Watch Dogs Legion Logo

Introduction

Thanks to NVIDIA and Ubisoft we received early access to Watch Dogs: Legion so that we can bring you this Watch Dogs Legion Performance preview today.  Watch Dogs: Legion will launch on October 29th to the public and is the next big game in the Watch Dogs franchise, the previous game was Watch Dogs 2 released in 2016, and the very first Watch Dogs was released in 2014. 

Watch Dogs: Legion is an action-adventure game with single-player and multiplayer.  It is developed by Ubisoft Toronto and published by Ubisoft.  The game is set in an open-world environment this time based in London.  This game uses the Disrupt game engine and supports DX12.  The game notably also supports DXR Ray Tracing and NVIDIA DLSS 2.0 support.  It is these two features we are going to focus on in this performance preview. 

The goal of our preview of performance today is to share with you GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition and GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition performance running Ray Tracing and DLSS in Watch Dogs: Legion.  This performance preview is coming right off the heels of the GeForce RTX 3070 FE launch. 

We, therefore, had just a day to put this together.  We included as much performance data as we could in that time with Ray Tracing and DLSS.  We are planning a follow-up post-game launch to dive deeper into game performance and video card comparisons.  Today’s focus is strictly on NVIDIA RTX feature performance in Watch Dogs: Legion.

RTX Ray Tracing and DLSS Info

Watch Dogs Legion Ray Tracing and AI information and presentation slide

Graphics Options

Before we begin, note that we are using the “Day 1 Patch” build of the game prior to launch.  This represents the same Day 1 patch that will be available when the game launches.

Also note, very importantly, there is an optional HD Texture pack for this game.  We did NOT download this pack for these tests we are about to show you.  That texture pack will add a higher VRAM usage, and we don’t yet know how it will affect performance until we test it.  Just note that the texture pack is not applied in our testing in this article.

When you open the graphics menus the first one, you’ll want to look at is Display.  Here you can change the resolution, window mode, monitor refresh rate options, VSYNC, and FPS Limit as well as Field of View options and menu positioning.  We left all this on default but made sure VSYNC was disabled with no FPS limit.  Second, if you click on the Image tab you get options to enable HDR, which was had disabled in our testing.

The primary Quality tab has all the graphics options for the game, and there is a lot to scroll through.  First, notice that we had the game in DirectX 12.  To compare Ray Tracing and DLSS performance we used the Graphics Quality preset of “Quality.”  This sets the highest (mostly) graphics options.  There are still a couple of options you can manually increase, but this sets the most important things to the highest quality.

One setting you can increase manually is the Headlight Shadows and the other, more important thing, is Extra Details.  Extra Details are at 0% by default on Quality.  What this setting does, it goes to 100%, is to increase geometric detail on objects farther in the distance.  This setting is incredibly CPU intensive.  We left it at 0% in our testing, but it is an extra option you can manually increase for better visuals if you have the headroom.  The quality preset option doesn’t touch it.

Under the Ray Tracing option, you can set the Ray Traced Reflections quality levels.  You have the options of “Off”, “Medium”, “High” and “Ultra” Ray Tracing.  We will compare the performance of each in this preview.

Under DLSS you have the options of “Off”, “Performance”, “Quality”, “Balanced” and “Ultra Performance” modes.  We will also test the performance of each one in this preview.

VRAM Counter

This game does have a VRAM usage bar in the graphics option that tells you if you exceed your VRAM capacity of the video card or not.  In the examples above we have the 8GB GeForce, RTX 3070 FE installed.  In the first screenshot, we have the game set at 1080p at “Ultra” settings, and you can see it says VRAM usage is 7438MB out of our 8043MB available. 

Here is the interesting thing, in the second screenshot we are still at 1080p and all we have done is enable the “Medium” (the lowest) Ray Tracing option.  Yet, look at what has happened to the VRAM counter, it now says we exceed the 8GB of VRAM on the card, 8127MB out of 8042MB.  Just turning on the lowest Ray Tracing mode has already caused us to exceed the 8GB on our RTX 3070 FE.  In the third screenshot we have “Ultra” Ray Tracing enabled, you can see it’s at 8154MB out of our 8043MB.  Ray Tracing seems to want more than 8GB of VRAM.

