According to The Country Caller, Ubisoft took the stage during an AMD press event weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference and said that Watch Dogs 2 will support DirectX 12. Additional information regarding what DirectX 12 will bring to the sequel wasn’t given, but AMD pointed out that the PC game will be highly optimized for its GPUs. For some reason, this is the first time we’ve seen a report about Ubisoft using DirectX 12 in Watch Dogs 2 since its announcement.
Ubisoft’s original Watch Dogs installment hit the scene back in May 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, and Xbox. It utilizes Nvidia’s GameWorks suite, which AMD’s Robert Hallock said was a “clear and present threat to PC gamers” because Nvidia’s software supposedly crippled the game’s performance on AMD hardware.
“Participation in the GameWorks program often precludes the developer from accepting AMD suggestions that would improve performance directly in the game code — the most desirable form of optimization,” Hallock told Forbes.
He added that the characteristics of the game are hidden behind layers upon layers of “circuitous and non-obvious routines,” and that this makes performing after-the-fact driver optimizations difficult. He even pointed out that Nvidia removed its public Direct3D code samples from its website and threw up a “contact us for licensing” page in its place.
Nvidia’s Cem Cebenoyan fired back, saying that GameWorks does not consist of elements that deliberately cause performance problems on AMD hardware. He also said that developers are free to work with AMD and to take suggestions from the chip maker, despite what AMD’s Hallock previously indicated.
Hopefully, the Watch Dogs 2 launch won’t be quite as dramatic. The game was officially announced during Ubisoft’s earnings release in February 2016, and the firm at that time stated that the game is scheduled to arrive by the end of fiscal 2017. So far the company hasn’t released any additional details regarding the game, but the DirectX 12 announcement shows that it will likely grace the Xbox One and Windows 10 before March 2017.
Both AMD and Nvidia support DirectX 12, which is a native API suite for Windows 10. Games that use DirectX 12 include Ashes of the Singularity, Just Cause 3, The Elder Scrolls Online, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Hitman, and a few others. Upcoming games include Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Star Citizen, Quantum Break, and more.
The big deal with DirectX 12 is that it balances the load between cores better than do previous versions of DirectX, with the result that a single core isn’t responsible for the majority of the work. Games can also utilize the CPU more efficiently, and the GPU itself should now perform faster because there is less transferred between the GPU memory and the CPU memory (overhead).
Ultimately, for the PC gamer, DirectX 12 is a good thing. With it, developers have better access to the hardware, similar to what they have on the consoles. Granted you won’t see the same console refinements, but given that the PC sector is composed of millions of hardware configurations, the relationship between AMD, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Ubisoft should make for stable if not spectacular Watch Dogs 2 gaming experience on the PC.
We expect to hear more about Ubisoft’s sequel this June during E3 2016, so stay tuned.