GSY PREVIEW | X360, PS3, PC, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 6:50 PM

Gamersyde Preview: Watch_Dogs

Gamersyde Preview: Watch_Dogs

We were lucky to be invited to the Parisian hands-on of Watch_Dogs about two weeks ago. For the first time we could finally try the game ourselves but we also were able to interview Jonathan Morin, creative director. Inside you'll also find our first impressions about one of the most anticipated titles of the next generation.
Update: Added a commented online gameplay video.




Aiden Pearce Brosnan

Once the tutorial was over, the first thing that surprised us was the amount of content. It is without a doubt one of the most generous games we've seen in the genre. There are of course all the activities we already knew about, but to those you need to add a lot of mini-games which have us dive into some crazy virtual reality and act as a true counterpoint to the serious tone of the main story. Thus, you can end up running on top of scaffoldings collecting fictional gold coins, much like in a Mario game, but it's also possible to control a giant spider mech that allows you to jump high distances or climb on buildings. Since there are other types of over the top activities like these two, it's safe to say that there should be a lot of variety in Watch_Dogs. Some were disappointed in inFamous: Second Son because it was lacking in that department, but they shouldn't worry about Ubisoft's new franchise. However disappointed (and surprised) we were to see the game delayed a month before release, it seems that the developers made a really good use of the extra months they were given.

One of the main consequences to that avalanche of content was that we didn't have much time to play the main story missions. The tutorial taught us the basics of stealth and hacking since we had to escape from a well-guarded place. Aiden being granted the exceptional ability to crouch, the cover system is completely similar to what can be found in other games. Pressing the right button will allow you to go from cover to cover, as in the 2 previous Splinter Cell games. You can also do it on your own if you don't mind the added risks of being spotted. Stealth attacks seemed a bit unbalanced to us as Aiden can grab his enemies from quite a long safe distance (something like two meters), which makes stealth a bit too easy as long as you don't make too much noise. One thing that is particularly impressive and new, the possibility to hack security cameras to check your surroundings or even to steal the guards' access codes to unlock new paths.

The other main mission we played told us more about Aiden's dramatic back story, but rest assured that we won't say anything about it so you don't get spoiled here. From what we saw, the plot should be rather emotional and interesting so let's hope it will not disappoint in the end. This second sequence had us chase a man by car in the streets of Chicago. There, nothing seemed to be scripted, as we could apparently catch him anywhere, but as we couldn't stop the guy with our car, the chase ended after a long run in the back alleys of the city and more crowded places. As it was the beginning of the game, we didn't have many hacking perks unlocked to slow him down but we managed to get to him anyway and to neutralize him in front of a bunch of stunned passersby. It is worth to mention that the whole sequence was never interrupted by any cut-scene, it was all gameplay from beginning to end.



Watch_Log

When it comes to realism, Watch_Dogs also takes it to another level. All the behaviors we witnessed among the population of the Windy City were really varied, with different types of emotional reactions. If you start fighting in the middle of the crowd, you'll see some people running away, some will be paralyzed by fear, while others may simply stick around and wonder what's going on. Strolling around the city is also the best way to notice how lively and credible Chicago is. People talk to each other while walking, use their phones, sit with their back against the wall, so many daily attitudes that you get to see in real life and that makes the game really immersive. Of course, the game allows you to go deeper into people's lives, by hacking into their cells to know more about them. Get ready to spend a lot of time just watching people and just being there among them.

What makes the population so realistic is also the number of lines of dialog we heard, which almost seem infinite. Sure, there's a good chance we'll hear some of them a few times when playing the game more, but during our hands-on session we never heard the same thing twice, which shows great improvement over what was done on the last gen consoles. Moreover, the actors playing the passersby deliver a great performance, without the sometimes theatrical tone of the Assassin's Creed crowd which would have felt odd in a modern setting. Sound design is very well done overall, the developers having gone as far as to record everything in Chicago, so the virtual version of the third biggest city of the US feels like the real thing. It is for us a very important aspect for immersion, something Rockstar has understood for a while now.



