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Watch Dogs 2: Graphics Quality & Performance

Level 15

Unlike console gamers who have little to no control over the image quality of their games, PC gamers are can tweak the game to their heart’s desire. After all, it’s one of the perks for belonging to the PC Master Race. Watch Dogs 2 on the PC comes with a plethora of graphics options that you can experiment with. Some of the options are self-explanatory. But if you’re unfamiliar with a particular option, you can always hover your mouse over the option in question to read a brief explanation of what it does and how it will affect your performance.



The game lets you can choose between five different graphics presets which include Low, Medium, High, Very High and Ultra. These presets are awesome for gamers who prefer spending their time playing the game instead of tweaking it. Though the results from my testing show that the difference in performance and image quality between presets is pretty noticeable. So if you’re looking for a more balanced gaming experience, playing with the different graphics options can yield a better end result.

Test System


Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K
Cooler: EKWB Predator 360
Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme
Memory: HyperX Fury 16GB (2x8GB) 2666MHz
Graphics Card: ASUS Strix GTX 1050 Ti & ASUS Strix GTX 1080
Storage: Kingston Savage 480GB
Power Supply: In Win SIII-1065W
Case: In Win D-Frame 2.0
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Anniversary Edition
Drivers: NVIDIA 376.33 WHQL
Display: ASUS PG27AQ

The game is updated to the latest public release available. V-Sync is disabled. I used FRAPS to capture the FPS during a specific benchmark run. The system is restarted before each benchmark run.

1920 x 1080 With The Strix GTX 1050 Ti


For the raw performance seekers, the High Preset is the most suitable since you’ll be averaging around 56FPS or higher depending on the scene. But if you prefer image quality over a high framerate, the Very High and Ultra presets will certainly make the game more pleasing to the eye. I was curious to see if it was possible to improve the performance without compromising the graphics quality too much.


My custom preset sits right in between the Ultra and Very High presets. I am averaging 40FPS and occasionally the game will dip into 32FPS in some of the more taxing areas. But overall, gameplay is smooth and enjoyable.


I used the Ultra preset as a baseline. Then I configured the Vegetation option to High and the Texture Filtering and Shadows options to Very High. I also disabled Depth of Field. As you can see, the difference between this custom preset and the Ultra preset is barely noticeable but performing slightly better in regards to FPS.

Ultra Preset

Custom Preset

2560 x 1440 With The Strix GTX 1080


If your graphics card is a powerhouse, you should have no problem surpassing the 60FPS mark even at 2560 x 1440 with the Ultra Preset. You might even find yourself with an excess of FPS in which case you have the luxury to further improve the image quality.


In Watch Dogs 2, the Multisample Antialiasing option can really punish the fastest of graphics card. Even the lowest MSAA value will easily cut your average FPS in half.


You can increase the Extra Details option from 0% to 100% without much worries since won’t affect the overall FPS significantly. Enabling MSAA x2 helps reduce jagged edges although you do lose FPS. Nevertheless, the gameplay was still smooth.

Ultra Preset

Custom Preset

Level 15
3840 x 2160 With The Strix GTX 1080


If you game on a 4K monitor, you won’t get anywhere near 60FPS without sacrificing a lot of image quality. With a Strix GTX 1080, you can probably choose between the High or Very High preset depending on your preference.


However, I was able modify a few options which helped to boost performance to match that of the Very High present while maintaining almost the same image quality of the Ultra Preset.


I turned the Vegetation and Screenspace Reflections down a notch and proceeded to disable the Depth of Field and Bloom options. Modifying these four options allowed me to boost my performance. You can see from the images below that the image quality has been preserved pretty well.

Ultra Preset

Custom Preset

Level 12
Great post Chino, some useful info there mate thanks.

Hi Chino

I'll have to agree Watchdogs 2 is very demanding. With The ROG Strix 1070 and 6700k at 1440p, high res texture pack, ultra settings and AO and AA turned off I average around 40 - 50 FPS and as you say in some areas in the 30's. It's still playable but a monitor with G-sync would definitely help smooth out gameplay.

What I've found with the game is when it loads go to options and set shadows to low, go back to the game then go to options again and set shadows to the highest, for whatever reason this gives me about a 10 FPS boost.

Here is a video of me hacking cars off the dock, if I have a co-op partner to distract the enemies on foot it works much better.

Start about 5:20

Level 12
We need more of these guides, hopefully more members can be inspired to share similar guides. Thanks for sharing this Nate!

@ Nate152

It´s curious you mentioning that trick of yours. I have a similar one with Homefront: the revolution (on Strix 1080 SLI) - I start the game with 50 FPS with every setting maxed (except AA). There´s an option refering to "Shadow projection" or something like that (it´s at the bottom of advanced graphics), if I set it down to 50% and apply it instantly goes to 75 fps. Then I reboot the game and it´s doing those 50 again... I go to that parameter and increase it back to 100% and the game climbs back to 75 fps and stays there.

After this I get around 70-80 fps on the streets, 90 exploring buildings and 100-120 in subways and underground passages.

Looking at GPU Tweak II, in the first scenario where I´m doing 50 FPS, one GPU is hovering 90% usage and the other 60%. After this "trick" both GPU´s hover 90-93%.

Go Figure 😛

Level 9
A very resumed approach to tweak Watchdogs 2 performance. Sorry to say but in Nvidia´s site you´ll find a much deeper and comprehensive graphic tweaking guide 😛 As an example, that San Francisco Smog turned off gives you 5 FPS more. Temporal filtering on gives you almost 10. Pushing Extra Details to 100% will have a great impact on performance. I´ve gone through Watchdogs 2 with one Strix1080, i74770K and 16 GB RAM averaging 50 FPS so yeah...

If you are looking for a real guide just go to Nvidia´s

Here is the performance increase I was talking about, I recorded it so you could see.

I start the game with shadows set to the highest, then set them to the lowest and return to the game, then set them back to the highest.

As I'm looking across the street, see the FPS from beginning to end it's a gain of 12 - 13 FPS.

As many times as I've done this little trick, this is the first time I've noticed the shadows don't seem to be at their highest when starting the game. Even though they're at the highest from the start, I can see they're much clearer after changing them. Looks like some kind of a game glitch ?

Do you guys get a performance increase ?