Watch Dogs: A Dwindling Interest

Watch Dogs: A Dwindling Interest

During E3 2012, Ubisoft created a lot of buzz with the reveal of Watch Dogs, its newest franchise. Its setting, plot, and concept grabbed the attention of the masses. After all, its concept is extremely pertinent to issues relevant to society today. The demo shown allowed the game to convey its general themes and tones to the audience thanks to its pace and atmosphere, and while the demo focused on the hacking aspect of Watch Dogs, the buzz it generated was immense. Ubisoft, consequently, had people eating out of the palm of their hand.

Watch Dogs came out of nowhere to punch everyone in the gut. My personal interest in the game was quite high because the idea of information being power was highly appealing. The problem, however, was that at E3 2013 Watch Dogs was shown again-and things looked rather more generic that time around. While the idea of information equally power was still there, the game looked rather more ‘shooty’ than it did before.

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The reason why Watch Dogs appealed to me–and undoubtedly others–in the first place was because it looked like it was taking things in a different direction to other triple-A titles. Using information, hacking networks, using knowledge rather than a gun as a weapon–that was why Watch Dogs had my interest. The E3 2013 demo tainted that vision. The game began to look like another third-person open-world game laced with plenty of shooting, with the hacking gameplay element included as a superfluous addendum.

I’m not saying Watch Dogs will be bad. Far from it, actually. The game still looks like it’ll be an enjoyable experience. I simply have some degree of disappointment that a game with such a fresh concept will seemingly be bogged down with such an overused gameplay element. I’m still optimistic that Watch Dogs will at least feature a few missions that refrain from ‘go here, shoot this person’ and opt for a focus on the hacking elements of the game.

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The latest Watch Dogs gameplay footage has further degraded the hype that was earned way back in 2012. The latest footage suggests that Ubisoft were taking liberties with the truth when the game was first shown. Visuals appear (note: this could be a consequence of poor demo footage and not necessarily indicative of the intended design) noticeably worse, especially the character models. Not only that, the gameplay continues to display hallmarks of ‘been there, done that’. The more we see of Watch Dogs, the worse it looks, and the reaction of the masses continues to become more negative. It’s hugely disappointing.

At the end of the day, Watch Dogs is still creating a huge buzz and is undoubtedly one of the biggest games set for release this year. I may be disappointed with what has been shown, but I’m probably in the minority. It’s perfectly understandable why triple-A games normally confine themselves within popular genres and gameplay; after all, a flop of a game can cost a studio dearly. At the very least Ubisoft seem willing to try new things in a proven formula. It’s just unfortunate that I can’t shake the sense of disappointment I feel with every new trailer and gameplay video I see.

Watch Dogs started off as something genuinely interesting, but now it just looks like everything else.

Sean Halliday


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