Here at OnlySP.com we’ve been covering some of the titles gamers are hoping to see once the next-generation of consoles hit us. It has been mostly speculation and wishful thinking to this point, but since Sony held their PlayStation 4 event some next-gen games were made public. One of which is Ubisoft’s highly anticipated Watch Dogs. Ubisoft Montreal is making a version of the game for nearly every platform; PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, PC, Xbox 360 and mostly likely the Xbox 360’s successor. Ubisoft just can’t announce that version until Microsoft lifts the veil on the console.
Since its demo at E3 last year, Watch Dogs has been a favorite on “looking forward to” lists everywhere. The game sees Aiden Pierce, a vigilante residing in Chicago, taking on whomever comes between him and his yet to be determined goals. The gameplay is very reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto, however, Pierce doesn’t primarily utilize artillery. He harnesses the power of technology.
Watch Dogs’ version of Chicago is the world’s first city to be completely controlled by a supercomputer called “CtOS”, or Central Operating System. The system handles all of the technological functions necessary within the “Windy City.” That’s precisely why Pierce is so powerful within this game – he can manipulate it all.
Aiden Pierce is a shadow within Chicago. Wearing a trench-coat and low-fitted baseball cap, he is inconspicuous to most. He travels to and from locations and jobs under the cover of darkness and deception. He isn’t a bad guy per se, more an anti-hero. He doesn’t want to hurt civilians or law enforcement, but he won’t allow them to get in his way either. And when it comes to the dredges of humanity that he hunts, he’ll take them out whether it be legally or lethally.
Sony was gracious enough to invite Ubisoft to their event last week. CEO Yves Guillemot came out on stage to throw his company’s support to the new console. He stated that the PlayStation 4 (and most likely the next Xbox’s) version of Watch Dogs will be “more connected, more immersive and more interactive.” We know from the many social functions that Sony is touting in their new console that this shouldn’t be hard to achieve. But after he was done with his introduction, Mr. Guillemot treated us to new gameplay footage of Ubisoft’s first official next-generation title.
At the beginning of the video we hear a transmission stating that Aiden Pierce has been identified as the suspect of multiple attacks within the city. Not a good start for Pierce, but definitely more fun for the player. The camera flies quickly through the city and as it does so we see it stall on several random civilians. An icon pops above them giving personal details; a man’s recent online power winnings, a women who has been reportedly missing for a month, text message conversations, but we also see things Pierce can’t access quite yet. Then the camera zooms in behind Pierce and he begins to walk down a gorgeously rendered street courtesy of the PS4’s new capabilities.
The city looks fantastic. It’s proportionately populated, the sounds in the environment are authentic and the lighting is like nothing we’ve seen in an open-world game before. Just seeing Pierce run across the street is amazing. His animations are fluid and just watching his trench-coat move with such realism is exciting. It may be minor to most, but it’s joyous to see such detail implemented.
As Pierce moves throughout the city, anyone holding a cell phone is a potential target. Icons pop above NPC’s heads indicating they are hackable, but even if they aren’t facial recognition comes to the rescue. Target a homeless man sitting beside a building and it’s revealed that his name is Marcus Rhodes, a former Iraq war veteran that’s currently homeless with no income. Good Samaritan Janet Kozer, a recently evicted 34 year old housekeeper, stops and gives the veteran a few dollars to help. Bobby Tyler is a pro-life lobbyist making six-figures as a tobacco company executive. Pierce scans Tyler’s bank card information and hits the nearest ATM to withdraw $420 from his account.
Pierce then scans Sandy Higgins at a newspaper stand. She has recently won a custody battle, and as she walks around the corner a meter begins to rise indicating Sandy’s potential of becoming a crime victim is increasing. As Higgins enters a parking lot she is confronted by Bobby Sawicki, whom is currently under a restraining order, and pulls a knife on Sandy. Pierce of course sees all this coming through the help of technological probability. He jumps out from behind a car and startles Sawicki. Then the chase begins.
Sawicki goes running down a crowded street in Chicago and fires a few rounds at Pierce. We then hear audio from a police scanner calling in a report about shots being fired. The chase goes through a local store and then down an alleyway. Sawicki continues to fire and Pierce dodges as he continues to gain ground. Pierce gracefully hurdles and slides over several sets of crates during the chase and scales a fence with ease. Once Pierce is airborne during his fence decent, the game slows down and Pierce quickly hacks a nearby electrical box Sawicki is currently running beside. The box overloads, explodes, and sends Bobby to the ground. Pierce pounces on him and knocks him unconscious with a baton. Sawicki is no longer a threat, but the Chicago Police Department is.
As soon as Pierce exits the ally, police are everywhere. He runs toward the street and sees a police vehicle coming. The entrance to the street happens to have automated pillars that rise up preventing traffic for certain events. Pierce hacks the device and raises the pillars just as the police car gets there. The car hits it at full speed and is sent flying from the collision. Using slow down once again, Pierce targets a different oncoming police car. He aims and shoots out the front-right tire, sending that vehicle out of control into an nearby light pole. Pierce then runs down another alley and begins climbing toward the rooftops while shots are being fired from behind him. He has nowhere to go as police surround the building. Luckily, the train happens to be right on schedule. Pierce hacks into the passing train’s controls and stops it beside him on the rooftop. He leaps onto the top of the train and then restarts it to complete his smooth getaway.
The demo ends there but the game leaves a lasting impression. Everything we have seen from Watch Dogs has been beyond impressive. The visuals look great, the controls seem solid, and the world feels life-like. Hacking is your tool of trade and it looks fun as hell to take control of the city at your will. The attention to detail in the world is top notch. Many NPCs have their own stories and agendas as I described above. However, we know very little about the story at this point. Really, we only have what has been seen at last year’s E3 and the PS4 demo to go on. But it’s enough. The game won “Best of E3” awards from numerous publications last year, and what we’ve seen of the PS4 version only amplifies that.
No release date has been announced yet, it’s still listed for 4th quarter 2013. Ubisoft just recently started a pre-order campaign through Amazon, GameStop and Best Buy, so it seems that a release date for this year is solid. One thing is for sure, if Watch Dogs is available as a launch title for the new consoles (which rumors are circulating that it will be), it in itself makes them immediately more intriguing. We hope to hear more about Watch Dogs at E3 in a few months. Until then, keep checking with OnlySP.com for all your news on Ubisoft’s awesome new IP.