Online data security today is neither guaranteed or absolutely effective. The blanket term of “hacking” permeates the news on an almost-daily basis, such as the data breaches of major stores like Target. If data is not secure today against modern hacking, then how much more unsecure will it be in the future? Ubisoft Montreal’s open-world hackapalooza, Watch Dogs, is an attempt to show just how bad it could get.
The Playstation Blog today posted a preview of the PS4 edition of Watch Dogs. Together with a trailer titled “The Life of a Hacker,” the post immediately dives into the motivation that will drive the game’s protagonist, Aiden Pearce. Set in the near-future city of Chicago, Aiden’s story begins with him making a living out of hacking and other forms of digital crimes, but ends up stealing from people who shouldn’t be stolen from, leading to the murder of his niece Lena Pearce. Utilizing his formidable abilities in hacking, combat, and gunplay, Aiden sets out to seek revenge against those who masterminded the murder.
Hacking is the major theme and weapon in Watch Dogs. Aiden hacks and uses the ctOS, a security and utilities network that spans the entire city, with just a press of the square button. This ctOS interaction is contextual with whatever Aiden aims at in the environment that is able to be hacked, including individual profiles of and information on every NPC in the game.
Accessed by Aiden’s smartphone, the ctOS will grant the player access to almost every dimension in the game, such as eavesdropping on conversations by text to virtually taking money from the bank accounts of people on the street, just to name a couple. Through this wealth of gameplay options, the game’s side missions are just as rich as, and perhaps more rewarding and fun than, the main story missions. Aiden can monitor the city and choose to be a vigilante, able to evaluate if a crime is about to occur and choose to act, or not to act. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it seems this rendition of the open-world concept in video games will be engaging and entertaining instead of falling into what I call the open-world trap where, as a result of the “open” nature of the game, players feel like the game is aimless and doesn’t motivate the player to keep playing.
Another element that adds suspense and requires quick thinking and reflexes is the ability to manipulate the environment during combat, driving, surveillance, and stealth gameplay. Everything that can be accessed by the ctOS becomes a potential weapon or escape route, such as fuse boxes and even grenades while the enemy is holding them.
Watch Dogs uses a skill tree-based upgrade system. Made up of hacking, combat, driving, and crafting trees, the upgrade system increases Aiden’s deadly effectiveness, including being able to remotely disable pursuing helicopters.
Although it’s not exactly appropriate here given it’s not a single-player aspect, Watch Dogs also has drop-in and drop-out multiplayer modes that integrate with the single-player world of the player in Chicago. The post detailed one where one team must decrypt a packet of data while preventing the other team from stealing theirs.
Watch Dogs is due out on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC on May 27th. Be sure to stay with OnlySP on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest news and coverage (and hopefully a review) on Watch Dogs.