In this screenshot above we have 4K enabled with No Ray tracing.  Notice that it too exceeds 8GB of VRAM usage.  It wants 8208MB out of our 8043MB on our 8GB RTX 3070 FE.  This is WITHOUT Ray Tracing, this is just 4K with “Ultra” game settings.  It seems 4K wants more RAM as well and the 8GB on the RTX 3070 isn’t enough, according to the game anyway.  In the second screenshot we have enabled Ray Tracing at 4K, look how much VRAM it wants now, almost 9GB.  So, cards at 10GB and above should be fine, but 8GB cards?  This game wants a lot.

Test Setup

For our testing we will use the built-in benchmark.  The driver we are using is GeForce 456.96 which is the press driver included with GeForce RTX 3070 FE launch.

Watch Dogs Legion System Setup

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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21 Comments

  1. ****, maxing out 8GB cards already. It’ll be very interesting to see how the 6800 with 16GB compares to the 3070.
  2. ****, maxing out 8GB cards already. It’ll be very interesting to see how the 6800 with 16GB compares to the 3070.

    Maxing out 8GB cards today was precisely why I’m concerned the 10GB RTX 3080’s are a bad bet long term. They just don’t have enough VRAM. Fine today, but if you are the kind of person that keeps your GPU’s three and four years from now, it won’t be all that great. Granted, I usually have a top end GPU in my rig, but I’ve felt the burn of older, higher end GPU’s with enough GPU power but insufficient RAM in the past.

  3. Brent, love how your articles flow, always have. Not sure what to make of RT in this game, looks fine for 1440p game play if higher fps is not a concern to the player. Also for 8gb cards just don’t max every setting out and you should be fine. Nvidia said RT adds 1-2gb more vram usage so those ram amounts are concerning but if the game play is smooth then I would conclude there was enough vram how ever close to being not enough.

    I hope you come back and test with the texture pack as well as AMD RNDA2 cards which do not have DLSS type options at this time. Get back to the best playable experience take I hope. Still one can render at a lower resolution and upscale pretty easy with AMD as well, would be interesting of any quality differences which I would expect would be the case.

    From what I read, if I had a 3080 and played this game, I would use RT, 1440p, HDR (this adds mem too from my experience), DLSS quality mode, high res texture pack. AMD???

    1. HDR doesn’t use extra vram. Technically ALL games are rendered in HDR and then converted to SDR right at the end of the pipeline.
  4. Phew… With my 2080ti I should be able to lock in 4k60 ultra with quality DLSS. I was quite concerned because watch dogs 2 has issues maintaining 60fps even at 1440p medium/high and I’m not cpu bound.
  5. They’re only using ray tracing for reflections? Wow, the one thing about ray tracing I care the least about.
  6. why do all rt games have to look super shiny and uber reflective?

    Even the pavement looks like a mirror for crying out loud, doesn’t look realistic at all. Some of the screenshots I’ve seen actually look better with RT off.

    BTW where are the IQ comparisons? actually any screenshot.

  7. HDR doesn’t use extra vram. Technically ALL games are rendered in HDR and then converted to SDR right at the end of the pipeline.

    The ‘end’ of the pipeline, i.e. the frame buffer, would be where I’d expect extra VRAM to be used, but we’re probably talking about a megabyte or two, so yeah. More likely is an increase in bandwidth usage to move that slightly larger frame buffer data around, but it’s still miniscule I’d think.

    They’re only using ray tracing for reflections? Wow, the one thing about ray tracing I care the least about.

    I don’t even… know what that means. Like mirrors? Water? How do you do just those with RT? Granted crappy reflections are pretty immersion breaking, so I get it in a sense, but still.

    why do all rt games have to look super shiny and uber reflective?

    Even the pavement looks like a mirror for crying out loud, doesn’t look realistic at all. Some of the screenshots I’ve seen actually look better with RT off.

    I’ve maintained that good RT implementations should be exceptional in how they aren’t exceptional, until you turn RT off. Stuff like color and shadow gradients that we mostly just learn to ignore today that will stand out like a sore thumb once we get used to them being done properly.

    Making everything ‘shiny’ isn’t at all what it’s about :)

  8. The ‘end’ of the pipeline, i.e. the frame buffer, would be where I’d expect extra VRAM to be used, but we’re probably talking about a megabyte or two, so yeah. More likely is an increase in bandwidth usage to move that slightly larger frame buffer data around, but it’s still miniscule I’d think.

    I don’t even… know what that means. Like mirrors? Water? How do you do just those with RT? Granted crappy reflections are pretty immersion breaking, so I get it in a sense, but still.

