Watch Dogs, the surprise new IP from Ubisoft in which hacking electronic devices forms a primary aspect of gameplay, has created a lot of hype – and a behind-closed doors demonstration of the game seen by games.on.net reveals just how much freedom players will actually have. But there’s also some disappointing news, with the developers remaining coy on whether the title will ever actually make it to PC.
In a demonstration shown to games.on.net today, we viewed the same level seen in the Ubisoft conference reveal, but with some more options for physically – and digitally – moving around the world. When the demo begins, the protagonist – Aiden Pierce – is walking down the street, just as he is in the conference demonstration. But the presenter shows off a few more hacking options along the way.
Across the street there’s a few different video cameras. The presenter hacks into one, and in a second is immediately able to spy on whoever’s in the camera’s vision, revealing more information about them, such as their age, profession, and income.
“Everyone has a story. There are no secrets here… if it’s networked, he can access it. He can watch anybody, and he can listen to anybody,” the demonstrator says. The demo also shows off the ability to hack into mobile phone conversations, even while watching through a security camera.
The demo continues as normal, with Pierce walking to the front of a club. The demonstrator reminds us again we’d be able to enter the club forcefully, but it would attract too much attention. He jams the mobile phones of everyone nearby, and casually walks in.
From here the demo continues alongside the example given in the Ubisoft conference. But the demonstrator is keen to point out the open-world aspect of the game, saying this extends to indoor locations like the club. Players will be able to enter that location at any time and talk to the people who are there.
When Pierce leaves the club after being detected by security, the demo takes a shift. The demonstrator tells us Ubisoft is keen to make this as much of an open-world title as possible, as he guides Pierce up a flight of stairs onto the train tracks.
“Anywhere you can see, you can go,” he says. From here, Pierce is able to create the same car crash in the original demonstration, but from a different vantage point, taking out bodyguards from on high. They’re small changes from the demonstration showed at the conference, but they emphasise how much power the player has over the world.
The demonstrator is keen to remind us the player has so much information at their disposal – personal details of friends and enemies – and it will be up to the individual to decide what they do with it. The amount of detail is so precise some NPCs even carry descriptions such as “paedophile” and “HIV infected”.
Ubisoft also showed off a new online capability. Players will be able to monitor that status in the game through a tablet application, following their progress, and the progress of their friends. They’re trying to “create an online experience that has never been done before”.
When creative director Jonathan Morin spoke to games.on.net on the show floor today, he said the game demo was running on a PC. But when pushed to confirm whether the game would appear on the PC at retail, he replied, “right now, the game (we just saw) is running on PC”. “It’s announced for 360 and PS3, but it’s not for this year, and we don’t have a shipping date right now. We have multiple platform entrants, including on the iPad and tablets.”
Morin was also adamant in saying one of the fundamental tenants of the game was the ability for players to fulfil their curiosity by combining different play types, such as using the technology with other weapons and systems in different combinations.
“If players want to be violent and confront them, they need to the tools to do so, and with technology, they can do whatever they want. The technology in Chicago is going to be layered through everything, so it’s up to the players to decide.”
“If someone wants to play through just hacking and not being violent, that’s completely fine.”