6 ways that Watch_Dogs will take you by surprise

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6 ways that Watch_Dogs will take you by surprise

The development team talk us through their hugely ambitious open world action epic

Knowledge is power – and that rings especially true in Ubisoft‘s eagerly awaited open world adventure, Watch_Dogs. So it’s not surprising that everyone was dying to find out the release date of this spectacular PS3 and PS4 title last week. What’s more surprising however, are these titbits we discovered on a recent visit to Ubisoft’s studio in Montreal…

1. Chicago is your cyber playground

From playing chess and drinking games, to taking down gangs. Watch_Dogs is all about letting you treat Chicago as your playground. “We support all styles of play,” says Animation Director Colin Graham. “Explore the game, as the more you do the more you’ll have fun with it.”
So if you love stealth, go ahead and use those Assassin’s Creed skills. Got an itchy trigger finger? Then blast your way through the missions – you won’t be punished for it. Maybe you just like driving through the city? So boost the many different-handling vehicles and take them for a spin (don’t forget to press the O button to duck your head beneath the dashboard when hiding from the cops, though).
But hacking enhances all of that to create new twists on familiar territory. In Watch_Dogs, stealth is sending a guard a distracting SMS that lets you sneak by him. Shooting turns explosive when you set off an enemy’s belt-grenade, his panicked cries drawing all his friends nearby before you watch them all get taken down by the resulting explosion. And driving evolves into a roadster action movie when you hack the traffic light system and raise parking blockers to evade the fuzz.

2. You’re the cause and the effect


Passers-by aren’t just roaming dummies in Watch_Dogs – each possesses background information that you can bring up with your handy Profiler tool. Some have phone conversations and text messages you can hack, and every single one is different. These random people react differently to your actions, too.

“We’ve created a system for their mental state,” explains Colin. “So attacking one person in the street won’t necessarily result in the same response. If you smash their mobile phone before they call the cops, they may run, they may fight back and so on.
“And panic can spread. If someone runs down a street screaming from what you did, others will become curious. Eventually those people will look for the source of that threat and it creates different reactions.”

3. Everyone is your puppet

Getting under the skin of non-player characters and enemies is all part of the fun, especially as you can really toy with their emotions. For example, if you hack a garage door to go up and down several times, a watching person could get spooked and eventually fly into a rage against the door itself. Equipment can be tampered with to similar effect. And unless you’re being obvious about your intentions they won’t necessarily know it’s you playing games with them.

“Be a demon for the game’s AI”, suggests Creative Director Jonathan Morin. “You can blow stuff up without them knowing you’re there and really mess with their heads. It becomes a little god game where you try to strategise their movements.”

4. It’s the little things…

Everything around you in Watch_Dogs feels alive. From the tourists asking city-goers to take pictures of them, to Aiden’s contextual animations that have him casually sliding his mask up in preparation for action, or putting his hands up in surrender if you don’t move under pursuit of the police.
Even the incidental voices of people in the streets were given a lot of attention. “We went to Chicago and made sure we got the accent right,” reveals Lead Writer Kevin Short.

“We had to capture how they say things. And also make sure the jobs of each non-player character were realistic for the area.”

5. Become judge, jury and executioner

You can make assumptions of a non-player character based on their profile – and sometimes that guess can be right. Take our poor security guard with the belt-grenade. If he’s a highly trained, ex-military guy, chances are he’ll be able to release his belt before the grenade blows up. But if he’s a coffee addicted compulsive gambler, he’s probably toast.

“The Profiler lets you make these kind of judgment calls,” says Colin. “But bear in mind that a character’s equipment can randomly change from game to game, so you still have to think on your feet and adapt.”

6. Watch your back…

Watch_Dogs lets you invade other players’ games, but don’t think that you’ll instantly know who they are. If you hack a Blume agent and you don’t get to them before they report you, another player can be alerted to find you down, stalk you, hack your phone or even kill you – so keep your wits about you for anything suspicious.

“One guy playtesting was just walking down a street, then he suddenly took out his gun and killed someone driving in their car, without even profiling him,” laughs Colin. “We asked why he did that, and he said that there’s no way a person would be driving a branded sports car in this poverty stricken area, so he must have been another player stalking him.”
It’s a story Jonathan found hilarious, but exactly the sort of experiences the team wants you to have with Watch_Dogs. “I love the systemic gameplay and that people are already creating their own anecdotes. That’s what makes the game special to me.”

