Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s latest open world action game is here, and I had to give it a go. Hacking, driving, shooting, exploring and more await me in Chicago, and here’s my First Opinion.
Booting up Watch Dogs, it starts in the basement of a baseball stadium, the escape from which is a great opening set piece, introducing you to various game mechanisms like remote camera manipulation, stealth, and other skills that you’ll need later in the game. Once you’re free of the opening scenes, you’re free to explore Chicago and its adjacent suburbs. I played on a PC and my first observation was that driving isn’t designed for a mouse and keyboard. It is way too easy to over steer and drive into walls, scenery, and pedestrians with a keyboard, resulting in a very sloppy feel. On foot controls fare better, but overall movement is designed for controller – as is the smart phone interface. It feels real slow and laggy trying to drag your mouse around to select options on the phone’s menu. If it wasn’t for the mouse’s obvious advantage for shooting I would have to recommend playing strictly with a controller.
The world of Watch Dogs itself is pretty slick looking and I love the pedestrian behavior. For one thing, since the game disincentives harming civilians it’s nice that they do a great job in dodging my dodgy driving. I also really like the animations and behaviors they engage in around town, ranging from hanging out or strolling around town in groups to listening to music, chatting, and playing augmented reality games on their phones. I enjoy just touring town, stopping in coffee shops, bars, and stores just for the heck of it, taking in the city. The world is a very immersive, attractive place that just begs for exploring.
My biggest complaint thus far is the instability of Ubisoft’s servers. I’ve spent a large amount of time playing this supposedly online-integrated game offline because I can’t connect to their servers. It’s not exactly Sim City levels of fail, but it’s still been pretty bad.
Being only a few hours in, I have a good ways to go before rendering a review but so far – aside from the controls – first impressions are good. Check back on AAGH for more about Watch Dogs in the coming days.