Ubisoft Impressed Us With Watch Dogs, But Now They Need To Deliver
Ubisoft’s conferences at previous E3 events have always been a bit of a hit and miss affair. They usually get really annoying comedians or presenters to push a line-up of games that, on paper, sound incredible, but ultimately fail to be anything close to outstanding. This year, however, was very different. There were still two incredibly annoying presenters, who I occasionally wished I could strangle, but there was a strong showing of some really awesome looking games.
Titles such as Far Cry 3, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Assassin’s Creed III were all expected to make a huge showing during the conference, but there was one game that seemed to dwarf them all. A game that was actually successfully kept a secret until it was officially unveiled right at the end of the hour long conference. A game called Watch Dogs.
By now I’m hoping that you’ve seen the E3 trailer and gameplay footage of this new IP already and if you haven’t, why haven’t you? This game immediately made waves through the gaming community for its originality and stunning, stunning visuals, and it quickly distinguished itself as one of the best games of this year’s E3. But is it really worth such an accolade?
Here are some of the things that we noticed about Watch Dogs; what it needs to remain, what it needs to lose and, most importantly, what it needs to still do to convince us that this new IP will be nothing short of incredible.
First off the bat, we want to see more of Watch Dogs’ stunning open-world. From the gameplay trailer we get a small glimpse of the futuristic city this game is set in. It’s not far into the future, so the changes aren’t radical but they are there. The surroundings look absolutely mind-blowing and what was great about the gameplay was that the city looked alive and vibrant. It seemed like a proper representation of a real world, and having that kind of immersion can immediately set Watch Dogs apart from most open-world titles. If Ubisoft keep their entire world as detailed as this segment, you can be sure that the future in which Watch Dogs is set will indeed be bright.
Watch Dogs immediately reminded us of Syndicate. No, the game doesn’t look like a wasted shooter that used its name to suck in sales, but rather the whole premise surrounding Watch Dogs is very similar to that of Syndicate. In Watch Dogs you have control of an entire city’s infrastructure via powerful computers that seem to fit into your pocket. You see, ever since a major infrastructural breakdown in 2003 (which actually happened in the USA), cities have implemented a system which has an entire Operating System, named ctOS, run the city. Problem is, anyone can hack into this system with the right tools, gaining access to virtually any information they could desire. Watch Dogs makes this power immediately apparent. You can take out communications, cause major accidents by messing with traffic lights, check NPC’s financial, health and occupation statuses and much more. This all seems incredible, but how much of this will actually make an impact on the way you play the game? Sure it’s nice to see how unique everyone is around you, and how high the probability is that someone is about to attempt to re-arrange your face, but is it all flash and no actual substance? If you have the keys to the city, Ubisoft have to make sure that they make you feel as though you can exploit that power in any way possible.
Stealth is another massive plus for Watch Dogs. In fact, most of the gameplay footage shows how you’d get in and out of areas completely undetected, bar a nasty encounter with one poor bouncer. Utilizing your power over the city could give stealth a whole new layer in Watch Dogs and, if you’re able to play the game without needing to raise any alarms, it would make the whole premise that much sweeter. However, I doubt that is a possibility after seeing the stunning shoot-out in the middle of the road near the end of the demo. What struck me as so amazing is how unscripted the sequence was. The main character basically waited until the target was nearby, took out the traffic lights and then let the chaos ensue. What followed was even more impressive, as enemy A.I adapted to the cover created by the carnage, forcing the player to constantly move around to avoid fire. The cover system and shooting looked solid enough, but the way everything reacted around this encounter was just outstanding. The way the petrol station nearby exploded and caused your character to stumble out of cover is just one example of the small touches this game has received, and it’s those small details that make a huge difference.
The only thing I’m really worried about is how original the rest of the game will be. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of gameplay condensed into a ten minute demo, but is that the extent of it? Will missions be so predictable to a point where a certain sequence of events will play out over and over again, just with different characters? Without a set release date, this game can still be tweaked and changed, but judging by what was shown at E3, and how loud the applause was for it after the demo, it seems as though gamers don’t really need anything more than what was displayed.