The most impressive and ambitious game of E3 2012 has now officially added itself to the next-gen roster. Following the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 at Sony’s Future of PlayStation event today, Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot took the stage to confirm that Watch Dogs, as many had already anticipated, will be releasing as a launch title for the future console. A later Ubisoft press memo also announced the game for release on Nintendo’s Wii U.

Coinciding with the announcement was the brand new Watch Dogs gameplay demo viewable above (ostendibly running on the PS4). E3 introduced us to Watch Dogs’s cyber-savvy protagonist, Aiden Pearce, who can hack into any electronic device connected to Chicago’s central operating system and leverage it for his own ends. The demo that premiered today begins with Aiden as a wanted fugitive — perhaps for the elaborate assassination he orchestrated during our initial glimpse of the game — who still appears to be on the prowl for lowlifes and miscreants.

As the camera swoops over the Chicago River, glistening in the daytime sun and flanked on both sides by towering skyscrapers, an impressive sense of magnitude is conveyed by the game that’s impossible to avoid mentioning: It feels distinctly next-gen. But Watch Dogs clearly aims to thrive on the smaller details as well. Finite bits of information begin displaying around Aiden the second we arrive over his shoulder. Using a device Ubisoft calls “the Profiler,” he taps NPC cell phones, hacks an ATM and scrambles a security camera. Vital, even intimate, personal data about targets begins streaming onto the screen, and before we know it the scene flows from unassuming street walk to reconnaissance mission to heated chase sequence.

Watch Dogs Gameplay Demo PS4

When the demo hits this new gear, it brings Watch Dogs’s gameplay into another dimension. Gone is the predatory sleuthing; Aiden now harnesses his abilities — both technological and physiological — to run down his fleeing prey and then escape from the police himself. He skirts through a storefront interior, gliding over a table like Connor in Assassin’s Creed 3 (though whether or not this sequence is similarly pre-rendered is unclear), and eventually hacks a distant fuse box to knock down his target. He hacks a set of street bollards to destroy one pursing police car and enters a time-slowing phase to shoot the tire of another. For his coup d’état, Aiden overrides the controls of an oncoming L train, forcing it to a brief stop while climbing onto the roof and riding away to safety.

The demo doesn’t conclude with a Watch Dogs release date, but pre-order posters that leaked last week for the game advertised availability by the 2013 Holiday season. Coincidentally, in advertising the game for “all home consoles,” the posters also foreshadowed both Watch Dog’s Wii U confirmation today and Sony’s Holiday 2013 window for the release of the PlayStation 4. It’s hardly surprising that Watch Dogs is being planned as a next-gen launch title, and today alone has us confident that it will be more than ready.

What did you think of today’s new Watch Dogs gameplay demo?

Watch Dogs is anticipated for a late 2013 release. Confirmed platforms include the Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Wii U and PC, although an Xbox 720 version is almost certainly waiting in the wings.

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