Iron Aiden

When looking at other open world games set in modern days, there's one area that they have a hard time nailing: driving mechanics. Apart from the GTA series, most titles indeed failed to propose interesting driving sensations, like Sleeping Dogs for example, or even Just Cause 2 (which fortunately had planes and helicopters to make up for it). These two games were great nonetheless but it was never really because of the driving. As for Watch_Dogs, it is undeniably a lot of fun to drive around the city, although we have to say cars sometimes look more like tanks given how they can smash almost anything that stands in the way - it'll take some heavy damages to ruin your car. Driving is really natural and it's quite the blast to lose the cops using the hacked streetlights at our advantage to slow them down. Our biggest disappointment was with the bikes, which are not pleasant to drive at all. It gave us the odd impression that we were driving a two wheeled car, as if a simple bike skin had been applied to the 3D model they used for the automobiles.

Last but not least, let's talk about what has been the main subject of conversation int he past few months: the graphics. You won't miss it when discovering the game for the first time, not all textures are that impressive, some character models are also a bit weaker, the way the characters' hair moves feels a bit last gen, and although aliasing is rather discrete, you will notice it anyway. That being said, the game still looks really good and, more importantly, it runs very smoothly from what we've seen. Framerate is indeed solid in most situations, even when there's a lot of activity in the street and the screen is filled with people and cars. We didn't really see much pop-in or pop-up either, which doesn't mean there isn't any but at least it's not as intrusive as in some other open world titles. Lighting and particle effects are also quite nice, and some detailed ground or building textures reminded us that we were playing on PS4. If not as impressive as when it was first announced, Watch_Dogs' visuals are still very solid for an open world game.



Impressions


Ubisoft really took the time to make sure Watch_Dogs would be worthy of the long wait and it shows. With much variety, tons of content and an impressive attention to detail, this is looking very promising to say the least. Is the game as beautiful as what was shown back in 2012? No, but it is nonetheless a very good-looking game which manages to maintain a 30 fps framerate in most circumstances. More importantly, the gameplay mechanics deserve high praises, to the point they even appeal to BlimBlim while he usually doesn't want to have anything to do with games that involve stealth and gunfights. If the review build can confirm all the good we've seen, then we're in for quite a ride!


One last thing before you leave : please take the time to watch our 18min interview of Jonathan Morin as not only is it interesting, but it also contains some gameplay footage of Watch_Dogs. BlimBlim also gave it time and efforts so you could all understand it, so be thankful. ;)

J. Morin Interview (FR no subs) #1
J. Morin Interview (FR no subs) #2
J. Morin Interview (FR no subs) #3
J. Morin Interview (FR + subs) #1
J. Morin Interview (FR + subs) #2
J. Morin Interview (FR + subs) #3
Commented Walkthrough
Commented Walkthrough (EN subs)
Commented Walkthrough (FR subs)

All comments

Page 1 2 >>
Commented on 2014-04-23 18:13:04
I don't know, I loved the driving in Sleeping Dogs with the drifting, ramming, action hijacking, and knocking out fools with an open door, but I mostly was on motorbikes for that game.

Great preview, I'm mostly interested in the crowd and hacking stuff so it's nice to hear they are varied and those crazy VR missions were unexpected. Too bad it doesn't look as mindblowing as the 2012 reveal, now to check the footage.
Commented on 2014-04-23 18:33:40
BlimBlim and Ghost_Deus, thanks a lot for your guys efforts, really appreciate the dedication and hard work you guys put in these videos and interview. I read the whole preview and it was very well done, you guys did a great job!

Now the bad part is that my anticipation for Watch Dogs was at an all time high almost a month ago, after watching the "Welcome to Chicago" trailer and then spending a few hours re-watching all the trailers and game play videos of Watch Dogs, but it had died down a few weeks ago. Now you guys brought it back with your preview.
1 month seems so far away...

