The ten minutes of Watch Dogs gameplay showed off something difficult to achieve, an entirely new spin on the third-person open-world genre. The game has been in development for two years and somehow has remained a secret from industry insiders. Players will take control of the game’s lead character, Aiden Pierce. However, Pierce is not the typical video game protagonist. According to Ubisoft, the main character will be in the gray area. He is not a traditional good guy or bad guy. Decisions made by the player will help define his role in the gray zone.
No context was given about the game’s plotline but it is obvious that Pierce is an assassin. A cutscene during the live demo showed a rendezvous with another character, meaning Pierce is not working alone. In fact, the assassination target was assigned to Pierce, implying he is working for some type of organization.
Pierce has a cell-phone like device that he can use to hack objects within the environment. Everything from personal cell-phones and tablets to street lights and cameras can be hacked. An underlying theme of the game appears to be society’s reliance on modern technology.The game is set in Chicago, a perfect place for an open-world game. The Windy City is beautifully rendered in what could be the most realistic open-world environment ever in a game. Watch Dogs will focus heavily on hacking the environment and the city will likely play an important role during gameplay.
Crowded streets, foot traffic, realistic shadowing and lighting, and the city’s signature winds are all recreated in great detail. During the demo, Pierce walks through the streets towards his destination while dust and leaves blow naturally. Pedestrians react just as they would in the real world.
Gameplay is a mix of stealth action with fast-paced, high-intensity action sequences and car chases. It sounds like a tangled mess but plays wonderfully. While Pierce starts using stealth, he is forced to change strategies based on the reaction of his enemies. The demo included a gun battle in which Pierce rescues an innocent civilian, putting the game’s decision-making options on display.
It is easy to see this game as Grand Theft Auto meets Assassin’s Creed or Splinter Cell with cars but, in reality, it is a completely new experience like no other. Both Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed were huge parts of Ubisoft’s E3 press conference. However, both franchises are closer to the sunset of their lifespan and Watch Dogs could be the company’s spiritual successor.
The demo version of the game was being played on the PC. Ubisoft Montreal producer Dominic Guay says Watch Dogs will also be coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. That still has not stopped gaming insiders to speculate that it is actually being developed for next-generation consoles. No specific release date was given but it is not expected to release until 2013.
Watch Dogs E3 Gameplay Trailer