Ubisoft Downgrade Video Highlights All The Major Game Downgrades
(Last Updated On: June 5, 2016)

A new video has surfaced featuring a 15 minute comparison between various retail versions of Ubisoft games and their E3 incarnations. It highlights Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4, Rainbow Six: Siege, The Division and Watch Dogs. Each game has been hit with the downgrade hammer in different ways, some more than others.

DSO Gaming spotted the video that was posted up over on the YouTube channel of Crowbcat, and you can check it out below.

It starts with Watch Dogs, comparing some of the E3 demo footage with what was released. We see that the NPC population is decreased, the lighting and shaders look as if they’ve been completely turned off in some sections, the shadows being almost non-existent in a few scenes, just about all of the ambient environmental effects being removed, the car physics being simplified, the explosions being down-scaled, the animation frames being cut nearly in half, and atmospheric sounds being practically removed altogether. It’s crazy just how last-gen the final product of Watch Dogs looks.

The next culprit on the list is The Division, a game that showed a ton of promise at E3 but then kept getting hit with delays and downgrades until it turned into a wholly mediocre shooter by the time it released.

Now to be fair, The Division’s downgrades aren’t quite on the scale of Watch Dogs. The environment still looks pretty good, but obviously there’s lower LOD on the meshes for the vehicles. Lower anisotropic texturing filtering, the post processing is obviously scaled back, there is no longer any dynamic wind effects, and all of the volumetric smoke was replaced with standard animated alphas.

One of the most egregious truncations in The Division centers around the NPCs. There are civilian NPCs and scavengers roaming about in the E3 build that just aren’t present in the final version. This is on top of the lack of dynamic, physically based lighting for all the characters and objects, and the removal of per-object shadowing that was oh-so-present in the E3 build of the game.

The Division - Image9

Worse yet is that the dynamic procedural animations are no longer there when the characters interact with the environment, the bullet penetration is no longer present, and smoke trails no longer appear during shootouts.

Rainbow Six: Siege also undergoes some major downgrades as well. The intros with the helicopter are no longer present, the debris when deconstructing walls and floors no longer scatter throughout from the force of explosions, the bullet penetration and physics-based destruction is also a lot more limited in scope (though to be fair, it’s still a fairly fun game).

Animations are probably one of the biggest changes between the two versions, with the E3 build showing some really smooth, dynamic animations. Once again the procedural animations are missing from the retail release. Dynamic PBR lights, ricochet effects, sparks, and debris are also all missing from the retail version.

Far Cry 4 also got hit with the downgrade hammer, too, but far less so than some of the others. Actually, I have to admit that Far Cry 4 looks pretty good and stays relatively similar between both versions other than some lighting, draw distance and environmental effects. It’s probably one of the few games on the list where the downgrades weren’t quite so obvious.

Far Cry 3

Funnily enough, Far cry 3 actually got an upgrade. Better lighting, better light sourcing, better animations, better environments. I’m surprised that Ubisoft could pull off an upgrade.

His eyes are definitely more expressive in the E3 build, but everything else is better in the retail edition, as far as character details are concerned. The environment in some scenes are definitely better in the E3 build, where-as in other parts the retail version has slightly different depictions. I think Far Cry 3 is another rare instance where some things actually got an upgrade.

The video ends with a quick look at Ghost Recon: Wildlands, with most people already asking: how downgraded will the game be at launch?

Hopefully with the Xbox 360 and PS3 long behind us, we’ll begin to see fewer downgrades compared to what’s showcased at E3, but then again with the Xbox One and PS4 only being capable of rendering at the quality of a mid-ranged PC… we could be seeing the cycle repeat all over again. I guess we’ll find out soon enough at E3.


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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Sevuz

    I know good graphics doesn’t make a good game. But when lightning and contrast is a big focus of the games look and feel, is just really shitty giving players none of that in the end.

  • C G Saturation

    Yeah, Ubisoft.

    • C G Saturation

      I keep watching the video and laughing at how different the initial footage and actual in-game is. They’re so vastly different, it’s hilariously sad.

  • Hawk Hopper

    Why was there such an outlash against Ubisoft after Watchdogs came out and it looked like GTA 4, but no outlash against them for the other games they had downgraded? Did people just get used to E3 trailers looking great and the actual games looking ok? Did the outrage for poor graphics get replaced by outrage about Assassins Creed Unity running like a complete piece of crap?

    • Did the outrage for poor graphics get replaced by outrage about Assassins Creed Unity running like a complete piece of crap?

      Assassin’s Creed Unity was one of those cases where not only was it downgraded but it ran like crap, too. But the performance issues made it even worse yet because you couldn’t even enjoy the game. They suffered in sales with Syndicate after Unity.

      Why was there such an outlash against Ubisoft after Watchdogs came out and it looked like GTA 4, but no outlash against them for the other games they had downgraded?

      Watch Dogs was a special case because the graphics in the E3 video were directly tied to the gameplay elements. Blowing up a gas station could knock people off their feet (that didn’t make it into the game). Wet pavement and hacking the street lights could result in cars sliding into each other and crashing (this was dumbed down greatly in the final game). The thick atmosphere of various NPCs moving around the environment was supposed to make it difficult to spot some people out, thus relying on camera hacks and other tools to find specific individuals (this was also dumbed down to the point of absurdity).

      Essentially, the graphics were supposed to help enhance the gameplay (similar to Rainbow Six: Siege) but in the case of Watch Dogs all of it was gutted and gamers were essentially given a GTA Lite + Square = hacking.

      • C G Saturation

        I think Watchdogs was also very overhyped. That’s what they get for raising expectations and failing to meet them.

        • Sevuz

          Extremely overhyped. It was a shitty AC game that tried to be GTA as well

    • LurkerJK

      Watch Dogs was special case, after the first E3 it became “THE” next gen game, the one that would justify the upgrade to ps4/xbone, the game was in the top of all “coming soon” lists, their bullshots just had no competition, not even in the next E3, remember consoles launched with very few games worth mentioning and that held true for more than a year, publishers did not expect the new consoles to be as successful as they were (maybe not even MS and Sony) and had little to show

      It was the Oasis in the middle of the desert, none of the other games ever got THAT level of hype or that contrast with everything else, The
      Division might be the closest, but the game got so many delays and we got plenty of warnings they downgraded it before
      release so the outrage got kind of diluted