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.
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.
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.
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.