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Watch Dogs 2 Optimize and Fix Low FPS/Stutter On PC


So Watch Dogs 2 is out and it turns out not to be a as good PC port as people say (personal opinion) with a wide variety of graphical settings to play with. Bellow is the list of out each and every setting, its function with the average fps cost. But first as always check if your computer meets the minimum system requirements .

Analysis Part 1
Note: When set on low settings possible it consumes about 1.6 GB VRAM @ 1080p.

Pixel Density:
  It is found in the Display section. Increases the internal rendering resolution of the game irrespective of the resolution set. The game runs on the display resolution you applied and all the HUD elements, menu, etc will be scaled according to your resolution but the in-game objects, scene, etc will be rendered by the multiplier chosen.
It's a neat option, lets say you hate reducing the resolution because the HUD elements, etc will be scaled down and they look blurry. With this option you can enjoy all of them at your monitors native resolution. You can't increase the multiplier more than 1.00x on 4K, but we can decrease.
  •  Ranges from: 0.25x - 1.50x 
  •  COST: When set to 1.50x on 1080p: about 15+ fps and depends on other settings.
  •  Thoughts: Leave it on 1.00x
  It increases the overall graphical complexity of all the objects in the world. It's like the Level of Detail (LoD) setting in other games. Unlike WD1 where LoD controlled all options such as Vegetation, Terrain, Physics, Geometry, etc.
  •  Ranges from: Off - High - Very High - Ultra
  •  COST: About 5~9 fps.
  •  Thoughts: Set it on Medium or High. FPS cost is even more less for those who are having latest cards such as Maxwell or Pascal cards.

Extra Details:
  Extending the Level of Detail even beyond the capabilities of the default setting. Only for high-end PCs. Performance varies depending on overall settings applied. Consumes about 100 MB of VRAM. Note that it's very demanding on CPU
  •  Ranges from: 0% - 100%
  •  COST: 10~12 fps with most of the other settings on ultra.
  •  Thoughts: Leave it on 0%
  Increases the quality of terrain details of the world.
  •  Ranges from: Low - High - Ultra
  •  COST: 1~3 fps.
  •  Thoughts: Set it to High. You wouldn't find much of a difference when on Ultra.
  Level of Detail setting for foilage such as trees, bushes, grass, etc.
  •  Ranges from: Low - High - Ultra
  •  COST: About 2~4 fps. Maybe higher if there are lots of trees and depends on Shadows.
  •  Thoughts: High is fine. Not much difference between High - Ultra and you can save a frame or 2.
Texture Resolution:
  Handles the quality of the textures applied in the game. Ultra option is available only if you downloaded the free Ultra Textures DLC pack.
  •  Ranges from: Low - Medium - High - Ultra
         Comparison: Right click, open in new tab and compare. 

Low: Loads basic dull textures.
Medium: Some standard quality of textures added to the world.
High: See the bag textures, while there is only a small change to most of the environment.
Ultra: For 4K resolution in compensation for the scaling. Can't find much difference otherwise.

VRAM: Medium: 350 MB; High: 850 MB; Ultra: 18
50 MB (In addition to 1.6 GB)
  • Thoughts: Set to Medium (2 GB+) for now, or High (4 GB) at the most, avoid Ultra (4 GB+) 
Texture Filtering:
 Or also called as Anisotropic Filtering which makes the textures look sharp and clear when viewed at different angles.
  • Ranges from: Low - Medium - High - Ultra
  • COST: Negligible. It depends on the Texture resolution setting.
  • Thoughts: Just leave it on Ultra.
Shadows: Controls the quality of shadows which are casted by the objects in-game. It has PCSS which is one of the Nvidia tech and HFTS is available only for Maxwell and Pascal cards.
  • Ranges from: Low - Medium - High - Very High - Ultra - PCSS - HFTS 
          Comparison: Right click, open in new tab and compare. 