    I’ve maintained that good RT implementations should be exceptional in how they aren’t exceptional, until you turn RT off. Stuff like color and shadow gradients that we mostly just learn to ignore today that will stand out like a sore thumb once we get used to them being done properly.

    Making everything ‘shiny’ isn’t at all what it’s about :)

    That is the primary issue with ray tracing at the moment. They are trying to market it, but it isn’t easy to show people the difference through video and still pictures. Reflections are the easiest thing to market. As you say, when ray tracing is done right it won’t have that immediate "wow" factor due to how it will trick your mind into believing it’s real and nothing extraordinary. The real power of ray tracing is in global illumination and how that leads to realistic shadows and lighting occlusion. Remember that in rasterization we are still limited to 7 point lights that are supposed to illuminate the entire environment, if I remember correctly (it may have increased in DX12).

  9. IMO Control has the bet RT implementation yet. Its the most complete, AFAIK it uses RT for reflections, shadows and global illumination. I think its the game that gets the best WOW factor yet.

    It doesn’t seem to overuse reflections except for the water puddles (what’s with the water puddles is most RT games anyway? doesn’t water evaporate?) plus the shadows and lighting look awesome.

    This is the trend other games should follow. No mirror like pavement please. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

  10. The thing is, you can absolutely have puddles everywhere and mirror-like pavement; these are photogenic elements that photographers and cinemaphotographers leverage all the time.

    The trick is to use them tastefully!

  11. Wolf YB is nicely done too.

    There are a ton of reflections in life. For a photographer/cinematographer managing them is an integral part of the craft.

    Why they can appear overbearing in a videogame is simply because unlike real life we havent accustomed ourselves to tuning them out yet in that environment.

    Years behind a lense and also in theatre/special events has made me very aware of them, but mostly because I needed to actually make them less noticeable….than they actually are. I also grew up in a capital city and think that people who didnt don’t really see reflective surfaces on the same level.

  12. There are a ton of reflections in life. For a photographer/cinematographer managing them is an integral part of the craft.

    You are right. From where I sit this second, I see reflections in a lot of windows and other glass surfaces.

    Not so many puddles or rainslicked roads though.

  13. Thought you all would like to know, I applied the latest patch that was released on Friday + the newest driver from NVIDIA, and the performance for me is unchanged on the 3070 and 3080. The results still match my results in this article. FYI. So no need to write an updated article.

    I’ll be on the lookout in the future for future updates.

  14. Thought you all would like to know, I applied the latest patch that was released on Friday + the newest driver from NVIDIA, and the performance for me is unchanged on the 3070 and 3080. The results still match my results in this article. FYI. So no need to write an updated article.

    I’ll be on the lookout in the future for future updates.

    so what does the patch do?

  15. I’ve been concerned about the 8gb on 3070 and you’re testing helps confirm it’s already a problem… I figured if the new consoles have 16gb, games are likely to exceed 8gb usage in common scenarios. If I remember right the new xbox caps you at 10gb fast, 6gb slow, which should make the 3080 much safer, but both make me uncomfortable. But AMD’s recent video card launches (polaris, vega, navi) have been bad with various driver and hardware issues, and I run the occasional CUDA workload, so I’d rather get an nvidia card. But I think it’s unrealistic that nvidia will do a refresh sooner than next summer so I think we’re stuck with the current choices.
  16. I’ve been concerned about the 8gb on 3070 and you’re testing helps confirm it’s already a problem… I figured if the new consoles have 16gb, games are likely to exceed 8gb usage in common scenarios. If I remember right the new xbox caps you at 10gb fast, 6gb slow, which should make the 3080 much safer, but both make me uncomfortable. But AMD’s recent video card launches (polaris, vega, navi) have been bad with various driver and hardware issues, and I run the occasional CUDA workload, so I’d rather get an nvidia card. But I think it’s unrealistic that nvidia will do a refresh sooner than next summer so I think we’re stuck with the current choices.

    As far as choices go, the most probable would be a RTX3070Ti with 16GB of ram. That would be the easiest, fastest to market, cheapest route. Followed by a RTX3080Ti 12GB.

    The rest of the rumored cards require at the very least board redesign and/or 16Gb DDR6X which is not available yet.

  17. AMD dropped quite a bomb with the RX6800.

    nvidia didn’t martket the RTX3070 as a 4k capable card, so no apparent need for more memory, but apparently the RX6800 can do 4K probably closer to a 3800. that’s huge.

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