Why You Should Still Be Pumped For Watch Dogs

Andrea Rene | 23 Apr 2014 16:45
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Everything you do earns you more experience and contributes to your reputation, including online multiplayer. The development team stressed to me that all of the online experiences are completely optional, and that you will never have anyone entering your game without your permission despite the impression I got from some of the trailers I had seen.

"It's a seamless online experience," said Lead Gameplay Designer Danny Belanger. "When you're in free roam, any activity in the game, you can choose to go there....All the experience and skills, the money and the weapons you get from those you bring back in your single-player game and they can be used. You just continue progressing. It's just one seamless, continuous experience."

Generally when I hear developers repeat buzzwords like "seamless" my skepticism flag immediately rises. But, he is not wrong. It did truly feel like a seamless experience, something similar to what games like Need for Speed: Rivals and The Crew are doing. You can select which mode you want to play from the city map, and continue to run around the world causing mayhem while waiting to get dropped into a match.

Online play options include a small, but solid, variety of options. The only mode I didn't get to try out was Free Roam but it seemed pretty self-explanatory. Belanger couldn't confirm how many players could play in each mode because he said it isn't locked in yet, but that it could vary depending which platform you are playing on.

The hacking mechanics really shined in Online Decryption, the only mode where there is any type of cooperative play. In Decryption you need to recover a file from opposing players in a sort of "capture the flag." When I began the round every player was competing to secure and decrypt the file before anyone else. The game quickly escalated once the file was secured by a player who then jumped into a vehicle, or worse, a motorcycle.

Chasing down the file became quite hectic once more players dropped in, so utilizing hacks such as changing traffic lights or raising security bars from the ground was essential in tracking down the file. There is also the option for team PvP in Decryption where teammates help protect the person who was able to pick up the file against the opposing team who is trying to steal it. I actually had more fun ramming my car into opposing players while protecting the file keeper than actually being the one who captured the file.

But unfortunately, it appears this is the only team-based or cooperative mechanic in the game at this time. I asked why that is and Belanger explained, "Trust me, we tried a lot of different things but the modes have to be fun all the time. To help someone, you have to find the right moment. When does he need help? Does he want help? By the time you find that person and you matchmake, is it going to be too late?"

That is certainly a valid point in a game where stealth is a big focus. The Online Tailing and Hacking modes are both good modes to use stealth in and focus more on 1v1 gameplay. Online Racing is also a great way to see a lot of Chicago while earning experience points to bring back to your single-player game. You can learn more details about the multiplayer experiences in Watch Dogs by watching my interview with Danny below:

Check out the Multiplayer preview right here!

In addition to the various multiplayer modes on the console and PC versions of the game, Ubisoft is also releasing ctOS, a companion game for mobile devices. The game is completely free with no built-in microtransactions. Lead Game Designer for ctOS Philippe Baude said, "You have to forget everything you know about companion apps because this is not a second-screen experience."

You'll play as a ctOS agent from your iOS or Android device, and infiltrate a player's game from their console or PC version of Watch Dog in real time. The mobile player can set up checkpoints the console/PC player has to hit before time runs out. Playing from the ctOS perspective, mobile players can use police helicopters, cars, and other obstacles to slow down their opponent. Both iOS and Android versions are compatible with all other platforms. You can see how the infiltration works and what modes are available in hands-on demo by watching the video below.

Check out the ctOS Demo right here!

"It's always an invitation, it's never an invasion," said Baude, so players never have to engage in any of the online experiences if they prefer to play solo. But if you and your friends love to grief each other, I definitely recommend trying it out.

Watch Dogs was one of my most anticipated games of 2013 and it continues to be one of my most anticipated games, just now in 2014. From the innovative gameplay mechanics inside the sandbox of Chicago to the unique character interactions and refreshing narrative, once you dive in, you'll remember all the reasons you were excited for Watch Dogs in the first place. The freedom of choice of how you want to play is both empowering and a bit frightening, because you never know who is watching.

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