E3: Watch_Dogs First Impressions

Source:   Spencer Perry
June 14, 2013

The initial announcement of Ubisoft's newest property, Watch_Dogs, captured the attention of a lot of eager gamers. Set inside a realistic build of Chicago, players will be given the ability to tap into and hack all kinds of elements within the city. To further cement the game's uniqueness from other sandbox titles, it has no missions and no objectives, you can do whatever you wish.

Ubisoft showed us a 20 minute-demo of the game that really emphasized how diverse and unique the play will be. To begin, the character spawned in a poorer district of Chicago. Each section and district is totally different for the last one, and based on its own aspects will result in the types of characters and vehicles that you run into. The quality of the vehicles that spawn in the area and even the voices of the characters will differ based on the income and class of the area you find yourself in.

Each area in Watch_Dogs has its own Control Center. Gaining access to these Control Centers will allow players more power in those areas, giving them the ability to hack and manipulate many more objects in the area than they would otherwise. Getting into these places isn't easy, but they can be approached the quiet or noisy way, depending on how you choose to go about it.

What appears to be the driving force of Watch_Dogs though is in its vigilant approach to the world. Players gain access to a facial recognition software and can learn about all of the NPCs in the game, including whether or not they will fall into trouble nearby. The example we were shown showed a woman being attacked by an ex-boyfriend, it's that detailed in its dissemination of info. As the main character fired a gun at the aggresor, he ran away. This resulted in a really impressive chase wherein the player pulled off some amazing parkour-like moves and then stole a car to continue the chase.

After having eliminated this problem, the player chose to go into the city to buy some weapons. Here is where the game's tagline “Everything is connected” really came into play: the television behind the cashier began playing a news report about the attack and subsequent car chase that the player just participated in. As a result, the gun shop owner became visibly suspicious and pushed a silent alarm to alert the police. We were advised that in this game, you don't want to get in trouble with the police as they're totally ruthless.

A few other elements of the game that will satisfy players come in its customization. Players can choose to buy more guns with the money they have, upgrade their weapons, or simply get more software to aid in their electronic warfare. Also, depending on the player's actions they will gain a reputation in the city. If they're heroic in what they do, they'll gain a good reputation and as a result citizens may look the other way when you steal a car or maybe recognize you on the street. If you have a bad reputation though, they may call the police as soon as they see you walking down the sidewalk.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game that we witnessed was in its connectivity to other gamers. As the demo progressed, the player was alerted to someone hacking into their data. They approached the area where the hack originated and began scouting for the would be hacker. Upon discovering him, they began a foot chase, but where this differs from your expectations: this hacker wasn't a part of the game, it was another player that entered the game from their own console just to mess with the player. This will likely offer a ton of fun for players and create a multiplayer experience that won't be able to be imitated. Again, everything is connected.

Watch_Dogs look amazing. It has really impressive graphics and an unreal amount of detail placed into its design. It bolsters gameplay that is very unique and should provide hours worth of entertainment. The tagline “Everything is connected” isn't just a cool sounding line to tease you into buying it, it's a literal definition about the game's interface.

Watch_Dogs will be available to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC on November 19 and for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year.

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