Watch Dogs Legion is the first open-world Ubisoft title to support ray tracing, so what do you need to do to achieve good performance? Well, even a baseline RTX 2060 can potentially outperform the next-gen consoles, but DLSS is essential to really push for 60 FPS. If you instead would like to watch some live gameplay going through different settings, then click here for my first impressions.
We’ve been playing around with the game for a few days now and the in-game benchmark has been extremely helpful. Being the first open-world game to use ray tracing, it’s been really fun to dive into the game and see how it scales with those performance taxing settings.
Before we get started, here are the official system requirements for Watch Dogs Legion on PC:
Review Test Bench:
- CPU – AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT
- GPU – NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super
- Cooler – Deepcool Gammax L240T
- RAM- 16 GB G.Skill TridentZ RGB (3000 MHz)
- Storage – Crucial P1 500GB NVMe PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
Watch Dogs: Legion PC Performance Benchmarks
The game includes ray tracing and DLSS support, with a variety of option in between them to poke around in. Starting off, I used the in-game benchmark to measure performance at 1080p, even though I’m using an RTX 2060 Super. This is because while the card is meant to use at 1440p high settings, I wanted to push the RTX features as high as possible. Turning down resolution provided a nice bump in performance. Here are the charts for 1080p with no RT or DLSS, RT at ‘High’ and then adding DLSS on top of it.
As can be gleaned from the benchmarks, the 2060 Super has no problem in pushing above 60 FPS on average with all the settings turned up to ‘Very high.’
Since the game provides multiple RTX and DLSS options, we had to go through all of them at all 3 major resolutions (1080p, 1440p, 4K), resulting in a huge chunk of data.
The most interesting one that I saw was at 4K on very high settings with RTX on and DLSS in performance mode:
Yes, the RTX 2060 Super can push above 30 FPS here while delivering pretty good looking visuals. As a reminder, Ubisoft has already stated that the next-gen console versions (Xbox Series X, PS5) will be targeting 4K 30 FPS with certain ray tracing features turned on. While we don’t know what the fidelity of those RT features will be, the PC version does give us some ideas. We’ve previously gone over how the RTX 2060 Super is roughly the PC equivalent of the Xbox One X, but these benchmarks show that the card has even more potential.
You should also note that we’re using DLSS’ performance mode to achieve higher than 30FPS, which can drop down pretty fast without NVIDIA’s AI reconstruction. However, with DLSS 2.0 being as good as it is, I would genuinely recommend everyone to turn it on and keep it at balanced.
DX11 vs DX12 – Signs of a Matured API
Watch Dogs Legion has support for DirectX 11 if you’re running older hardware, but if you have anything recent then you should run the game at DX12. Not only does it give you the option to turn on ray tracing and DLSS, but it also provides better raw performance without them compared to DX11!
RTX Off vs #RTXOn
Here’s a look at how ray tracing changes the look of the game. First up is RTX off vs #RTXOn (at Medium):
Let’s take another image comparision with ray tracing off and with it at medium:
Then, let’s kick it up a notch with RTX at High and Ultra:
It’s clear (and obvious) that going from RTX off to Medium shows the biggest difference, but going up to High and ultra just aren’t worth it.
DLSS Performance Analysis
Looking at the 3 DLSS modes (Performance, Balanced, Quality), it’s clear that the performance mode is the most blurry. It reminds me of DLSS back when it came out – not good. DLSS performance and balanced don’t offer too much difference in performance.
It’s worth noting that the in-game benchmark isn’t entirely accurate, as frame rate fluctuations will happen when traversing the open world. It’s something we saw with our Horizon Zero Dawn analysis, where the benchmark didn’t represent actual gameplay performance well. This might improve as game optimized drivers start coming in, as we tested the game before it came out.
I should also note that loading times in this Watch Dogs Legion are insanely fast! While the game isn’t completely built for SSDs (it’s a cross-gen game), on an NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 SSD the game will take maybe 4 seconds to load any event, be it fast travel or otherwise. That makes it one of the fastest loading games I’ve ever played, and that deserves some attention.
With all that said, if you have GPU capable of ray tracing, then use the DLSS balanced mode with RTX at medium as a starting point. You should also keep shadows and reflections at ‘High’ or lower for the best performance gains.
I’m really curious to see how the next-gen consoles (PS5, Xbox Series X|S) handle ray tracing, and at what quality. With the consoles launching in November we should get a good look at the next-gen version of the game soon, but if you don’t have to wait if you get the PC version.