TV, movies, and video games have always had a hard time making a realistic version of hacking compelling, which is why it’s a wonderful thing that Ubisoft pretty much gave up on that entirely with Watch Dogs, its series of open-world action games. Rather than sitting at a desktop trying to phish for John Podesta’s email password, you’re a technomancer running through the streets with a magic cell phone that can do pretty much everything. Though the series hasn’t been quite as big a hit as Assassin’s Creed, it’s gradually found its footing and is now a strong up-and-comer in Ubisoft’s stable. Odds are good we’ll see—or at least learn about—the next entry in the series before 2018 is up, so we’ve compiled a guide to everything we know about Watch Dogs 3 so far.
What we know we know
What is Watch Dogs 3? At this point, it’s a hypothetical sequel to Watch Dogs 2. But we’ve got reason to believe it’s not quite that hypothetical.
So why exactly should we think Watch Dogs 3 is in development? Once Ubisoft switched Assassin’s Creed away from annual releases—a move that payed off with Origins and apparently inspired the publisher to give all of its games a little more time—it spoke publicly about Watch Dogs 2 filling that gap in its release schedule. There’s no reason to believe its thinking has changed. Ubisoft will want a big open-world title to bridge Assassin’s Creed’s off-years, and Watch Dogs is a series that fills that niche better than say, Far Cry or The Crew. (Note that even with the recent delays, neither of those games is launching in the fall.)
Plus, Ubisoft patched in a brief epilogue to Watch Dogs 2 that seemed to directly tease a sequel, which would be an odd thing to do if you weren’t, say, ramping up pre-production on a sequel.
What we think we know
Where will Watch Dogs 3 take place? Jolly old England, if we had to bet. A short exchange added to Watch Dogs 2‘s ending after launch talked about new DedSec cells springing up all around the world, specifically name-checking South America, the Middle-East, and Europe. But a set of GPS coordinates displayed on the screen get a little more specific: They point to the Brixton neighborhood of London. That could be a red herring, of course, but it makes a lot of sense. London has a very different flavor than the cities Watch Dogs has already explored, it’s hip, and it’s known for having a ton(ne) of surveillance cameras. Plus, we’re guessing Ubisoft already has a ton of reference materials on London from the development of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
Will Watch Dogs 3 have multiplayer? It’s a very safe bet. The Dark Souls–ish multiplayer invasions were a highlight of the first game, and the second expanded that side of the game with some pretty nifty co-op support, even patching in four-player co-op for free post-launch. Unless Ubisoft has some internal day that say no one plays it and everyone that does play it hates it, there’s no good reason to ditch it. We’d expect the threequel to do more with multiplayer, not less.
Who’s developing Watch Dogs 3? Given the history of the series, it’s most likely Ubisoft Montreal leading development on Watch Dogs 3. Ubisoft does occasionally rotate teams in and out on its franchises, however, so it’s possible another studio, like Ubisoft Sophia or Ubisoft Quebec, could take point.
When will Watch Dogs 3 be revealed? The most likely bet is E3 2018. Ubisoft likes to pack its press conference full of big reveals, so it’s probably a very safe bet we’ll see Watch Dogs 3 then. In fact, we’ve heard whispers of an E3 reveal. Thing is, those rumors predate Ubisoft’s recent reshuffling of its release calendar, which we discussed above. If the game is due out in April or May of 2019, it’s probably still a lock for E3. If it’s been delayed into fall 2019—which would be pretty extreme—it might skip out on the show.
When will Watch Dogs 3 be released? Given Ubisoft’s decision to stagger Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed releases, probably fall 2018. There’s one good reason to believe that might be wrong, however. Not too long ago, Ubisoft announced it was delaying three games, including one it didn’t reference by name. The game was scheduled to launch during the company’s 2018-2019 fiscal year, which wraps up in March of 2019. Now it’s been pushed until sometime later than that. If the mystery game is Watch Dogs 3, we may have to wait until mid to late 2019 to play it.
What platforms will Watch Dogs 3 launch on? Probably PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, given history. We’d be really surprised to see a Switch version of Watch Dogs 3, but Ubisoft is a big supporter of Nintendo’s new console, so who knows?
What we still want to know
How closely will Watch Dogs 3 connect to the previous games? While Watch Dogs 2 did have a few nods to the first game, including a lengthy appearance by side character T-Bone, it was a pretty drastic departure from a tone and story standpoint. It’ll be interesting to see which approach the third game takes. Will it be goofy and freewheeling like the second game, or serious (and a little bland) like the first? Will either Marcus or Aiden make an appearance, or will we be dealing with a whole new group of hackers?
How can Watch Dogs 3 expand the series’ hacking? Watch Dogs 2 was certainly a step up in terms of integrating the hacking into gameplay in more diverse, smoother ways, but it still felt a bit like a step on the road to something amazing rather than the destination. If Watch Dogs 3 can deliver new ways to make its open world into an interactive playground, it could finally deliver on the full potential of the series.
Can a new setting offer as much crazy tech as San Francisco? While we fully expect the series to head to a new city, it does seem like it might be difficult to pack in the same number of ridiculous gadgets and familiar settings once we’ve left the Bay Area behind. Like we said in the previous question, the future of Watch Dogs will likely depend on how well it can keep the hacking interesting. If the series can’t lean on parodies of big Silicon Valley companies and all the weird tech culture that comes along with them, it might feel a bit more forced.