Still, that's what happens with great games, it will be done when it's done. Even if the game it's not going to look as graphically impressive as inFamous: Second Son, I'm still more interested in the game play than in the visuals.

Now I'm gonna need to play other great games to stop thinking about Watch Dogs. Guess now it's the perfect time to play Rayman Origins and Legends.

PS. Thanks for the subtitles for those of us who don't speak French.
Commented on 2014-04-23 18:50:16
Very nice. I am looking forward to it
Commented on 2014-04-23 18:54:52 In reply to Sdarts
Thanks a lot, we're really appreciate that !
Commented on 2014-04-23 19:03:26
Amazing work, thanks guys!
Commented on 2014-04-23 19:28:45
Excellent new videos guys, thanks. You won't find any better videos out there ^_^
Commented on 2014-04-23 19:59:08
Non of the MP stuff looks very interesting to me, and the ambient hacking stuff looks boring and devoid of skill (ubisofts favourite). But if the mission structure and quality of said story missions are high, then i might still be on board with the game. But until they show some exciting missions it all looks like the kinda crap most open world games use to pad the experience...and that isn't really convincing me.
Commented on 2014-04-23 20:01:02
The Commented Gameplay video is not available to download, getting an error message. And it's a backup rather a European server. Going to watch the HD stream.
Commented on 2014-04-23 20:04:40
Multiplayer looks unique. After the PC tech demo I'm back on.
Commented on 2014-04-23 20:09:19 In reply to digi_matrix
As explained in the news article, it can only be downloaded via torrent because our servers are completely saturated. ;)
Commented on 2014-04-23 20:48:11
Commented Gameplay video says this when I try to download the torrent : "An attempt was made to access a socket in a way forbidden by its access permissions."

Says that in my client.
Commented on 2014-04-23 20:49:16 In reply to anatomyhorror
I'll let Blim know.
Commented on 2014-04-23 21:16:12 In reply to anatomyhorror
Posted by anatomyhorror
Commented Gameplay video says this when I try to download the torrent : "An attempt was made to access a socket in a way forbidden by its access permissions."

Says that in my client.
Do you use McAfee antivirus or firewall? They are known to cause this error. I just checked and the torrent works as well as I have ever seen right now, I downloaded the multiplayer video at 35 MBytes / s, which is the maximum I can get from my FTTH link here at home.
Commented on 2014-04-23 21:26:38 In reply to anatomyhorror
Posted by anatomyhorror
Commented Gameplay video says this when I try to download the torrent : "An attempt was made to access a socket in a way forbidden by its access permissions."

Says that in my client.
Our download servers seem to be accepting new files again, so feel free to use the direct download links :)
Commented on 2014-04-23 23:43:37
Thanks, it's working now :)
Commented on 2014-04-24 01:31:11
I like the "Hide in Car" thing.
Commented on 2014-04-24 01:50:37
I read there is a multiplayer mode where you just follow another player. They're not aware of you being in their game. You litterally just follow another player. I get this game is trying to think outside the box in regards to what constitutes as fun gameplay...but seriously, that doesn't seem fun at all. Hell, bar the competative mode, non of the MP stuff seem fun.
Commented on 2014-04-24 02:35:10
Where the F has the depth of field FX gone to? The biggest thing missing in all the new videos is the depth of field blur (that was clearly present in the older videos and look awesome). I hope to god the PS4 version will still have it, cause it gave Watch_Dogs a distinct look that added to the atmosphere. Why hasn't anyone noticed this before, because THAT is the reason it looked downgraded in the newer vids. I bet Ubisoft shows the Xbox360 version in all the new videos not to dissapoint the huge market of last gen consoles.
Commented on 2014-04-24 03:20:08
BlimBlim/Driftwood/etc, you mentioned the ps4 in your impressions, i saw it mentioned here

http://www.slashgear.com/watch-dogs-gameplay-first...

