There's no doubt that discussion about the graphical fidelity of Watch Dogs has overshadowed the quality of the game itself, with many claiming that the open-world hacker looks no where near as good as it did upon unveiling in 2012. To add to the controversy, it turns out that many of the high quality graphical features used during that demonstration are in fact hidden in the game's PC build. They've since been unlocked by a proactive modder.
Which is great in theory, but according to a newly released statement from Ubisoft, there's nothing cynical about their locking the assets from the vanilla game, and that users should activate them via the mod at their own risk.
“The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we've set out to achieve,” a Ubisoft spokesperson wrote on the Watch Dogs website. “We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they're released, striving for the best possible quality.
“The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality. Modders are usually creative and passionate players, and while we appreciate their enthusiasm, the mod in question (which uses those old settings) subjectively enhances the game's visual fidelity in certain situations but also can have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable.”
So that appears to rule out rumours that a forthcoming major patch for Watch Dogs will officially unlock those hidden features. We'll have to wait and see what the official graphical improvements bring.