Watch_Dogs on PS4: Hands-on

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Watch_Dogs on PS4: Hands-on
Watch_Dogs on PS4: Hands-on

Watch_Dogs will rewire the way open-world games are played. A near-future Chicago, teeming with criminal intent, serves as a playground, weapon, and resource in one interconnected latticework of data. And at the heart of it all stands Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker with a painful history. Within the first few hours of Watch_Dogs on PS4, Aiden’s story of revenge has enough potential to match the anticipation the gaming community has leveled at it.

At the beginning of Watch_Dogs, Aiden earns his money through digital thievery, syphoning funds away from the unsuspecting masses without lifting a finger to harm them. But one job goes south and Aiden robs the wrong people, leading to the tragic death of his niece.

Players take control of the action after six year-old Lena Pearce has been buried and mourned. The hacker has accelerated his efforts to find her killer, and that chase has led him to a hit man under May Stadium. As thunderous cheers roar above them, Aiden interrogates the killer and gets one step closer to unraveling the underground powers moving against him.

Watch_Dogs revolves around hacking. Aiden uses it to gather intel, collect funds, steal cars, stop crimes, and weaponize his environment. This changes the way players can approach every situation in Watch_Dogs, from slinking through back alleyways to racing down highways in exotic (stolen) cars.


The entire city of Chicago and its abundance of data can be accessed with the Square button, thanks to ctOS — the city-wide monitoring and security network. This one-button hacking is contextual, but also flexible. Aiden can interact with traffic lights, bridges, garage doors, and more just by aiming the reticle in their direction and hitting Square. Similarly, every NPC (strict emphasis on every) has an individual and unique set of data points that Aiden can peruse at any time. This alone demonstrates a colossal effort on Ubisoft Montreal’s part.

Hit Square to activate the profiler in Aiden’s smartphone, lighting up the city streets with data. Names, incomes, and criminal histories flicker onto the screen, giving the bustling city streets a palpable sense of life and authenticity. Players can spend hours just walking through Chicago and siphoning money from people’s bank accounts. Or listening in on phone conversations. Or watching text exchanges. The possibilities are enormous.

But Aiden can also take a much more active role in the world. Besides pursuing main story missions, Aiden has a wealth of side missions and mini-games to interface with during the free-roam portions of Watch_Dogs. Aiden’s profiler will alert players when random crimes are about to happen, and players can intervene if they wish, connecting to security cameras and watching over just about every inch of the city.

Hacking extends through combat, driving, surveillance, and stealth, which requires an almost fundamental shift in thinking for open-world players. Aiden can do everything you’d expect from a no-nonsense vigilante, from deft gunplay to wince-inducing takedowns. But his ability to hack changes the game. Fuse boxes and underground pipes become explosives, cameras become spies, and even grenades can be detonated remotely… while the bad guys are still holding them. A new layer of options has been laid over the traditional open-world experience, empowering Aiden, and players, with more control of the moment-to-moment play.


In one later mission, for example, Aiden can plan his assault on a gang’s meeting spot before they arrive, adjusting shutter doors and guard plates to manually shift the cover points for the ensuing gunfight.

Aiden’s skills are kinetic, growing from experience via player-driven skill trees. Divided into hacking, combat, driving, and crafting, these trees open up new ways to hack, new buffs, and devastating countermeasures to employ against the police — like causing a blackout or disabling pursuit choppers.

Watch_Dogs also features a suite of multiplayer modes, which can be dropped in and out of during single-player missions. One such mode tasks two teams with decrypting a packet of data. Each team must keep the data away from the other to prevent the opposing side from stealing it back. This digital tug-of-war encourages heart-pounding car chases, sea-side shootouts, and countless other action set pieces that erupt across Chicago.

Watch_Dogs is more than an open-world game; it challenges gamers to look at the action differently, from a small gunfight to a breakneck chase. Players can take control of a digital Chicago when Watch_Dogs hits PS4 and PS3 on May 27th.

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11 Author Replies

  • I hope this lives up to the hype of the game after it was announced. It will be day 1 for me.

  • Wow, sounds pretty intense with all the gameplay options.

  • My first reaction is, do I have to write Watch Dogs as Watch_Dogs?

    Besides that I’m tentatively excited, though the big delay and graphical downgrade has made me wary

    • You can write Watch_Dogs however you want in the comments. ;)

      Don’t feel overly wary — what I saw was really promising.

  • The wait is almost over. Yaaay!

  • Can.Not.Wait!!!


  • I very rarely pre-order games but this one I did, it looks really good. Can’t wait for it.

  • did i just see a giant robotic spider smash up a bunch of cars?! okay, NOW i’m invested.

  • Ryan,

    Let’s get the PS4 version pre-order up on the store. PS3 one been there since last year.


  • Get the preorder for PS4 available and you got me on board ;)

  • Can’t wait for the game, but would be nice if i can pre-order it for my PS4. I see it shows as a PS3 pre-order but there is none for the PS4 :(

  • I would love to pre-order digitally, but it’s only available for PS3. Any chance it’ll be made available for digital pre-order for PS4?

  • Already preordered and can’t wait! This game will be awesome!

  • Beyond! Thx for a preview Ryan, as was said above please transmit to Digital Content SEN Team to open the Pre-Order for PS4 version. Thanks.