  • COST: When set to Ultra/PCSS it consumes about 1 GB of VRAM and 10~15 fps approx.
  • Thoughts: It looks just fine on Low. PCSS is just crap, doesn't look great even at that cost of performance. It looked epic in GTA V with just 5~7 fps cost while only consuming some VRAM. Couldn't test HFTS because mine's a Kepler card.
Headlight Shadows:
 The headlights of the vehicle you are driving and nearby vehicles create shadows at night time if the setting is enabled.
  • Ranges from: Off - Your Car - 2 Cars - 3 Cars - 4 Cars

2 Cars

  • COST: 1~3 fps 
  • Thoughts: Off because it will only add too much load on your GPU creating additional shadows which again depends on your Shadows setting, so leave it disabled. But if you want realism then choose 'Your Car' or '2 Cars' at the most.
    Analysis Part
     Controls the quality of the Water in the world. On Low, reflections on water are disabled.
    • Ranges from: Low - High
    • COST: 1~3 fps
    • Thoughts: Leave it on High because it adds more realism to the scene and isn't that demanding. Water splash textures look so blurry even at Ultra Water and Ultra Texture Resolution.
    Controls the total quality of reflections rendered on glass panes of buildings, windshields of cars, Glass panels of stores, etc. On Low, only sky reflections can be seen.
    • Ranges from: Low - High
    • COST: 2~3 fps depending on the number of such surfaces in the scene.
    • Thoughts: Leave it on High.
    Screen Space Reflections:
    Or SSR in short, simulates High quality reflections on wet and glossy surfaces. Increases the visual quality of a dull scene. Ultra increases quality a bit and the LoD.
    • Ranges from: Off - Medium - High - Very High - Ultra
    • COST: 2~5 fps
    • Thoughts: Off. Could be very demanding when it rains because more wet surfaces = more reflections to be rendered. Its flickers a lot and aren't rendered properly in interiors for some reason, and it's even more noticeable with the recent 1.09 patch.
    San Francisco Fog:
    When enabled, it adds huge volume of fog around the main bridges and also when it's raining and in other occasions. Could be performance intensive when enabled with SSR.
    • COST: Varies greatly depending on the weather (5~20 fps)
    • Thoughts: It looks amazing but very performance intensive, so turn it off.
    Depth of Field:
    Called as DoF in short. Blurs out of focus scenes.
    • COST: Negligible
    • Thoughts: It's a personal preference, so you decide. The DoF was awesome in WD1 and featured bokeh effects, but sadly not this time.
    Motion Blur:
    Adds blur when the camera is in motion.
    • Thoughts: Again, it's a personal preference. I leave it enabled because frame by frame transition is smooth and you won't notice minute stutters if occurred. Might be nauseating for some.
    Enabled High Dynamic Range glow in brighter areas for increased realism.
    • COST: Negligible
    • Thoughts: Enable it, game will look dull otherwise.
    Ambient Occlusion:
    Simulates soft shading on certain surfaces and objects that are closer to each other.
    • Ranges from: Off - SSBC - HMSSAO - HBAO+
            Comparison: Right click, open in new tab and compare. 


    SSBC: 2 fps cost
    HMSSAO: 5 fps cost
    HBAO+: 4 fps cost

    • Thoughts: SSBC for performance. HBAO+ for the best quality.
    Multisample Anti-aliasing:
     Increases the sampling level to reduce the step-like artifacts of the objects. Very performance intensive and high VRAM consumption.
    • Ranges from: Off - MSAA 2x, MSAA 4x,MSAA 8x, TXAA 2x, TXAA 4x, TXAA 8x
    • COST: 20+ fps
    • Thoughts: Turn it off. Only for High end systems.
    Temporal Filtering:
     Also called as TAA filter. You will gain approximately 8~10 fps for enabling this setting because it uses previous frame for current frame rendering thereby reducing a bit of VRAM in the process. Adds a a bit of blur and reduces shimmering of edges. When enabled the MSAA 2x is locked out and you won't be able to use any other Multisample Anti-aliasing Techniques. Don't enabled if you have SLI or Crossfire!
    • Thoughts: YES! Enable it for performance boost, Off if you hate the blurring and ghosting.
    Post-Processing Anti-Aliasing:
    Post-Processing techniques applied after the frame is processed further enhancing the quality.
    • Ranges from: Off - SMAA - FXAA
    • COST: Negligible
    • Thoughts: Put it on SMAA, the best anti-aliasing solution which doesn't add blur like FXAA.

