on PC, the visual difference was clear. Better quality lighting, shaders, and the optional ultra high-resolution textures all play a role in making Watch Dogs 2 look even better than its console counterpart. Couple this with the doubling in framerate and you’re met with a smoother, more responsive experience — especially while driving — in the game. Additionally, the frequent screen tearing and framerate issues that plagued my experience on PS4 during car chases or high-stress moments disappeared on PC, with my FPS seemingly only dropping when it was streaming assets and not because the engine was buckling under load. This doesn’t mean Watch Dogs 2 on PS4 is unplayable. I would contest because of how Watch Dogs 2 puts more emphasis on the hacker and not so much on getting into massive gun fights or car chases (though it does have those moments), the times when the PS4 seemed to be struggling weren’t during some of the more common gameplay occurrences. However, it should be stated that the PC version holds the overall smoother, more consistent experience when compared to the consoles.

Watch Dogs 2 is thankfully not the same game its predecessor tried to be. It neither promised too much or showed too little, and as a result, it’s a game worth your time, as it does everything it tries to do really well. It’s representation of “hacker culture” is superb, while the game’s portrayal of one of America’s most iconic cities is without a doubt one of the best examples of an in-game world. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and in doing so, it tells a pretty good story coupled with extremely tight gameplay elements. If you’ve been on the fence with Watch Dogs 2, as I was initially, it’s well worth your time, especially on the PC.

[Featured Image by Ubisoft]

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