  • I will wait to get a limited edition PS4 bundle with this awesome game~

  • Well I’ve had this preordered since last year as a launch game for PS4. So I hope we actually get it this time!

  • Ryan- Do you think this is an all around better game than Infamous Second Son? I’m very excited for this game. I don’t want to be dissapointed.

    • They’re incredibly different games. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, though please remember I’ve only played the beginning!

  • It looks pretty damn good….I’m actually very excited to play Watch Dogs…it has potential to be the best open-world game yet…even better than Assassin’s….I already know that I’ll spend hours and hours in this game just having that good fun of exploring the game possibilities,and the graphics look pretty good for a multiplat,the whole downgrade fairy tale is a joke…people around the internet are just stupid.

  • i really love it…it looks fun to play
    i gotta pre order for my ps4

  • @ 17 saint9806 – I know I know you didn’t asked “me”….but I wanted to answer anyway….I’m pretty sure Watch Dogs will be better than Second Son…overall you know as a game…but not in the technical aspect…an open-world game to be better than Second Son in the technical aspect well…only another Infamous.

  • hey Ryan Clement, do you know when pre-order available for Watch dogs in PSN Store on ps4 version ? it is my most aniticipated game

  • Look forward to the game, it was originally my primary games purchase together with the Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and I have to admit I was little disappointed that it was delayed.

    Overall, its a good thing. I’m sure the extra time needed is well spent to polish tech even further.

    First day purchase :)

  • The game looks good,but I wished they kept the original look of aiden in the e3 2012 unveil. He just looked more natural and cool.

  • This will keep me entertained for months until Destiny probably.

  • Can I cross save between the PS3 and PS4? Both are on the same television. I want to be able to let some play on the PS3 while I remote to the PS Vita from the PS4. Cross save would not lock someone to a system.

  • VERY EXCITED FOR WATCH DOGS !!!!! Day one purchase for sure. Everything they have shown is just remarkable, this is the main reason I bought a Ps4, and its good to see we will all have it in our hands soon. 33 Days 8 Hours 36 Minutes and 25 Seconds

  • multiplayer don’t care for sense finding players willing to team up with you is pain in the butt; single players is the whole reason why i want to play this great game. Chicago :)

  • That poor policeman up for a vacation!

  • I can’t wait for this game! :) I hope that we will be able to pre order it soon on the Playstation 4 PSStore. Also please give a release date for 1.70 update. I CAN’T WAIT for it. :)



  • The graphical downgrade (yes, it is most definitely downgraded) sucks but was also annoys me is that they changed Aiden’s appearance. He looked much less generic at E3 2012 and E3 2013, he had character in his face back then. Now he looks bland. Disappointments aside, it still looks plenty fun.

  • Thank you Ryan for this post. I was on the fence with getting Watch_Dogs, now it has been a day 1 purchase for me.

  • I am officially Re-Interested in Watch_Dogs. Great video Ryan!

  • I_will_hack_you


  • @ jose213: I’m with you. I could have done without the multiplayer, especially considering that most of it was shoved into the game during the delay, which means we wouldn’t have had to wait as long if they hadn’t bothered with it… this is why we can’t have nice things.

    That being said, I’m still getting it. I just hope they don’t waste a bunch of trophies on the multiplayer trash. It really would be a waste, considering how much there is to do in this game and the cool goals they could make for singleplayer content.

  • Hey Ryan, any chance you could tell me how the mask works? Is there a notoriety system where you can equip your mask at will to conceal your identity (like in Red Dead Redemption) or does Aiden put it on automatically when you engage in conflict? (e.g Assassin Creed)

  • Can any represent of ubisoft answer this question this game still have the upgrade pass like ac4, Cod ghost, bf4, etc ill appreciate the answer

  • Is Watch Dogs Day 1 digital for PS4?

  • Watch Dogs can not come soon enough, I am so excited for this game.

  • Beyond! Excellent “hands on” Ryan. This is pretty much the only game I have preordered right now. Looking forward to getting it at launch. Hopefully I’ll finish up ACIV by then. Well, maybe not. There is so much stuff to do in that game!

  • can’t wait for this just 1 month to wait !!!!!!

  • I really am no hyped at all for this game. I was when thought this would be my first playstation 4 game to play, but now it’s just not the same.

  • When is the Watch_Dogs pre-order coming to the PS4 store?

  • This looks incredible!! Took a 3 day vacation to get some time in with this game, very excited and that previous story trailer got my attention big time!!

  • You Said It Greatness Awaits.

  • i was wondering when can we pre-order Watch Dogs on the playstation store for ps4 i could only find ps3 version

  • I was wondering I know hacking can help you out, but what if I want to siphon some rich dudes funds and give some to a homeless guy somehow. Can we do that too? And maybe that would put a positive outlook on the people of the city to us?
    Is there any other small things like that we can do? Also, I have this preordered at Gamestop, I was wondering do we still get those extra bonuses that I heard about as long as it’s for Playstation? Any response would be great!

  • hello would like to know when will be released the Cross buy Ps3/Ps4 To WatchDogs?Thank you, I bought the Prevenda, 2013 I would like to download it

  • I’ve already Pre-Ordered the Dedsec edition for my PS3 {I don’t haz a PS4 :<} and a Digital Deluxe with season pass for PC <3

  • The wait is killing me. Even if it’s only another 17 days.


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