Watch Dogs is built on the new Disrupt engine, which evolved from pieces of Assassin's Creed's AnvilNext engine (for city mechanics) and Far Cry 3's Dunia engine (for vegetation and AI). It's a good-looking game at low-quality details and much more impressive with all of the bells and whistles enabled. But it's no CryEngine when it comes to pushing the visual envelope.
The benchmarks will show that this game taxes PC hardware. Even the most entry-level settings require respectable components to run smoothly, and high frame rates can be disrupted by hiccups now and again, which is distracting. We tested using more advanced graphics processors that anything you'll find in a console, so I have to guess that the PC version isn't as finely-optimized as the eight-gen console builds have to be.
Given such a strenuous demand on hardware at the higher detail settings, I chose to test with post-process anti-aliasing. Also, I selected FXAA instead of the game's advanced SMAA setting. While SMAA improved aliasing on objects, it didn't do as good of a job with artifacts on textures, which were particularly distracting on the road when driving.
Now that we know how Watch Dogs looks, let's see how the game performs on a variety of graphics cards and processors.