How to Enable High-Quality Graphics in Watch Dogs

An example screenshot from TheWorse, creator of a 'Watch Dogs' graphics mod. Credit: TheWorse

(Image credit: An example screenshot from TheWorse, creator of a 'Watch Dogs' graphics mod. Credit: TheWorse)

Superhacker Aiden Pearce might use the latest technology to fight bad guys in the video game "Watch Dogs," but the game itself is a a long way from cutting-edge, especially in terms of graphics. When it was released last month, fans noticed that the game actually looked worse than it did in demonstrations at the E3 2012 video-game expo.

Now a modder, or game modifier, called TheWorse has released a mod,  or modification, that restores the PC version of "Watch Dogs" to some of its apparent former glory. How does it work? Fans had previously discovered that the files that enabled the higher-quality graphics seen at E3 were still buried, inactive, in the game's software.

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TheWorse's mod turns these graphics back on. The mod is incomplete and TheWorse continues to update it, but for now, people who own "Watch Dogs" on PC can try it out to make "Watch Dogs" look better.

Here's how to install and implement the mod. You will need a program capable of unzipping .RAR files, such as WinRAR or 7-Zip -- we'll use 7-Zip, since it's free.

1. Visit TheWorse's original posting on Guru3D. Here, he offers a bit of background on the mod's creation, and two links to download sites.

2. Choose a download link from the Guru3D post. You can select between the file-sharing services Mega or Mediafire. If you don't have a preference, then it doesn't matter.

3. Click the "Download" button on either Mega or Mediafire to download the mod as a .RAR file and save it to your computer. On the Mega page it will look like this:

And on the Mediafire page it will look like this:

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4. Navigate to where the .RAR file is saved on your computer (it's named "TheWorse Mod (0.1+fix) for Watch_Dogs.rar").

5. Right-click on the file, click "7-Zip," then choose "Extract to "TheWorse Mod (0.7+Fix) for Watch_Dogs". This should create a folder alongside the .RAR file with the same name. This folder contains the mod. (If you have antivirus software installed, give the unzipped folder a quick scan.)

6. Choose one of the three folders inside "TheWorse Mod (0.7+Fix) for Watch_Dogs". If you want the camera (your perspective while playing) to be close to Aiden, click "Closer Camera." If you want a more zoomed-out view, click "Far Camera." If you're happy with the camera perspective already in the game, click "Normal camera." Whichever folder you choose, the contents of that folder are the mod you want to install.

7. Select the files "patch.dat" and "patch.fat" inside the folder of your choosing, and copy them by right-clicking and selecting "Copy" or hitting the keys "Ctrl" and "C."

8. Open up a new file window and navigate to where "Watch Dogs" is saved on your computer. It's probably in your C Drive in Program Files > Ubisoft > WATCH_DOGS. We saved our games on our gaming computer's D drive, so in the picture below we opened the D Drive:

Then we clicked on "UPlay" (this is Ubisoft's game distribution platform) to reach "Watch Dogs."

9. Click on the folder entitled "data_win64" in the "Watch Dogs" folder.

10. Paste the "patch.dat" and "patch.fat" files from the mod folder into "data_win64".

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This should be enough to get the mod working, but TheWorse recommends users set their graphics to "Ultra," as the mod is customized to run on these settings. How do you set your graphics to Ultra? Read on:

11. In your "My Documents" folder, click "My Games."

12. Click the "Watch_Dogs" folder in "My Games."

13. Click the only folder in the "Watch_Dogs" folder. It will be a long string of letters and numbers. 

14. Right-click on the "GamerProfile.xml" file and open it in a text editor such as Notepad or WordPad.

15. Find the line in "GamerProfile.xml" that begins "<RenderProfile". In this line, find the value that reads Quality="X" (the value of X will read "low," "medium," "high," "ultra" or "_runtime").

17. Replace that "X" value with "ultra." Then save and close "GamerProfile.xml."

Now the mod should be up and running! We started a new game of "Watch Dogs" and didn't notice any differences during the tutorial, but once we got out to the "open world" part of the game, the changes were instantly apparent. The heightened reflection from the lights onto the streets and the detailing on the individually rustling leaves were particularly noticeable. 

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Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.