Since its debut back at E3 2012, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs has remained one of the industry’s most anticipated titles – even after the game was delayed from November 15, 2013 to May 27, 2014. Since that time, the developer has detailed the reasons for the unexpected bump into 2014 – promising that disappointed or suspicious gamers would find the finished product to be well worth the wait. According to Ubisoft, they have long-term franchise plans for Watch Dogs, and to their credit, did not want to push out a product that fell short of their ultimate vision – simply to meet a pre-established release date (or cash in on holiday season sales).
Still, even after reporting on Watch Dogs for nearly two years, excitement for the title remains high – thanks to a steady roll out of new details and in-depth insight into how the developer intends to evolve open-world gameplay. E3 2013 gave us our first look at online gameplay for the title, specifically the ability to hack another player’s game, and over the coming months Ubisoft offered-up fresh insights on a surprisingly diverse set of competitive and co-operative modes.
Now, in their latest video, Watch Dogs animation director, Colin Graham, walks viewers through three separate online multiplayer scenarios:
- Online Hacking Contracts
- The ctOS Mobile Companion App
- Competitive Decryption Combat
The Online Hacking Contract feature has been detailed numerous times before – and looks to offer an interesting twist on competitive multiplayer. Players who have invested hours in the Assassin’s Creed series multiplayer offering should be right at home with Hacking Contracts – since the mode requires an observant and level head (with a lot of room for clever experimentation). Yet, Watch Dogs appears to improve upon the cat-and-mouse experience that has made Assassin’s Creed online play a welcome break from first and third-person shooters – significantly expanding the mode’s scale with a fully hackable map. Whereas Assassin’s Creed multiplayer is limited to small areas with a few interactive objects, Watch Dogs enables players to commandeer vehicles, hijack traffic lights, and cause pandemonium among AI characters – to help find and take-out opponents.
The same principles apply when in-game players are tested by ctOS Mobile App competitors – allowing friends near and far to compete in a series of challenges. In the video, Graham details a mode where mobile app players can challenge a friend (or stranger) in a timed race through a hackable obstacle course. While the mode could prove to be frustrating, especially when facing immature strangers (who can also send messages into the game), the option definitely helps overcome one of modern gaming’s biggest hurdles – multiplayer modes that players in the same room can enjoy together. Thanks to the mobile app, family or visiting friends can still interact with a console player – instead of simply waiting for a turn with the controller. Similarly, gamers who aren’t near their console can also get in on the action – possibly testing a friend’s in-game driving skills via mobile phone (while waiting in line at a real-life DMV).
Finally, the video also highlights the Competitive Decryption Combat – a capture-the-flag style mode requiring where players obtain and maintain control of an encrypted file. The mode is a clear twist on similar offerings in other games but, thanks to the hackable world of Watch Dogs, looks as though it should provide ample room for out-of-the-box thinking (while decrypting). Paired with the recent report that Assassin’s Creed: Unity will feature campaign co-op missions, it’s clear that Ubisoft realizes there’s a lot of opportunity in ensuring that expansive open worlds are even more fun when gamers meet-up with their friends. Time will ultimately tell whether or not the actual in-game mechanics of Watch Dogs hold-up under team-based multiplayer but it’s definitely encouraging to see Graham showcase the various ways that gamers can utilize core features for unique online experiences.
Ubisoft makes it a point to highlight that, like other online titles, gamers can earn XP for various actions in the competitive modes – meaning that even an unsuccessful player hack or team-based decryption will help Watch Dogs fans progress (and unlock new weaponry or skills). However, for those worried about how these online features will impact the single player experience, the developer has previously made it clear that you cannot be hacked by competitive gamers while in a story-based mission. Hacking, along with ctOS mobile app gameplay, is only available when both players are exploring the open world in free roam – and, even then, gamers have the option of turning off online functionality entirely (should they want to explore without fear of interruption).
Watch Dogs releases May 27, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The Wii U version is aiming for a Fall 2014 release.
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