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Why Watch_Dogs doesn’t quite excite me anymore


It was just a year ago around this time, E3 to be exact where I was singing the praises of this new IP, Watch_Dogs. I felt it was one of the top games at the show and something gamers needed, a fresh, new, never before seen take on gameplay — a style all of its own; fast forward 10 trailers later and the excitement for me becomes less and less. I’m officially less excited here’s why.

Ubisoft has spent little to zero time explaining the story (if there is even a story) behind Watch_Dogs but instead choosing to show an open world where technology in all forms is in the palm of your hands. Cool and all but I wanted and expected more, what I don’t want is glorified side quests being pushed off as “story”.

I think my recently doused excitement definitely stems from the seemingly lack of story presence, it reminds me of playing Batman or GTA after you’ve completed the main campaign. Although it could be fun you wouldn’t want the foundation of those games to be built around that concept. Everytime I see a new trailer it looks more and  more like GTA with hacking technology capabilities. The more shown, which is designed to build excitement does the opposite. Something that looked so fresh and  so extraordinary during first reveal is looking more and more “normal” by the day. How could something that boasts so much depth when peeling back the layers now look so shallow.

Also I didn’t want to be sold on an open-world, do whatever you want, depth unseen and then be left with these dry scenarios. Unfortunately the latest free-roam gameplay footage shows exactly that.  Okay, so you see a scenario with Aiden Pierce, the star of Watch_Dogs who is a vigilante tailing a guy who wants to kill someone for allegedly raping  his wife it seems your options are  A stop him before the crime takes place, B  let the crime play out then stop him or, C do nothing; Boring! Bland! Shallow! Ultimately this has been done before. A game that sells depth by masking it with all these “toys” but in the end  just serves as a overblown, over hyped concept is really nothing new and although I may still enjoy it lmboooo I’d be highly disappointed if that’s how it plays out no pun.

Maybe instead of tailing him one day you have to tail him over several days, maybe he changes his mind (the potential killer) maybe he goes through with it, maybe you find his friends and send them to talk to him, maybe you talk to him yourself–  trying to talk him out of it, maybe you learn where the wife works and warn her, maybe you learn where the alleged rapist works and warn him — telling him to get out of town, maybe he believes you, maybe he doesn’t, maybe it turns to him now trying to kill the husband, now leaving you to figure out how to defuse that situation — a situation you created. Maybe you call the police so when he reaches the destination the cops are waiting for him. Maybe you just simply place a 911 call w/o any details. If you do something to the husband maybe his friends get wind of it and try and kill you weeks later.  Maybe the victims husband and rapist shoot each other ‘Reservoir Dog’ style and the wife falls in love with you lmbo just joshing but you get the point that’s the depth I’m looking for.

But even if such a game produces this depth what’s missing from games that generally follow this blueprint is there is no real connection. What I actually was hoping for instead of random side quests is to have the side quests heavily intertwined into the story, like you hack a guys phone that you have to hack in order to get info on one of your targets as an example. Another example is the randomness of it all like somebody tailing you while your tailing somebody.

Previewers have hinted that this will be the first game to take full “advantage” of the PS4 and next Xbox but I don’t believe that to be true, especially since it’s being made on current gen consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U). “It will not be different at its soul,” observed creative director Jonathan Morin. And because the “soul” and core of the game will be the same it won’t be a true next-gen game which probably means you won’t see anything groundbreaking in this title.

Because of this approach to ‘DO YOU’, to get the experience I speak of Ubisoft would have to establish Elite AI, AI mind you that has never been seen or has shown itself to be possible for right now in this current generation. If it was strictly for next generation consoles the idea would become more believable but for current gen I’m not so sure it could be pulled off.

I may not be being fair but I expected more —  maybe a little to much, too ambitious in my thinking? But thinking about it, having such lofty expectations I was destined to be disappointed. To fully flush out stories with depth of that level — truly dynamic scenarios that are fresh, organic and packs the depth of an “all things are possible” scenario that comes with human decisions would probably I imagine take ten years to create and perfect.  Thinking about it even more it may never be possible  —  options are endless. But for now can I at least get the illusion?

Watch_Dogs seems to have less emphasis on a traditional story and more emphasis on create your own story aka roam the open-world and see what happens. I want to be wrong, I hope I’m wrong but what’s been shown has left me less optimistic. I’m sure I could enjoy the game if I just accept it for what it is, the problem is I don’t want to accept it for what it is, this game has so much potential to just be a bland open-world game. There has to be a story right?  I just hope Ubisoft is not so focused on the “sandbox” part of it they leave what could be and amazing story out the equation.

Tidbits:

  • Ubisoft throwing out words like “unforced objectives” and “freedom”, which sounds amazing to the average gamer including myself  still needs some type of depth and direction
  • Now if these side quests/main story elements affected each other that would be a feat
  • I don’t want to just run around the city of Chicago seeing how many things I can hack

PS I hate bullet-time.

This is why Watch_Dogs doesn’t quite excite me anymore.

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3 Comments

  1. Maybe they haven’t shown any story because, you know, they don’t want to spoil it? It’s a welcome change.

  2. I agree 100%, this is what “bothers” me about the game as well. I put “bothers” in quotes because it isn’t really a bother.. but it’s what keeps me away from CARING about the game at all right now. Yeah, it just looks like a GTA / Assassins Creed jumping over walls / InFamous open world kind of game…………… with openworld stuff to do just like FarCry3 and Assassin’s… show us something NEW ubisoft…. just like you said in this article- I am looking for an engaging story. The hacking stuff looked VERY cool at first.. and it is… but it means NOTHING if it is not BACKED UP by a great story + characters we will actually care about. It’s all about the story.. because we’ve all played open world games by now… and plenty of games with cool gadgets.. that is not enough to sell a game on, at least not to me.

  3. Watch Dogs graphics on the PS4 = any PS3 exclusive title. Oh that’s a shame.

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