Watch_Dogs follows a man that can control the electrical grid of the city of Chicago. He has mobile hacking technology, which allows him to match people's real life identities with their online presences; as well as this, he can shut down mobile phone reception and listen in on phone calls.
Players can also take on the roles of the titular watch dogs, protectors of Aiden Pearce, as he is chased by police. Multiple players exist in the city at one time, although when this multiplayer triggers or what other players would be doing when Aidan is not in trouble is unclear.
In 2003, a disgruntled employee at a New York power plant secretly planted a virus in his company's computer system, which led to a massive blackout that disrupted power and communications to the entire northeastern US, resulting in hundreds of injuries and even a small number of deaths. 10 years later, a system called "CtOS" (Centralized Operating System) has simplified these connections, connecting entire cities in one gigantic network. The computers that run the CtOS are corporations interested in collecting the massive "data shadows" of every person, for uses from selling products to influencing worldviews.
While the CtOS makes such connections easier, it is only a matter of time before someone figures out a way to hack into this network and use or abuse it to suit their own purposes, and when that happens, the damage could be even more catastrophic.
Enter the "Watch_Dogs," a group of vigilantes who have found a way to exploit this network to deal with criminals where normal law enforcement can't or won't do the job.
E3 2012 Demo
When the game was announced at the Ubisoft E3 2012 conference, a lengthy gameplay demonstration was shown. In this demonstration, the protagonist is shown controlling the electricity grid, which allows him to manipulate street lights. This power was used to create a pile-up to entrap a digital artist named Joseph Demarco. Another section of the demo shows him trying to gain access to a building. In order to distract the guard at the door he shuts down communications in that area of the city at which point calls are cut off for NPC's. This causes enough confusion that the guard effectively abandons his post and allows the player into the building.
Open World Gameplay
At Sony's Playstation Meeting where they revealed the PS4, Ubisoft played through a brief open-world section of the game. "There is no mission," they said, as Aiden walked the streets of Chicago. Most NPCs he encountered had dossiers projected for Aiden to see, revealing a homeless man to be an Iraq War veteran and a suited man to be a Tobacco Executive and Pro Life activist. Using a radial menu Aiden hacks the suited man's bank account and takes $420 dollars out of a nearby ATM. It is unclear what money is used for in the game, but it seems easy to come by.
Aiden cannot control everything. A security camera run by another entity was marked in red and secure. He can, however, using background history and probably, detect the likelihood of events. Because a woman who had recently won a child custody battle was walking near an alley where her former husband was waiting, a crime probability bar began filling up as she walked toward the ambush. Aiden had the choice to help her and he did, interceding when the man put her at knife point. There is then an optional chase sequence where cops are alerted due to gun fire. In an alley, Aiden takes control of an electrical panel, overheats it, and takes down the man. To escape the cops, he stops an El-Line train and hops aboard. But a security camera spots him and the transmission ends.
- Most NPCs in the world can be identified and some can be hacked
- Random encounters are marked with yellow and lead to moral choices. Presumably Aiden could have allowed the woman to die or not chased after the criminal.
- There is a enter icon over a nice-looking car as Aiden is tracking the woman, so Grand Theft Auto appears possible.
- Aiden can control security poles and in moments of high tension slow down time to shoot a car tire or activate a electric panel.
- Aiden can free-run horizontally, sliding across tables, like any Assassin's Creed character
- Aiden can sneak and take cover to track someone.
- Any criminal activity is instantly reported by witnesses with cell phones. It is easy to alert the cops.
- It is unclear where "suggested action" and other directives are coming from.
- It is unclear whether it another player or a story character who is in charge of the security cameras
- Aiden can clearly vacillate between being city protector and causing mayhem.