Watch Dogs Legion has had a big update that brings the game in line with many other next-gen releases – 60FPS. But is it any good? What are the downsides? What are the positives? That’s what I stayed up late to find out.
The latest update for Watch Dogs Legion brings support for 60FPS gameplay on all next-gen consoles. It’s an option you can flick on and off in the menus and the great thing is, especially when it came to recording the footage and taking screenshots – you don’t need to reboot the game for the new settings to take effect – they just happen with a tiny transitional period that’s barely noticeable.
The first thing to note is that going from 30FPS to 60FPS has some drawbacks. To get the game running at a smooth 60, Ubisoft has had to make some sacrifices, and the biggest feature to be lain at the alter of 60FPS gameplay is ray-tracing – the big next-gen feature that really made you look at the game and go “oh, that’s nice – that’s next-gen.”
Well, you have to say sayonara to ray tracing if you want to play Watch Dogs Legion at 60FPS. You also have to say goodbye to the High settings the game uses – and this is something revealed by the in-game menu where you flip between different performance modes.
30FPS is the standard with High settings and ray-tracing. 60FPS, known as Balanced mode, ups the frame rate but drops the graphical settings to medium and flips the switch on ray tracing, meaning London’s puddle soaked streets are a little less eye-catching.
But is it worth it? Yes, but there are some flaws, which I will talk about, but first, the positives.
Next-gen and 60FPS should be two words married to each other – at least that’s my opinion. These new and very expensive consoles should be delivering 60FPS every single time, without question. It’s a matter of maintaining player expectations. We’re only eight months into the new generation but I’ve become so used to playing games at 60fps, I’ve become a bit of a snob when it comes to playing games from last-gen. I love Sleeping Dogs, but up until the game got the FPS Boost treatment on Xbox Series X|S, I refused to touch it. The same goes for many games that I once held up as the greats of the PS4/Xbox One generation – Watch Dogs 2, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and so on.
There’s the expectation, then, that games will run at 60FPS on consoles – it just makes no sense in a year’s time for developers to revert back to 30 so that they can throw prettier visuals or hit that 4K checkmark. So, for me, 60FPS is now a must-have feature these days. You get a better connection between you, the controller, and the screen, something that I never realised I was missing until the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S moved in last winter.
Watch Dogs Legion benefits greatly, especially when it comes to driving around London. The driving always felt a little stiff, slow, and janky before the update. I’d try to throw a hatchback around a corner and end up smashing into some poor sod waiting for their bus. Now, though, I’m flying down the streets and alleys at breakneck speed, throwing dirty drifts in the faces of my Albion pursuers.
Combat is much the same, too. Countering melee attacks feels like child’s play now, and after a slight period of readjustment, gunplay is much more enjoyable with the extra responsiveness on the sticks. Headshots galore.
But it’s not perfect. That 60FPS does drop when hell breaks loose and there’s a lot of screen tearing, especially when driving fast and spinning the camera around to follow your vehicle into a turn. It’s noticeable but not a ruiner by any means, and it’s something both consoles are afflicted with – make no mistake, both versions are basically identical, and that includes the poorer level of detail settings in 60FPS mode. During my jaunt through London which saw me commit daylight murder with a nailgun, I nicked a bus and tried to outrun my pursuers. I was distracted, though, by the sight of vehicles up ahead fizzling into existence, lights first and then the body. It was off-putting and it took me out of what should have been a moment of stupid, ill-thought-out fun.
These are minor issues, mind you, and to be fair, they could be fixed in future updates. Ubisoft is notoriously good at post-launch support and updates, so credit where credit is due for this update even making it out of the door in the first place. Ubisoft didn’t have to do it. Activision would have charged for it. We’re all winners.
Personally, I prefer to play at 60FPS. The graphics are still perfectly fine and I don’t really miss the ray-tracing – I went my whole life without it until 2020 – but the gains in performance and responsiveness are too big the pass up, and while Watch Dogs Legion always looked like it next-gen game on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, it now feels like one.