NYCC 2013: Watch Dogs Preview

A hacker's paradise.

Mike Whiteby Mike White

Ever since the announcement at E3 2012, Watch Dogs has kept fans wanting to know more. The game is an ambitious open world action-adventure title from Ubisoft Montreal. Set in a dark and brooding Chicago, Watch Dogs plays on themes created by the ever present rise of technology and surveillance. 

Our eyes-on demo at NYCC 2013 started off with an introduction by the game’s creative director Jonathan Morin. Morin laid out the main plot points for us including a little insight on the main character Aiden Pearce’s troubled history. However, the focus of the presentation quickly moved on to describing once again how smart phones and an interconnected city can be used as a tool and a weapon depending on who is in control. 

As the gameplay footage kicked in, the main character set out into the city to gather some equipment for an upcoming mission. We got a quick look at one of the many stores in Watch Dogs where players can purchase and upgrade their gear. Crafting weapons and gadgets will also play a role in how they progress through the game.

Pearce then jumps in his car and takes to the streets of the Windy City. Watch Dogs, like other massive open world games before it, is as much about action and drama as it is about recreating a familiar setting, then letting the players get immersed in it.

WatchDogs_Hacking

Ubisoft also showcased the gritty side of combat and how players can combine traditional weapons with hacking to get themselves out of sticky situations. I don’t expect running and gunning to be very effective, nor as enjoyable as mixing in all the gadgets and tricks at Pearce’s disposal. This includes a time slowing feature to give players the chance to set up some elaborate and devastating combinations. 

All of the environmental controls from trailers and gameplay videos were present in full-force. This time they added machine guns, grenade launchers, and IEDs. The net result can easily be described as controlled chaos. Bullets fly, barrels explode, and the hero (if it’s even safe to call him that) narrowly escapes. All of these are aspects of an action game that are proven to satisfy. 

The challenge for Watch Dogs is to keep the experience compelling and set itself apart from the competitors. Hacking could easily become gimmicky or frustrating if set up improperly. I can be happy for now knowing it won’t be a quick time event.

Watch Dogs releases in late November for current and next-gen consoles as well as PC.