Watch Dogs has been on our radar for some time. Myself and AK saw a behind closed doors showing of the game running on the PS4 last year. A controlled demo showing off the compound-taking section, very much like the ideas seen in Far Cry 3. We were impressed.
Now the game is here and reviews have hit the net the same day. Ubi made sites hold back reviews until day one; this is not a first as many now do this. For some reason the usual suspects start ranting on forums about cancelling pre-orders etc. Why? Do people really make a purchase based on a handful of reviews from maybe 30 people amongst millions of gamers? Apparently they do.
The first thing anyone will do is compare it to GTAV. No brainer. I'm here to make my point just based on a few hours play, a stress test of how to push an open world game. My only problem is to try and remember all the stand out points as there have been so many.
When booting up GTAV the first thing most gamers do is push the free roam elements to see what can be done and how much carnage can be achieved, as soon as the game lets you after the start of any games tutorial. Watch Dogs is no different. After the first 30 mins of hand-holding to learn the basics you are in your pad ready to roam.
After leaving my new motel I was alerted to a crime. I tagged it, pressing down on the d-pad. I started out by car only to find I was reported to the police by a witness that saw me break into the car. Brilliant. This is when I realised that I needed to use a bit of thought before just jumping in head first. During the chase I knocked down pedestrians and I noticed this was having an effect on my status. I needed to be fast but careful at the same time. Already my driving habit had to change, fast. The driving feels like Midnight Club to me. Chunky with tight handling, perfect for my style.
When driving I found the police to be very intelligent, forcing me to use clever tactics hacking traffic lights and even better, pop-up bollards. Timing this right is such a thrill. You need to find somewhere quiet and out of sight, hold O and hide until the heat dies down.
Walking about sees hacking of phones to find out about each person and what they are up to. You will soon have very big moral grounds to wrestle with when hacking into the bank account and stealing money from someone who has a terminal illness. I have come up against a few situations where I've had to stop and think, "Hmm I don't like doing that, I'll leave him/her."
By far the most thrilling time I've had so far is the taking of a compound. If you get shot it's goodnight. You can upgrade things but for now I'm weak. I took a pound by going from camera to camera sussing out the best path to take. Once I'd made my choice and made my way in I was able to trigger traps like exploding gas pipes, electrical fuses etc to create mayhem for the dealers. It was great fun but more than that I was thinking about things, planning things, all the stuff I like to do in games rather than feel I could play blindfolded. Chasing down a bad guy to hack a gas main to time it to exploding in the thug's face, then pounce on him and take him out is brilliant. I don't think I've played a game and scanned so far in front of me to see what I can activate to take down who I'm pursuing. This applies to driving and on foot.
I'm just a few hours in and already I feel it's better than GTA. Is it my age? Being an older gamer maybe this will appeal to me more than a more gung-ho type of game. I'm not saying GTA is just gung-ho, far from it. Just Watch Dogs really does grab me in a way that GTA doesn't. It could be that it's just fresh and on PS4 it looks stunning.
If you are sitting on the fence you better climb down and buy Watch Dogs. (For PS4, I can't comment on the PS3 version of the game)
Please note that I have many other things I'd like to say but I would consider them to be mild spoilers so I will let you discover the fun for yourselves.
Ubisoft have built a new franchise that they can build on as Assassins Creed is starting to feel old. Good things are expected from Watch Dogs 2.
Thoughts from Aaron
Seeing Watch Dogs at E3 some time ago I was super excited the prospect of a world you could bend to your will to escape the cops and complete missions seemed incredible and I was planning to get it on launch, the delay was probably a good thing though as I’m not sure I would have had enough time to enjoy it before.
When I first started playing Watch Dogs I thought it was like a futuristic GTA but after playing it some more I’ve realised that its really more than that. In GTA you’re encouraged to go in guns blazing causing a big scene and this is exactly the opposite of what you should do in Watch Dogs.
Watch Dogs encourages you to be smart and take your time, using your skills and surroundings to your advantage, you probably could just charge in and shoot everyone but this isn’t the point, its much more fun to scope out your surroundings take your time and try to figure out all the ways to distract the guards so you can sneak round them. It’s disappointing when you get spotted and have to take some guys out and I’ve found myself wanting to go back and try to do it again properly.
One of the other things you’ll find yourself doing is not wanting to steal cars, carjacking someone just doesn’t feel right in this game.
The open world Ubisoft have created is pretty spectacular you can run around learning things about everyone you pass and the sheer scale of this is very impressive.
Whats super impressive as well is how you can interact with everything, with the touch of a button you can blow up steam vents and raise bridges whilst racing through the map its really cool to see all of this happen.
I’ve only played a few hours but I’m looking forward to exploring the city further and seeing what new toys I can unlock.