Saturday, 28 September 2013

Playfire @ Eurogamer 2013: Watch_Dogs Exclusive Demo

Hello!

We’re back covering Eurogamer Expo again. It’s busy. We’re hot and tired. Let us go home? Please!

The details on Watch_Dogs’ single player have been locked down pretty tight since its announcement a few E3 shows ago. We were given an exclusive demo of a single player mission this Eurogamer Expo. It was around 20 minutes long, but it showed a lot of cool stuff from single player.

Running on PS4 - judging by the blinding light bar on the controller the dev was using - the first thing we noticed was that, as much Watch_Dogs looks really impressive, it seems to have been reined in slightly since that phenomenal announcement video. The demo took place at night, so there wasn’t exactly much going on in terms of civilian or traffic activity, but the skyscrapers and other buildings in Chicago didn’t look as mind-blowing as we had expected. That’s not so much a commentary on the quality of the game, rather an indication of how high our hopes are, but let’s get on to more important matters.

Throughout the entire demo, we were reminded how every situation has multiple choices attached to it. These are dynamic choices and it’s up to you how to tackle certain scenarios. You can go in guns blazing, or more stealthily, using your very useful handset device to use the environment against the enemy. We saw how easy and simple it is to manipulate the city on the fly, raising bridges, bursting gas pipes below the streets, and shutting down traffic grids.

The mission we saw started out with a gorgeous cinematic. The animations and voice acting were top notch, even if the game itself didn’t look as immediately impressive as we expected in-play. Our objective was simple – we had to get into a restricted area to interrogate someone while our buddy watched from the rooftops with a sniper rifle. 
Simple enough, but we were already presented with various choices on how to play. First of all we needed money. Money in Watch Dogs seems easy to grab, all you have to do is select a target and then hack their bank account with your nifty phone. Within seconds we had chosen a target at an ATM and hacked $50,000 out of their account. Kerching!

The dev then showed us the array of weapons available to your character, and to be prepared we picked up a silenced pistol and an assault rifle, just in case we got into trouble. Choosing the sneaky route we started by manipulating the systems to allow entry. Switching from cover to cover, the guards dropped like flies as we used decoys to bring them out into the open for our friend on the rooftops to take them out with his trusty sniper. At one point we also mucked around with a forklift to give us access to the upper levels where our target was hiding.

Aiden Pearce is ruthless. We learnt that much from the scene that followed, but we won’t spoil any specifics. Needless to say, our stealthy run ended when the enemies called for back up, and it was at that point we resorted to standard third person shooting. It was slightly disappointing to see the inventiveness slightly hamstrung by the shooting, but it helps that shooting guys is still immensely satisfying.

Once we’d shot our way out of the base with a grenade launcher, we dropped the ultimate in phone technology bombs by cutting the power to the entire grid, rendering that portion of Chicago in complete darkness. We were told this was pretty much the most powerful ability you have in the game, and we get why. With a click of a button we were able to escape into the darkness unscathed. It’s hugely impressive, even if it ends up being limited to a set number of uses.
The lights went up and that was our demo. We were left excited, even if the initial look of the game wasn’t as eye popping as that first reveal. With the number of avenues open to players to experiment with, the city as well as the guns and tech tools available for them, there’s no doubting that Watch_Dogs will be an exciting single player experience, and that’s not even counting the interesting multiplayer that Ubisoft have been teasing but wouldn't show to us at the Eurogamer Expo. We’re yet to see exactly how Ubisoft plan to balance the game – will you be able to hack everything from get go? Can you just rob people freely and have ridiculous amounts of money? We’re yet to find out, but judging by the quality of their other great franchises like Assassin's Creed, we have faith that it will be nothing less than perfection.

So what about you? Managed to get down to the Eurogamer Expo and see Watch_Dogs for yourself? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Joncol, Ben (radMonkey) and the Playfire Team