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E3 2013: Watch Dogs

Posted on June 12, 2013 AT 01:00pm

Publisher Ubisoft
Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Platform XB1, PS4, 360, PS3, Wii U, PC
Release Date 11.19.2013
Not sure what any of this stuff means? Head on over to our E3 hub for all the deets.

The Rundown

In Watch Dogs‘ fictionalized version of Chicago, the city government has attempted to reduce crime by linking every electronic device into a single, unified network known as ctOS. Of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is—and that’s where antihero Aiden Pearce comes in. An expert hacker, Aiden can manipulate nearly every piece of electronics he encounters by using a handheld device known as the profiler, turning the entire city into an open-world sandbox that’s far more malleable than those in other games.

The Verdict

A lot of what I saw in the E3 Watch Dogs demo was exactly what I had expected—car chases, gunplay, and melee combat, with lots and lots of hacking scattered throughout— but there were two things that really surprised me. The first was just how well fleshed out the hacking system is. Not only can you tinker with things in your immediate vicinity to help turn the tide of a fight or make a speedy getaway, you can also tap into a security camera, then use your new vantage point to make changes to things you couldn’t see originally. This ability led to some pretty nifty scenarios, like one where Aiden hacked into a webcam in a private residence, then stole information off a cell phone, and another where he moved from camera to camera in a chain, eventually manipulating things that were a few blocks away from him. My mind boggles at some of the strategic options that sort of gameplay might enable.

The other surprise? You’ll be able to jump into other people’s single-player games and attempt to hack their profilers. It’s a bit like invading someone’s world in Dark Souls. You just pick a target, hop into their game, and they’ll show up on your minimap for you to track down. They won’t know you’re there until you initiate the hack, and in order to stop you, they’ll need to figure out who you are—particularly difficult, since you’ll appear to them as just another random NPC. These two features might not wind up being major mechanics, but they’re indicative of the sort of interesting attention to detail that seems poised to set Watch Dogs apart from the rest of the crowd.

Josh Harmon, Associate Editor
Josh Harmon picked up a controller when he was 3 years old—and he hasn't looked back since. This has made him particularly vulnerable to attacks from behind. He joined EGM as an intern following a brief-but-storied career on a number of small gaming blogs across the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @jorshy. Meet the rest of the crew.

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