As the new E3 trailer teased, Watch Dogs simulates a world where information is literally brimming at the power of your own fingertips as gamers take on the role of the mysterious, deadly – and sometimes unsettlingly nonchalant – Aiden Pearce. Yet for many, the luring venom of the new game isn’t found purely in the concept of gratuitous hacking or the prospect of inciting virtual vengeance upon those who remain normally untouched within the realms of privacy; as social media soon arrived brimming towards overflow directly after Ubisoft’s E3 presentation, one of the main topics of conversation was the amount of disbelief at the luxuriously smooth high quality of the graphics that had appeared on the screen. Watch Dogs literally had many gamers pleasantly aching in disbelief as they repeatedly came to the stunning realization that for once, it’s now actually possible that the graphic quality in-game is going to look just as mind-numbingly realistic as it did within trailers. Give any gamer high quality next-gen graphics, combined with a fast-paced action packed storyline, and then set within a painstakingly detailed open world, more often than not, it’s easy to predict that the game will be a success almost instantaneously.
Perhaps one of the greatest factors associated with Watch Dogs is how the experience literally revolves around what you want to do. Ubisoft is quickly making it clear with this title that the next generation of gaming should be more intimately focused on the user’s personal experience and how that shapes the world of the game. In Watch Dogs, the user has a vast amount of options and choices to consider at any given moment. It’s ultimately the player’s choice whether Aiden spends a scant few minutes hacking into the bank account of a random passerby on the street or devotes a little more time towards pursuing a stealth kill during a main objective.
Objectives are clearly defined, but more indirect, allowing for that always unique and enjoyable sensation of discovery while gaming. This is an element that was previously seen in great development with Ubisoft’s previous title, Assassin’s Creed 3. While you may have a broader goal in a specific district or area of the map, while pursuing that concept, you eventually find yourself unlocking other nearby areas within the region. The method works very well for Watch Dogs, which primarily bases this concept on different forms of hacking and use of technology, albeit to a mind-blowing degree. Can you imagine literally hacking your way through unknown levels of the world’s personal data in order to achieve your one true objective? It’s awe-inspiring, to say the least.
Stealth plays a moderately high role within the perception of the game. Gamers have to choose the way they will choose to approach the objectives they encounter and discover while playing within the world. While you don’t have to stealth kill everyone, certainly, there are a number of circumstances where it would be far more promising and provide the more desirable results. This is well demonstrated to an extent in the trailer presented at E3, where Aiden essentially infiltrated an area in a very stealth manner before unleashing an unexpectedly lethal attack, wounding the antagonist and apparently simultaneously hacking through all of his information in the same process before displaying his dirty deeds on large plasma screens outside as he was arrested. There are surely many different ways to approach objectives within Watch Dogs but sometimes, the most satisfying moments will be achieved when players successfully pull off Aiden’s own unique form of justice for the world under the guise of stealth.
The concept of crime precognition can be equally enjoyable while casually walking down Chicago’s city streets in the game. Many of the NPCs present within the world can be scanned to reveal some of their most private information. A number of these are said to be quite amusing, though the main point of the process is to reveal the usage of the crime prediction meter. The higher the rating on the meter may be, the more likely it is the character will become a victim during gameplay. With this option, Aiden can easily follow individuals who are likely to be a victim of crime and prevent it. Of course, this is just one of the ways to play. There are also endless options for car stunts, hacking into personal accounts, stealing money, moral dilemmas and even hacking into other players’ games during their own user experience.
In the background of the world, there is the context that there are moral options to choose from. Users are challenged to consider some of the scenarios that are at play when they are hacking. The bank account just hacked may belong to a family that is struggling to make ends meet. For example, will you choose to continue with your completely anonymous crime or will you move on to the lawyer down the street who easily makes several grand on a regular basis? The choice belongs to the player.
Above anything, Watch Dogs stands as a testament to the amount of hard work and dedication Ubisoft has devoted to pushing the limits creatively while ultimately pressing on towards the long-anticipated arrival of next-gen consoles. The unique style and presentation behind Watch Dogs has already prompted many non-gamers to approach gaming with a little more respect and consideration. Yet, more provocative than many of the other titles showcased at E3 this year, one of the main reasons Watch Dogs can be merited a point of interest is for the amount of realism that it grants to the gaming experience as a whole, with storylines and concepts that could easily be the chilling capers of any knowledgeable hacker in the real world. With these concepts well defined, Ubisoft presents an incredibly high impact question to any gamer found within the glimpse of Aiden Pearce’s graphic-intense real world situations: what would you do with such undaunted power?