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Gamescom 2013: Watch Dogs

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Ubisoft’s hack-tastic open-world Watch Dogs is easily one of the year’s most anticipated titles. Many people seem to think that Watch dogs is little more than a re-skinned, modern-day Assassin’s Creed. Those people are wrong.

We got to have a look at the game at Gamescom – and what we’ve seen is rather intriguing. We got to look at bits from the traditional single-player experience, as well as some of that invasive multiplayer.

The hands-on demonstration starts off with protagonist Aiden Pierce, hacker extraordinaire in a lower-class, ramshackle industrial bit of Chicago. Before he’s able to hack in to civilian phones and computers in the area, he needs to break in to and hack the Central Operating System (ctOS) database and implant a digital backdoor before he’s granted unfettered access to all things digital.

To do that, he’d have to physically break in to the compound housing the database; guarded as it is by guys carrying rather large guns. There are quite a number of ways Aiden could do this. He could, like a ninja, sneak in; hack one of the cameras, giving him a less restricted view and tagging enemies – and then piggy back from that camera to another, eventually able to plot a route without being spotted – or he could just run in, shoot everybody, and hack away. One thing that does make the (less fun, in my opinion) gung-ho approach a little easier is that Aiden can enter a sort of bullet-time, slowing down time for more precise shots. You probably want to avoid that route though; Aiden’s no bullet sponge – and just a few shots bring his lifeless body to the ground.

Once he’s done that, he can now scan people’s cell phones, computers and just about every other connected digital thing for information – like people’s banking info, which can be used to illicitly earn cash, or other logs of information that could trigger side-quests or might be helpful in your main objective.

We also got to take a look at the handling of cars (and bikes!) within the city and it all seems to control quite nicely. While in a vehicle, hacking still plays a significant role, and you can change traffic lights to slow pursuers (usually cops) by causing massive traffic jams.

We then also got a look at one of the multiplayer features in the game. At one point in the play-through, a message popped up saying that Aiden himself was being hacked and that he’d have to tag people within certain proximity to find out who the offending hacker was; turns out it was somebody else in the room, who’d hopped in to the game just for some multiplayer shenanigans.

If you do get happen to get hacked successfully, a little revenge mission is added, allowing you to infiltrate the other player’s game and hack him right back. It’s all a little bit of a pointless, but fun, distraction really, as it’s purely for bragging rights.

More than just a future Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs seems to borrow elements from Splinter Cell and Far Cry as well – becoming a slower, more methodical, thinking-man’s open world game.

Last Updated: August 29, 2013

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