Six minutes of Watch Dogs gameplay goodness.
So, this gameplay demo is pretty sweet. Some of the smaller things that stand out at me and make me think it’s more of a sandbox game than a one-mission-per-map game:
- Generous ambient conversations
- At the beginning, you see lines connecting different NPCs - is this going to have a virtual social network layer that you’ll have to exploit?
- Detailed actors - not just in animations, but as you see in “hacking mode” in the club, you can see different NPCs having attributes: a journalist being under investigation for plagiarism; Someone with a low credit rating. I speculate that these tidbits of information can be used in in gameplay: blackmail, persuasion, bribery (you can see their income, too).
- He sees a security officer approaching, and it’s noted that he teaches Krav Maga and it shows an increasing chance-of-violence meter; the player turns around and walks nonchalantly away to avoid confrontation. He runs into a military reservist on his way out - probably a less dangerous obstacle than the Krav Maga instructor, at least in hand-to-hand! Takes him out with a telescoping baton. Looks kind of like the sneaky take-downs in Deus Ex.
- At 6:16, you see a man get splashed by a passing cab. He shakes the water off. Wow.
- After putting on a face-mask (prevent the police from tracking you down later?) The player briefly rests on “Control Train.” in the hacking dialog. Oh, my. There are some other icons here, though! The one at the top looks like a wifi signal with a lightning bolt; that’s what was used earlier to jam the communications and force the bouncer to change position / be distracted. There’s one that looks like a car - disabling it, maybe? There’s one that looks like a broken pipe, but I can’t tell if it’s fire or water spraying out from it. Then there’s one with three chevrons - this is used to raise a drawbridge to facilitate escape later on. There are two unused slots - not available currently, or upgrades needed? Is there a Deus Ex style character progression?
- The car crash is done really well. I can’t tell if it’s scripted or not - speculation on Reddit is that it is. I’m going the opposite. It looks like you’ll be able to trigger a car accident at any intersection - this is backed by the possibility of hacking the elevated train.
- A civilian runs to one of the crashed cars, and helps the person inside. This is actually an action also available to the player, so it doesn’t strike me as scripted.
- NPCs are in the street fighting over who’s fault the accident is!
- The target’s thugs spot you and start spraying bullets your direction. Well, that escalated quickly. Bullet time …. hmm, not sure if I like this or not. It does turn the game into more of a calculating exercise instead of a twitch one.
- The driver of one of the crashed cars gets shot with a stray bullet. The windshield goes red. You hear the passenger freaking out. Bullets hit the tires, they go flat and the suspension responds beautifully.
- Not quite sure how the gas station caught on fire. You didn’t really fire any bullets in that direction.. and it didn’t look like any of the bad guys did either. I think the initiation of the fire was scripted in order to facilitate the imminent explosion. You know, Michael Bay the demo up a little bit.
- Player rescues the man freaking out two bullet points ago, tells him to run. Just as a van with a couple automatic-weapon-wielding goonies rolls up.
- The slide across the hood of the car transition into the headshot was beautiful. Could be scripted, but with everything else.. I’m kind of doubting it.
- 8:15 to 8:49 is obviously scripted. But keep an eye on the mini-map over the next couple of seconds… it shows you active radius of the police helicopters en route. It swings back, and you see a five-block square area of Chicago - this is a lot bigger of a map than just the club and the intersection. Notice as well all the traffic light icons - same as in the hacking menu. Further evidence that you can create traffic accidents whenever the hell you feel like it.
- The hop-in-a-car, jump the bridge into slow mo was likely the beginning of a GTA-style escape-from-the-cops.
So, my money on what the game will actually be like?
GTA sandbox with amazing NPC AI with a healthy dose of modern (Pattern Recognition„ Spook Country, Zero History) William Gibson flavored Deus Ex.
It’s going to be controversial.
If they pull off some Jean Baudrillard second-order simulacra / meme / ghost in the shell philosophical shit with this, I will shit my pants.