If you are a fan of video games stealth, moral ambiguity, and a vast open world structure then Ubisoft’s upcoming title Watch Dogs is for you.
Set in an alternate version of Chicago, Illinois the city features a supercomputer known as the Central Operating System (or CtOS) which connects and controls almost every piece of technology in the city, from the traffic lights to the citizen’s cellphones. Built on the concept of information warfare, society’s increasing dependence on technology and having data increasingly interconnected you play as vigilante hacker Aiden Pearce whose goal is to assassinate a media mogul who has been wrongly acquitted on charges of murder.
San Diego Comic Con attendees were able to watch a demonstration of the multiplayer gameplay which features an enormous open world filled with characters living their own day to day lives that you can choose to interact with or ignore. With the multiplayer world you do not have specific missions that you have to complete unless that is the way you decide to play, you can choose to explore and gather as much data as you want or you can choose to use the profiling system used by the police to observe NPCs in their day to day showing you potential criminals and potential victims. Furthermore each district has its own economy, community, and crime rates so the probability of crimes (and therefore vigilante justice) depends on where you are.
The demo also showed that each situation supports any type of gaming style the player might prefer. For example when trying to infilitrate a base for the CtOS (owned by the Blume Corporation) a player can choose to use a stealth strategy thus never allowing the guards to see Aiden, hack from afar or even go in guns blazing. Should you choose to engage in combat Aiden can use focus which slows everything down to give you more time to aim and showing Aiden’s quick reflexes.
Once you hack into a district’s CtOS you are able to gather information on the citizens of that area through police cameras and even the citizen’s cell phones. It is up to the player to decide what to do with that information. For example, the demo showed that by using the district’s free Wi-Fi (also supported by the Blume Corporation) Aiden is able to hack into a laptop’s webcam in a woman’s apartment. Through that webcam he is able to steal her banking information which is available on her cell phone. Additionally by using the cameras throughout the city and the police’s profiling system we were able to identify a potential victim. The demonstration had Aiden follow her for about a block where he saw her attacked by an ex-boyfriend. You can either choose to walk away or intervene. By intervening Aiden’s reputation with the community and media will be affected (either negatively or positively). NPCs will react to the media’s portrayal of you, during the demo a pawn shop owner notices a news report that shows Aiden is a suspect in a crime and uses a silent alarm to alert the police. You can elude the police using a variety of vehicles each has their own pros and cons for a variety of situations.
Even though you might think you’re alone in this city other players can enter your game and try to hack your phone to steal a portion of the information on your phone. You cannot allow to happen so it becomes a game of hide and seek. You’ll need to locate the other hacker and stop him or her before they are able steal your information.
Watch Dogs is set to be released for Playstation 3, Xbox360 and Wii U this November. There is currently no official release date for the Xbox One or Playstation 4 other than this holiday season.
Photos by Steven D’alo.