Watch_Dogs Preview — The E3 Primer

Gameplay

Watch_Dogs is an open-world, third-person action game, which appears to give you a fair amount of stuff to do. Senior Producer Dominic Guay of Ubisoft Montreal describes the world of Watch_Dogs as so “sprawling,” that you can get into a car and travel a great distance, but that their top priority is “depth.” Watch_Dogs is positioning itself as a deep gameplay experience, full of possibilities.

So what can you actually do in Watch_Dogs? Combat is obviously a part of the game, as Pearce needs to beat people up to get what he wants. For example, while infiltrating DeMarco’s night club, he uses a telescopic baton to deal a pretty serious beating to a bouncer in his way. The combat has a fluidity about it that suggests it may be sort of quick-time-y, more a Deus Ex button prompt execution than a manually entered Ninja Gaiden combo.

Then there’s hacking, of course. There appears to be an entire radial menu full of Aiden’s bag of tricks here. When near a hackable object, it looks like you can target that object, pull up the radial and select an appropriate hacking ability. To enter the night club, Aiden hacks nearby cellphones, causing confusion and allowing him to enter. When trying to ditch the cops, he deploys road blocks up from the ground, which creates a pretty awesome car crash. Aiden can also access random folks’ personal information, to see bits about their background, tap into their cell phone conversations and even nab their bank account information and swipe some cash from an ATM.

When sneaking around hacking stuff doesn’t work out, Aiden can also pull out a gun and start shooting. Here, Watch_Dogs resembles a great many other cover-based shooters, such as Gears of War. After causing a car crash by disrupting traffic lights, Aiden hugs wrecked vehicles, shoots from cover and … it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be.

We also know there will be at least one mobile tie-in with the game that will allow players to access each others’ games through the Watch_Dogs iOS and Android apps. In one early video demo, developers showed off the ability of a player with an iPad to tap into the game of a friend, hacking security systems from a 3-D map view to give his pal some support during a difficult sequence, Alternatively, players can compete against and grief one another by hacking obstacles into each others’ way.

Watch_Dogs Unanswered Questions

There’s a ton we still don’t know about Watch_Dogs. Here’s a rundown of topics we’re hoping to get more information on at E3 this year. Did we miss something you’re curious about? Sound off in the comments.

    • What’s, um, a watch dog? Is that an entire order of hackers who deal vigilante justice? What are they up to? Or is that just a clever game title?
    • What’s the deal with Aiden, exactly? Who “crossed the line” to get him so pissed off, and what’s he after? How far will he go to get it? Is he all-good, mostly-good, half-good-half-bad?
    • What about multiplayer?Senior Producer Dominic Guay described that the game will have multiplayer, but that it will “breach the wall” between single- and multiplayer. We’ve already heard about mobile app tie-in capability for Watch_Dogs, but it’s unclear just how involved it will be or what other multiplayer capabilities Watch_Dogs might include. The “intruder” mentioned in the ctOS observation trailer (shown to be spying through a security camera) could very well be an observing player. Additionally, in the first gameplay trailer we see the action shift away from Pearce, to a character named Bixel_44, who is then tasked with helping assist Pearce. Who’s that guy? Another player who hopped into the session? Maybe. We don’t know.UPDATE 05/10/13: Reports now confirm more multiplayer details, and it appears the game emphasizes co-op play. While you can keep your game single-player, if you enable multiplayer, other players can seamlessly drop in and out of your game, at which time they can help or hurt your progress. Players may also interact with someone else’s game via the mobile app. There will also be a pure multiplayer mode, details of which have not been released.
    • Is there, for lack of a better term, a “level up” system? In all the footage we’ve seen, Pearce seems pretty powerful. His radial menu is full stocked with goodies. Do you have all of that stuff right away, or do you gradually earn it through the course of the game? What’s the character progression like?
    • The traffic jam Pearce creates is impressive, but how scripted is that sequence?Are there other possibilities at your disposal for apprehending DeMarco? Can you let him pass the interaction and catch him some other way? When it comes to core mission objectives, is there more than one way to skin a cat, as they say? You’re clearly given tools to have fun with, but how improvisational you can be — particularly within missions — we don’t really know.UPDATE 05/10/13: Speaking of traffic, it’s been revealed that Watch_Dogs will have 60 licensed real world vehicles.
  • What’s the deal with the mobile tie-in stuff? We know that you’ll be able to connect to Watch_Dogs through smart phones and tablets and interact with each others’ games, but not much else. You can supposedly keep tabs on people you’ve hacked, and take actions that will have an impact on your main game, and connect with your fellow gamers.

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