The other day I was confronted by someone complaining that Watch Dogs does not have dynamic shadows. I thought Watch Dogs looked pretty good, why do you need dynamic shadows?

What are dynamic shadows and what do they look like?

  • Your shadow in real life is dynamic. To expand when you see people/objects in game with just a circle or ellipse around them, that's more of a static shadow
    – Brian
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Dynamic shadows are shadows that are calculated in real-time to look like the object's real shadow would, based on the shape of the object and the location of the light-source(s).

dynamic shadow

This is a computationally-expensive task, so it was not feasible in most older 3D games. Instead, they'd precompute shadows for static (non-moving) objects, and emulate shadows for moving objects, typically using a decal painted onto the ground.

precomputed shadows shadow decal

Since you mentioned Watch Dogs, here is a comparison of Watch Dogs with and without dynamic shadows (please note this is an unofficial mod, so the shadows look weird sometimes):

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