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Watch Dogs' graphics will "compare greatly to E3 2012"

"If you use the same weather at the same place at the same time."

Ubisoft has created a sprawling and dense virtual city in Watch Dogs - sometimes perhaps too bloated with things to be distracted by - but in recent weeks the debate around the game has ignored the game's content to instead focus on the matter of its looks.

Speaking again to creative director Jonathan Morin, this time at a recent preview event in Paris, I asked him for the final skinny on Watch Dogs' graphical capabilities (as good on PC as the game's initial E3 2012 showing, he promised, albeit with some conditions) and how the various platforms stacked up.

"People look at things and interpret things based on what they know," Morin begins. "You cannot control that." He's referencing the fallout he faced last month after a story trailer was released that fans compared negatively with the game's E3 2012 reveal. "Trailer wasn't a good GFX ref," Morin responded on Twitter at the time.

"I think the game compares greatly to E3 2012 if you use the same weather at the same place at the same time," Morin told me. "People are really responding to stuff like reflection, to rain, things like that - which is why we chose those settings for E3 2012 to show the full potential we can get.

"But it's equally spectacular for me to look at twilight time with clouds and no shadow and it still look good. Even the PlayStation 4 version compares to the E3 [2012 build] pretty good. There are resolution differences, one or two effects which are more dedicated to high-end PCs. But in the end I think it's pretty fricking close."

Not only was the March story trailer running on PS4, it also wasn't focused on showing off the game at its best, Morin argues - something which a recent PC trailer boasting Nvidia technology prompty rectified.

"Even the PlayStation 4 version compares to the E3 [2012 build] pretty good. I think it's pretty fricking close."

Jonathan Morin, Watch Dogs creative director
Cover image for YouTube video11. Watch Dogs Ubisoft E3 2012 Press Conference

From personal experience of playing the game, what Morin says about the game's location and time of day also plays a huge part. The city simply does not look as good during the day as at night, in rain, when Watch Dogs' beautiful lighting and reflection technology is brought into play.

These are the settings for the game's original demo - and its no coincidence. "At E3 we had to make sure we used the full spectrum of it," Morin affirms.

And console players won't be short-changed, he promises.

"I did a comparison with a PC and PS4 side-by-side," Morin recalls. "I'm not even sure I can access the best ever PC that could run it, but my PC at my desk which was still pretty good - and it's pretty close.

"There are noticeable difference, it's mainly stuff like when you put the wind in very strong situations, tree dynamics with lots of leaves moving at the same time, on PlayStation 4 sometimes you can see certain things going on - some tearing and stuff like that. I think that's normal to some extent."

"It's flattering in the sense that they care about the game... whether sometimes they're pissed or not."

Cover image for YouTube videoWatch_Dogs featuring NVIDIA Technologies [UK]

The game's delayed Wii U version will skew more towards last-gen consoles than the newer machines, meanwhile. "Wii U is more towards current-gen... It's not more towards PS4," he affirms, and certainly no where near PC.

"Seeing it without any of those issues [on PC] is kind of impressive," he continues, "but it's really fine detail like that - it's for certain people, and definitely PC gamers are those kind of people, who notice every single detail.

"And I'm being reminded of that every single day," he laughs, recalling his Twitter interactions with aggrieved graphics-hungry fans. "I love those guys."

Morin is the public face for Watch Dogs on Twitter, regularly dipping in to fan questions during the game's long wait for launch. But even when the comments are negative, it's a sign that game still matters, he concludes.

"They're emotional about it and to me it's flattering in the sense that they care about the game... I see that as passionate people. Whether sometimes they're pissed or not - I find it fascinating. And I'm curious to see what it'll be like when the game comes out - people will give their opinions, what they hate, what they love."

This article is based on a press trip to Paris. Ubisoft paid for travel and accommodation. Ubisoft also gave asset bags to journalists that contained a Nexus 7 tablet that we have donated to charity in accordance with our public policies. Check out this comment from our editor for more details.