We’re only scratching the surface of what Watch_Dogs has to offer – take a look at the new trailer below and keep an eye out for more features coming soon.

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  • You forgot the seventh one: downgraded graphics…

  • This isn’t a day one buy for me any more. The graphics have been extremely scaled back since last years reveal. The delays have also put me off. Will wait for the reviews.

  • Should be a Day 1 for me. I love that Ubisoft continues to support not only Sony consoles but all platforms.

  • I find it funny after one trailer that people now think it’s been down graded have you not thought it could be graphics from the ps3 version, I’m still getting mine for ps4 it needs games.

  • People are way too focused on the graphics (which still look decent/good in my opinion.) To me Watch Dogs sounds like a true next gen experience which reinvents a genre and if it fulfills this promise it will be a must buy for every gamer.

  • Not sure why graphics are a swaying factor here. The games looks good, it’s not like they’re throwing up PS2 graphics! Gameplay looks fun and I personally can’t wait to throw myself at it!

  • Ubisoft, be honest and tell us what platform you used for the latest Watch Dogs trailer?

  • To everyone saying the graphics have been downgraded… First of all, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re judging it from a heavely compressed trailer, and you guys don’t work at Ubisoft, so you have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. If the game comes out and it looks terrible, THEN you can complain.
    Second of all, if you still believe the graphics have been heavely downgraded, I recommend you read the following article, because it makes som rather good points.

  • why the graphics is downgraded?????????????

  • It’s just disappointing the graphical fidelity that was shown during E3 isn’t reflecting the actual footage that is the latest build.
    I guess the fact this game is NOT truly next gen but on ALL consoles is the reason for the significant step back. Ubisoft is largely disappointing a mayor group of players that, due to the endless hype Ubisoft created themselves, expected more then Ubi could deliver. That takes away from the hype and the promise and with that Ubisoft did themselves a disservice that could potentially harm sales. I hope the game plays amazing and is a lot of fun and doesn’t have the many many world braking bugs AC games have. Maybe Watch Dogs 2 can live up to it’s former hype and deliver the goods without the restrains of the PS360 generation.

  • 7: by failing to deliver on the target footage that largely drove the next generation hype. That E3 footage SOLD HARDWARE on the promise of the next generation experience. No doubt that many early adopter would have this title in the top 5 reasons for acquiring a new system (I certainly did) and THAT’S why it’s such a big deal.

  • if it comes to plus, great. That or wait a year and get it for a fiver at Game.

  • Why everyone expecting Graphics first then Gameplay? We need the gameplay, Music and Narration bette than graphics. Watchdogs is having good gameplay and nice graphics(not completely next gen because its been focused on previous gen consoles too).

  • Getting a game solely for the state of the graphics is ridiculous. You must be 12.

  • JezPSN, GrytEcHoG, it really is not about the graphics. It’s about not liking being lied to. Noone would say anything (too) bad about WD’s visuals, if that visuals were promised from the beginning.

  • Comment from Morin on Twitter “Guys… Trailer wasn’t a good GFX ref. E3 2012 was PC as we always said and E3 2013 is PS4 reference. Was always the case…”

  • Not sure where everyone has gotten this idea that the graphics have somehow been magically downgraded. I can only imagine that they’re comparing the gameplay videos that have been available post E3 to the pre-rendered FMV that used in the reveal. Name one recent game that has actually looked the way its reveal trailer set out.
    And even if the graphics had dropped a little in quality, which they haven’t, but if they had I would much rather the trailers reflect this than for things to go the other way. All too often we see publishers put out promo material that is 100% pre-rendered and showing on high end PCs while they pretend it’s real time console gameplay. That’s when we should be crying foul, not here.

  • Still day one PS3 and DecSec Edition for me… And maybe PS4 week after depending on the reviews…

  • For those who still talk about the downgrade graphics, why not try to find more information? There will be no downgrade on PS4, how I know? Well you just use the twitter and follow Watch Dogs, there you will find a interview with the producers, and THAT question is asked there and he answers, so just check it out.

