Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Bad (Watch) Dogs

Ubisoft’s new video game called Watch Dogs is out on consoles and PCs at the same time. When they showed off the game last year, the graphics looked astonishingly good. When it came out on the Xbone and the PlayStation Number earlier this year, the graphics were kind of… ehhh. Good but not as good. Well, that makes sense. PCs have vastly more powerful graphics processing capabilities than consoles, and so when the game comes out on consoles, it’ll look amazing.

But then it came out on the PC, and it still didn’t. Hm. So where was that gorgeous Watch Dogs game that we all saw?

Turns out, they were hiding in the game all alone. Some guy named TheWorse released a patch that made the game look crazy good. Ars Technica writes:

Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal; similar graphical effects mods for games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Skyrim are incredibly popular among PC gamers with high-end rigs. What made the Watch Dogs mod interesting is that many of its “new” graphical effects were apparently already in the game’s shipped code and were simply disabled for players who didn’t tinker with the game files.

Graphical features like fog, bokeh depth of field, and bloom lighting effects were apparently written into the PC version of the game, only to be removed before it shipped. What’s more, re-enabling them though the mod doesn’t seem to make the game crash.

The best is the comments in Ubisoft’s source code which refer to the graphics settings as “E3 mode,” E3 being the name of the gaming convention where Watch Dogs was first showed off. Smooth, guys.

This reminds me of what Ferrari was accused of doing a few years back: sending hilariously souped-up versions of their cars to journalists to test.