The first footage emerged from the beta of Watch_Dogs caused mixed reactions, mostly because the quality of most of the videos was low. It hasn’t been rare to see people comparing the game to the visuals of Grand Theft Auto V, or even arguing that it looks worse. Things have started to get out of hand when that kind of misconception filtered over to a few media outlets.
Luckily a reader that opted to remain anonymous took it upon himself to send us 15 high quality screenshots snapped from the PS4 beta of the game. They’ve been sent directly using the PSN messaging method and saved via PlayStation app to ensure the least compression and highest quality possible, in fact each file ranges between 750k and over one megabyte.
You can check them out in the gallery below, keeping in mind that the beta has lower quality assets compared to the final game in order to keep the download size down, as the NDA clearly mentions.
Now that we have seen how the beta of the game actually looks on PS4, let’s compare a few of those screenshots with Grand Theft Auto V. It’s easy to hurriedly say “it look worse” due to blurry memories of a game you loved, but looking at the screenshots side by side leaves no doubt on the fact that the two titles look nothing alike.
Of course it’s not really possible to match exactly the same situation in both games, but looking at reasonably similar elements we can easily spot the differences beyond the obvious resolution. Models in Watch_Dogs have a much higher polygon count than in Grand Theft Auto V, textures are way more detailed and have a higher resolution (looking at the asphalt is very telling), and the overall object density is on a whole different planet.
An easy example of that is that most “grass” in Grant Theft Auto V is simply a blurry, low resolution texture slapped on the mesh of the ground, with very few clumps of actual vegetation scattered here and there. In Watch_Dogs the blades of grass are actual textured polygons. The same can be said about many other details, like the headlights of the cars for instance. Watch_Dogs on PS4 is a much denser, much more detailed game, rendered at higher resolution, with a higher triangle count and higher resolution textures, and it isn’t even in its final incarnation.
This isn’t to say that Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t look great. It does, especially for an old-gen game, even thanks to the fact that it can count on the full optimization of its platforms that you can see only at the end of a generation. Yet, saying that Watch_Dogs looks similar or worse is improper at best, and disingenuous in the worst case. It’s a cross-generation game, so it won’t be the prettiest experience you’ll see this year for sure (the aliasing is very visible for instance, and ambient occlusion is weak, making the world look flatter than it could with a better AO solution), but the comparison with GTA5 simply does not fit the bill.
Considering that the screenshots are from the beta, and the assets aren’t final, we’ll have to see how the actual game will look on release, but so far so good.
By the way, if you’re wondering…. Yes, they really put “FAP FAP FAP” in the game. I couldn’t make that up even if I tried.