Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
Watch_Dogs is a game that has blown me away every time I’ve seen it. The game was shown for the first time at last years E3, generating almost unanimous praise and curiosity from the gaming community. Prior to actual gameplay, a short video segment was shown explaining how everything and everyone is connected through the internet; everyone casts a digital shadow that can be traced and tracked. The game didn’t only seem unique but was also very beautiful. The demo showed the player taking control of Aiden Pearce, a resident of Chicago and gifted hacker who seemed to be some sort of vigilante. Hacking phone signals and traffic-lights, Aiden can pretty much control the city on a whim. To be straightforward, the game sounds awesome. Ubisoft is promising a lot with this game; And while what we’ve seen so far is outstanding, there are a few areas I hope that they can really deliver on.
Recreating The City
The first of these areas is the city itself. Anyone that’s been to the Windy City knows that it’s a lively place. Hundreds of town-cars, taxi’s, buses, trains and people are all moving, often at the same time. All of these things are hard to recreate accurately within a video game. However so far, Ubisoft seems to be doing a pretty good job of just that – Bringing all of this life to the city would mean nothing if it wasn’t an accurate representation of the actual thing. When I’m playing Watch Dogs, I want to feel like I am in Chicago. I want to see the sights that I’ve actually seen. I hope that Ubisoft has gone to these great lengths to make sure that their version of Chicago doesn’t just seem like a version, but like the real thing.
Interior Space and Movement
Just like the real city of Chicago, there are a lot of buildings, shops, and houses. The footage of Watch_Dogs at Sony’s Press Conference showed Aiden chasing a mugger in an intense foot race through streets and alleyways. What was more impressive to me was the scene when the mugger and Aiden bolted through a corner store, instilling terror and shock to its’ patrons. The level of detail in the shop seemed considerable. This makes me hopeful that the overall amount of interior space within the game is as large as someone would expect to see in Chicago, or at least more than I’ve seen in an open-world game. Also shown in the demo was some nifty parkour performed by Aiden on the run from police. Chicago is a tall city and vertical movement would drastically add to the feeling of space in the game. The movement needs to feel believable, whether inside or outside, up or down. I want to feel like I am free to move where I please within the sprawling city.
Random Events and Consequences
The feeling of freedom I want to experience while playing Watch Dogs needs to extend beyond movement though. One of the premises that Ubisoft is going on about with this game is choice. Maybe in the game I’m walking down a busy street and see a back alley mugging taking place. Now, being the heroic vigilante I’ve always wanted to be, I choose to intervene. It goes beyond that though. I’m no murderer, so I have to catch the mugger without killing him; But maybe somebody’s moral compass is a little bit different from mine, and they decide that this guy should pay for their mugging habits. Ubisoft is saying that all of these choices have ultimate ramifications on the game’s world. These little side missions are intended to be completely random, and I hope that they are. Nothing makes a game world feel more believable than random events taking place except for having consequences for those events, which seems to be the case in Watch Dogs.
Although that there are many factors that will contribute to Watch Dogs’ success, these areas in particular seem to be the hardest to master in most games, and I hope that Ubisoft really goes all out in making them great. Calling a virtual city Chicago is one thing, making it look, feel, and sound like Chicago is another. How the player moves through the city, vertically and horizontally, is just as important too. Choice is a big concept in today’s games, but random events are still pretty foreign. Combining the two can only bring wonderful outcomes. I can’t wait for Watch Dogs; it’s right up there with my most anticipated titles of 2013. I have confidence that Ubisoft will create something fantastic for all of us to play, and only time will tell if that confidence is misplaced.