Prior to PAX Prime 2013, we were a little weary about Watch Dogs, as all of the in-game footage we had personally seen was pre-rendered or staged in the context of trailers. While we still would have rather had the opportunity to play the game for ourselves, hearing that the Watch Dogs demo being shown at PAX Prime 2013 was an actual live gameplay demo had us excited.
Prior to the live demonstration, we were shown a brief video showing off the wide range of activities that players will be able to complete in the final version of Watch Dogs. We watched as Aiden Pearce, the protagonist of the game, hacked into ATMs to get money, hacked into phones to get information, and hacked into stoplights to cause chaos. The video also showed how alive the city will feel, as advanced AI made the NPCs behave in a much more realistic manner than players of open-world games are used to. We watched as the NPCs, rather than acting independently, seemed to be aware of the other NPCs’ presence and statuses. In addition, the AI will behave dynamically in each situation, so scripted action sequences will occur less frequently than many games.
The focus during the video demonstration was on the way that the free mobile companion app will interact with the console and PC versions of Watch Dogs. We watched as one of the developers took to the streets as Aiden Pearce. Aiden immediately stole a car and proceeded to run wild with it, plowing through crowded sidewalks. The controls looked smooth, as the developer in control was able to perform difficult maneuvers with seemingly little effort.
After a short demonstration of exploration in the open world, one of the FragDolls, who was standing at a podium that housed a tablet, initiated a challenge to the console player. The developer on the console version accepted the challenge, and the cross-platform PvP session commenced.
As the console player, the Ubisoft developer was tasked with guiding Aiden to an objective within the given time limit. While he began migrating towards his mission, the FragDoll using the tablet described that her objective while in the ctOS Mobile app is to make it as difficult for Aiden Pearce to accomplish his goal as possible. This is accomplished by giving the ctOS Mobile player control over ctOS, the in-game operating system that connects everything in the city.
The ctOS Mobile app displays a real-time map of the entire city, with an indicator of where the player is. By using her finger to drag a police helicopter to where the player was on the map, the FragDoll in control of ctOS showed off how the console player’s game was affected. Within seconds, the console player’s screen was flooded with a bright light from the helicopter.
With the ctOS Mobile player-controlled helicopter identifying where Aiden was, the patrol cars in the area responded. In this case, they weren’t responding fast enough for her liking, so the FragDoll on the tablet began manually sending police cars Aiden’s way. As players progress in the ctOS Mobile app, they will be able to affect more components within the city, such as stoplights, steam pipes, and barriers.
At one point during our demonstration, Aiden was killed by the barrage of police officers that were being sent his way. Instead of this meaning an instant loss for the console player, he was just required to start the mission over as the clock continued ticking down. The time eventually hit zero with the console player not succeeding, meaning that the ctOS Mobile player had emerged from the session victorious.
Even though the console player had lost, he still gained XP, as did the winning mobile player, which makes the interaction worthwhile for both parties involved. For those console players not wanting to be bothered, the PvP invitation can be declined from the console player’s side, and if Aiden is in the middle of a mission, the ctOS Mobile player will be unable to initiate the invite.
Combining what appears to be one of the most alive open worlds we’ve ever seen in a game with an amazing concept and innovative gameplay mechanics, it appears as though Watch Dogs could actually live up to the insane hype it’s had ever since its big reveal at E3 2012. The ctOS Mobile app is just an impressive (and free) addition to the already solid offerings that Watch Dogs looks to offer.
Watch Dogs hits PlayStation 4 on November 15. It will then see a release on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox 360 on November 19 in North America, November 21 in France and Australia, and November 22 in the rest of Europe. The game will also be available for Xbox One on its November 22 launch date. The free ctOS Mobile app will be available for both iOS and Android devices, and will work on tablets and phones over Wi-Fi and wireless networks. Players will not need to own the Watch Dogs game in order to use the ctOS Mobile app.