Ubisoft's Watch Dogs has been one of the largest commercial successes of the new generation of consoles. The hacking thief-'em-up title set the Ubisoft launch day sales record when it was released in May of this year, sold 4 million copies in its first week, setting the record for the fastest-selling new IP in the process, and went on to top the software sales charts for June. And that's all without the Wii U version, set to launch in November.
However, it's not all been smooth sailing for Watch Dogs. After a delay that set the Ubisoft title back by 6 months, expectations were incredibly high. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met for all players. Although reviews were generally positive, many felt that Watch Dogs did have flaws amongst the strong gameplay, in particular regarding the depth of both the city and the playable character Aiden Pearce.
It seems as though the developers themselves may have taken this criticism to heart. Ubisoft have hinted that a Watch Dogs sequel would not only contain larger, unused ideas, but may well not even contain Aiden Pearce as the game's protagonist. Now, Ubisoft has given even more details about how they envision a Watch Dogs sequel - and that vision is sounding ambitious.
Speaking in an interview with CVG, Ubisoft Montreal's vice president of creative, Lionel Raynaud, discussed what Ubisoft had learned from the release of Watch Dogs, as well as the developer's ambitions for any more games in the franchise. In particular, Raynaud compared the release of Watch Dogs to the original game in the Assassin's Creed series.
"The reception has actually been pretty close to Assassin's Creed. At the time, there was clear potential but it was not easy to know it was going to become the franchise it is today."
Raynaud then spoke of the company's ambition with a Watch Dogs sequel. After all, if the comparisons to Assassin's Creed are anything to go by, then a Watch Dogs 2 could be set to follow in Assassin's Creed 2's footsteps and improve vastly on the original. Raynaud said that by establishing a "brand and promise" with Watch Dogs, then they could find a way to improve upon the problems that the first game had. "We absolutely want to tackle these flaws and surprise players," explained Raynaud. "The way to tackle some of those flaws is going to be quite radical."
Just how will this work, however? And how well will these radical changes gel with the game in the first instance? Raynaud did not go into specifics, but did discuss having "more choices for the player" and "less narrative or character driven," as well as being more creative. That, Reynard explained, means creating new tools that the team never had for the last game.
Raynaud also discussed exactly how Ubisoft Montreal work after a disappointing initial release:
"As quickly as possible we start talking about the next game. We learn lessons and we spend a lot of time analysing different kinds of feedback from users, reviews and quantitative feedback direct from the consoles."
This way, a feeling of "confidence" can be brought back into the development team, to try to improve the output of the next title in the series.
Given the largely positive feedback that Watch Dogs has received, the game may not need an entire overhaul to improve it for the sequel. However, it is interesting to see the developer discussing "radical" changes to a title after such a large commercial success.
We'll have more news on Watch Dogs 2 as it comes. Until then, owners of the game at least have the upcoming Bad Blood DLC to look forward to.