Did Watch Dogs Live Up To The Hype?

Did Watch Dogs Live Up To The Hype?

A few years ago, at the end of Ubisoft’s EA conference, a new IP set the video game industry ablaze. An open world, a beautifully crafted world, with stunning visuals and animations. An interesting concept of using information as power, hacking as a weapon, tapping into the issues of today’s society. This new IP had people stunned and utterly invest to the point of sheer excitement. But did Watch Dogs deliver? Could it even deliver after its initial impact?

From a personal point of view, the reveal of Watch Dogs had me genuinely intrigued. The idea of information as a weapon, hacking into the world and the people in it, was truly refreshing. Given the political issues at the time, such as Wikileaks and the NSA surveillance, Watch Dogs had the world at its feet in terms of possible plots and themes. While the visuals looked utterly fantastic, it was the concept that caught my eye, But then things started to get a little generic.

With each new trailer, Watch Dogs began to look more and more like a generic open-world action game, albeit with hacking thrown into the mix. It was clear hopes of Watch Dogs being a smart game were more than a little premature. This didn’t mean my interest had died off entirely, but it had begun to dwindle. After more videos and screenshots, the appeal of Watch Dogs lessened further and further.

When Watch Dogs finally released, it became clear things had changed. The visuals, most noticeably, were nothing like those initially shown–across all the formats. The game itself went from a refreshing, and interesting, new IP to a pretty cookie-cutter video game experience. The hacking became nothing more than tapping a single button to make things happen. There was a disconnect between the hacking concept and the hacking mechanic in the game. It felt extremely soulless. While tapping into an NPC’s personal information (although limited) was a nice touch, the overall hacking concept felt underdeveloped and underused–a gimmick more than anything else.

The core game was nothing new, nothing special, nor even all that well crafted. While the game did work, there’s little to truly excite. Within the first hour of Watch Dogs the player had tried everything the game had to offer. Things weren’t helped by the utterly dull story. The characters, the plot points, the pacing simply didn’t work at all. The amount of potential found within the idea of hacking and using information as power was mind-blowing. Unfortunately Ubisoft barely touched upon anything of interest, preferring to focus on a typical Hollywood action story.

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Watch Dogs had so much promise, so much hype, so much to build on, yet the resulting game felt like a flat and lifeless experience. By no means was it a bad game. It was fairly solid in most respects. Nothing special, but solid enough. The only thing worse than a bad game is a boring game. The repetitive nature of the main story missions and side quests left a lot to be desired. After the initial buzz surrounding the game, it almost felt like the final game had fallen short in nearly every aspect.

While the game was reviewed well at most major sites, there didn’t seem to be a great deal of admiration buzzing around it. Can Watch Dogs be considered a disappointment? Or is it simply a victim of its own hype brought about by not entirely honest trailers? Either way, the game has sold well, and given the amount of sequel bait, chances are that a new Watch Dogs is going to appear at some point.

 

Sean Halliday


2 Comments

  1. Tim
    July 10, 2014, 4:26 am

    I downloaded WD on PS4, and deleted it after trying to like the game for a few hours. I wish I could get my 60 bucks back. My main issues were the strong emphasis on stealth/hacking, and you can’t jump!

    There was a spot during the first stealth mission where a crate was adjacent to a lift. A tiny gap separated the two. I had to climb down the crate, and climb up the lift!

    My guess on the delays is that the game was too short, so they added ways to slow everything down.

    • Sean Halliday
      July 14, 2014, 12:35 am

      It felt very much undercooked, but alas they made the money they needed for a follow up so in the grand scheme it didn’t matter

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