  • Anyone who bought a new console looking for other than a huge graphics upgrade must be an idiot. Anyone claiming otherwise is a troll. Thanks for playing…

  • It will not be a bad games but graphics are downgraded compared to the previous E3 videos, period.
    Don’t forget that the first presentation of Watch Dogs was all about its graphics and realism. Now we have PS3 graphics on “next gen consoles”. Even GTA V is nicer and with more details. You can watch videos from the first reviews, submitted a few days ago, and look at all the differences! It’s just sad that it doesn’t look as good as the first presentation.

  • Oi, quit complaining about the graphics! This new IP looks very promising!

  • Do I need to remind the people complaining about the people complaining about a little game called aliens colonial marines hm? people have the right to feel wary, they HAVE downgraded the graphics significantly – they say the ps4 version will look like e3 2013 but the footage they showed the other day WAS ps4 footage and it didn’t look anything like it – what else will they change, how different is this game from the original version.

  • @TrueMurton
    Well said mate, you are so right there

  • Is #3 screen real? Untouched?

  • Can pre-order on PS3, but not on PS4?
    Between this and inFamous, it’s like you don’t want anyone to give you money.

  • Anyone got DeLorean DMC-12? Need to play this as soon as possible. Been high on my radar (and still is) since information was first released about the game.

  • Can’t wait for this game. Going to be awesome!!!!!! Can’t help but be a little bit disappointed with the PC vs PS4 video which was on kotaku

  • Gameplay is king and I have a crown ready for this!

  • @ Hexahedronaut
    What has Colonial Marines got to do with anything? People were upset about Colonial Marines using 100% pre-rendered footage in all trailers that was far and away above what the game actually looked like, it’s a reasonable thing to be angry about but why was nobody angry about Bethesda doing the same? How many Skyrim videos were posted on this very blog that showed steady frame rates and anti-aliasing that didn’t exist in our version? How about the Bulletstorm videos that showed off the “god rays” and other lighting effects that were cut from the PS3? People didn’t get upset about these because they didn’t understand that these things happened until the gaming press actually reported on it, and they’re still selective over when they report these things. And from your post it’s clear that people still don’t understand as the ACM and WD situations are mirror opposites. ACM used 100% pre-rendered vids from reveal to release, WD used pre-render until E3 2013 where the first real time gameplay vid was shown and it’s been real time ever since. Totally different situation.

  • the graphics for the PS4 version was downgraded since what they revealed at E3 and other games convention are running in PC.

  • really had bad experiance with Ubisoft and it’s foreced online features that I don’t believe brings anymore fun to existing content.
    AC4 black flag single player mode online sharing feature was really annoying for trophy hunters. Servers were not stable and events were not frequent.
    Multiplayer servers were always suffering and lagging. Plus the MP was really boring and there was nothing new that I really appreciate than prev release of AC.
    Putting this all together. And thinking of all online features that will be injected in single player mode I would say I’ll wait for watch dogs till after release. Maybe even a year. Or till I read the forums and make sure that the servers are fine and stable.
    Ubisoft hardly gets a 9/10 on any game. Even those games hit 9 aren’t really impressive in terms of content, gameplay or storytelling. Comparing to games like Last of Us, BioShock and GTA series in general.

  • Game is shaping up to be pretty awesome. Not the biggest Ubisoft fan (older Tom Clancy games aside) but this looks very fun and will probably be the game I play over the summer months


  • i think il get a law passed banning residentStevefrom saying childish things about HOME each week or il just hire a hitman to SHUT HIM UP

  • This and inFAMOUS will be the games of year

  • Probably more time and effort has went into hideos 3hr game teaser mgs5 than this patch of assassins creed without palmtrees. Ubi soft are notorious for development shams and glitch games if u ask me not in the same bracket as Konami. Or capcom. History wise I’m not tht surprised to tell the truth I am still goin to go through the reviews like a tramp eating chips out a Ramsden bin on a Friday night anyways before I slate this peace of gta hacking style caper..

  • Ps I spell how I want it to sound
    So don’t even go ther pps
    Z1 style haa n mwah kx

  • Getting this for sure. Looks great!

  • i cant understand ubi downgrader graphics in watch dogs and look at infamous ubi needs for sucker punch to give them the ps4 graphics code

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