News Article

Watch_Dogs Team Aiming For "Nuance" in its Storytelling Approach

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Manipulating the "smart city" is the core of the game

When Watch_Dogs was unveiled by Ubisoft at E3 2012, it successfully turned a lot of heads due to its impressive visuals and the showcase of a lead character manipulating technology to cause chaos. Since then we've been given a clearer picture, including the recent unveiling of the ability to interact with the game world on a smartphone app — this was demoed on the PS4 version, so it's not 100% clear that this will be included in the Wii U version. Hopefully, aside from an extra hour of story content on Sony's systems (which also happened with Assassin's Creed III) features like this will be applied across all platforms.

The overlying concept, however, of protagonist Aiden Pearce being able to hack connected devices throughout a futuristic Chicago is a bold one. As explained to Destructoid by the title's senior producer, Dominic Guay, the idea was driven by the technological evolution in real-life cities.

We were inspired by how technology had changed the way we lived our lives. How we were connecting with others — with information, with work — through computers but also smart phones. As we dug deeper into that vision we were interested in the vulnerabilities, the new types of flaws, and crimes, and hacks that were possible because of that. We continued to dig deeper and we finally discovered that we were gradually moving from smart phones, to smart cities.

Now smart cities are really happening in our world right now. Some are being built from the ground up in Asia, the Middle East, and in Europe. Even in established cities those technologies are being put in one step at a time, for good reasons. I mean if you think about it, city governments are the closest form of government for us to deliver most of the core services we need. Clean water, they gather our garbage, they give us electricity, transport systems, security — all things we need and that we need to make efficient. Now they use technology and connectivity to do that, and in smart cities they start intertwining those networks to make them even more efficient.

Naturally, this title taps into the potential vulnerabilities of an increased reliance on linked networks and systems, in this case the fictional ctOS, which manages all of those vital cogs in the city's processes. The open world aspect is said to be pliable for common hacks and interferences by the player, such as watching people through their webcams, snooping on text messages and more. While main missions are clearly being saved for a later day, hands-on reports of flexible sub-objectives in the environment include breaking into ctOS operating centers to secure a back-door hack and bypass security. Apparently the player can storm in with guns blazing or choose stealth, and shutting down these facilities gives Pierce greater access and hacking abilities in the relevant area.

What is perhaps intriguing, in terms of comments from Guay, is that Ubisoft is trying to keep the story progression fairly open to interpretation, so that its outcomes reflect the player's morality. You can hack or interfere in citizen's affairs as much or as little as you like, with the over-arching story apparently aiming to expose grey areas rather than a black-or-white perspective.

It's more your interpretation of the story that we want to change, than having like a black and a white ending. You know one is you become an angel, and the other one is you spend an eternity in hell [in other games]. That's interesting, possibly, but that's not really what we're exploring.

It's all going to be nuance, and how you perceive the story. Our creative director likes to say if you show a painting, two people can interpret it totally differently. Our hope is depending on how you play it and how we reflect your way of playing back to you, you will have a different interpretations of what just happened, and what was the actual story of Aiden Pierce. We think that's stronger than two different cinematics.

The latest gameplay trailer, released last week, is below. What do you think of these details and the concept behind Watch_Dogs?

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User Comments (19)



XavandSo said:

I'm quite excited, I hope they use the GamePad (and PlayStation Vita Remote Play*) to it's full potential. I pre-ordered the DEDSEC edition for Wii U and hasn't got a heartbeat on GTA V.

*Lets not be rabid fanboys here, let our fellow Sony cousins enjoy asymmetrical gameplay.



Midnight3DS said:

If it wasn't coming to WiiU, it would probably be called garbage.

Looks sweet, and pretty fresh.



element187 said:

@XavandSo My confidence in Vita being used successfully for remote play on the PS4 is quite low.... The hardware in the Vita is wireless 'N', which is inexpensive and easy to implement.

Nintendo of any company out there is extremely cheap when it comes to hardware. If Nintendo could find a way to make it work with Wireless N they would have used that instead of the really expensive mirror-cast from broadcomm, that offers near zero-latency streaming.

Seems more like Sony is shoe-horning Vita to do remote play ala Wii U style, but if wireless N could be used to do latency free streaming, Nintendo would have jumped all over that to keep the price of the SKU down.... so no my confidence in the vita to offer a similar latency free remote play is near zero. It will be a false gimmick, just like the move failed to be Sony's Wii killer.



AJWolfTill said:

@Dpishere That's a fascinating approach to storytelling, which should really be a staple of the unique experiences that only video games can provide.
Also @Dpishere If I hadn't been already, that would have settled it.



PK_Wonder said:


Yeah, I can't stand when Nintendo-exclusive people treat third party games like that. (The only consoles I've ever owned are Nintendo, but I also have a good gaming laptop/Steam). Grand Theft Auto V is my most anticipated non-Nintendo-published this year, rather it comes to Wii U or not. If it does come to Wii U, I will pre-order the best edition available instantly. If it does not, I'll wait for the inevitable PC version.

Watch_Dogs looks like a gorgeous and worthwhile experience, with gameplay somewhere between Assassin's Creed and Metal Gear Solid, with a flavored emphasis on technology, and I've already pre-ordered it. It's the freshest new (non-indie retail) IP I've seen in over a year.



Haxonberik said:

Yeah, I'm tired of choices in games being so black and white. Mass Effect has some good points on malking you doubt morality on some choices until they showed which was good and which bad on the wheel, which kinda spoiled some hard choices to me.



LavaTwilight said:

I love that! The one concern I had about buying this game was the emphasis on violence. Although it's going to be there, it's still up to me how violent it will be and that can only be a good thing! Sounds like a good premise. Fable was strong on that good or evil aspect, but it became very trite before the first game even finished.



sr388survivor said:

That's a nice thing they're trying to do with the story. I can't stand when games have a "Good" ending where everything is perfect and beautiful and an "Evil" ending where the character just becomes a jerk that destroys everyone and laughs maniacally. Hope they can pull it off. Definitely on my Watch_List.



DarkNinja9 said:

im so getting this but i think to be on the safe side i will get it for another console and not wii u =| unless we finally hear something on how the gamepad is used



Trikeboy said:

@Midnight3DS Actually, I thought it looked interesting even before it was announced to be coming to Wii U. If it wasn't coming to Wii U, I would still be getting it on PS3. Not PS4 though, I'm still not interested in that hardware.



Traxx said:

I hope it plays different and better than AC3 - that game is just overproduced garbage.

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