that everything demoed at this event was running on a super high end pc with everything turned to 11. What is your take on this?
Commented on 2014-04-24 03:25:52 In reply to icecold1983
Posted by icecold1983
BlimBlim/Driftwood/etc, you mentioned the ps4 in your impressions, i saw it mentioned here

http://www.slashgear.com/watch-dogs-gameplay-first...

that everything demoed at this event was running on a super high end pc with everything turned to 11. What is your take on this?
Man, if ubisoft has used PC footage with playstation button prompts then seriously, laugh out loud.
Commented on 2014-04-24 04:54:59
"developers made a really good you of the extra months"

Yeah, you could have "you" a little more time proof reading LMAO

Still, good work nonetheless. Answered pretty much all the questions I had.
Commented on 2014-04-24 08:28:13 In reply to icecold1983
Posted by icecold1983
BlimBlim/Driftwood/etc, you mentioned the ps4 in your impressions, i saw it mentioned here

http://www.slashgear.com/watch-dogs-gameplay-first...

that everything demoed at this event was running on a super high end pc with everything turned to 11. What is your take on this?
I call bullshit, it was defnitely running on PS4s at the event I went to, and it looked exactly like the footage on both the broll in the interview and the multiplayer video.
Commented on 2014-04-24 10:00:27 In reply to bubble2020
Posted by bubble2020
Yeah, you could have "you" a little more time proof reading LMAO
So nice. :p
Commented on 2014-04-24 10:45:10
This message is in "Boulet Time" (TM), If you still *really* want to see it, click here

Commented on 2014-04-24 11:59:30 In reply to digi_matrix
Posted by digi_matrix
I don't know, I loved the driving in Sleeping Dogs with the drifting, ramming, action hijacking, and knocking out fools with an open door, but I mostly was on motorbikes for that game.
Lol, i only used motorbikes, simply because found any other vehicle terribad and not fun to control. Liked the game, even though the Hong Kong seemed static and nothing interesting happens at all if you wish to explore. Still amazing what they were able to achieve from almost cancelled project.

As for Watch Dogs - downgrade or not, graphics are fine. It looks like GTA with a cellphone for hacking stuff (most of which is unnecessary, like a covers during the firefights etc), but with far less interesting world than Rockstar's latest title.

It will be on bargain bins at the time when i buy ps4, so could give it a try.
Page 1 2 >>

About the game


What's up?
  • GriftGFX
    GriftGFX Holy shit, really? (51 minutes ago)
  • KORNdog
    KORNdog i mean, we seem to have lost distant reflections in the "upgraded" version. it just looks way more video gamey. (2 Hours ago)
  • KORNdog
    KORNdog but tbh it's not the art that was wrong with the demo's. it was the shitty IQ and res. and that pic is too small to comment on either. (2 Hours ago)
  • KORNdog
    KORNdog @alimokrane: bottom one looks better to me, way more natural colours. less extreme use of AO. (2 Hours ago)
  • Melmoth
    Melmoth yea, i'm a bit sceptical about Luke Cage. I like Daredevil, but Jessica Jones wasn't that interesting. Only saved by a good villain. (3 Hours ago)
  • alimokrane
    alimokrane Not bad for Xbox One: [url] (3 Hours ago)
  • alimokrane
    alimokrane the upgrade is for PS4 Pro of course, sorry should have specified (3 Hours ago)
PreviousNext
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood GSY is getting some nice content at 3 pm CEST with our July podcast and some videos of the Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview build. :) (10 Weeks ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood For once we'll be live at 4:30 pm CEST. Blim should not even be tired! (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood More Quantum Break coverage coming in a few hours, 9:00 a.m CEST. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood We'll have a full review up for Firewatch at 7 pm CET. Videos will only be tomorrow though. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Tonight's livestream will be at 9:15 GMT+1, not GMT+2 as first stated. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood New GSY Live dedicated this time to Just Cause 3 on Tuesday 9:30 GMT+2 (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Join us tomorrow at 10 pm GMT+2 for a new livestream. We'll be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. (> 3 Months ago)
PreviousNext
Top stories