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Modder restores PC Watch_Dogs ultra-high E3 2012 settings

Watch_Dogs' E3 2012 reveal easily ensured it was the game of the expo that year. It generated a lot of hype for the game; hype that the game miraculously managed to live up to in almost every respect. Almost being the operative word. If there's one area where the E3 demo outstripped the final release, its in the graphics department.


Questions about the game's visual downgrade started to surface earlier in the year when the new trailers for the game seemed to be a bit less polished than the original E3 2012 demo. While there's no doubt that the game's innovative play mechanics were a big part of why gamers took to the franchise, there's also no denying the phenomenal visuals played a big part in generating the wow factor that kept people so keen on it.

The final game came out not to long ago - to rave reviews and record sales- but that initial visual sheen still isn't there. Except that maybe it is. An intrepid modder called TheWorse decided to scratch around the PC version's code and discovered that many of the advanced effects from the E3 2012 demo are still in there, but deliberately made unavailable. He's since put together a patch that re-activates many of them. In his post on the Guru3D forums about the patch he wrote:

“Then I saw many threads talking about the engine when I realized it was based on dunia 2 so I tried to unpack the files which obviously not worked.. so after searching so much for the unpacker I found it, started playing with it and after a long time of testing I ended up getting the E3 Bloom from 2012 working. After studying how bin hex worked and downloading many tools to convert files etc, I was able to integrate and enable many effects. I told myself to keep trying and trying and that is what I have done.”

The effects his mod have been able to re-activate include:
  • Changes to the default fog values
  • Enabled bokeh DOF for the main cameras
  • Stuttering Improvements
  • E3 2012 Bloom
  • Performance Improvements
  • Enabled Headlight Shadows
  • LoD Changes
  • Reflection changes
  • Added 3 new cameras to the game(closer, normal, further)
  • Rain changes(High quality rain drops, properly reacting to light, etc)
  • LensFlares(WIP)
  • Lighting changes(TESTING AND WIP)
  • Civilians density changes
With no answers

So far those that have used the mod, haven't had any complaints and it doesn't seem to have negatively affected the game's performance. Quite the opposite, some have reported a more stable experience. The question remains then, if all that amazing graphical wizardry was still there in the code, why did Ubisoft take the decision to block it off?

The conspiratorial within the gaming community have speculated that Ubisoft deliberately hamstrung the PC version so as not to show up the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, which seems a dubious proposition to me. Even if that's true, there still no answer to why? What does Ubisoft gain by making their game look worse than it's best?

Lets hear your thoughts about it in the comments. If you want to give the mod a try for yourself or to see the screenshots in the full glory, you can find them here.






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