All it takes is the swipe of a finger. We connect with friends. We buy the latest gadgets and gear. We find out what’s happening in the world. But with that same simple swipe, we cast an increasingly expansive shadow. With each connection, we leave a digital trail that tracks our every move and milestone, our every like and dislike. And it’s not just people. Today, all major cities are networked. Urban infrastructures are monitored and controlled by complex operating systems.
In Watch_Dogs, this system is called the Central Operating System (ctOS) – and it controls almost every piece of the city’s technology and holds key information on all of the city’s residents.
You play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. Now on the hunt for those who hurt your family, you'll be able to monitor and hack all who surround you by manipulating everything connected to the city’s network. Access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy…and more.
Use the city of Chicago as your ultimate weapon and exact your own style of revenge.
“Aiden is a man with a dark past who has made questionable choices,” Lead Story Designer Kevin Shortt explained in a live gameplay demo. Growing up in Chicago, Aiden used his technical prowess to infiltrate bank accounts and access surveillance systems, becoming something of a vigilante. Naturally, these pursuits earned him some powerful enemies on both sides of the law. As you play Watch_Dogs, you won’t be choosing between stark extremes on some binary morality scale, but defining where Aiden resides on much murkier spectrum of acceptability.
We’ve all played open-world action games where cities feel more like a collection of giant painted boxes than a living, breathing urban community. Watch_Dogs’s densely detailed Chicago feel less like a pretty façade and more like a densely populated city. Alleys are riddled with rotting cardboard boxes and detritus and parking garages are honeycombed with gloomy staircases — hack the right device and you may even find yourself peering into the living room of a Chicago citizen.
Thanks to Chicago’s Central Operating System (ctOS), the city’s expansive (and invasive) technology is constantly at your fingertips. Take control of a nearby security camera to map out the positions of guards in a well-fortified area, raise a garage door or forklift to confuse and distract your would-be enemies, or — if you’re in particularly dire straits — tamper with the traffic grid and cause a multi-car pileup. These aren’t scripted scenarios, but dynamic and occasionally unpredictable events that can change the course of an escape in a nanosecond.
Aiden is no sedentary computer geek — he’s quite capable of dispatching his enemies using lethal and nonlethal force. The stealthier player will value misdirection and surveillance, using remote cameras to tag and monitor enemy positions while skirting past trouble. Brute-force players will have a wide range of armaments to choose from, but you’ll want to keep civilian casualties in check lest your reputation suffer.
Watch_Dogs will feature a full-blown multiplayer mode set in the mean streets of Chicago, though final details are still under lock and key. More intriguing is that multiplayer and single-player will “seamlessly” overlap, an effort by Ubisoft to demolish the wall that has divided single-player gaming and multiplayer for decades. This interconnectivity will extend to a companion experience on mobile devices, though details remain scarce.
Connecting to “Free Public Wi-Fi” is risky business in the real world, so you can imagine what’s in store for anyone foolish enough to hop on an unsecured network in Aiden Pearce’s city. Aiden can activate Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, then hack into any device that connects to it granting him access to, among other things, a webcam on an unsuspecting citizens’ computer. This enables you to score valuable data, but also peer into the strange domestic lives of Chicago’s apartment dwellers.
Once you hack into a district of Chicago’s ctOS, you’ll find yourself swimming in an ocean of data including the city’s crime prediction algorithms. If you want to go full-on Batman, you can use the crime prediction data to track down potential “victims” from the passers-by on the street, then intervene before their lives are cut short by a hail of bullets or a baseball bat to the head. Other side missions are less grim; one of our favorite was NVZN, an augmented-reality arcade game that tasks you with blasting marauding aliens with ray guns.
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