Some franchises are just destined to be rather polarizing. Ubisoft’s upcoming sandbox du jour, “Watch Dogs”, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. With all the hype we’ve heard, the tantalizing bits of gameplay, and let’s not forget the various descriptions of how the game’s multiplayer features, it’s quite easy to imagine it becoming a hit. Quite simply, it appears to be a title that has all the necessary elements needed to turn it into something worthwhile. At the same time, it has also positioned itself to become a gigantic letdown IF it doesn’t impress, especially given all the delays and so forth.
But seriously, who doesn’t like the idea of a content and feature-rich sandbox (utilizing some of the same parkour-like features found in the Assassin’s Creed series) that’s maybe looking to offer up somewhat expanded, GTA-like experience? The question is of course, how close will they come to hitting the mark here? Will this end up being a noteworthy delivery of a powerful IP, or another lackluster attempt to build a new open-world action-adventure series?
Again, looking at the actual gameplay, it’s not difficult to see that Watch Dogs has a lot going for it. In all honesty, it appears to build on the kind of 3rd person open world gameplay we’re already used to. Roaming around looking for objects and NPC’s to interact with, grabbing cars, infiltration missions…you know the drill. In spite of this however, they seemed to have managed to slip in some rather unique elements which promises to make general gameplay more interesting. First off, there’s all the hacking, which allows you to essentially tap right into any random character’s personal accounts and so forth. In doing so, you’ll never know if you’re about to be led on some type of larger quest as there is an interconnected network of NPC’s all affecting each other in various ways. In short, this is the type of system that open world GTA addicts have been asking to get for quite some time. Think of it as an attempt to bring a slightly deeper level of gameplay to what is basically a shopworn format.
Additionally, there are going to be multiplayer features which allow you to influence the course of another’s game (without actually being there). For instance, they’re adding the capability to share everything over social media networks as well as various “asynchronous” multiplayer elements. This means that you will be able to do things like manipulate the traffic lights, hopefully causing the protagonist to crash, or even try to install a backdoor virus into their smartphone as they play. The fun doesn’t end there of course; they’re also adding a CtOS Mobile Challenge, Decryption, and a racing mode as well. Needless to say, these sort of off-beat multiplayer modes / concepts will either be refreshing or possibly entirely useless (let’s hope for the former in lieu of the latter).
The story and charisma of the main protagonist is also of extreme importance, particularly when you’re talking about a hybrid open-world action-adventure game with plenty of RPG elements thrown in. If Aiden ends up being a rather interesting character it could very well boost the overall appeal of the title from head to toe. Of coruse, assuming that he becomes something of a generic model around half-way through, the entire experience might be otherwise marred. Why they didn’t simply let you create your own character is anyone’s guess; incorporating such a feature into an otherwise straightforward storyline could have really increased the connection you feel to the protagonist, for example.
Above all else, what’s vitally important is the graphics / gameplay immersion factor. In other words – how “pretty” the game looks vs. how well it can pull you into its world, providing you with near limitless options. The way that Ubisoft has been marketing this one, it would seem as though they’re attempting to give the player more stuff to do aside from simply performing an endless string of “go fetch” and assassination missions. Are they going to be successful in this venture? At this point, it’s tough to say. At the very least, Watch Dogs will be a really fun game, but whether or not it has any true staying power will be determined by how much depth they’ve been able to add to the gameplay overall. At any rate, if they even come close to living up to the hype that’s been created the game will be “hit”. View the latest Watch Dogs trailer and Watch Dogs screenshots for a more detailed look at what the game will offer.