PAX East ’13 PREVIEW: Watch Dogs (Multi)

Since Watch Dogs debuted at E3 2012, gamers have been a-twitter over its features. Not only is the game a gorgeously rendered open world game, with a modern-day cyberpunk, dystopic setting with Big Brother overtones, but the game promises to be dynamic to great degrees.

The story revolves around Adrian Pierce, a protagonist with definite flaws. The man is obsessed with surveillance and security, and according to creative director Jonathan Morin, his neurosis is only deepening further and further.

Aidan has complete control over the city’s network, right down to power junctions so he can cause trains to stall or fusebox’s to blow. However, his powers are not without consequence. As shown during the E3 2012 presentation, if he causes a traffic light to cause a massive traffic accident involving multiple cars, he may injure and kill innocent victims.

The theme of consequences is strong in the world. Gamers wondered if the entire little micro-subplot of pulling a passenger from the car (as he cries over his dead female companion) was scripted event. Ubisoft continues to insist it is not.

Thanks to Aidan being wired into the police information network (which itself has a disturbing amount of information on everyone in the game world, even the homeless), he can see if there are people in danger.

In one sequence, Aidan followed a woman who’s in danger because of her ex-husband stalking her. The virtual threat bar appears over the woman as a potential victim as her ex-husband gets closer, while the latter’s bar as a threat increases. Aidan hides armed with a 9mm gun as he watches him harrass her.

He intervenes, struggles with Aidan (who does not fire his gun), and Aidan is enough of a combatant that the ex-husband flees. Using his power to affect the power network, Aidan causes a fusebox to explode to subdue the ex non-lethally, and secures him.

However, all of the commotion has summoned the police, and Aidan finds himself on the run again. Using his ability to control the city’s network, he causes a street barrier to pop up in front of the pursuing police car at the last moment, causing it to crash and tumble.

Ubisoft stressed that everything the player does will not only have an effect on the immediate surroundings, but in the future on the city as a whole, and that the late game will be influenced by whatever the player has done.

In the middle of all this, the demo showed surveillance cameras all over the city which strongly indicated that other gamers could peek in on the action in a spectator mode, at the very least. Could this mean that multiplayer could involve one player controlling the city’s infrastructure and data network while the other does all the physical work? It would be a very interesting co-op mode to say the least. It might be even more intriguing if the other player was hindering, rather than helping, Aidan. Talk about screwing with your friends.

Watch Dogs is coming to PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Microsoft’s next-gen console this Winter 2013.

Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews, release dates and up to date gaming industry news, trailers and rumors.

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