A next-gen experience that reinvents the way gamers will interact with an interconnected open-world city, Watch Dogs arms players with the most powerful of modern weapons: a cell phone that grants unprecedented access to Chicago’s Central Operating System (ctOS). Aiden Pearce wields this weapon – along with his brawn, his guns and his high-tech gadgets – as a vigilante driven to seek out justice (or vengeance) against those who harmed his family.
First revealed at E3 2012, Watch Dogs has been in the works since 2009. Now that the game’s gone gold after an epic five-and-a-half-year development cycle, what’s that mean for the team? “It’s exciting to be gold,” says Creative Director Jonathan Morin. “But it’ll be more exciting when people are playing. For the fans it means that it’s true. It means there will be no such thing as another delay. But for us, it’s not done until they actually have it in their hands.”
Morin’s fan-centric response might be true for any game, but with Watch Dogs it’s especially important for the team to hand their creation to players and allow them to take control of this fully interactive city. That’s because Watch Dogs is all about player choice. “We tried to make a game that’s very scalable in the sense that it supports your play style,” says Lead Gameplay Designer Danny Belanger. “It supports what you want to do most of the time. And it also supports your motivation. Do you want to play a story? Do you want to drive? Do you want to shoot? Do you want to hack? Do you want to play with others? Do you want to play on a tablet? It allows players to do what they feel like, which I find really cool. There’s lots of things to explore, there’s lots of things to try. I think the greatest thing about Watch Dogs is doing what you think is fun.”
Morin agrees, comparing Watch Dogs to a musical instrument. “I invite players to play it the way they want,” he says. “To explore the different ways of playing. To not necessarily follow the instincts they know from other games. To find your own fun in it. That’s how Watch Dogs is meant to be played.”
Of course, the team still would like players to spend a lot of time with the game’s central innovation. “I hope they enjoy hacking,” Belanger laughs. After all, one of the game’s biggest development challenges was layering the hacking mechanic over all the other core gameplay elements – driving, shooting, stealth, combat – while making sure it’s both fun and useful at all times. From what we’ve played so far, the team has definitely succeeded.
As for Morin, he’s looking forward to seeing his game in a whole new light. “I’m going to have fun hearing what the players have to say and how they might surprise us,” he smiles. “I invite you to embrace the whole player creativity and impress us with it!”
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
So what can you do while you wait for the game’s release later this month? Now’s the perfect time to check out the Watch Dogs Digital Shadow app. Since the app launched last month, almost a million profiles have been created. The app uses your Facebook data to piece together a comprehensive profile – and point out where you’re most vulnerable to an attack from a malicious hacker. For more on the app, check out: Watch Dogs – What Is Your Digital Shadow? And to go directly to the app (accessible only in the US), head to the official Digital Shadow website.