Highlights from the first comparison of Watch Dogs Legion ray tracing on Xbox Series and PC from Digital Foundry

The older Microsoft console delivers ray traced performance on par with the RTX 2060 Super.

On November 13, Alex Battalia of Digital Foundry released an in-depth comparison of the nextgen versions of Watch Dogs Legion on the Xbox Series with the PC release. We chose the main thing from the material.

  • DF was able to extract the exact settings for all console versions of the game from the game files on the PC.
  • Alex Battalia has not yet been able to test the PS5 version (by the time the video was recorded, it had not been released), however, the graphics level on the Sony console should be identical to that of the Xbox Series X – all settings are exactly the same.
  • The graphics quality on Xbox Series S and X is such that it cannot be achieved on PC by simply lowering the settings, but by editing the files, Battalia was able to actually run the Xbox Series X version of the game on PC. As it turned out, for a game with the same graphics (and slightly sharper reflections), the RTX 2060 Super is enough – on it the game runs in native 4K and 30 FPS, even without dynamic resolution.
  • Battalia notes that Spider-Man: Miles Morales remains the best demonstration of ray tracing on consoles so far. This is due to the fact that Insomniac originally made the game with a target of 60 FPS without ray tracing, and Ubisoft – with a target of 30 FPS. Thus, the Spider developers had more room to maneuver – they allowed themselves a longer drawing range. However, in some ways Watch Dogs comes out ahead – for example, it has reflections inside reflections, and the city model itself, from which the rays capture the image, is a little more detailed.
  • Watch Dogs Legion on Series X uses a stochastic ray tracing model, which gives a better image quality than its base version. In addition, ray tracing with object transparency is supported on consoles.
  • On Series X, the game runs in dynamic resolution from 1440p to 4K – the former can be seen when driving down the street in a car. Series S ranges from 900p to 1080p.
  • To achieve acceptable performance on consoles, Ubisoft disabled some of the graphical features of the PC version: removed shadows for car headlights, halved the global illumination resolution, and lowered the quality of shadows. In addition, ultra-quality textures are not used on consoles.
  • On consoles, there are no complex effects like smoke in reflections – unlike PCs, and the SSR is reduced.
  • On PC, reflections are rendered at 50% of the picture resolution, and on consoles, at 25%. On Xbox Series X, reflections are at 1080p, and on Series S, at 720p. Checkerboard rendering is also used for ray tracing on both consoles and PCs.
  • On a PC, the rendering range of reflections is much higher. On consoles, they are replaced by a blurry cube map much closer.
    Unlike PCs, consoles have ray traced reflections in the water, but they work over short distances.
  • In general, the ray tracing settings on consoles are lower than the lowest on PC. Reflections are not only simplified on their own, but also completely disabled on some surfaces – for example, on partially matte metals.
  • NVIDIA graphics cards do a better job of noise reduction ray tracing even at exactly the same settings. On both Xbox, reflections flicker more in motion.
  • As Battalia notes, in games without ray tracing, Series X can be comparable to the RTX 2080, but we are talking about an RTX 2060 Super card. However, we are talking about the beginning of a generation, so many new optimization methods will have to be found on the developer’s consoles, including its analogue DLSS.
  • Battalia asks players not to draw far-reaching conclusions from this test, noting that so far we are talking about only one game, and here a lot depends on the developers from Ubisoft.

Examples of

PCs have reflections in metal surfaces, but consoles don't

PCs have reflections in metal surfaces, but consoles don’t

PC with settings like Xbox Series X produces cleaner reflections than a console

PC with settings like Xbox Series X produces cleaner reflections than a console

A distant building is visible only on a PC with "Ultra" settings, on consoles it no longer gets rendered and is replaced by a cube map

A distant building is visible only on a PC with “Ultra” settings, on consoles it no longer gets rendered and is replaced by a cube map


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