Let’s get this over and done with right off the bat, the frame rate of Watch Dogs for both next generation systems is pretty damn impressive considering the shear amount of explosions and chaos often clogging up the screen. While the two versions don’t have complete ‘parity’ neither suffers from extreme slowdown and often manages to keep its nose firmly pressed against the 30FPS ceiling set by Ubisoft. This is quite a different story from the graphics settings and resolution for both the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
You might remember in our previous Tech Tribunal analysis of Watch Dogs we focused on the graphical differences between the two next generation platforms. The results were pretty interesting, slightly inferior lighting and shadows on the Xbox One version, but the biggest culprit of quality loss was likely due to the lower internal rendered resolution. When it comes to frame rate, we were a touch apprehensive if there’d be a frame rate difference. So, the best way we thought to test out the frame rate was to play under a variety of different conditions, day and night for example (as they’ll affect lighting, reflections and generally challenge the engine differently) and go from being a calm (almost) law abiding citizen to a psychopathic citizen who cares little for the NPC’s who’re sacrificed in the name of the frame rate gods.
The Xbox One version of Watch Dogs does suffer a slightly more with frame tearing – this has been demonstrated in the graphics analysis video, but it is worth bringing back up again. This isn’t so much an issue with the frame rate as it is annoying visually. You may or may not be sensitive to it, some can’t stand tearing while the vast majority don’t notice it, particularly if the frame rate is fairly solid and they’re in the middle of action.
Another curious point about the Xbox One version of Watch Dogs is frame rate certainly suffers a little more during times that achievements pop-up on screen. During tests, we’d noticed there were several repeated frames in a row during a large explosion – and all of this was due to a “achievement unlocked” popping up. This only appeared as an issue when things were busy, for example the “Hello World” which unlocks right near the start doesn’t do this, the frame rate continues ticking along merrily. This issue doesn’t seem to affect the PS4 version of Watch Dogs – or at least as we’ve noticed when the familiar trophy icon popped up.
The great news however is that even with us trying are hardest to get Watch Dog’s to make our Xbox One’s or Playstation 4’s cry, the frame rate was pretty steady fast. There was a few dips from 30 to 29 FPS, but they weren’t repeatable more often than not – meaning we couldn’t find issues with certain sections of the map over overs. The great news is that this isn’t a repeat of Tomb Raider for the consoles, where the PS4 version featured not only higher resolutions but better frame rate too – in this case, the only major issues would be the tearing and the ones we’ve already pointed out in our prior analysis.
Overall, the PS4 version does provide a little visual tearing too, but less than the Xbox One (in terms of the shear amount it happens). Frame rate for both rarely heads south of 30, and in most instances dips to only around 29 at worst. The real bonus for the PS4 version isn’t the frame rate, but instead the overall visual quality as we’ve discussed in our prior analysis (but still lacks behind the PC version of Watch Dogs at the highest settings) tand of course, Playstation owners do benefit from the additional content. If you’re a multiplatform owner, you’d likely be slightly better off with the PS4 version of Watch Dogs. But if you’ve got an Xbox One, then you’re certainly not going to be playing a poor version of the title by any means.