    My Settings
    These are the settings I'm currently using:

    • Window Mode: Fullscreen Borderless (Helps in reducing mouse lag and 30 fps lock problem)
    • Resolution: 1920x1080
    • Vsync: Normal (Some ppl reported better fps when forced via driver control panel)
    • Field of View: 84 deg
    • Pixel Density: 1.00x
    • Geometry: Medium
    • Extra Details: 0%
    • Terrain: High
    • Vegetation: High
    • Texture Resolution: Medium
    • Texture Filtering: Ultra
    • Shadow: Low
    • Headlight Shadows: 2 Cars
    • Water: High
    • Reflections: High
    • Screen Space Reflections: Off
    • San Francisco Fog: Off
    • Depth of Field: On
    • Motion Blur: On
    • Bloom: On
    • Ambient Occlusion: SSBC
    • Temporal Filtering: On
    • Multisample Anti-Aliasing: MSAA 2x (Locked due to Temporal Filtering being enabled)
    • Post-Processing Anti-Aliasing: SMAA
    • Brightness: 55%
    • Sharpness: 5%

    Tips and Tweaks
    • When you load the game successfully, rotate 360 degrees once to make your PC load all the objects in the game, so that it doesn't stutter later on. This works for all other games as well.
    • Restart your game periodically if you changed the graphical settings many times. They won't take effect unless you restart, even the settings which don't really need a restart.
    • If you are experiencing too much stutter, then try rolling back to your previous Nvidia driver. The new latest driver works fine for me now. I'm currently using v376.33
      To roll back: Device Manager -> Expand Display Adapters -> Right click -> Properties -> Driver Tab -> Roll Back Driver. It will take about 10~15 min depending on your system. OR you could just uninstall existing drivers and install the old driver.
    • A clean installation of the latest driver might help.
    • Avoid higher Texture Resolutions for now and keep it on Medium.
    • Avoid Ultra/PCSS/HFTS Shadows for now, have to see if they get any better optimisation.
    • Make sure you put EVERYTHING on low except for the basic settings like motion blur (if you want), TAA, Bloom, etc. when playing coop with a friend, because it suddenly lags badly later on.
    • Navigate to Documents\My Games\Watch_Dogs 2 and open WD2_GamerProfile.xml.

      Find and change the following options to these:
      > DeferredFxQuality="pc"
      > MaxDriverBufferedFrames="1" (1~5, high values increases fps but increases input lag)
      > OptimizedDepthOfField="1"
      > OptimizedMotionBlur="1"
      > Smoothness="0"
      > RenderRain="1"

    The above settings tend to revert back to original values if you change any of the settings in-game. You could prevent this by making the file "Read-only" but then again you cannot make any changes.

    Bug List
    List of all the Bugs i've found and some features that needs to be introduced/fixing.
    • That heavy stutter while driving.
    • Game freezes sometimes when I take a picture in-game using either mobile or drones.
    • Horizontal look sensitivity of Quadcopter drone is very less, can be observed in low fps.
    • First person view of RC and Quadcopter drone is wonky and movement is changed from third person view. Like instead of strafing, it moves the camera left/right while in first person view.
    • Freezes frequently for a while when toggling NetHack mode.
    • Quality of pics taken at night time via in-game are too noisy, even more if filters are used (see the corners of screenshot shown below) It's fine at Day time though.
    • Need Aiming sensitivity setting, the default setting is too low.
    • Need a cooldown timer after invading a friend. Friends keep on invading me -_-
    • The Walking/Driving status of the target is wrong most of the time in Invasion.
    • CTRL ALT DELETE Launcher needs more wider splash damage & overall damage dealt directly.
    • Game crashes when I fire certain weapons, occurs even after latest patch.
    • Screenshots taken in-game sometimes lack land/water/objects, etc.
    • Mobile voice volume is too loud. (Alarm beeps, audio conversations, etc.)
    • Broken, glitchy and inaccurate Screen Space Reflections. Even more worse with new update!
    • The level of Police aggression is too high lol.
    • High flickering shadows, even at max setting.
    • Nvidia Ansel free cam is limited to 5 meters around the character.
    • In cutscenes, previous frame is rendered faintly on the sky in present frame.
    • If TAA is enabled, pics taken at night via in-game will render a thick black band across the sky.
             Here's an example:

    • Need Nvidia Ansel support ASAP!
    ***I DO NOT OWN THIS GUIDE!***FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY***I DON'T OWN ANYTHING!!***ALL CREDIT GOES TO THE STEAM USER Sunny Senpai with his incredible guide Watch_Dogs 2 Performance Guide.***

    1 comment

    1. level of police agression lol, you got that one right


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